The Flesh

Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 4)

Originally published as a single article in DBSJ 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103. Used by permission.

This installment continues our study of the believer’s struggle with sin, focusing on “flesh” vs. “the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16–17

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

It is universally recognized that this passage describes the believer’s battle with sin—the flesh against the Spirit. Though Paul sometimes uses flesh (σάρξ) for the physical aspect of man, it is widely conceded that in this passage we find Paul’s well-known “ethical” use of the term—fallen human nature. Longenecker explains:

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