Minds Set on the Flesh or the Spirit?

Romans 8:1-4 ESV

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Who are those who are in Christ Jesus? We are those who walk (in conduct, in practice) not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We are those who were crucified with Christ in death to sin and who were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness.

[Rom 8:3-4; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15]

Now this is not saying that we are absolutely perfect or that we will never sin again (see 1 Jn 2:1-2), but what it is saying is that we are not those who continue on living in deliberate and habitual sin and who do not obey the Lord. And it is not saying that we can never fall away for a period of time and then be revived and brought back to God, for the Scriptures do indicate that is possible. Yet, the Scriptures are clear that those who live in sin will die in their sins and they will not inherit eternal life with God.

So, when this says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, it means for those who have died with Christ to sin and who were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and who then stopped walking (in practice, in conduct) according to the flesh, but who then and now are walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit. For the very purpose for Jesus’ death on that cross was to deliver us from our addiction to sin and to now empower us to live righteously by God’s grace.

Romans 8:5-8 ESV

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

So, what does it mean to set your mind on the flesh? It means to direct the mind (thinking, believing, attitudes) toward the flesh. It means to seek after what is of the flesh (of sin, evil). It means to determine to do what is wrong and not what is right. And it involves plotting evil, and dreaming and fantasizing about things which are evil, such as dreaming about being with someone other than your spouse in a romantic or a sexual relationship.

And this will be fed by the things which we choose to take into our minds and hearts daily via the eyes and ears. What we feed into our minds is what will come out in our attitudes, actions, and words. So, if we are feeding our minds with the junk of this world, that is what we will put forth. But if we are feeding our minds and hearts with the word of God, and this is what we obey, this will be evident also by what we do and say.

Now, again, this is not saying we will be absolutely perfect, for we are still human. But lack of perfection is never to be used as an excuse for willful, deliberate, and habitual sin. For the Scriptures are clear that those who live to please the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of heaven but only those who live to please God and who obey his commands. For we are all going to be judged by our works, and we will all reap what we sow.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]

Romans 8:12-14 ESV

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

We owe Jesus Christ our very lives because of what he did for us in dying on that cross to save us from our sins and to give us eternal life with him. For when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we die to sin and to self and now sin is to no longer have dominion over our lives, but Jesus is now to be Lord and Master of our lives. For we are now his possession, and we belong to him, and we are now his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them.

So, we are not debtors to live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For if we live (in practice, in lifestyle) according to the flesh (in sin), we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body (flesh), we will live in Christ and for eternity. And Jesus said something similar to this.

Jesus said that if we would come after him that we must deny self and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die daily to sin and to self) for his sake, then we will live with him for eternity.

For all who are being led by the Spirit are the children of God. And to be led by the Spirit means we must first have the Spirit of God living within us by genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and then we must be listening to the Spirit’s voice and to the written word of God directing us in the way that we should go, and we must be obeying the teachings of the Scriptures for the church.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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