Monday, December 25th: Review Romans 8:6-9
As you walk back through this portion of scripture be sure you pay attention to how the greater context continues to define and highlight the point Paul is trying to make in his book. When we read verses individually we can often make proper theological points but still miss the greater reason or issue that the author is writing about. For instance to simply look at Romans 8:6-9 through the lens of salvation is to miss the point of sanctification that Paul is making in this text. Paul is calling us to live saved lives more than he is calling us to simply know how it is that we are saved.
Tuesday, December 26th: Romans 8:10
It has potentially been a few days since you read Romans last, but we have to remember where Paul left off last time, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). What Paul says in the negative in verse 9, he begins to paint in the positive in Romans 8:10, “But if Christ is in you…” This should be an interesting transition from what we have looked at before as Paul has shifted his emphasis from us being in Christ to Christ being in you.
Life is full of contradictions. Sometimes these contradictions show the foolishness of an argument, but other times the contradictions are true only on the surface. Take for instance a recent happening in the NFL. On December 10th the Philadelphia Eagles beat the L.A. Rams clinching the Eagles their divisional championship and a playoff-birth. It would be a contradiction to say that the game was a good one for the Rams. They lost. However there is a seeming contradiction on the Eagle’s side as well. In the win their MVP candidate quarterback suffered a season ending ACL surgery. It was a good game for the Eagles in that they assured themselves of a playoff spot, but it was a seemingly bad game for them because they lost a key piece to their success.
We would call this a paradox, a seeming contradiction. It would not be contradiction to say the game was bad, because they suffered a great loss. While at the same time it would not be a contradiction to say it was good, because they accomplished something great. Both are true.
When Paul leads into this text with “But if Christ is in you…” he is leaning into a deep paradox. He goes onto say, “although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” If “Christ is in you,” you face this paradox: on the one had we are dead because of sin, but on the other hand we are alive because of the Spirit.
What does this mean? This is why we must pay attention to the repetition of the words “because.” Why is our body dead? Because of sin. What does this death mean? Paul is not speaking about the unbeliever here, he is speaking to those in whom Christ himself dwells! Has Paul forgotten what he said a few verses ago when he said, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”?
We are dead because we have not yet fully been given new life. We still live in bodies, which will one day be made new, but in the meantime suffer from the side-effects of sin. Matthew Henry puts it this way, “In the midst of life we are in death: be our bodies ever so strong, and healthful, and handsome, they are as good as dead (Heb. 11:12), and this because of sin. It is sin that kills the body.”
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones was a revered pastor, but also a former medical doctor. He spoke with a Paul-like tension when he said, “The moment we enter into this world and begin to live, we also begin to die. Your first breath is one of the last you will ever take!...the principle of decay, leading to death, is in every one of us.” Barring the second coming of Jesus, all of us will die. You can imagine the seeming contradiction someone unfamiliar with Christianity might point out regarding this truth! This seems like a poor headline for a religion which claims to have everlasting life in Jesus.
But this tension is the paradox of our faith. For those who are in Christ, our imminent physical death accomplishes two beautiful tasks. First, it finally punishes sin fully. Sin deserves to die, and all sinners therefore deserve to die. We die because sin is the disease of death (Romans 6:23). We do not die because we get old, or because we have cancer, or because of drunk drivers. We die because of sin. Sin is the source of all those means listed above. As Charles Hodge says, “This necessity of dying is on account of sin.”
For the righteous and for the unrighteous the moment of your death is actually a moment of glorious justice. This truth is sobering and one we will not fully understand this side of death.
The second reality accomplished in the life of the believer is that death dies in death. This is where we need the second part of Paul’s paradox: “although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” We will talk more of this tomorrow, but for today the importance is that we can endure the death of the body because of the righteousness given to us through the Spirit. Death and life live simultaneously in the believer.
