When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, all of mankind was genetically in him so that when Adam sinned, we sinned in and with him. For had we been Adam, we would have done what Adam did. Therefore, all of mankind is held responsible for Adam’s sin since he represented all mankind, and therefore, all of mankind is born as sinners (see Rom. 5:12, 19; Psa. 51:5; 58:3; 1 Cor. 15:22). According to Gen. 8:21, the intent/inclination/thoughts and desires of the heart/mind of mankind is evil from his/her youth (from the Heb. word “neurim” meaning “from the very time when mankind begins to act with consciousness”. It expresses a state or condition. It’s innate in mankind; bred in his bone. He brought it into the world with him – Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 151; Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. 1, p. 40). So mankind is born, as a natural man, with a nature that is bent on sinning and is incapable of pleasing or obeying God or accepting or understanding spiritual things (see Eph. 2:3; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; 7:17-18; 8:7-8; Gal. 5:19-21; Isa. 64:6; Matt. 7:17-18; 15:19). The sin or old nature, which every person has and will have until the day he/she dies goes under several names or headings: the flesh, etc.
The word “flesh” has several different definitions:
1. The weaker element in human nature.
Matt. 26:41; Mk. 14:38 Jesus’ disciples were to keep watching and praying so they wouldn’t enter into temptation because while the spirit (one’s inner desires and best intentions as influenced by God) is willing to do right and resist temptation, what is true of the flesh (a person’s humanness; natural self; human nature; strength of will)?
Do you find this to be true in your life?
Why is this (see Rom. 8:7-8)?
Rom. 6:16-22 To whom is a person a slave?
Why is a person a slave to sin (Rom. 6:19)?
How does a person become free from sin’s control (Rom. 6:17 with Rom. 1:5, 16; 8:2, 6; Eph. 5:18), which controls him/her/us due to the weakness of his/her flesh (natural self; sin nature)?
What or who are you controlled by/enslaved to: your sin nature or the Holy Spirit?
Rom. 8:3 Why couldn’t the Law (all of God’s commands in the Old Testament) set us free from sin?
But how did God solve the problem?
2. The unregenerate state of men.
Rom. 7:4-6 When are the sinful passions, which are aroused by the Law (God’s Old Testament commands), at work in the members of our body to bear fruit (sins) for (spiritual) death?
[“in the flesh” – a non-Christian].
When we accept Christ as Savior (and so die with Him positionally, that is, the old non-Christian person we used to be is dead/gone – Rom. 6:2-6), how are we to serve God?
Rom. 6:6-7, 11-12 Because our old self (the unregenerate sinner we once were before becoming a Christian, Rom. 5:6, 8) was crucified (as if really there) with Christ when He died on the cross, our body no longer has to be controlled by or a slave to sin. Are you, and why?
Rom. 8:8-9 Who can’t please God?
When is a person not in the flesh?
Gal. 2:20 Paul said he was (positionally, not in actuality or experientially) crucified with Christ (i.e., his unconverted self), and that he (the non-believing, non-Christian, unconverted self) no longer lives, but Christ lives in him (the new Paul). Have you been crucified with Christ?
If so, when?
3. Mere human nature, the earthly nature of men apart from divine influence and, therefore, prone to sin and opposing God.
Rom. 8:3, 5-7 On what do people who are living by/according to their flesh/sin nature set/fix their minds/thoughts?
[“the flesh” – self-centeredness; the sin nature].
On what is your mind set/fixed, and why?
Gal. 5:16 When will we not carry out the desires of the flesh/sin nature?
Are you carrying out the desires of your sin nature?
Eph. 2:3 How did these Christians once live?
[“the flesh” – the bodily drives controlled by the sin nature].
What were they by nature?
Are you indulging in the desires of the flesh (e.g., immorality, drunkenness, illicit drugs, gluttony) and of the mind (sinful thoughts, e.g., coveting, greed, pride, jealousy, anger, etc.), and are you a child of wrath (an object of God’s wrath because of disobedience, rebellion to, and unbelief in God and/or His Word, the Bible)?
