Thursday, January 17, 2008

Flesh and Spirit

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 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.--Romans 8:5-8 (ESV)

The word dichotomy means: "division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups."  In Romans 8:5-8, Paul sets up an absolute dichotomy between things of the flesh [sinful nature] and things of the Spirit.  He starts off by dividing all people into two groups: those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit.  Then he points out the defining characteristic of each group: what they set their mind on.  Very simply, fleshly people set their minds on the flesh; Spirit-led people are instead consumed by the things of the Spirit.  What's interesting here is that there is no middle ground.  There are no loopholes in this passage.  Either something is of the flesh or of the Spirit.  

I have two thoughts on this passage.  Firstly, it's possible for Christians to be walking in both ways in the space of a short time.  I've seen this in my life.  One second, I can be praying for my brothers and thinking about Christ's amazing grace; the next second, I'm indulging the flesh.  Why is this?  I think it has to do with the remaining indwelling sin that hides out in believers' hearts.  We will see in verse 13 that there is still work to do in fighting the flesh.

Secondly, the things of the Spirit are laid out in the Word.  I think meditation on Scripture would most definitely be a thing of the Spirit.  So would prayer, fasting, loving others, forgiving those who sin against us--not to mention every fruit of the Spirit.  I think most likely this refers to the things which God has commanded us to do.

I'm going to be applying this passage by watching what I set my mind on very closely.  What I watch on TV, the music I listen to, the books I read, the thoughts I let my mind settle on--these can be discerned as either fleshly or of the Spirit.  If "to set the mind on the flesh is death" it is very important for me to pay attention to where my mind is set, and, when I catch myself slipping, run to the Spirit.

2 comments:

Ben said...

mmm, yes,
good, lol, I sound like a geek but u get what I mean...
very good stuff, I was just been going through a section on Charles Darwin, and it is simular to ur last point. It says that he was like the scientist on some ship and he got made fun of for his faith in Christ. So after 5 years on the ship, he left all his beliefs and becuz of what he read, he sort of came up with his hypothysis. well, u prolly already knew that but whatever I thought it was interesting.
can't wait to hear ur speech tomarrow..

themaboys said...

good stuff... i would also add to remember Colossians 3:2, "set your mind on things above, not on things on earth." our minds should be on the Spirit. They should have an eternal perspective (Heaven, things above, etc...) not a temporal worldly perspective. An interesting question i ask myself sometimes is "what is the eternal value of what i'm doing right now?" sadly, often, my answer is "there is none..." seriously convicting...

your blog's a major encouragement and reminder.
keep writing,
tim