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For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.
Note 3 at Ro 7:18: The term "flesh" comes from the Greek word "SARX." SARX was translated "flesh" 147 times, "carnal" 2 times (Ro 8:7 and Heb 9:10), "carnally" 1 time (Ro 8:6), and "fleshly" 1 time (Col 2:18). There are many ways that the word "flesh" was used in the New Testament, but for simplification, we will group its usage into three main categories.
First, it can refer to the physical flesh of man (Lu 24:39) or beasts (1Co 15:39). When used in that context, the term is descriptive of only the physical makeup of man and is neither good nor bad, as can be seen by the fact that Jesus was made "flesh" (Joh 1:14).
Second, "flesh" can describe the weakness and frailty of people, or people apart from God. This was the way Paul used the term in Ro 8:3 when he said, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." Paul was saying that people, without the quickening power of God in their lives, were unable to keep the Law. Paul described his own efforts at holiness without the power of Christ as works of the flesh (Php 3:3-9). "The flesh is weak" (Mt 26:41).
Third, "flesh" can refer to all that is sinful in man. In Ga 5:19-21, Paul described the works of the flesh as "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." In this sense, the term "flesh" can be used almost interchangeably with the "sin nature" when describing those who are not born again or the effects of the residual old self (see note 6 at Ro 6:14) on those who are born again.
In this instance, when Paul used this parenthetical phrase, "that is, in my flesh," he was specifying the natural part of his person, or the second category of "flesh" described above. He was stating that in himself, apart from his born-again spirit, there was no good thing. He had to include this explanation, or his statement would not have been accurate, for in his spirit there was a good thing (i.e., Christ).