We will wrestle in our own body with the pangs of death. We will experience it in those who are around us. But when the dying body is made alive in Christ’s righteousness we live in a blessed tension. This tension is seen in our death. The very moment in which the punishment for sin is doled out, is also the very moment where sin and death is defeated forever. For a Christian death is a momentary defeat bearing the seal of an eternal victory. As R.C. Sproul says, “Even if Christ is in you, your body will still go through death. Why? Because of sin. We have to pay the temporal punishment for our sin. We must die. That is the last enemy to be destroyed.”
Where the burden of death lays heavy in your body, the righteousness of the Spirit brings new life to your whole person. This has massive implications on our future hope, but as Paul will show us tomorrow it also has immediate bearing on our lives today. But as we examine this text we can throw aside the fear of death because it no longer acts as our enemy. Instead, as Tripp Lee says, “Death is just a doorway to my greatest lover.” Living and dying. This is the life of a Christian and the result of Christ being in us.
Wednesday, December 27th: Romans 8:11
You probably seen the teenage romantic-comedy movie with a plot like this: Outcast Boy like Cheerleader Girl and spend his whole of his efforts trying to win her attention. All the while Outcast Boy’s closest friend, Loyal Lady, stands by being neglected and ignored even though she would be a perfect girlfriend herself. Then there is that magical moment where Loyal Lady takes off her glasses and is seen for who she really is. And the two live happily ever after.
When we read or watch stories like this we often ascribe our own role to that of Loyal Lady, less of us are willing to put on the blockhead role of Outcast Boy. However in Romans 8:11, Paul is trying to prevent us from accidentally living our lives blind to the great resource and communion we have in front of our very eyes. But if we neglect the truth of this verse, we too can very easily spend our lives living for something which will never ultimately satisfy or empower us. And the weight of missing this is far greater than missing the prom.
Paul begins with another conditional statement. So far we have seen three of these: “if the Spirit of God dwells in you” (vs 9), “If Christ is in you” (vs. 10). And now, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” Paul is making two things very clear with these conditional statements: 1.) We cannot present ourselves before God without meeting his conditions in Christ through faith; 2.) If we meet these conditions through faith, our whole lives are changed in an instant.
As you studies and prayed over this text, there are a couple really important connections we get to make. The first is that we have to track down who the pronouns (I know, starting your morning with grammar!) “he” and “him” refer to. Who is the “him” in the first part of this verse? There is an important theological point (theology is simply the word which means, “the study of God”) embedded in these past few verses. In verse 5 we see reference to the Spirit, this would be God the Spirit. In verse 9 we saw that “anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” showing that to have the Spirit “of Christ” is to have the Holy Spirit. The God the Holy Spirit belongs to God the Son and vice versa. And now we see, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus.” So this “him” is not Jesus, since Jesus is already present in this text. Nor can it be the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit doesn’t possess “himself.”
The only textual implication is that this “him” (and the following “he”) is God the Father. In this we see the whole work and foundation of the Trinity. God the Son is equal to but distinct from God the Spirit, God the Father is equal to but distinct from God the Son, and God the Spirit is equal to but distinct from God the Father. And yet all three of them work together in close harmony in our redemption. We are not saved by the dropping of God’s character, we are saved by the full intentional and undivided work of the Triune God himself. No aspect of God was withheld from us when we were saved.
Here we have uncovered the weighty awe and power which Paul is unfolding before us: If God the Father dwells in us through God the Holy Spirit, then God the Father, who raised God the Son from the dead, will also give you life in your failing body through the power of God the Spirit. What a powerful hope when understood in connection to the passage we looked at yesterday!
Though our bodies may be frail and failing, though the temptation of sin be strong and present, we are given life more powerful than death in our mortal bodies! The temptation when we encounter seasons of dryness, hardship or trial is to make one of these two mistakes. First, we can punt the football and say, “In heaven everything will be better,” and we retreat into a passive and withdrawn existence. The other is that we encounter this tension and seek instead to find relief in the pleasures of the world (relationships, career, money…etc.). This is the danger of setting the mind on the flesh. But both of these mistakes neglect the infinite well of life which is given to us inside of our salvation!
Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. He died and bore not only the physical death demanded for sin, but the spiritual weight of God’s cosmic rejection due to sin. And God raised him! How much more will God be able to raise us! Charles Hodge comments, “Because God has raised up Christ, there was ground of confidence that he would raise his people also.” This promise of raising has future and immediate implications on our life. In the immediate we know that because God has revived our spirit (vs. 10) we also have hope that he will provide life to our bodies to carry out what the Spirit wills. In the face of sin or disheartening situations we can chose to set our minds on the Spirit because we have at our disposal the whole life of God dwelling in our heart.
To attempt to find motivation or life outside of this ultimate motivation is to set yourself up for strained disappointment. But when we see what God has done for us in Jesus, and therefore what he has given us in salvation, we have a locomotive of divine zeal. The broken body and the enlivened spirit are working in concert for the glory of God. John Calvin puts it this way, “For the same reason he assigns to the Father the glory of raising Christ; for it more clearly proved what he had in view, than if he had ascribed the act to Christ himself. For it might have been objected, ‘That Christ was able by his own power to raise up himself, and this is what no man can do.’” Jesus was raised by the power of God, and that same power is given to us if we meet the condition of faith.
Second, we know that now God has given us spiritual life though we are dying (vs. 10). But the promise continues in that even after death, God will raise our mortal and physical bodies. Christianity is not unconcerned with our physical existence. God will raise our bodies in the same way he raised the body of Christ. John Stott notes, “The same Spirit who gives life to our spirits (10) will also give life to our bodies (11).” Because we know our bodies will be raised again with us at the second coming of Jesus, we are freed to offer our spiritual and physical bodies to God as living sacrifices today. We fear no lack for all of us will be redeemed through the powerful working of God.
John Piper, a modern day pastor-theologian once said, “Let the swords swing, let the lions roar, for we will have resurrected bodies.” If we believe the immediate and the future hope of this text, we will live for the glory of God, resist the power of sin, and lay down our lives knowing that we will suffer no loss for God has made us alive in Christ.
Thursday, December 28th: Romans 8:12-13
If you’ve grown up in or around the church you may have heard the phrase: “spiritual disciplines.” If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase you may have heard similar ideas espoused in areas like fitness, health and investments. Discipline and disciplines are principles and actions we use to accomplish a desired end. They control us and compel us to do and to not do things.
An athlete will have a discipline of working out. Though it is costly on the body and one’s time, they are willing to submit themselves to it because they see the value of it in regards to what they want to achieve. Similarly, someone attempting to lose weight may be disciplined by refraining from their guilty pleasures of ice cream or French fries. They deny themselves something knowing that it will bear fruit in the end. The same can be said of issues like Bible study, prayer, fasting and generosity.
But in order for discipline to be disciplined, it must stem from a clear vision of value. Paul has just laid out the value of living in the Spirit in the preceding passages we have just read. He now wants to take this motivation and press it into a discipline to be applied in the life of a believer. We know this because Paul begins by saying, “So then…” Without motivation any action is difficult. The good news for believers is that the gospel is motivating. Any lack of zeal toward Christ is not the fault of Christ, it is the fault of the believer. Hopefully this passage will be the correction needed to see this.
Paul continues, “So then brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” You may have noticed in your study that Paul never finishes the other half of this comparison. He says we are debtors, but not to the flesh, and never actually tells us what we are debtors to. However it is clear in verse 13 that the implication is we are debtors to the Spirit.
I recently received notice that my mortgage payment would increase due to a property tax increase. I was not thrilled at this news, however I was powerless to do anything but meet the demands of the bank. Why? Because I am indebted to them. They provided me something and now they have a power over me. Paul’s is saying here that we should afford no such power to the desires of the flesh.
We are not debtors to them! I am indebted to the bank, but we are not indebted to the body, the flesh, or the desires of the world. Why? Because they have nothing to offer us. The bank had a monetary value which they offered me, and it carried actual value. However the world carries no such value. Can the flesh save you? Can the flesh satisfy you? Did the flesh die for you? Did the desires of the world assure a clear and imminent salvation from all things evil? No!
