II. THE DEFINITION OF THE FLESH
We can find at least three definitions in the Bible of the flesh:
A. The Corrupted Body
The first definition of the flesh in the Bible is our corrupted body. When God first created man, he had only the physical body, not the flesh. At that time, there was no sin or lust in the human body; it was simply a created body. However, when Satan induced man to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then Satan and his sinful life, which was signified by the fruit, entered into the human body, causing the human body to be transmuted and corrupted and thus become the flesh. Therefore, today, the human flesh, which has sin, lust, and many other impure substances of Satan within it, is much more complicated than the original human body.
We can easily find scriptural ground to show that the flesh is the corrupted body. For example, Romans 6:6 mentions “the body of sin,” which is the sinful body. Romans 7:24 mentions “the body of death,” which means the dead body. This sinful and dead body refers to the corrupted body, or the flesh. Sin and death are the characteristics of the life of Satan. Our body which has sin and death has become the flesh. Therefore, Romans 7:18 says, “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing”; again, verse 20 says, “Sin which dwelleth in me”; and again, verse 21 says, “Evil is present with me.” These verses tell us that “sin” or “evil” which is within us is in our flesh. Then verse 23, which mentions “the law of sin which is in my members,” shows in a more practical way that the law of sin is in the members of the body. This reveals that our body, having been mixed with satanic poison, is corrupted.
Galatians 5:19-21 lists the manifestations of the flesh, such as fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, etc., all emanating from our corrupted body; therefore, the first definition of the flesh is our corrupted body.
B. The Whole Fallen Man
The second definition of the flesh in the Bible is our whole fallen being. Romans 3:20 says, “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” Galatians 2:16 states, “A man is not justified by the works of the law.” In these two passages we see that “flesh” and “man” are identical. In the Lord’s eyes, man not only has the flesh, but is flesh as well.
How did man fall and become flesh? Immediately after man was created, his body was in subjection to the soul, which, in turn, was in subjection to the spirit. On one hand, man had fellowship with God by the spirit, thereby understanding the will of God; on the other hand, he exercised his spirit to bring his whole being into subjection to God’s will. Hence, at that time, man lived by the spirit and was controlled by the spirit. When man was induced by Satan to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man fell away from the spirit and no longer lived by the spirit. Meanwhile, the human body, having been poisoned by Satan, became transmuted into flesh. This was the first step of the human fall. Then Cain sinned and fell in that he was rejected by God because he served God according to his own delight and opinion. Thus, man fell completely into the realm of the soul; he lived by the soul and became a soulish man. After Cain, man fell even deeper and sinned more violently. As a result, the spirit of man became withered, and his flesh grew stronger and stronger until it usurped the place of the spirit to control the whole being. In this way, man fell completely into the flesh and lived by it. Therefore, before the flood, God said that man “is flesh” (Gen. 6:3). Then, again, He said, “All flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:12). At that time, in the sight of God, man was not only of the flesh, but was the flesh. As those who are evil are the flesh, so also those who are good are the flesh. As those that hate are the flesh, so also those that love are flesh. All people of this world are flesh. Therefore, in the Bible, flesh refers also to the whole fallen human being.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)