One of the greatest lessons we learn in our Christian life is to bypass the entire realm of the flesh and go directly to Jesus and make contact with Him. When we go directly to Christ, we are free from the flesh. We are free from our self. We are free from self-preoccupation. We are free from self-condemnation. We are free from anxiety. We are free from interacting with the impossible realm of the flesh (Rom. 8:8). Our relationship to the flesh is that we died to it and our life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
Our interaction is not with ourselves – with self-effort and self-reformation. We bypass the self. When we bypass, Christ becomes our joy. Christ becomes our encouragement. Christ becomes our faith. Christ becomes our living (Phil. 1:21). We interact with Him in everything in our lives. We interact exclusively with Him. We enjoy Him as our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). He is “all and in all” to us (Col. 3:11).
When we receive Him, it is our spirit that is born again. Our dead spirit is begotten of the divine Spirit and comes alive (Eph. 2:1). Indeed, our newly-born spirit becomes the source from which we live as believers. It is into our regenerated spirit that Christ comes to dwell. From this place we contact Christ Himself and bypass the flesh. Thus, our relationship with the flesh is Jesus Christ as He lives in our spirit and as we walk according to spirit (Rom. 8:3-4).
When we bypass the flesh, Jesus Christ becomes the Christian life. We look away to Him. Look away from yourself. Look away from your failure. Look away from your bad mood. Look away unto Jesus. Christ is the centrality of everything in our Christian life. He is the Christian life itself in every aspect.
The new birth bypasses man’s flesh
Our new birth teaches us from the very start that God intended to bypass the flesh. In other words, our initial salvation is not a matter of expecting anything to come out of the flesh. God doesn’t save man by any works of the flesh, including improving it, upgrading it, or remaking it (Gal. 2:16). No. God bypasses man’s flesh altogether and starts by leaving the flesh untouched except to terminate and crucify it (Gal. 2:20; 5:24).
In John 3:6 the Lord Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By using the Greek perfect tense (signifying a present, permanent state) for the word “born,” He conveyed two important facts: first, the realm of the flesh never changes; and second, the realm of the Spirit never changes. The Lord wanted to convey at the beginning of our Christian life that we should not expect any change from the source of our flesh, but always bypass it and go directly to Jesus. The new birth begins a lifelong process of bypassing the flesh, both the good and bad, to go directly to Jesus.
Bypass the “bad” flesh
There are many aspects of the flesh – the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16), the will of the flesh (John 1:13), the mind of the flesh (Rom. 8:6-7), and the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19), to name a few. The flesh has feelings and reactions, as well as deeds; and many times we are intimidated by these things.
Concerning his own flesh, Paul had to admit, “I am (present tense) fleshly, sold (perfect tense, indicating a present state) under sin … For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Rom. 7:14,18). This statement clearly reveals that the flesh is incorrigible and must be bypassed. Also, in Colossians he warns the believers that if they relate to the evil flesh with a religious flesh they will encounter certain defeat (Col. 2:18-23).
How then can we be related to our flesh, if the flesh cannot overcome the flesh? The answer to this question is found in Galatians 5:24-25: 24 “And those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The phrase, “those who are of Christ Jesus,” tells us how we are to be related to the flesh. It is simply by our belonging to Christ Jesus that the flesh is crucified.
To be of Christ Jesus means that you do not have a separate life from Him. You are wholly identified with Him. This means you do not have a separate relationship with the flesh. Because you are of Christ Jesus, you own His relationship with the flesh. His relationship with the flesh is not a long, drawn-out battle with it; rather it is a onetime crucifixion to it. The word “crucified” in Galatians 5:24 is in the aorist tense in Greek, indicating that a blow was dealt to the flesh in the past that was decisive, complete, and final. That blow was dealt to the flesh on the cross of Calvary two thousand years ago.
To bypass the flesh is wrapped up in the answer to one question – Are we of Christ Jesus? That is all we need to answer. We don’t need to examine whether or not we have any potential to overcome the flesh. Neither do we need a good record or a string of victories that we can boast in. Nor do we need to look at our condition to see whether or not we feel like a crucified person. We just need to answer one question: Are we of Christ Jesus? If so, we have crucified the flesh. Paul says it – if we are of Christ Jesus then we have crucified the flesh.
In Galatians 5:24 bypassing the flesh is an established fact in Christ Jesus. Then verse 25 shows us the application and experience of this fact: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” To “live in the Spirit” in this verse is equivalent to being “of Christ Jesus” in the preceding verse. Thus Christ, in the realm of the Spirit, is our bypass route. But for this fact to become our experience over and over again in our daily life, we need to walk in the Spirit.
The Greek word for “walk” in Galatians 5:25 is a specific military word, rather than the more general word for “walk” used in other places in the New Testament. It has the sense of “keeping in step with the Spirit.” This could be likened to a group of soldiers marching down the street, keeping in step with the cadence of the drummer. Their steps are very deliberate and specific. It is the same when we walk in the spirit. Christ is dwelling in our spirit. He has already dealt a blow to the flesh. Now we must keep in step with Him whenever our flesh rises up to be fulfilled. This means we take a deliberate and specific step in spirit at the moment our flesh manifests itself. When we keep in step with the Spirit, we allow the Lord Himself to become our relationship with the reacting flesh. We just say, “Amen, Lord, I love You!” Or, call out His name, “Lord Jesus!” Or, take the Word of God as the sword of Spirit and declare it!” By interacting with Him in this way, we keep in step with the Spirit and execute the crucifixion over our flesh.
The main point in dealing with the flesh is to not interact with it. We do not dare to handle it on our own. There is only One who is qualified to handle it, and He was incarnated to do so. He became flesh (John 1:14) and lived a victorious life in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). And now in resurrection He has become a life-giving Spirit in our spirit to supply to us His victory over the flesh. All we need to do is keep in step with the Spirit – pray a little bit, call “Jesus” a little bit, shout to God a little bit, sing a little bit. Just keep in step with the Spirit, and bypass the flesh.
You may say to me, “I can’t overcome my flesh. I have already tried over and over again and failed.” I will respond by saying, “That’s right! Of course you can’t!” If you and I have a relationship with the flesh based upon ourselves, we are finished. We all must come back to Christ – learn to bypass the flesh and then just keep in step with the Spirit.
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Bill Freeman wrote and taught the Galatians 2:20 message through Ministry of the Word. This article is from The Christian newsletter, vol. 18, no. 4.
 “The old man” having been crucified (Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9) is distinct from the crucifixion of the flesh. We are to know (discover) the ontological reality that who we were in Adam was cancelled at Calvary (Gal. 2:20). However, the “flesh” is the residue of the “old man”. The flesh patterns (old patterns of who we used to be) are still in us (Rom. 7:18). However, the flesh no longer has authority over us. The believer has pronounced judgment on the flesh, analogous to a Roman governor pronouncing a verdict of crucifixion. -JBW