What are Fleshly Tables of the Heart?

Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3, KJV)

In this passage, Paul tells the Corinthians that they are a living letter from God, not written with ink but with the Holy Spirit upon the tablets of their hearts. Let’s explore the meanings of the two words Paul used to describe the believer’s heart: flesh and tables.

It might surprise you that the Lord uses “flesh” to describe the human heart(the center of thoughts, feelings, and desires). As I’ve discussed in previous devotionals and Bible studies, “flesh” doesn’t always refer to the physical body. In the context of 2 Corinthians 3:3, it represents our humanity without implying sin. Therefore, the divine Holy Spirit dwells in our fleshy, human hearts. This concept highlights the ongoing battle between the Spirit and our human nature as believers—a conflict between following the Spirit and succumbing to our purely human thoughts, feelings, or desires.

In addition to describing the heart as flesh, Paul depicts it as a writing tablet. A writing tablet serves as a medium for engraving words or conveying a written message for others to read. God has inscribed His Word in our hearts; the world can perceive it through our character and actions. The “ink” He used to write this message is the Holy Spirit which He put in our hearts.

As children of God, our fleshy hearts are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. 


Take time to reflect on and internalize the profound mysteries of our identity in Christ presented in 2 Corinthians 3:3. 

Apply the Word

While the Holy Spirit resides in our fleshy hearts, let us be mindful not to let our human nature—our own thoughts, feelings, and desires—hinder His work. Also, may others read God’s message inscribed on our hearts through how we live and interact with the world.


Ask the Holy Spirit to help you surrender your fleshy heart entirely, allowing Him to have His way in it and guide you in living out God’s message to the world.

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