From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Dr. Graham:

Why does the Bible use the word “flesh” as it relates to deeds of the flesh?

— B.Q.

Dear B.Q.: Flesh is the Bible’s word for unperfected human nature. Leaving off the “h” and spelling it in reverse we have the word “self.” Flesh is the self-life: it is what we are when we are left to our own devices. “Self” will show itself to be selfish. Jesus said that “the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). The apostle Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18).

There was once a man who had lived a wild life and became a changed man when the Lord saved Him. His friend said to him, “I feel sorry for you. You’re going to church, praying and reading the Bible instead of going to the nightclubs, drinking and enjoying beautiful women ... you can’t do anything fun anymore.” The man laughed and said, “No you don’t understand, it isn’t that I can’t; it’s that I don’t want to ... you see, the Lord changed what I want to do by making me a new man!”

When we truly love God — as so many say they want to — we will “want to” do what pleases Him. The Bible promises that He will give us the desires of our heart because our minds are “fixed” on Him. This is the work of His Spirit within us. “But without faith it is impossible to please (God) ... He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

It is God who makes it possible for us to live apart from fleshy desires while still in our human bodies. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). This is true freedom.