Matthew Henry helps us when he says, “We are not debtors to the flesh, neither by relation, gratitude, nor any other bond or obligation. We owe no suit nor service to our carnal desires; we are indeed bound to clothe, and feed, and take care of the body, as a servant to the soul in the service of God, but no further. We are not debtors to it; the flesh never did us so much kindness as to oblige us to serve it.”
We may feel the pull of the world in many nuanced ways. It may demand us to spend our money on products in hopes of providing comfort. We expend our relationships and sexuality towards pornography or other people hoping that our investment will satisfy our longings. We may even think that a set of spiritually sounding activities or worship experiences may save us.
However none of false-debtholders have any power to provide what they promise. Therefore when the demands come attempting to move us “to live according to the flesh,” as wise believers we can rightly identify the pyramid scheme of Satan.
Why should we be disciplined to say no to these desires? “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” We have all had moments where the desires of the flesh seem deafeningly loud and oppressively real. They scream to us that only in them will we have life. But the irony of scripture is that true life comes from the death of these things. We must learn to kill sin in our own life. 17th Century pastor, John Owen says of this task, “Do you [kill sin]; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tells a story of a man who is enslaved to a small lizard perched on his shoulder. An angel tells the man the danger of this relationship and offers to kill the lizard. Immediately the lizard begins to speak to the man reminding him that if the lizard were to die the man would have no happiness. As the dialogue unfolds the man, in great weakness and trepidation, allows the angel to kill the lizard. For an instant the man feels a great pain and worries that the lizard was right, but the momentary pain gives way to a feeling of ultimate peace and freedom. What a stunning picture of the false promise and power of our sin!
The tension of this passage comes from the call of two competing masters: the call of sin, and the call of the Spirit. The believer must be wise to discern the call of their own salvation. To be disciplined unto the Spirit is to deny the flesh so that we may live. Matthew Henry says of this,
“So that in a word we are put upon this dilemma, either to displease the body or destroy the soul.” Charles Hodge calls the destruction of sin, “a slow and painful process.”
Paul here describes us as debtors to the Spirit. In other places in Romans he uses terms such as being a “salve to righteousness.” It is important to understand Paul’s words as metaphorical in regards to emphasis, not actual in regards to reality. We are not “debtors” to God in the strict sense. God didn’t loan us righteousness and salvation in hopes that one day we would be able to pay him back. He isn’t motivated by economics. He is driven by grace. God helped those who would never be able to repay him. So we are not debtors in the literal sense, but we are debtors in that we ought to be compelled (like a debt) by the overwhelming power of the Spirit.
Paul’s point is that we are being controlled and compelled by something. We are either acting like debtors to the flesh, which has done nothing but condemn us and provides no power to deliver us. Or we are compelled by the power of Spirit which has mercifully brought salvation and life to our bodies and our souls. To whom are you paying your dues? Who exercises a tax on your soul?
As you seek to put sin to death and live according to the Spirit, do not neglect the only way in which this is possible. R.C. Sproul reminds us, “Our obligation does not require us to act on our own, independent of the work of the Spirit within us. It is our faith that must be exercised; we must work out our faith in fear and trembling, but all this is in, by, and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.”
Friday, December 29th: Romans 8:14-15
You have a review day coming up soon, and in that review you will probably notice two unique ends which Paul is writing towards thus far in Romans 8. On one hand he is challenging us by calling us to live lives in accordance with the Spirit instead of in accordance with the flesh. Yet on the other hand he is comforting us in our battle reminding us that if we have the Spirit, we are not in the flesh and therefore the confidence of our salvation gives us motivation to wage war against sin. We see this overwhelming confidence on display in Romans 8:14-15. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
We recently celebrated a foster adoption at church. One of our Elder’s and his family were able to adopt a little boy whom they were given temporary foster custody of since his birth. For nearly two years Devin and Katie were torn because they wanted to treat this child like their son, but he wasn’t legally theirs. The State still had power over him. There were limits to how Devin and Katie could raise him, where they could take him, and even with who or where he was allowed to sleep in their house.
