Crucifying the Flesh – Galatians 5:24; Romans 8:13-14

Published August 2, 2009 by Ron Latulippe in Messages


Crucifying the Flesh Galatians 5.24; Romans 8.13-14

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5.24 (NIV)

“… but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8.13  (NIV)

The Flesh Crucified Galatians 5.24

-Aorist Active: Past action done by me

-When and How did this happen?

-5.17 says the flesh is still active. Crucified or Active?

-Not Romans 6.6 which is done by God to the old man

-When I chose Christ, I also chose to crucify the flesh but this did not remove the influence of the flesh in me


Daily Death of the Flesh Romans 8.13-14

-Present Active: Continuous action done by me

-Ongoing decision based on past decision not to sin

-Work of faith and obedience to God

-Jesus: Matthew 5.27-30

-Paul: 1 Corinthians 9.24-27

-Caution: the body is not evil and desires are not bad

-Saying no to the flesh can feel like crucifixion

-Need for daily fellowship with God

The Old Cross and the New by A. W. Tozer, READ


Conclusion Luke 9.23-24

-Deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Jesus



[Take some daily quiet time alone with God]

Monday: Read James 1.19-25. Don’t just talk about the crucified flesh, live it out. Take time to praise God for giving you His Word and then obey it.

Tuesday: Think about Hebrews 12.1-4. We are called to run a holy race and need to cast off what hinders us and the sin that entangles us. Take time to thank God for His holy calling and then live a holy life.

Wednesday: Read 1 Peter 2.1-12 It is our responsibility to rid our lives of sinful attitudes and actions. We are dead to sin but we need to live like it. Take time to ask God for greater understand of the flesh and our call to be holy.

Thursday: Meditate on 1 Peter 4.1-11. We are to be done with sin but it will mean suffering. Take time to thank God for Christ’s example and then follow Him.

Friday: Think about 1 John 2.28-3.6. Our hope in Christ is to motivate holy behavior. Take time to worship God this week because He is Holy and has made us holy in Christ.

Other verses you can consider this week: Titus 2.11-14; Luke 9.22-26.


Crucifying the Flesh Galatians 5.24

-Our overall theme over the last months has been “walking in the Spirit” from Galatians 5. …Over the last number of weeks we have focused on the flesh which is in constant conflict with the Spirit. (v17) …Galatians 5.13 says that we are “not to indulge the flesh, but rather we are to serve one another in love”. …Galatians 5.16 says that when “we live by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh”. …As Christians we need to be on guard against the flesh every day by walking in the Spirit.

-Last week we looked at the theological basis for our freedom in Christ. …We learned how Christ died for us to justify, deliver us from the wrath to come, and reconcile us to God. …We also learned how we are dead to sin because God has united us with the death of Christ. …We died with Christ. …In union with Christ our “old man” is dead and our body which at one time was a slave to sin is now free to serve God. …We concluded by saying that even though my old man is dead and my body is no longer under the power of sin, the effects of sin are still active in my body. …The Bible calls this residual effects of sin in my body the flesh. …The flesh continues to call me back to sin and works against the Spirit that calls me to holiness and love. (v17)

Galatians 5.24 says, “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. …“Crucified” is an aorist tense which means an action that has taken place in the past and is complete. …“Crucified” is also in the active voice which means that I am doing the action. …What this verse teaches is that at some point in the past I crucified my flesh with its passions and desires. …When did I crucify my flesh and how did I crucify my flesh?

-Along with this verse we need to consider verse 17 which teaches that my flesh, which has been crucified according to verse 24, is very much active and in conflict with the Spirit. …Verse 17 says, “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 do not do what you want.” …So is my flesh crucified or still active in my body? …These are questions we will try to answer

-This crucifixion of the flesh is obviously not referring to my death in union with Christ because Romans 6.6 is in the passive voice which means that God is the One who joined me to Christ and put to death my old life in Adam, so that I am now dead to sin and no longer under the power of sin. …“Our old man” is not the same as the flesh. …The flesh is to be identified with “the body of sin” and not with the old man, so what Paul is speaking about in 5.24 is not my co-crucifixion with Christ. …I am the one who has crucified the flesh and has chosen to no longer have the power of the flesh at work over me. …God has crucified my old man, not the flesh.

