Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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The Lord Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). From this we can see that the Lord is speaking of three things: (1) What is flesh? (2) How does man become flesh? and (3) What is the nature of flesh?

What is flesh? "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Who then is born of the flesh? Man. So man is flesh. Whatever a man may have inborn in him or may have derived from nature when he was born of his parents is flesh. However good he is, however virtuous he may be, whatever talents he may have, or however kind and intelligent he may be, he is fleshly. Regardless of how bad, how unholy, how foolish, how useless, or how cruel he may be, he is of the flesh. That man is flesh means that all that a man inherits by birth, whatever it may be (whether good or bad) is of the flesh. Whatever is inherited by him at birth, although it is only in its embryonic form and is later developed and becomes fully grown, is of the flesh.

How does man become flesh? "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." Man does not become fleshly by learning or practicing to be bad. Man is fleshly not because he sins gradually and becomes fleshly in due course of time. A fleshly man need not necessarily be one who is given to the indulgences of the flesh or one who does what pleases him and is completely controlled, suppressed, and subjugated by the evil desires of the body. The Lord Jesus said man is flesh the very moment he is born. So, to determine whether a man is fleshly, we need not look at his conduct or disposition. It is sufficient to take only one thing into account, and that is, of whom was he born? All men are begotten of human parents; therefore, they are born of man. Every man on earth is born according to the manner of men; that is, every human being is begotten of man. Thus, in the sight of God, all men, without exception, are flesh (Gen. 6:3), and on this account God on numerous occasions does not refer to men as men in the Bible, but to all men as "all flesh." Since all men are born of the flesh, can there possibly be anyone who is not the flesh? So, in view of the Lord’s word, whether man is of the flesh is not dependent on any consideration other than whether he is born of the flesh. Man becomes flesh because he is begotten of blood, of the will of the flesh, and of the will of man. It is not his behavior or his parents’ conduct that determines the kind of person he is.

What is the nature of the flesh? "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." In any case, he who is born of the flesh is flesh. Educate him, reform him, cultivate him, regulate him with morality and religion—all these will not make him non-flesh, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Since he is born of the flesh, he is flesh and will remain as flesh, regardless of the amount of work or energy spent on him. If he is to be other than flesh, he has to be born otherwise than of the flesh, and since it is through the flesh that he is born, he will always and forever be flesh. Nothing further need be said if man is not born of the flesh. But if he is, then neither by any human means nor by the power of God or miracles can he be changed into something other than flesh. The Lord Jesus said man "IS" flesh, and the matter is settled for all time. The question of whether man is fleshly lies not in the man himself, but as is stated in the foregoing paragraphs, in of whom he is born, of what he is born. If he is born of the flesh, whatever programs may be employed to make him change will be of no avail, for he may change from one condition to another, and for that matter change from day to day, but he is still flesh, no matter how much he has changed outwardly or what condition he has changed into.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)