Flesh: Good or Bad

The Greek word sarx, “flesh,” has a wide range of meanings—some positive and some negative. Positively, it can mean simply the physical body (Acts 2:31), humanity in general (John 1:14), or all living creatures (1 Peter 1:24). As part of God’s creation, “flesh” in this sense is good. However, Paul most often used the term in a more negative and technical sense for the sinful disposition of humanity after the fall and our inability to obey in our own strength (Romans 7:18). One theological dictionary notes, “Everything human and earthly is sarx, and as people trust in sarx in this sense, it becomes a power that opposes the working of the Spirit. . . . Subjection to sarx is not fate but guilt. A life oriented to it serves it and carries out its thinking.”1

  1. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey W. Bromiley, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 1005.

Taken from Michael J. Svigel, “Flesh: Good or Bad,” Let’s Talk about Our Walk, Part 2, in Supernatural Living in a Secular World. Copyright © 2009 Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

About the author


Michael J. Svigel

Michael J. Svigel received his master of theology in New Testament and doctor of philosophy in Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). He currently serves as associate professor of Theological Studies at DTS, teaching Theology and Church History. Prior to accepting his position at the seminary in 2007, he worked as a writer in the Creative Ministries Department at Insight for Living Ministries. Mike and his wife, Stephanie, are parents of three children.

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