One of the small translation choices of the NIV was the use of “sinful nature” over the straight use of the Greek word “flesh.” When the TNIV was published, then trashed, and the Committee for Bible Translation decided to back everything up and start over, the one surprise for me out of the whole process was they decided to move from “sinful nature” to “flesh” in most places.

The Common English Bible, striving to bring a bit more clarity to modern usage, goes a different route.


4 He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. (Rom. 8:4)


4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The word is “flesh,” but what that means in modern usage is the trick.

We really have moved, in the Spirit, from a life of selfishness to a life of freedom. We have moved from being controlled by the flesh… our sinful nature… to being controlled by the Spirit.

Does the use of “selfishness” convey the same message? Is it a good word to bring in for “flesh?”

4 thoughts on “The Common English Bible and “Flesh”

  1. I personally think in this particular passage it fits well. But that is just my thought on it.

  2. I will have to check my NET, my new favorite translation…..but personally, I prefer “flesh,” it just off enough from common language to make one think, reflect. It includes the concept of selfishness, plus that of those elements in us, our gifts, talents,(including innate spiritual gifts) which while sitting under the umbrella of our positional state of grace, have yet to have been transformed by the wonder of progressive sanctification.

  3. I prefer “flesh” as well. As in many things I have found, the further something gets from the state of Spirit (Spiritual awareness and as Thom noted “the state of grace based Faith”, the further from the Truth one gets. It reminds me of the story of the city man who, out in the country with all of his distracting technology at hand, could not tell the difference or even know the difference between a dog and a lamb, wanting to take the shepherd’s lamb (dog) just for the sake of having one. And example could be that now the next step could be “who did not live in a state of selflessness, but in selfishness”…or “self-centeredness It’s only a matter of time. Spirit conveys all that is of Spirit and of Truth, flesh denotes all that is not of that nature including our thoughts . Perhaps selfishness , unlike flesh, fails to capture Jesus’s message of Mark 8:34-35 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

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