The Flesh of Man
Text: I Corinthians 15:35–44
I. In attempting to train our puppy, we often found ourselves scolding the dog for chewing on everything in reach – clothing, ankles, fingers.
A. Why does a dog behave as it does? Certainly mama dog did not teach him to chew on everything in sight.
B. Animals do what comes natural to them. They follow the instincts given to them by God in their fleshly bodies.
1. They do whatever is necessary to satisfy their needs, to gratify their fleshly desires, and to protect itself from harm.
2. If an animal is hungry, it searches for food. If it has an itch, it scratches itself. If it is thirsty, it seeks out water.
3. We do not think it strange if, in the search for food, one animal kills another. It is what comes natural to an animal.
C. Flesh is flesh, but all flesh is not the same - I Corinthians 15:39
II. Man is not an animal, though we are made of flesh
A. When God created the sea creatures and births, He created something that did not exist before. - Genesis 1:20-22
1. He created living creatures (souls).
2. The word created means to make something from nothing.
B. The following day He made the land animals and man - Genesis 1:24-28
1. He made them. The Hebrew means to form something from pre-existing materials and ideas.
2. Yet, while God made man, making him a living creature, he also created something that did not exist before in this world. He created man in His own image. He gave mankind spirits.
3. Only man was made in God’s image. The animals were not suitable companions for man - Genesis 2:18-23
a. Man is different from the animals, though we share living flesh.
b. No animal corresponds to man.
III. Man has a choice
A. Animals naturally choose the course of action built into their nature.
B. Man has the capacity to ignore his spirit and allow his fleshly instincts to rule.
1. In other words, men can behave just like animals
2. When he does so, he is doing what comes natural to his flesh.
3. Like an animal, man’s flesh desires to do whatever is necessary to satisfy his needs, to gratify the body’s desires, and to protect himself from harm.
C. It is here we must note that the translators of the New International Version missed a very important truth when they chose to translate references to man’s flesh as his “sinful nature.”
1. When the flesh seeks its own gratification and preservation, independent of God, it is only doing what comes natural.
a. Now don’t misunderstand my point. I’m speaking of the desires of the flesh independent of God’s desires.
b. Yet these impulses are the instincts placed within our flesh by God.
c. The impulses are not sinful, it is context in which they are satisfied.
D. The truth is that man is more than flesh - I Thessalonians 5:23
1. Man’s spirit is dependent on His God
a. Man’s spirit has the capacity to choose the way he will live.
b. Man has the ability to know the will of God as revealed in the Bible - Psalm 94:8-12; Ephesians 5:17
c. In this way, man has the capacity to be righteous and to do righteousness.
2. In other words, the spirit of a man can exercise control over the flesh and do what is natural to the spirit. - I Corinthians 2:11-16
E. Having the mind of Christ, we can exercise control over our flesh
1. We can search out the truths of God and conform ourselves to His will - Romans 12:1-2
2. Through the revealed words of the Spirit of God, we can discern right from wrong - Hebrews 5:13-14
3. From this Bible we can develop a faith that will motivate us to do what is right even when our flesh may desire something else for its own gratification.
4. Romans 10:8-11 - With our hearts, not our flesh, we believe unto righteousness.
IV. Our choice
A. If we don’t control ourselves we have no defenses - Proverbs 25:28
B. The works of the flesh - Galatians 5:19-21
1. Consider the word “sensuality” which may be also translated “lewdness,” “lasciviousness,” or “licentiousness.”
a. It refers to the activities of men when they have set aside the laws of God and live only for the satisfaction, gratification, and preservation of their own flesh.
b. It refers to a man living for his own senses, ignoring everyone else, including God.
2. Lewdness turns the gratification of hunger into gluttony, or thirst into drunkenness; the expression of sexuality into pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, or pedophilia; the expression of joy or anger into profane speech and crudeness.
a. The children of Israel were lewd when they had Aaron make a golden calf to worship with their flesh while Moses was on Mt. Sinai. - Exodus 32:1-6
b. David was lewd when he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her - II Samuel 11:2-4
C. The Bible, though, teaches us self-control - Galatians 5:22-25
1. The word “self-control” is the opposite of lewdness.
2. Romans 8:12-14 - Living for the flesh actually results in death.
3. Living by the Spirit puts the actions of the body to death
a. Gluttony is replaced with moderation. Drunkenness is replaced with abstinence. Sexuality is expressed between a husband and wife in marriage. And our speech is seasoned with grace - Colossians 4:6
b. I Peter 4:1-3 - No longer living for the lusts of the flesh
4. We learn to control
a. Our anger - James 1:19-21
b. Our tongue - James 3:2
c. Our desires - I Corinthians 10:13
V. What is your choice this day?
A. Paul chose the path of self-discipline - I Corinthians 9:27
B. Will you ignore your spirit and continue to do the will of your flesh, being nothing more than an animal?
C. Will you heed the call of the giver of your spirit and the giver of life?
D. I can do all things through Christ - Philippians 4:13