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Spiritual Versus Flesh


My Spir­it shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh (Gen. 6:3).[1] Man has two op­ pos­ing forces inside, but one con­ scious­ness — the human being. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of this being are de­ ter­mined by his incli­na­tions. If he sides with the Spir­it, he is spir­i­tu­al; if he sides with the flesh, he is flesh­ ly. The spir­it does not dis­ap­pear al­ togeth­er even from the fleshly,but it is enslaved, and has no voice. It be­ comes yoked, and serves the flesh like a slave serves its mis­tress, in­ vent­ing all sorts of plea­sures for it. Sim­i­lar­ly, the flesh does not disap­ pear from the spir­i­tu­al, but it sub­ mits to the spir­it and serves it. It los­ es its nat­ur­al rights for food through fast­ing, its rights for sleep through vig­il, for rest through con­tin­u­ous la­ bour and weari­ness, for pleas­ing the feel­ings through seclu­sion and silence. Where the flesh reigns, God does not abide; for His organ of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with man is the spir­it, which is not giv­en its due pri­ ori­ty in the flesh. God’s approach is felt for the first time when the spir­it begins to claim its own through the oper­a­tion of the fear of God and one’s con­science. When conscious­ ness and free­dom also come to help, then God com­mu­ni­cates with man and begins to dwell in him. From that moment on begins the inspira­ tion of the soul, the flesh and of the entire inner and out­er man, while God becomes all in all in him. By be­ com­ing spir­i­tu­al, man is made di­ vine. What a mar­vel­lous ben­e­fit, and how lit­tle it is remem­bered, val­ued and sought after!

[1]The Slavon­ic for Gen. 6:3 reads: My Spir­it shall not eter­nal­ly be scorned by men, because they are flesh.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse