Appendix II: BODY AND FLESH
There are two completely different Greek words in our New Testament that are translated body and flesh. Scripture uses each of them in both a literal and a figurative sense.
The Greek word translated “body” is soma, which means: an organized whole, made up of many parts and members. Soma is simply a functioning material body.
The human body is a combination of several interior and exterior parts. It is a group of structured bones, internal organs, skin, and several functional systems.
God designed the human body to function as an important part of our life in this material earth. It houses our God-given spirit and provides input for our soul consciousness. Our body links us to the natural realm and enables our interaction with physical realities.
In contrast to our body, the Greek word translated “flesh” is sarx, which means: the external part of a body (as the skin), the outer covering of the body’s collective group.
Skin and flesh do not include the inner organs, bones, and blood of the body. During the Old Testament days, the Israelites were instructed to eat only the outer meats of animals and exclude the inner blood and organs. Flesh is simply the outer visible covering of the body.
Our flesh is the most relatable part of our corporate body; it is what people see and touch.
Many Greek philosophers spoke of the human body as though it were a bad thing. Neither the New Testament nor normal Greek usage does so.
Two thousand years ago the spoken word of God came into flesh (sarx), to live as Jesus Christ. The life He lived illustrated God’s intention for us as people of flesh.
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory…full of grace and truth (John 1: 14).
Jesus is recognized as living in the flesh without sin because he yielded his activity to his Father’s guidance.
Jesus answered…“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
Our natural body with its flesh will eventually die and return to dust. Since we are much more than flesh and bones, our spirit and conscious soul continues into the eternal realm.
In the New Testament, a “body” can refer to a person with spirit, soul, and physical members. However, it may also speak of a collective group of believers that are responding to God’s guiding presence.
So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:5).
Flesh is used in Scripture in a figurative manner to speak of our physical expressions and actions, be they godly or not. Jesus instructed us to eat his flesh (sarx) as though words and word expressive activity were the real bread of life:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life…I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh (John 6:47-51).
Obviously, Jesus was not indicating we are to eat His literal flesh. This is a figurative use of the word. The words and activity of Jesus help us relate to God’s heart. They are as nourishment to our efforts to live a godly life. We want to observe His example and be led by our Father.
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
As we partake of the life Jesus demonstrated and absorb His words, we partake of eternal life. To put it another way, when we reflect and resemble, through our thoughts and actions, the life that Jesus lived in the flesh, we experience an eternal quality of life here on earth.
Figuratively, flesh speaks of our physical expressions and actions. When we submit to God’s Lordship, we become members of the body of Christ. When our activity is in concert with Christ (God’s anointing presence), we are the visible flesh of Christ in the earth. People begin to see Christ in us.
God designed and created us to function with a physical body and its relatable flesh. So, he intends for us to think, interact, and live a natural life. There is however, a conflict going on in our mind for domination and control.
In scripture, “carnal and carnality” are the same as “flesh and fleshly”—they represent our physical interactions with people. Different translations tend to use these words interchangeably. The carnal and fleshly mind refers to thoughts that are not in concert with God.
The book of Romans tells us that when our mind is set on the flesh, it is carnal and competes with spiritual input. The mind set on the flesh tends to ignore God’s direction.
…sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God (Romans 8:9-14).
When the carnal mind dominates our thinking, our flesh is able to run rampant and tends to control our actions. This type of activity is called fleshly. It ignores God’s guidance.
King David was known as a man of God. His expressions and actions, for the most part, were godly. But when he saw Bathsheba, fleshly inclinations overcame what God taught him. Even the most godly among us are susceptible to the carnal mind and its fleshly thoughts:
Beloved, I urge you…to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).
The warfare in our soul involves our mind’s thoughts, our will’s understandings, and our emotional feelings. The self-centered carnal mind tends to want to function without God’s relational guidance. It can cause us to act like “mere men” who are void of spiritual guidance.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ [immature]. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
While our flesh (sarx) is prone to passion and affections, we do not have to yield to sinful activity. As a man, Jesus dealt with these same thoughts and feelings but did not succumb to ungodly lusts.
When we negate God’s guidance and his way of life, we tend to respond to our fleshly, carnal mind with its ungodly lustful inclinations, desires, and appetites. This can include many excesses such as greed, illicit sexual activity, and even overeating to appease one’s appetites.
Flesh speaks of the natural side of our life, our physical interactions with our environment and with others. Paul said our brotherhood in Christ, under God’s influence, causes us to cease to see each other only by the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16). We learn to recognize one another through the eyes of the spirit.
When we follow God’s lead, be it from the written Scriptures or the still small voice of His Spirit, our soul is not dominated by the carnal mind, nor do we function only as fleshly beings, as mere men.
Body and Spirit Link Us
One day, the Creator of the heavens and earth assembled all the animals together and said, “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready to receive it. It’s the knowledge that I have put my Spirit within them.”
First, an eagle spoke up, “Give it to me, and I will fly with it to the moon.” God responded, “No. One day men will go there and find it.”
Then a whale said, “Let me take it to the depths of the sea.” “No,” said God. “They will dive into the abyss someday.”
Next, a buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.” The Creator replied, “They’ll carve into the earth and find it even there.”
Finally, an old grandmother mole, who lives underground without working eyes, but who sees with spiritual eyes, said, “Hide it inside of them.” So God said, “It’s as good as done!” —From a Sioux Parable http://nativeamericancreationmythology.weebly.com/sioux-creation-myth.html
Humanity began in the mind of God as a desire to birth and parent children. He wanted offspring who would grow, develop, and mature under His parental guidance. This chapter examines our body and spirit as foundational links that connect each of us to two different realities: the created natural realm and the eternal spiritual realm.
After creating the natural universe and seeing it properly functioning within the eternal spirit realm, God began filling the planet with various life forms. This included animal and plant life to populate the dry land, to occupy the waters, and to fly in the air. The creation is quite wonderfully made!
To make the first human, Scripture says three actions were involved. God formed a body from the natural, material realm and then He breathed (infused) a measure of His Spirit into the body. Once the components of the natural and spiritual realms were blended together into a being, a soul emerged as the person became conscious of itself and its surroundings.
We trust you’ve enjoyed the preview for this chapter. We hope you’ll purchase a copy of the book and join us on this exciting faith journey. Created to Relate is available from this website or Amazon.com