You’re only human (and that’s a bad thing)You’re only human (and that’s a bad thing)

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery … 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:1 & 13-25)
The Apostle Paul doesn’t pull any punches, does he? Just after explaining what a “spiritual person” is in the passage we looked at yesterday, Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that he can’t address them as “spiritual people” but only as worldly people (literally “fleshly people”). Why? Because, although God’s Spirit now lives inside them, their lives are still driven by their own fleshly thoughts and desires.

We often associate “fleshly desires” with gluttony or lust, but that’s not how Paul uses the phrase here. He describes “jealousy” and “quarrelling” and “faction-forming” as fleshly actions too. Paul’s criticises the Corinthians for being “mere human beings”, which sounds weird, right? After all, “you’re only human” is a saying that we normally use to help us feel much better about ourselves, not worse! Paul clearly takes a different view in 1 Corinthians 3. He says that when believers, whose spirits have now been united with God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17) act as if they are not joined with God’s Spirit, then it is tragic. They aren’t a “natural person” (a nonbeliever who hasn’t been born again yet). They aren’t a “spiritual person” (a believer who is empowered by the Holy Spirit within them). They are a “fleshly person” (born again, but still driven by their sinful flesh, instead of by God’s Spirit within them.

This is important, so Paul explains a little further in Galatians 5. The “fleshly person” is spiritually alive, but acts according to their flesh, instead of recognising that their flesh was crucified with Jesus (Galatians 5:24). They have not learned how to act like Jesus, the spiritual man. They are still behaving like the natural man they used to be, even though their spirit has been raised to life again through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Paul is warning us about the spiritual atrophy that comes upon us when we fail to press into God and, instead, remain consumed by the things of this world. It’s so important that we live spiritually to help protect us from the influence of the world and the flesh. Let’s do what Paul says in Galatians and crucify our fleshly desires.
  1. Read back through the attributes of a “fleshly person” in these two passages. Do you recognise any of them in your own life?
  2. What are some of the stumbling blocks that might encourage you to live the life of a “fleshly person”, rather than a “spiritual person”? How can you deal with those stumbling blocks today?
  3. What measurable steps could you put into place to help yourself live more attuned to God’s Spirit within your own spirit? How can you remind yourself to live more and more as a “spiritual person”?
Father God, thank you that because of Jesus, I can crucify my evil fleshly desires and instead live the life of a “spiritual person”. I wish to be an adult in Christ, eating solid food and living life in the Spirit. Please convict me of the ways that I have had a fleshly attitude. I lay those sins down at the cross and rejoice in the forgiveness you offer me. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by Freddie Ingle, who leads our Kingston congregation.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

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