Your Mind Matters: Romans 8:4-8
“4) so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5) For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6) For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7) because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭4‬-‭8‬
Paul once again zero’s in on the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. They are polar opposites. They pull us in opposite directions. The flesh pulls us toward self and the world. It leads to death. The Spirit pulls us toward God. It leads to life. (Vs 6)
Notice the emphasis on the mind in these five verses. The mind is a function of the soul. The flesh and the spirit fight for control of the mind. (See also Galatians 5:16-17) Our mind matters to God!
Notice, that three times in Romans 8:4-8 Paul admonishes us to “set our minds” on the things of the Spirit. Why is that? The mind is a function of the human soul. The soul is the seat of the our free will. We decide where our minds focus. I can set my mind on the flesh or on the spirit/Spirit. Therefore, I am responsible for my thoughts, deeds and actions.
According to Ephesians 4:22-24, the key to putting off the old self and putting on the new self is being “renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Vs 23) What your mind feeds on comes out in your life. If you set your mind on the flesh, you will be plagued with lusts, hedonism and a worldly value system. You will be blind and hostile to the ways of God.
That is really scary. It can happen to born-again Christians. We can be worldly, carnal and stuck in bondage with little spirit life or motivation toward the things of God. We can actually live in opposition and hostility toward the things of God.
Much of this comes out in your view of the Holy Spirit. If your mind is set on the flesh, you will shun, grieve, quench and resist the Holy Spirit. You will not be able to please God. But, if your mind is set on the Spirit, you will embrace, seek, learn and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The big revelation comes in verse 6; “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit/Spirit is life and peace.” Would you like to guess what the Greek word for “life” is in this verse? That’s right, it’s “Zoe?”
But let’s take it one step further. Many pastors and spiritual leaders warn against seeking or focusing on the Holy Spirit. Let me ask an elementary question according to this verse, how can you “set your mind on the things of the Spirit” without seeking and focusing on Him?” The alternative is shunning and ignoring Him.
We now have a dilemma. We will either set our mind on the things of the flesh or the things of the spirit/Spirit. Notice, I stressed “spirit/Spirit.” That is because it is nearly synonymous to talk about the renewed human spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The basic proposition Paul is arguing is that you have a choice of letting your flesh govern your life or your renewed spirit “in Christ” govern your life. Is your flesh or your spirit in charge of your life? Are you obeying your sinful flesh or your renewed spirit? Are you feeding your flesh or your spirit? Are you growing in “Zoe” life?
I am not talking about legalism or a performance driven mindset. Legalism kills the spirit. It is based in self effort and the flesh. It is not from the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is rooted in self made religion. The Law kills, but the Spirit imparts life. (Study 2 Corinthians 3:5-6)
Let me close by asking the question according to Romans 8:2; “is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus setting you free from the law of sin and of death?” If you are not living in “Zoe life”; it is either because you are not a born-again Christian or because you are living in disobedience and rebellion toward God! It is also possible to be religious but lost!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global