Here we have two ideas : flesh and spirit each representing a living soul. Physical aspects of flesh carry a spiritual ancillary within same as the earth holding reservoirs of water within. Flesh representing the body has its value as the spirit is invested with certain faculties by the same token. God breathing into the nostrils of Adam made him a living soul. If flesh does recognize its priorities so does the spirit. From the creation account in the Book of Genesis we read thus:
“…For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground./ But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground./ And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.(Ge.5-7)”
There is a natural faculty associated with the ground because of the mist arising which is as distinct from God causing rain upon the earth. One is natural for the flesh while the rain like the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is a blessing coming from heaven. One represents spirit of natural man “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?…” We shall consider the first part of the verse of St Paul. Flesh is therefore not all earthy but with a faculty to know its better interests. Thus amoeba seeks pleasure and avoids pain. Similarly man knows what are his priorities and as a social animal knows how to fulfill them. A carnal man therefore is one who makes all his faculties subservient to satisfy the cravings of flesh. Having said this let us turn to the second part of Pauline verse. “….even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God(1 Co.2:11b)”.
Man is a tripartite being having body, spirit and soul. Soul is the token of God having seen him even before the worlds began. When the Spirit sets down creation account he writes that the earth was without form and was void. God breathing into Adam is one way of saying God set his faculties on an active mode. The Spirit tags it with the expression ‘in his image’ It delineates flesh as bearing relationship to God in terms of his soul. What is a soul and it has no gender bias. ‘Male and female created he them’.(Ge.1:27).It also holds an incipient idea of the church in relation to Christ. In contrast when Adam ‘begat a son in his likeness, ‘after his image’ (Ge.5:3) what does it indicate? Seth was his heritage but it was in the likeness of flesh. Disobedience of Adam produced a son after the manner of flesh, When God warned him ‘in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die (Ge.2:17).’ Death was in the sense of his loss of heritage in spiritual terms, The image of God in Adam was similar branding, a visible indicator like the sign ‘Ex Libris‘ that is affixed to books in order to declare ownership. Before his fall whosoever angels in heaven or on earth saw him would have had no difficulty to fix his heritage. God as Spirit owned him. This is how heritage of flesh and spirit is to be understood . This difference also creates subtle change in position while we consider the role of soul in a tripartite being as man. Soul is a question mark and how man establishes his priorities in life and pursue them determines what it is really, of flesh or of the spirit. It is like matching the step of the spirit of God than after the traditions and customs of man. “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable(1 Co.15:50-NIV). In this connection a child of God is an epistle of Christ which is one way of saying the law of the Spirit of God is written in his fleshy table. His freedom consequently would be similar to what Enoch would have experienced. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Ge.5:24; Amos3:3).: So Enoch walked in step with God because his soul directed his life as a pilot, his vessel. God is a Spirit and the spirit of Enoch and not his flesh was in charge. It established where lay his heritage which was with God. Similarly it is how with everyone redeemed from the flesh.
Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.
3 But thou, O Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.
4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.
7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.
9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.
12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
14 Thus saith the Lord against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The Lord liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.
17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.