-What I believe Paul is teaching here is that when I chose to give my life to Christ, and God joined me to Christ and put to death my old man in Christ, and took away the power of sin and delivered my body of sin from its slavery to sin, I also chose to no longer gratify the sinful passions and desires of the flesh. …My choice to follow Christ was also a choice to crucify my flesh with its passions and desires and to no longer serve sin in any way.

-I hope that you have come to realize as a Christian that God wants you to have nothing to do with sin and that He has saved you to be holy and righteous in His sight. …As John writes, “Everyone who has the hope of seeing Jesus purifies himself, just as He is pure”. (1 John 3.3)

-My choice to follow Christ, which included my decision to crucify the flesh, did not remove the influence of the flesh over my body. …The influence of the flesh pulling me toward sin against God will continue until death when I receive my new body, a body which will no longer be infected with the flesh. …My choice to follow Christ and to crucify the flesh did not eliminate the conflict of the flesh with the Spirit which continues to the present. …Until that day of deliverance, I need to be aware of the flesh, and to beware of the flesh, and not to gratify the flesh by walking in the Spirit.

-When I chose to follow Christ I also chose to crucify my flesh. …That choice did not remove the influence of the flesh over my body and the conflict of my flesh with the Spirit of God. …The flesh desires me to sin while the Spirit is at work in me to bring me to holiness and love.

-Now turn with me to Romans 8.13-14 [Read]

-My choice for Christ which included my choice not to gratify the flesh anymore but to crucify the flesh, to put the flesh to death, is to be worked out on an hourly basis in my Christian life. …In Romans 8.13, Paul is teaching us that the flesh is to be crucified on an ongoing basis. …Because of the choice we once made to follow Christ and to have nothing more to do with sin, we are to put the flesh to death on an ongoing basis.

-The verb “put to death” is present active which means that this is a continuous action that I am to do. …I am to continually put to death the misdeeds of my body, which is another way of saying put the death the works of the flesh. …So here we move from a one time decision in the past to have nothing more to do with the flesh, to an ongoing daily application of death to the flesh.

-Notice as well that this death is applied as I walk in the Spirit and is not my self-effort. …As I walk in the Spirit I say No to the flesh and to sin and I am also saying Yes by yielding in obedience to God.

-Putting the flesh to death on an ongoing basis is a work of faith and obedience to God. …The crucifixion of my old man in union with Christ was a work of God’s grace in my life, but the crucifixion of my flesh is a work of faith and obedience to God that I am to do.

Jesus taught this same truth when He taught us not to sin and if need be to deal harshly with our body in order to prevent it from sinning. …In Matthew 5.27-30 Jesus is speaking to one of the sins that men are prone to, which is lust. [Read].

Paul not only taught about putting to death the misdeeds of the body but also applied this teaching to his own life. [Read 1 Corinthians 9.24-27]

-One caution here, we are not Buddhists, we are Christians. …The Christian does not seek to eliminate all physical desires and pleasures from his life. …The Christian does not believe that the body is evil and sinful, and is to be neglected and restrained from all physical desires. …All of our fleshly passions and desires can be traced back to good passions and desires which because of sin have taken control of our lives and have become the gods we worship instead of ways of enjoying the blessing of God.

Self-gratification is the essence of the flesh. …Yielding to God in love for God’s Glory, no matter what the cost is to me, is the essence of Christianity. …The self-gratification of the flesh and the self-giving love of God are in conflict with each another. …When we have a desire to do something we must examine that desire to see if its fulfillment will glorify God or if to fulfill it will dishonor and disobey God. …The fulfillment of our desires must be in line with the purposes of God and the Glory of God, and must not be fulfilled independent of God or in rebellion against God. …The body is to serve the will of God. …The body is not to be a servant of sin but of the Spirit

-Saying No to the flesh on a regular basis is not only crucifying the flesh but will feel like crucifixion as well. …Perhaps this is why we do not put the flesh to death as often as we should. …As Christians we are free from the slavery and power of sin. …As Christians we now sin by choice and not by obligation. …We sin because we want to sin. …We sin because we like the feeling and pleasure of sin. …We sin because we like the flesh to be satisfied and comforted and appeased. …We may not like the guilt of sin or the long term effects of sin on our bodies or families, but we do like the momentary pleasure of sin. …Saying no to the flesh is like going through a crucifixion. …We feel the bitter effects of the cross in our own being when we deny the flesh.

