I. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
THE SELF AND THE FLESH
There is a difference between the self and the flesh, but most Christians do not realize this or care for this.
A. The Flesh Being
the Corrupted and Transmuted Body
At man’s fall his body was corrupted, and then it was transmuted, changed. Galatians 5 speaks of the lusts of the flesh (v. 16b) and of the passions of the flesh (v. 24). The lusts and the passions are the evil things of our fallen body. The flesh is the corrupted and transmuted body. This is the most proper definition of the flesh.
B. The Self Being the Fallen and Rebellious Soul
The soul was created by God but it became fallen. When it became fallen, it became rebellious toward God. In Matthew 16:26 the Lord said, "What shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul-life?" In Luke 9:24-25, soul-life is replaced with himself, indicating that our soul-life, our soul, is our self.
We have seen that God created a body for man, but He did not create the flesh. The body became the flesh by being corrupted. In the same way, the soul was created by God, but the self was not. The soul became the self by becoming fallen and rebellious. The source of the flesh is the body, and the source of the self is the soul.
II. WHEN THE FLESH DOMINATES THE SELF,
THE SELF BECOMES AN EVIL PERSON
In Romans 7:18-21 Paul shows how the flesh dominates the self and how the self tries unsuccessfully to overcome the flesh. When the flesh, which is full of lusts and passions, dominates the self, the self becomes an evil person doing evil things.
III. WHEN THE SELF SUBDUES THE FLESH,
THE SELF BECOMES A "GOOD" PERSON
Some people are very strong in their will or in their character, so to some extent, but not altogether, they can control their flesh with its passions and lusts. Matthew 19 speaks of a rich young man who considered that he was good in this way. He came to the Lord and asked Him what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life (v. 16). When the Lord told him to keep the commandments, he said that he had kept them (v. 20). No doubt, he was a "good" person. This shows us that when the self subdues the flesh, the self becomes a "good" person.
(Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)