“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer” (2 Cor. 5:16).
One of the greatest tasks we are given as Christians is to live apart from the flesh. To do it while being in the flesh seems mountainous and such would even appear utterly uncharacteristic to some. But considering the above passage and what it says, it is a necessity. Not only does it benefit us, but also it is the only way to know Jesus now. Unless one undercuts his belief, he does not recognize the need for Jesus in the now.
There are three aspects in Paul’s dialogue. First is recognizing no one according to the flesh. This relays how little flesh is worth to him. He dismisses everything and anything done by the strength or influence of the flesh. Every believer of Christ should have the same principle. As humans we are quite capable of substituting fleshly works and ways for spiritual ones, because it’s easier and can even offer quick honor among men. By not recognizing anyone according to the flesh we endorse ourselves as not according to the flesh, which is an act of spiritual service to the Lord. Then gone are the works of the flesh; all of them. Then gone is boasting; all of it. And the sincere service to the Lord that leads to joy, rewards and blessings appears. As we detach ourselves from the flesh we may not appear useful to onlookers, but not to the Lord, since the works of faith are revealed in us, who know Him apart from the flesh. The difference between works of faith and of flesh is manifested.
The second aspect is knowing Christ according to the flesh. This means knowing Him as the Son of Man. As a person hears about Him, he or she translates His life in the flesh to that which they did not and cannot achieve. By accepting Him as their Savior, they have known Him according to the flesh.
The third aspect is, not knowing Christ according to the flesh now. This is the essential part of Christian life. Once we know who He is, what He has done and what He means to us now we can only know Him apart from the flesh. It is for this reason Paul completely denounces recognizing one another according to the flesh. Such recognizing will only lead to arguments, factions and sin. Then to know Christ points to another way. It is according to the Spirit. Unless we live by the Spirit, we cannot know the Jesus we should now know. Missing Him now means lacking wisdom, strength for faith and hope, substance to cope and a host of other heavenly things besides earthly blessings (2 Cor. 3:17).