-Saying no to the flesh is choosing to cut myself off from a strong desire and the promise of momentary pleasure. …After we say No to a strong desire that strong desire can continue to cry out for fulfillment with even greater intensity. …A strong desire can cry out for a long time and tax the physical and mental energies of a person. …Dealing with the vigilant determination and perseverance of the flesh can be a physically and mentally draining conflict.

-An unfulfilled desire can bring mental and even physical pain to a person. …You can feel miserable when you decide to no longer satisfy the flesh, especially in the early stages of turning away from sin. …You can feel just like you are missing a limb when you have cut off your eye or your hand or your tongue from sin in obedience to God. …A great sense of loneliness can set in as I leave behind my faithful friend named “fulfilled fleshly desire”. …A sense of deadness and emptiness can settle in when I continue to say no to the flesh. …We may go into a state of mourning a loss. …Boredom is possible because the adrenalin rush of sin is gone as part of self-crucifixion. …Did you know that some sins like pornography and stealing produce a chemical high in the body which makes us want to come back for more? …Food can comfort the body in the same kind of way. …When a man or a woman decides that the flesh must been crucified and determines to say yes to God and holiness and to put to death the misdeeds of the body, a kind of depression can set in for a time as the adrenaline rush or the comfort of the flesh is no longer there. …An adrenaline or comfort substitute may be sought which is often no better than the sin it is replacing. …Yes, the death of the flesh can actually feel like a crucifixion as you go through it.

-When we are undergoing a trial the flesh is right there to offer us relief from that trial through indulging its passions and desires. …Saying No to the flesh when under trial only increases our burden. …But choosing to be holy and obedient to God does produce maturity and completeness as James says, and purifies our faith as Peter teaches.

-Sustained obedience to God is only possible when we walk in the Spirit and are refreshed daily in the presence of God. …That is why I believe meeting with God every morning is absolutely essential to walking in the Spirit. …If the hum-drum routines of life, are not filled with fellowship with God, the flesh can deceive us into rewarding our good behavior with the excitement of the flesh. …Following up a good day of righteous behavior with a reward of sin by indulging the flesh is not uncommon. …I deserve this fleshly indulgence for my faithfulness to this point. …How deceptive the flesh can be!

-Sustained obedience to God and not indulging the flesh but walking in the Spirit produces the rich blessings of fellowship with God, and the deep joy and peace of God that comes from obedience. …Sustained obedience produces spiritual maturity and power with men, fruitful ministry, and godly character.

-I want to sidetrack for a moment and caution how the flesh can easily deceive us in our Christian life. …For example some of our yearning for excitement in worship services can be the flesh calling out to be entertained and stimulated. …I do think we should be more excited about our God and His great work of salvation as we learn more about Him and His works, and we should express that excitement in worship, but this is not the same as indulging the flesh. …The point is that we need to be discerning between the work of the flesh and walking in the Spirit. …That discernment comes from knowing God’s Word and knowing God and being determined to walk in the Spirit. …I want to encourage each one of you to read, carefully and with understanding, “The Old Cross and the New” by A. W. Tozer. …I have the link in your bulletin as well as copies for you to take home.

-One day as Jesus was speaking with His disciples He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9.23-24)

-Have you decided to follow Jesus? …Then you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. …Part of that self-denial and taking up your cross is the daily crucifixion of the flesh.

-As Christians we are done with sin. …WE ARE DONE WITH SIN. [Say it]

-We are to walk in holiness and part of walking in holiness means death to the passions and desires of the flesh.

-You are dead to sin in Christ. …Your body is no longer a slave to sin but free to serve God. …Do not indulge the flesh but crucify it daily and walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Next week we are going to have a quick look at the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit and then the week after we will close this series with a summary of what it means to walk in the Spirit.

The Old Cross and the New

All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique – a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Savior, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

(A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)

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