Even if their foster child would have wanted these specific things from Devin and Katie, they would not be able to provide for him because he was still a child of the State. The point here has less to do with the extent of God’s power (for he is all powerful) and more to do with the problem of sonship. If we are children of this world (or as Paul puts it, the flesh) then we are still under the power of the world. And if we are under the power of the world, the commands, love, and resources of God the Father are kept from us.
As we noted earlier in Romans 8:8 this is because those who are in the flesh do not want to listen to God. R.C. Sproul says, “In fact it is the greatest privilege of all, to be able to come to God and address him as Father. And we are not able to do that by nature, because by nature we are children of wrath.”
But one beautiful day this December, Devin and Katie were given full custody of this child. They were given legal parenting power, and the limits of the State were no longer binding on him. What was foreign by nature was made natural by adoption. What a beautiful moment for not only the parents, but for this little boy! Paul is making the same point of adoption here in this text. If we are led by the Spirit this is a sign that we are God’s sons! We do not belong to the world, we are not held captive to the flesh, therefore all of the seemingly overwhelming challenges and calls of sin are emptied of their power! We do not belong to the Devil (who is no father at all!) instead we belong to God who is the pattern and source of perfect fatherhood. We can trust him because he is good.
What we know about the Devil is that he seeks to destroy us (1 Pet. 5:8) but what we know about God is that he seeks to love, keep, protect and comfort us in his own radiant glory (Ex. 34:6-7). It doesn’t take a major in social work to see which of these is the true and better parent. It is in this distinction that Paul leverages confidence into a challenge once more in verse 15: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…”
Notice the offensiveness of this line in contrast to what culture ascribes “freedom.” The world tells us true freedom comes from following your own heart, desires or affections. The Bible makes it clear that to be led by anything other than the Spirit of God is to be led by a spirit of slavery: a master who exercises control over you to lead you into a fearful reliance upon himself. This is not freedom. Yet so often we experience the Stockholm syndrome of spiritual deceit. We fall in love with our captors even though they are never willing (nor capable!) of caring for us.
When Paul interrupts this sentence with the word “but” he is introducing a beautiful contrast. We have not received slavery unto fear, “but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Abba is the Aramaic word for Father) Instead of receiving fear, we receive the Father God himself. Where a heart set on the flesh binds itself to a fearful desire for what it could never obtain (and the fear of losing what it could never keep!), a heart led by the Spirit is made to desire God himself! Matthew Henry helps us understand this relationship by saying it is “as a scholar in his learning is led by his tutor, as a traveller in his journey is led by his guide, as a soldier in his engagements is led by his captain; not driven as beasts, but led as rational creatures, drawn with the cords of a man and the bands of love.” What a great reminder of our adoption!
Do you realize what Paul is saying in this text? That our very affection for God is proof that we are saved through faith in Jesus, by the Spirit, for God’s glory! We do not love God out of our own heart, we love God because the Spirit has adopted us as sons and changed our hearts!
Because we have this hope, we have a firm ground to stand on when calls come to trust in other sources of salvation (the flesh) or to doubt the means of our own salvation (the Spirit). We can choose to listen to the voice of the Father because he is the only true Father. Children listen to their parents because they are their children. To be a believer is to listen to God over and above the desires of the world, because we know our God is the only Father capable of granting us salvation and peace. Everything else is a sham leading to fear.
So in our battle to pursue holiness and live in the Spirit, our sonship gives us confidence that God is for us and willing to help us in our weakness. As Calvin notes regarding this text, “…for he has not been given for the purpose of harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety; but on the contrary, for this end—that having calmed every perturbation, and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and freedom.”
Saturday December 30th: Romans 8:16-17
WE HAVE CHANGED THE TEXT FOR TODAY TO INCLUDE ROMANS 8:17.
This text is remarkably weighty. Paul says in Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Do you see the dense truth embedded in this? The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit himself, bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed children of God. Because God is the source of all justice, we know that the principles of justice are a reflection of what God knows to be true. In a court the witness of one person is not sufficient evidence to sway a jury. But the witness of two is compelling.
