Flesh Vs. Spirit – Part 1: Defining “Flesh”December 28, 2020
(RuachHaKodesh, Session 16a)
This two-part session of the RuachHaKodesh series examines the passages of Scripture that pit “flesh” and “spirit” against each other. We see this especially in Paul’s letters, which describe a battle being waged between flesh and Spirit (Romans 8:5–6, 13; Galatians 5:16–17). Passages such as these raise several questions:
- What exactly does Paul mean by the term “flesh”?
- What does Paul mean by the term “Spirit”? Is this talking about my spirit or God’s Spirit?
- What does it mean to live/walk according to the Spirit?
- Practically speaking, how can we make sure we are living in the Spirit and not in the flesh?
This current episode focuses on the first two of these questions. We begin with an overview of the way Scripture uses the term “flesh” (בָּשָׂר in Hebrew and σάρξ in Greek) and then list the many passages in which this term is set at odds with “spirit” (רוּחַ / πνεῦμα). We then address the effect of Greek dualism on historical Christian thinking, which depicted a sharp contrast between the physical and the immaterial worlds. Finally, we jump into a discussion of theological anthropology as it pertains to this question: what are humans made of? Are we bipartite (body and soul), tripartite (body, soul, and spirit), or something else?