The Spirit vs. The Flesh

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41 (KJV)

Spirit/flesh – Have you noticed that the battle is always between the spirit and the flesh? It’s never between the soul and the flesh. Stop and think about that a bit. We always think of the soul as this innocent ‘true form’ of who we are, and that it battles our fleshly shell which is prone to sin. This way of thinking is deeply rooted in Hellenism stemming from the Greek philosopher, Plato. But that’s not what Yeshua says here is it? Yeshua was Hebrew, so He thought like a Hebrew, not as a Greek philosopher. The battle according to Yeshua is between the spirit and the flesh.

So if the spirit isn’t the soul, what is it? Well according to the accounts of when God created Adam, God breathed the breath of life into Adam and Adam became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). This breath of life is the spirit of God according to Job 32:8. All men live because all men have the spirit of God in them to give them that life – whether they be believers or not. All men are God’s creation.

Now that the correlation has been made, we can understand that the spirit of God (the breath of life) is what battles against the flesh. Remember, it’s not the soul that battles. The soul, according to the creation of man is the man himself. Adam became a living soul – he didn’t receive one. We have to put aside our Greek mindedness to grasp this Hebraic concept.

Another indicator is when Yeshua died, what did he give up? He gave up the ghost, right? The “ghost” is the Greek word pneuma which actually means “spirit”. So the spirit of God, the essence that gave Yeshua life as a human, was what he ultimately yielded back to God when he died. It is the spirit that returns to God when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7) – not the soul.

The Grave by William Blake
The Grave by William Blake

So it is the spirit that came from God that battles against our fleshly desires. It is the perfect spirit within us that we need to allow manifest in our actions and not our carnal desires of self indulgence. Our soul isn’t the innocent party in this battle. We become a living soul when the spirit of God is within us. So which side of this battle does the soul reside? Let’s take a look at an old Hebrew parable – paraphrased.

A man was leaving his orchard for a few days and requested of his two servants that they tend to it, and not let anything happen to it. One servant was blind, and the other was lame. When the man left, the lame servant said to the blind one, “Let us eat of the orchard! The fruit looks very appealing!” The blind one said, “But you can’t walk, and I can’t see. How are we to eat of it?” And the lame servant replied, “Put me on your back, and I will direct you where to go.” So the lame climbed onto the blind man’s back and they went out into the orchard and ate of all the fruit. When the master returned, he was in shock that his fruit was gone, and questioned the two servants. The blind servant replied, “I am blind, how can I know where the fruit is?” And the lame servant replied, “I am lame, how can I walk out there to gather the fruit?” So the master, being wise, placed the lame man on the back of the blind one, and judged them as one.

This parable falls in line with another teaching about the soul and the flesh.

When judgement time came God looked upon the flesh and soul of a wicked man, and said, “How shall I judge you?” The flesh looked up from the grave and said, “I am innocent. Without the soul, my body lies motionless in the grave. It wasn’t me who committed the sin.” And the soul appealed by saying, “I am innocent. Without the flesh holding me on the earth, I would have been flying peacefully in the heavens.” They both claimed innocence before God, so He put them together and judged them as one.

The point being that the soul and flesh are one, and they will be judged as one in the end. They/it battles against the spirit of God. We are carnal men and inclined to our own passions, the yetzer hara. But the spirit is willing! The spirit is God’s breath of life within us, it is the inclination to do good. We have that and can manifest that in our actions with the help of Yeshua’s guidance and example. He has proven that it is possible. Man can overcome sin and evil. Man can choose to abide in God. Have you made that choice? Have you chosen life as Moses directed Israel?


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