For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 8:5-8)
Romans 8 is the great teaching of God about the assurance of salvation. There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…Why not? That is the burden of the rest of the chapter.
The answer of the first four verses, is that we are no longer under condemnation, because the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has delivered us from the Law that could only condemn and slay us.
Ironically, the only hope we could ever have of the fulfillment of the righteousness of the Law within us, is to be delivered of it and indwelt with the Spirit.
This brings us to the second reason as to why there can be no condemnation for us. It is because we are now Spiritual men, the Holy Spirit is working in us now, we are no longer at enmity with God.
This is spelled out in Romans 8:5-13, by way of contrasting the man of the flesh, with the man of the spirit. I want to stress at the outset that this is not a contrast of two different kind of christians, but between Sons of Adam and reborn sons of God through Jesus.
The contrast harkens back to Romans 5, it is between those who are yet condemned and those who have passed into the beautiful freedom of being justified in Christ.
First of all the man of the flesh is described, thusly;
* They that are after the flesh- this refers to those who live “out of” the unregenerate nature. This could be translated “those under the flesh”, the idea being that they live under the authority of the nature they were born with. Simply put, these are the children of Adam.
*They …mind the things of the flesh- This is not necessarily a reference to gross,sinful things, rather it is that the mindset of the sons of Adam is on the temporal, earthly, and unspiritual.
More than the mind as we understand it is included in this, for Paul is referring to the affections, desires and emotions here as well. The things the carnal man sets his mind on are earthly things alone. He has no interest in spiritual,(that is the truly spiritual).
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.(Phillipians 3:18-19)
Once again we aren’t talking just about bad things, obviously fleshly sinful things, the expression “the mind set on the flesh” refers to anything that is earthly, temporal, and it is a mindset that is devoid of God.
Politics, philosophy, culture,art,social interests, clubs,hobbies, in short the whole range of life’s pursuits this is the purview of the mind set on the flesh, as well as the obviously sinful things.
*To be carnally minded is death – The King James Version here changes the word but in the greek it is the same expression, and can be translated “To have the mind set on the flesh is death”.
All Paul is saying is that the Sons of Adam, (those only born once) are dead. One of the signs of spiritual death is to have no capacity for spiritual mindedness. To see no need for salvation, to not entertain the notion of true worship, relationship with God, is only a symptom of spiritual death.
When man is dead to God, he thinks as though there is no God, he decides, lives, moves, relates to others as if God isn’t there. He may be moral, cultured, refined and educated, but spiritually, he has no life.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.(Psalm 10:4)
The spiritually dead just don’t see anything in Christianity, they don’t get it, they have no capacity to respond to God, religion is a fine diversion perhaps, but there is no reality of the Living God to the carnal man.
* The carnal man is enmity against God- It is hard for some people to accept this stark statement, but this is a revelation from God himself as to the human condition.
The spiritually dead child of Adam has a capacity for religion, and even for a form of the christian religion, but they hate the real God. They just don’t realize it.
The Spiritually dead fill the churches indeed, and as long as the preachers give them various forms of “do- good” works, social activism of various stripes, prosperity and wealth gospels, and christian psychology, religion suits them well.
But let a true servant of God present to them the vision of the Holy and Righteous God of the Bible, who utterly hates and detests sin and unrighteousness with a burning hatred, and will destroy and unmask all that is false and vile, then you will see the true “God hatred” that Paul exposes here.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (Coll 1:21)
There are many deceived on this point, who love only the false image of God they have entertained in their minds, or that has been fostered by the apostate churches. When the real God of the Bible is revealed, they reject him out of hand.
* The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God neither can it be- Isn’t this the point of Romans 7? We couldn’t obey God even if we tried! Why not? Because we didn’t love Him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength.
This is no description of a “weak christian”, for even the weakest christian has passed from condemnation. This is a description of anyone, who is only once born, any son of Adam, all who are yet alienated from God, unspiritual, dead to God and whose mind is set only on this earth.