Why “Crucify” The Flesh?

Paul wrote:

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24-25

Have you ever wondered why God inspired him to direct us to “crucify” the flesh with its passions and desires, as opposed to simply “turn away from” it or “kill” it?

He wrote Galatians during a time when walking past crucified criminals on the side of the road was commonplace.  The Romans had perfected crucifixion to almost an art form.  Their goals in using it as a familiar method of execution was not just to kill the one being crucified.  No, they also wanted to shame him, discredit him, and thus silence not only him but his followers and admirers after they eradicated him.

Christians, Jesus went through the terrible ordeal of crucifixion in order to purchase us (Acts 20:28; 2 Pet. 2:1).  We belong to him, not ourselves, and certainly not to the world and the god of this world, Satan.

We therefore have the responsibility – indeed, obligation (Rom. 8:12-13) – to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.  Those “works of the flesh”?

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

We must not only turn away from them and put them to death.  No, we must discredit them and put them to shame.  We must show the world that they are not the right way.

How do we do that?  By living by the Spirit, which means to walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).

Which means that our lives – every aspect of our lives – continually shows that we are being led by the Spirit.  That’s what “the fruit of the Spirit” is all about:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

And the way we come to show more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all areas of our lives is to obey the commandments, directives, and principles of God.

Which are found in the Scriptures.

Which, incidentally, were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:19-21

So when we read, study, and follow the commands and precepts of the New Testament, we are being led by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, showing the fruit of the Spirit more in our lives, and showing less and less of the works of the flesh in our lives.

And thus “crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires.”

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