Romans 8:5-6. 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
One of the most important things we must understand as Christians is the impact of our thinking upon our spiritual growth. As we’ve seen in earlier readings from Romans 6, we don’t somehow just magically grow into the likeness of Christ without the process of Knowing, Considering, and Presenting. This process takes place in what Paul calls the mind. And it happens as we set our minds on the Spirit.
Here in Romans 8:5-6, Paul is describing two kinds of people (and there are only two kinds): those with the mind of the flesh, and those with the mind of the Spirit. Those headed toward death, and those headed toward life and peace. Those who actively set their mind on the flesh, and those who actively set their mind on the Spirit.
Yes, your mind will bounce back and forth between flesh and Spirit. Yes, there is a battle happening in your mind (Romans 7). Yes, your mind needs to be renewed (Romans 12:1-2). But here in Romans 8 Paul is describing who we are in Christ. The normal Christian life. The life in the Spirit.
Christian, you ARE in the Spirit. You HAVE the mind of the Spirit. You DO set your mind on the Spirit. This is what a Christian IS and DOES. The Holy Spirit now governs your mind. You have his mind set. Back in Corinthians, Paul put it this way:
1 Corinthians 2:16. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
So what is the mind?
The mind is much more than just your intellect. Paul calls it your entire walk. Attitude. Lifestyle. Outlook. Worldview. Choices. POV. Opinion. Disposition. Even feelings. The mind drives your entire life.
The mind of the flesh is death. The mind of the flesh is ordered by the knowledge of good and evil. The mind of the flesh will always drive us toward some version of self-righteousness. It will always work to convince us that we are right, not wrong. That we are better. That we are enough. The mind of the flesh is intrinsically moralistic and judgmental. Our natural mind believes we are right and will accept any new information that supports our goodness and reject any new information that proves our badness.
But the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. Not because everything we think and believe and love are always correct. Or because our thinking and morality are better than everyone else’s. Quite the opposite. The mind of the Spirit is given to us in spite of us. The truth that guides our mindset is Christ himself, not some achieved self-righteousness. Rather Christ’s life is my truth. His life is my mindset. The righteousness that my mind is set upon is not my own.
This assurance now allows us to face our own moral and intellectual limitations. We no longer have to be consumed with our own personal justifications. We can fight to win hearts not arguments. Because we have the life and peace of Christ, our mind can now rest. It can stop running desperately toward self-righteousness. It can actually be quite humble and open minded. Our minds can be renewed in love. The love of “to live is Christ.”
Is your mind set upon the flesh or the Spirit?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you have the mind of the Spirit help you to set your mind on Christ?
Christ in you
How might thinking like Jesus bring life and peace to your relationships?
Playlist: Mind of the Spirit.
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