4. The seat/source of sin in mankind.
2 Pet. 2:18 How do false teachers entice people?
Is this how you are enticed to sin?
1 Jn. 2:16 What is in the world that is not from the Father?
[“flesh” – physical, bodily cravings like sexual immorality, illicit drugs, gluttony, drunkenness].
Do you indulge in these things, and why?
5. The lower and temporary element in the Christian; all that he is naturally apart from regeneration.
Gal. 3:3 What question is asked here?
How can’t we be perfected?
[“perfected by the flesh” – made spiritually mature by self/human effort in keeping the Law/Old Testament commands].
How are you trying to become more righteous/godly/spiritual, and why?
Gal. 6:8 What happens if a person gives his flesh an opportunity to prosper or be put to action (e.g., spends his money to indulge his sinful nature)?
What benefit is there to sowing to or investing in the Spirit (i.e., in things of the Spirit, like supporting good Bible teachers, Gal. 6:6)?
[“eternal life” – both quantitatively in duration (i.e., eternally) and qualitatively (i.e., rewards).].
6. The natural attainments of men.
1 Cor. 1:26-29 Not many of what kind of people are called to salvation?
[“the flesh” – human standards].
How are you trying to gain God’s favor?
2 Cor. 10:2-4 (2nd part of verse 2) How did some people regard Paul’s Christian lifestyle?
[“the flesh” – human standards; fleshly motives for his being meek, like wanting favors or being fearful of people].
How doesn’t Paul wage his spiritual battle?
From what source are you trying to live the Christian life?
Phil. 3:3 In what shouldn’t we put confidence?
[“the flesh” – physical/human merit or religious, human externals, like circumcision, Phil. 3:4-6].
7. The externals of life (the body).
2 Cor. 7:1 From what are we to cleanse ourselves?
[“flesh” – the body with things like alcohol, illicit drugs, gluttony, immorality. “spirit” – God-conscientiousness or mentality, with the idolizing of such things as: worldly music, TV, phones, movies, sex, money, sports, computers, possessions, cars, homes, social media, etc.].
And what should you do instead?
What defilements of the flesh are you involved in (you can answer this silently to yourself)?
If you are involved in any defilements, what are you going to do about it, and how soon?
Heb. 9:13-14 What did the blood of goats and bulls once cleanse (ceremonially/externally)?
Aren’t you glad that Jesus’ shed blood internally cleanses the sin of the believer in Him as Savior, instead?
8. The outward and seeming, as contrasted with the spirit.
Jn. 6:63 What does the flesh profit?
Who and what gives life?
[“spirit” – breath of God; the Spirit of God].
[“life” – eternal life giving, Jn. 6:29, 35, 47].
2 Cor. 5:16 How doesn’t Paul recognize (or evaluate) a person’s prestige/worth/importance?
[“flesh” – human standards, like whether rich, learned, Jew/Gentile, male/female, slave/free because in Christ these things don’t matter – Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11].
How do you evaluate a person’s worth, and why?
9. Natural relationship.
Gal. 4:23 How was the bond-woman’s son born?
[“flesh” – the ordinary way].
10. The substance of the body, of the flesh of the living body.
1 Cor. 15:39 What distinction is made here?
[“flesh” – meat on the bones].
11. The human body –
Phil. 1:22 What will mean fruitful labor for Paul?
[“flesh” – physical body].
If you physically live longer from this day forward, will it mean fruitful labor spiritually for you, and why?
12. In a general sense, of the whole animal creation, of mankind, in the totality of all that is essential to manhood (i.e., spirit, soul, and body).
1 Pet. 1:24 What is all flesh like?
What does this say to you about placing your confidence or prestige in flesh (yourself or other people)?
Jn. 1:13 To what do children of God/believers not owe their spiritual birth?
[“blood” – family heritage or natural descent].
