And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. Galatians 5:24(AMPC)
The flesh referred to here is not the physical body. There’s nothing wrong with our physical blood, flesh, and bone bodies. Our body is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Psalms 139:14, it has been bought by and belongs to God, and it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. 1Corinthians 6:19, 20.
The flesh that those who belong to Christ have crucified is human effort independent of God. This is what came into being when Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Every time we depend on our own natural human strength or wisdom apart from and contrary to God we are relying on the flesh and this leads to frustration, failure and death.
An example of this is when God promised Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age. They were both old and Sarah was barren as well as past the age of child bearing so they came up with a plan where Abraham had child with their young slave girl called Hagar.
The Word of God refers to the child Abraham had with their slave girl as a son of the flesh.
Galatians 4:22-23 (NIV) For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
The flesh is attempting to bring about fulfilment of God’s purposes in one’s own human strength.
Galatians 4:23 (NLT) The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.
God desires and commands that the flesh be crucified or killed. This is because God’s purposes can only be fulfilled by His power not human might.
Whenever human ability or wisdom interferes with what only God can do the results are disastrous. Someone saw a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon and in good heart with right intentions he tried to help. Well, it came out but it couldn’t fly, it struggled around a little while then it died. What he didn’t know was that the process of fighting and pushing to come out of the cocoon is what releases certain substances into its different body parts and strengthens and prepares it for the new life.
This is the same thing we so often do in trying to do what only God can do.
Now this doesn’t mean we are to absolutely do nothing at all in life but let God do everything. For example, God will never, and can never choose or decide for you, believe for you. He won’t dream for you, desire for you, eat, drink, study, and take on your responsibilities for you. All these you do yourself because He gave you the ability to do them.
How do know we are trying to do something in our own strength?
Every time we are struggling to start, sustain and bring anything to fruition, that’s an indicator of the flesh at work. Every time our inner peace is disturbed and we are worried, stressed, confused over an issue that’s flesh mode. When we do anything in the flesh the result is death. In talking about death here it is not necessarily physical death that’s referred to though it can also happen but rather death as in absence of life, peace, joy, real success, and fulfilment.
Romans 8:6(NIV) The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
If you’re doing a project, a business, or a ministry and you well know there’s no life in it – you’re not at peace, you’re restless, stressed, weighed down it’s a clear sign that you’re operating in the flesh and not relying on divine strength.
How is the flesh crucified or killed?
The answer is right up there in our theme scripture – those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh… Galatians 5:24. Belonging to or being in Christ is how the flesh is crucified or killed. Every one of us who has placed our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation belongs to and is in Christ. This means Christ is now our life and ability. We no longer live and depend on our own human natural strength and wisdom but on Christ.
To live life and do our tasks with the attitude that it’s no longer I who live and do but Christ lives in me and empowers me to do whatever I need to do is how to live a life where the flesh is crucified.
To depend on the life and ability of Christ in us is how we live and walk free in the spirit.