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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

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