[“the will of the flesh” – human sexual or procreative desire; physical reproduction].
[“the will of man” – because you choose to be one of your own decision/will].
Rom. 3:20 By the works of Law, who won’t be justified?
[“works of the law” – obeying Old Testament commandments].
[“flesh” – person].
How are you trying to be justified (declared righteous) before God?
13. The holy humanity of the Lord Jesus, in the totality of all that is essential.
Jn. 1:14 What became flesh?
Who is this (Jn. 1:1, 18)?
Jn. 6:51 To what does Jesus compare His flesh, and why?
Col. 1:22 How has Jesus reconciled us (brought us back into good relationship with God)?
1 Jn. 4:2 How can we know the Spirit of God?
[“spirit” – teaching].
[“flesh” – a physical, human body].
2 Jn. 1:7 Who are deceivers?
14. The complete person.
2 Cor. 7:5 How did Paul and Timothy feel when they came to Macedonia?
[“their flesh” – they as individuals].
Jas. 5:3 What effect will riches have on those who make riches their god?
[“flesh” – lives].
15. Composite oneness in physical union.
Matt. 19:5-6 What happens when two people join together?
[“flesh” – metaphor, for one pair, an intimate, permanent attachment of two lives].
1 Cor. 6:16 What is the result of having pre- or extra-marital sex?
[“body/flesh” – metaphor, for one pair psychologically at the least].
16. Natural or physical origin, generation.
Rom. 9:8 Who aren’t the children of God?
[“flesh” – Jewish physical descendants].
17. “Flesh and blood” is an expression denoting man as fallible, liable to err.
Matt. 16:17 Who or what didn’t reveal to Simon that Jesus is Christ?
[“flesh and blood” – an idiom for “a man/person”].
Eph. 6:12 Who is our struggle not against?
[“flesh and blood” – idiom for “people”].
1 Cor. 15:50 Who can’t inherit the kingdom of God?
[“flesh and blood” – people in their human, fallible condition or natural state].
Other terms for our sinful state:
1 Cor. 2:14 What doesn’t a natural man (non-believer) accept?
And what can’t he understand?
Jas. 3:14-16 How does the earthly, natural, demonic nature or wisdom act?
1 Cor. 3:1-3 How did Paul have to speak to these believers, and why?
[“flesh” – the world with its sinful attitudes and actions].
Are you ever like this?
Rom. 7:24 What does Paul say about himself?
Have you ever come to the same conclusion about yourself?
If so, when, and why?
Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9 What have believers put off or laid aside?
[“old self” – the unsaved person dominated by the sin nature].
Does the old self improve or get worse in our experience?
Are you ever surprised at some of the words or actions of seemingly nice non-Christians?
You shouldn’t be because the sin nature rules them.
The new nature, which only Christians possess (having received it from the time of their spiritual birth) goes under several different names or headings: the Spirit, the spiritual man, or new creature, divine nature, and the new man, or new self. The new nature can do no wrong (1 Jn. 3:6, 9; Gal. 5:16).
Gal. 5:17 Why can’t we (our sin natures) do the things that we (our sin natures) please?
Do you ever fail to do the things that you know you should?
1 Cor. 2:15 – 3:1 What is the spiritual person capable of doing?
2 Cor. 5:17 How is the person who is in Christ (becomes a Christian) described?
[“old passed away” – slavery to sin and self].
[“new things have come” – new attitudes, desires, motives, and actions].
Is this becoming true in your life?
2 Cor. 4:16 What is being renewed day by day?
[“inner man” – thinking, emotions, will].
[“outer man” – earthly mortality or body].
Are your feelings and thinking becoming increasingly Christ-like?
If so, in what ways?
2 Pet. 1:4 What might/do we believers become partakers of because of God’s magnificent promises?
[“divine (new) nature” – God’s nature, acquired at conversion].
Eph. 4:23-24 What have believers put on/become?
[“the new self” – a converted person; a believer/spiritually born-again person].
