The sin resident within our natural bodies is that element of sin that we must mortify on a regular basis by the Spirit; when we fail to do this, as we so often do while we are learning to walk in the Spirit, we touch that which is unclean and become ceremoniously impure and consequently unfit to stand but condemned before God. When we indulge the flesh we become temporarily separated from God and we correctly feel condemned. The action of indulging our flesh is, indeed, condemned by God, though the person the action sprang from is not yet condemned (in an ultimate sense). If their action becomes habitual and ultimately defines their character, however, the life of Christ will have been displaced; this condemnation is justifiable and is an utter and final condemnation. Indeed, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires…” (1 Peter 2:9-10, emphasis added, NASB).
Of course, this is even too harsh for me; I write this trembling and fearing deeply. I will not, however, water down what I believe it is saying nor dampen its impact to acquiesce my own conscience. I know the miracle of the new creation inside me, and I have had some success living by its rule; my overall experience, however, has been regrettably more carnal than spiritual. Nevertheless, I soldier on; I must embrace things too wonderful for me and too harsh for my tender sensibilities. I too must be willing to readjust my preconceptions about life and theology. As Oswald Chambers said:
The theological view ought to be constantly examined; if we put it in the place of God we become invincibly ignorant, that is, we won’t accept any other point of view, and the invincible ignorance of fanaticism leads to delusions for which we alone are to blame. The fundamental things are not the things which can be proved logically in practical life. Watch where you are inclined to be invincibly ignorant, and you will find your point of view causes you to break down in the most vital thing. An accepted view of God has caused many a man to fail at the critical moment, it has kept him from being the kind of man he ought to be, and only when he abandons his view of God for God Himself, does he become the right kind of man.
Having now scared the hell out of myself and my audience (and I suppose that is a good thing), let us not forget His lovingkindness. “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way” (Hebrews 6:9).