There are many in our world who claim to be “children of God” who do not meet Paul’s requirements of salvation in Romans 8. Even in the 1600’s Matthew Henry observed, “Many speak peace to themselves to whom the God of heaven does not speak peace.” We hear such sentiment annually at Christmas time and at the end of most sporting events when the star player is interviewed. However this text shows the need for not only our own confidence before God, but the necessary witness of God himself! The Holy Spirit bears witness, it pleads the truthfulness of our conversion to both God the Father and to our own hearts. If we look back through Romans 8 and see a life lived outside the Spirit, this text should strike fear into our hearts for we lack the required witness.
But if we see a heart which cries for God (Rom. 8:15) and seeks to please God through faith (Rom. 8:4) then we know that the Spirit himself will also validate our sonship before God. Charles Hodge adds, “Those who have filial feelings towards God, who love him, and believe that he loves them, and to whom the Spirit witnesses that they are the children of God, cannot doubt that they are indeed his children.”
And if we have the validation of the Spirit that we are indeed God’s children, then we are privileged to the benefit of a child: “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” More so in the ages before us than now, the idea of an inheritance was of utmost importance. The first born son would receive the wealth and authority of the Father when the father died. This is why some translations refuse to change “sons of God” to “children of God.” It’s not because the promise is exclusive to males, but that the title “sons of God” speaks to the inheritance that we receive through the Spirit.
If we are made children of God, then we are heirs to the promise of God. Henry shows the wonder of this reality: “In earthly inheritances this rule does not hold, only the first-born are heirs; but the church is a church of first-born, for they are all heirs.”
Here we see two important prepositions which we should pay attention to. We are heirs of God, and heirs with Christ. So the inheritance we receive as children is from God the Father, and shared by us with Christ. This is staggering! We who are by nature outside of God’s family, sinful, and fallen are given the privilege and inheritance that is due God’s perfect, sinless and infinite Son!
Imagine the scandal this would be in today’s world. Think of the response of the brother in the story of the prodigal son. You can imagine that the natural born son would feel resentment or at least a sense of inequality between himself and the adopted child. But Jesus isn’t threatened by this sharing of an inheritance. In fact he gave himself up for us so that we would share in this inheritance. Notice what Peter says about this in 1 Peter 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
The inheritance we have in Christ is the gift of sonship and the resurrection from the dead! We have what Jesus had because Jesus died for what we did! Of this inheritance Calvin says, “He then intimates what sort of inheritance it is—that it is heavenly, and therefore incorruptible and eternal, such as Christ possesses; and his possession of it takes away all uncertainty: and it is a commendation of the excellency of this inheritance, that we shall partake of it in common with the only-begotten Son of God.”
If we are sons of God, attested by the Spirit, then everything Christ has, we have. Therefore everything we have is Christ. However, as this text goes on to say, those who belong to Christ will endure the things which are also with Christ. In this text Paul defines those as suffering and glory. We suffer with and for Christ through all sorts of various ways, however it would seem that the context of this passage is the suffering which comes through living a life of the Spirit. The suffering of facing the distain of the world as you say no to sin and yes to Christ-likeness. This process of self-denial and God-ward vision will not be met with great acceptance by those who want you to find the same satisfaction in sin that they do.
But we suffer through our own discipline, and by the scorn of others knowing that one day suffering will give way to glory. Suffering is not arbitrarily connected to glory. We suffer in order that we may experience glory. For the believer suffering, though real and difficult, is only the set-up move for glory. We may suffer, but we will never lack. For in the moment, we have Christ. In the future affliction, we will have Christ. In our final moment of death, we will have Christ. And in our glorious inheritance we will have nothing but Christ.
We have great hope in this world, but this world is not our hope. So let us fix our eyes on the adoption we have through the Spirit, by the blood of Christ, and before the God the Father.
Sunday, December 31st: Catch-Up Day
If you are already caught up, take the day to reflect on potential changes you could make to your life in light of Romans 8. What New Year’s Resolutions would help you set your mind on the Spirit and less on the flesh?