The ‘old man’ and the ‘flesh’ are quite different, and I hope to be able to show you the difference.  Let’s look first at the old man.  The Apostle Paul references the old man three times.

Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  The ‘old man’ refers to all that we were before we trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior.  The ‘old man’ is the old man of the Adamic Nature which the Christian once was but is not now.  It is important to see that God has not only dealt with our sins in the cross of His Son, but He has dealt with the man that committed the sins, OUR OLD MAN.  In the cross of Christ, our whole fallen and corrupt condition has been dealt with: “crucified with him.”  As Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ…” 

Ephesians 4:22, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”  This instructs us to cast aside the old man which is corrupt.  Indeed, the old man is dead and needs to be buried, or put off.

Colossians 3:9, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”  This speaks of how we HAVE PUT OFF the old man, and that happened once we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If the old man is dead, having been crucified with Christ, why do we still sin?  Why do we still desire to fulfill our own lusts and live for ourselves?  The flesh!

The flesh, as it is mentioned in the Bible, can be divided into two distinct categories.  It can simply refer to our bodies as in Genesis 6:3, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”  Or as in 2 Corinthians 7:5, “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.”

When comparing the old man and the flesh, we see a different thought as to what the flesh is.  Galatians 5:16-17 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The flesh is that part of us that still exists after salvation and always wants its way, which is always contrary to the way the Spirit would lead us. 

“The Spirit and the flesh are in constant conflict.  God could have removed the fleshly nature from believers at the time of their conversion, but He did not choose to do so.  Why?  He wanted to keep them continually reminded of their own weakness; to keep them continually dependent on Christ, their Priest and Advocate; and to cause them to praise unceasingly the One who saved such worms.” (Wm. MacDonald). 

When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior, our OLD MAN is crucified.  Our FLESH still exists and will always seek its own will which is always against the Spirit’s will.  Before closing, I want to introduce one more thought…and that is the NEW MAN. 

Ephesians 4:24 says, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” 

Colossians 3:10 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” 

Since the old man has been put to death, the Lord gives us a “new man.”  This new man will always walk according to the Spirit.  He does not have the capacity to sin for he is “created in righteousness and true holiness.”  However, at the same time, we have the flesh which can’t do anything but sin!  May we be faithful to “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16).  (CC)  (508.4)