How is it/he/she described?
Have you done this?
How do you know?
VERSES RELATING TO THE “2” NATURES
Rom. 7:14 – 8:4 Describe the battle of Paul’s two natures. What does each “I” wish or do?
Do you ever have this kind of inner, spiritual battle going on in your mind?
If so, when?
What do you do when it occurs, and why?
Who will set Paul free from this body of death (i.e., human body through which sin operates and leads to both physical and spiritual death), Rom. 7:25?
How does Paul say he is set free from the law (principle) of sin and death (i.e., spiritual separation from God), Rom. 8:2?
Are you set free from this too?
How do you know?
Rom. 8:5-16 What is true of us if Christ and the Holy Spirit are in us (Rom. 8:10-11)?
To what are we not under obligation?
What is the result of living according to the flesh/sin nature?
Who are the sons of God?
How does knowing all this from this passage affect your thinking about yourself and how you’ve been living?
What changes will you be making in your lifestyle?
Rom. 13:11-14 Why should we lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light?
[“salvation” – glorification in heaven].
For what should we not make provision?
[“the flesh” – the sin nature].
How can you do this?
[To put on the Lord Jesus Christ means to conduct ourselves according to the moral attitudes and actions of Christ.].
Mark 7:20-23 (Jer. 17:9) What comes from within man, out of his heart?
Do you think that you are any better within?
Matt. 12:33-35 (Lk. 6:43-45); Rom. 3:12; Isa. 64:6 Can our sin nature ever produce anything good?
Or our new nature ever produce anything evil?
Jn. 8:41, 44 Whom do these religious leaders take after (in both deeds and desire)?
Whenever the devil lies, what is the source of his lies?
When you lie or commit any other sin, what is the source of your evil?
Gal. 2:20 Who or what was crucified with Christ?
[The “I” that no longer lives represents Paul’s unregenerate/unconverted, old self].
How is Paul now living?
And how are you living, and why?
Gal. 5:16-17, 24-25 If we walk in the Spirit (are controlled and empowered by God’s Spirit moment by moment), what won’t we do?
[“flesh” – sin nature].
What does this mean in your own words?
Are you “walking by the Spirit”?
Why can’t we do the things that we please?
Are you consistently doing what you know is right?
What have those who belong to Christ Jesus done?
[“flesh” – the old, unregenerate, non-Christian self].
Gal. 5:19-21 What are the deeds of the flesh?
[“flesh” – sinful nature].
If a Christian practices these things, will he/she inherit the kingdom of God, and why (Heb. 10:10; Jn. 6:47; Col. 2:13-14; Rom. 11:29 with Rom. 6:23)?
Gal. 5:22-23 What is the fruit of the Spirit?
Are these qualities consistently evident and growing in your life?
If not, why?
And what plan of action do you have to change this?
When will you start?
Eph. 4:17-24 What have believers learned to lay aside?
[“old self” – their former non-Christian state of being].
And are renewed in?
And have put on?
[“new self” – become a Christian].
How has our new self been created?
Have you done all of these things mentioned above?
Col. 3:5-11 Why shouldn’t these believers lie to one another?
Do you ever lie?
If so, when?
What can you do to change this?
Titus 1:15 What contrast is spoken of here?
To which would you compare your mind or nature?
1 Pet. 2:24 What took place that we might die to sin and live to righteousness?
[Believers are (spiritually) healed/forgiven of their sins, not their sicknesses, as the context here shows.].
2 Pet. 1:3-4 What has God’s divine power granted to us?
By God’s promises, of what might we become partakers?
And what is it that we have escaped?
1 Jn. 3:6-9 What does the one who abides in (remains in fellowship with or in obedience to) Christ not do?
Who doesn’t practice sin, and why?
[To “practice” sin means to habitually/constantly do it.].
[“he cannot sin” – from his new nature, Christ’s seed/divine nature, 1 Jn. 3:9; 2 Pet. 1:4].
Are you practicing sin?