When people are saved, what is God’s purpose for not sanctifying the ‘flesh’ when the spirit is reborn to prevent the struggle believers have in obeying Him? (Evangelical perspective)

The Apostle Paul:
Romans 7:22 (ESV)

For I delight in the law of God in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Galatians 5:17 (ESV):

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

  • I don't have an answer because I'm not committed to the contemporary evangelical perspective. I'd think that this might reveal an inherent flaw in the perspective, at least how it is understood today. Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 8:00
  • I think this question needs a bit of work before it will work here. "What is the biblical basis for God's purpose . . . " is rather confusing and unclear. What, exactly, is it that you want the biblical basis for? Or is it that you want the perspective of evangelicals on why God has arranged things this way? To me, it's not clear what it is that you're asking. There seem to be two or three different questions rolled into one. Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    I think an argument against the perspective itself would be that, according to Christ, we are only truly assured of salvation at the very end of our earthly life (Matt 24:13) after a life of struggle as Paul suggests (Galatians 5:17), and as Christ Himself taught (Matt 16:24-25). I think Paul's writings need to be examined in the light of the Gospel and not vice versa. This may be why there is no good answer to your question forthcoming.
    – guest37
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 21:43
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    I think it's a superb question. In short - God's glory. In the same way Adam and Eve were initially sinless but able to sin, those living under God's grace and welcoming "from afar" their future inheritance (of final complete sanctification - Hebrews 11/12) are able to not sin. But not yet incapable of sinning... Only in that interim condition are they able to glorify God so fully, as they fight the war that rages. Paul talks extensively of being strong in his weakness, exercising faith and having a longing... all to God's greater glory.
    – wally
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 16:33
  • 1
    Reading from verse 7 of Romans 7 should enlighten what St. Paul is describing. cf. James 1:14-15; Wisdom 9:15. Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


Sanctify means to set apart, declare holy, consecrate, purify, and to separate from sin.

1 John 2:15-17,

"15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (KJV)

God wants us to walk in the Spirit, and not the flesh.

Rom. 8:1-5,

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." (KJV)

So, we are called to seek after Christ, and to walk in the Spirit. Our salvation is conditional, in that we must continue to walk with Him, and abide in His ways. If we turn our back on Him, and go back to a sinful life, then we will lose our promise of inheritance. Compare it to a father's will which promises a son will inherit all that His father has with certain stipulations. Salvation is not unconditional (2 Pet. 1:10-11; John 15:6; Rom. 11:21-22).

Therefore, we have to overcome the fleshly desires. The flesh does not inherit eternal life. 1 Cor. 15:50,

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." (NKJV)

Finishing Romans 7:23-25,

" But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." (NKJV)

We have a constant battle between our selfish desires which benefit the flesh (e.g., power, money, sex, material goods, etc.) and the spiritual recognition of abiding by the law of Christ.

When we are in Christ, we have the promise of remission of sins as we repent of them (Acts 2:38; 10:43; Heb. 6:6). This promise keeps washing us throughout our lives, and is purifying us from sins as we repent of them.

Christ said in Matt. 22:36 -40,

"“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”" (NKJV)

Many times our selfish desires do not comport with the needs of others, nor with loving YHWH before ourselves. It is the growing up process, maturing in the spirit from the stage of children who want whatever they see and the mature adult who recognizes that we sacrifice our desires to give to others.

So our fleshly desires and wants must be under control of our mind and heart that is joined in spirit with Christ. And, if we are in Christ, then He has set us apart for Him, and we are living sacrifices for Him. He will purify our souls when we ask for forgiveness, if we have repented. The purification is not of the flesh.

When we fall, then we need to repent from our sins, and ask His forgiveness. We pick ourselves back up and continue to fight that battle between our fleshly desires and the gospel of Christ.

1 Cor. 9:24-27,

"24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (NKJV)

It is a race against sin, that we live with day in and day out. If we are able to stay in Christ, to repent and ask for His forgiveness when we fall, to keep running that race, then when we die in the Lord, we will receive the crown.

Our inheritance is in heaven above. So, He does not need to sanctify the flesh as only the spirit inherits eternal life.

1 Cor. 15:53,

" For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. " (NKJV)


The Question is

When people are saved, what is God’s purpose for not sanctifying the ‘flesh’ when the spirit is reborn to prevent the struggle believers have in obeying Him? (Evangelical perspective)

The flesh will not be saved, the flesh is fallen and sinful. (Romans 8:7-8 nkjv)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The flesh literally means our fallen human bodies, and all the lusts and desires etc that accompany it. today we often "spiritualize" the idea of flesh and use it metaphorically or symbolically, but it is also literal, the idea that our human bodies are bound by sin and that sin will lead to death.

That is why Christ said in John 3:3

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

As of now, the bible says (Ephesians 2:1)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.

So we are dead, (spiritually, having only fleeting life in our dying bodies).

When Christ gives the believer the Holy Spirit, we are now actually alive in the spirit for the first time. Romans 8:10

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

So to answer your question, why does God not do away with the sinful flesh now? Well that is the promise of heaven, but to fully carry out that plan, would include destroying the physical flesh and getting rid of sin. God will do this one his appointed day, but he is waiting for a very particular purpose

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,[b] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Slack here means, being slow or forgetfull about doing what he said.

When he fulfills the fullness of the Kingdom, and does away with Sin and Death, everyone not having been born again in the Spirit will be washed away.

So the final answer to your questions, Why does God allow the striving against the Flesh and Spirit. It is because he is being patient and waiting for more people to come to Salvation. One day, he will come and deliver on his promise

Acts 17:31

because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

**footnote, we will get new bodies once that day comes, but thats a whole different discussion, see 2 Corinthians 5

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