Philippians 3:3 "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and
rejoice in Christ Jesus, AND HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH."
I Corinthians 1:29 "That NO flesh should glory in His Presence."
John 3:6-7 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto you, 'you must be born again'."
Everything that is natural to us from our natural birth is flesh. Our natural appetites, desires and lusts, even legitimate ones, are of the flesh. All exist to promote and protect our fallen humanity. Because the flesh is governed by death, the flesh cannot defeat flesh. Flesh may be restrained in order to be societally acceptable, either by ourselves or by a will imposed upon us. But it is still the flesh, and given enough time, the flesh imposed boundaries will be exceeded. This is the foolishness of flesh imposed, disciplined spirituality. Such supposed "spirituality" is still flesh and is only as strong as the flesh is, in other words, it is dead!
Romans 8 states that "those who are IN Christ Jesus do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is a new will, mind, and heart in those who are IN Christ Jesus. Romans 8:3 makes it plain that there was nothing wrong with the law, God's law. The problem was, and is, the flesh. Flesh, due to the fall and man's separation from God, has no capacity to keep the "body, soul, and spirit" of the law. God's law always requires an "inside out" obedience. The true law of God never anticipates a mere "keeping" of its commandments. The true law always anticipates the delighted obedience of the Son of Man. (Ps. 40:8) Any attempt to keep the law because we should, from a rote resignation & joyless spirit, falls far short of the requirements of the law. The law of God requires "delight". The law requires that we "Love the Lord our God with ALL our soul, with ALL our mind, and with All our strength." (Deut 6:4-5) Even a nano second of less than that kind of loving obedience departs from God's requirements. Love equals delight! Soul makes it a heart matter. Loving God is not something acknowledged in the mind only, it must be embraced in the soul, the fountain of a human being's existence. The fleshly mind is the very enemy of God. It is not subject to the law of God nor can it be. (Rom. 8:6-7) To follow the leanings and lusts of the flesh is death itself. Man as originally created, was to walk with a living anticipation that every need was in constant supply from the Loving Father. In a very real sense, there was no need, for the Heavenly Father knew what man needed and had ordered its supply before man even knew he needed it. Unfallen flesh was not death for it was living in anticipation of its Creator. But the will of the flesh was soon distorted and diverted by the serpent of desire. Man turned from the continual fellowship with his Creative Lifegiver to chase after a promised independent life source--which turned out to be death. From that day forward, man has sought to be his own supply, of life and all things and therefore, flesh became death.
Flesh always reduces things to its lowest denominator. Flesh always sets a very low benchmark. Therefore its "law view" is always unsatisfactory to the God of Law. Before God, any second of infraction is to break the whole law. Even when man encages himself within 613 laws to protect himself from breaking the "big ones", the righteousness of the flesh is as filthy rags. The man of flesh in his very best endeavors, is but a whitewashed cadaver!
It follows then, that flesh cannot control flesh. Flesh will not put to death flesh. But flesh will restrict flesh, squeeze it into a mold, do anything to make it appear acceptable, righteous. Flesh loves to look religious for, no matter how small the group, there is always someone who is impressed with flesh's religiosity! Therefore, if gospel sanctification is to occur, our flesh cannot participate. This is important because the flesh desperately wants to participate. It's survival depends upon its participation. In the measure that flesh is involved in "sanctification", in that measure, sanctification does not occur. Some false religious standard prevails. Flesh brings about Pharisaism, Galatianism, and a host of other isms, but it will never bring forth Gospel, Spirit birthed biblical sanctification. Oswald Chambers notwithstanding, my utmost is never truly for His highest. My utmost is always a bag of bones. My God will not share His Glory with another, not even my highest! Paul calls this "my utmost" gaze "the mutilation." (Phil. 3:2-3 NKJV) He says we are to have NO confidence in the flesh. He goes on to describe his glowing pharisaical flesh in the following verses. All that he was, his highest, ends up as loss--set aside for the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, the Son of Man. Paul learned that his only confidence must reside in the only Man that the Father could ever approve of. All of his focus and labor were on this, "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." (Phil. 3:10) Knowing the Son Whom the Father has sent (John 17:3), feasting upon Him and believing on Him (John 6:29-65), taking His yoke upon us and learning of Him (Matt. 11:28-30)--This is the only way that we put to death the deeds of the flesh of which the flesh is so proud, especially religious deeds. The Father's pleasure is found only in His Beloved Son, and if I want to please the Father, then I must be found in His Beloved Son, not having my own righteousness which is fo the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith." (Phil. 3:9) Mix any flesh with it, and it is not righteousness! Mix flesh with it and it is not sanctification.