“ 5 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. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
We are starting to see really quickly that Romans 8 is the “Spirit chapter”. The Spirit, in my opinion, is the least understood member of the Trinity, but maybe the One that is the most significant in our lives as Christians. In no way am I intending to take away from the importance of the Father nor the Son with that statement, but I do believe that sometimes the Spirit gets short changed. I, myself have been guilty of this. I have referred to the Spirit as “Jesus inside my chest” many times in my life. And, while I think this is 100% accurate, it implies that the resurrected Christ, the Son, has taken residence in my body. I don’t think this is 100% accurate in trying to understand the characteristics of each member of the Trinity either. After all, Jesus said Himself:
5 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:5-15)
We saw in Chapter 6 that, as a believer, I have died to sin and been resurrected through Christ in the Spirit. That Spirit now dwells inside of me in my soul, the immortal part of my being. I think this makes it easier to come to grips with how the Trinity works throughout the process of our lives. The Father is our provider, our protector, our Abba. He is perfect, holy, just, and merciful. The Son’s work on the cross proves this justice through the sacrifice of His blood. So, through the Son, we receive justification. Much is preached about this process, but these concepts are just the beginning. What we have been walking through in Romans shows us that justification is only the tip of the iceberg. Receiving Christ is much more than fire insurance on where we are going to spend eternity. It is life changing in the here and now just as much as its eternal implications. It is awesome that God loves us so much that He gave His Son for my eternal life with Him, but it is equally awesome that He gives the Spirit to make us more like Him.
In this passage, we see that there are two types of people. There are those that are carnally minded, and those that are spiritually minded. There are “children of wrath” (Eph 2:4) and there are “children of God” (John 1:12). A human being is either hostile towards God or those that are able to please Him. Any fence riding done by proclaiming followers of Christ and/or blatant denouncers of Christ is not valid. There really is no such thing. There must be a transition, a new way of thinking; and although along every step of the way, there are human responsibility through response, the work is done by the Lord. The Father does the calling, the Son does the justifying and then this work from our time of conversion until the time of glorification is done by the Spirit that takes residence inside of us. He makes us holy.
We learned last time that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). But, this doesn’t decrease the devastating work of sin, it just decreases its hold over us. It is still there and very powerful in our mortal bodies, our flesh, and if our minds stay in this state, sin will continue to destroy, but it no longer is required to be this way. Through the law, the sinner is condemned because the reality is laid out that the standard of God is revealed in such a way that no one of us can meet it. But, through the grace and truth of Jesus Christ the condemnation is taken away from the sin. There is still condemnation, but it is now placed on the sin itself. When the Spirit comes in, it starts to transform our minds from one that was carnal, selfish, and evil, into one that hates those things. We are now free of the guilt that was placed on us by this carnal mindset, and we should start to see this evil in a different light. Sin now becomes this despicable barrier that keeps us from ultimate satisfaction with God instead of the lie that we are fed that it can replace or supplement Him.
The Spirit reveals this way of thinking to us more and more as we walk with Him. Our mindset starts to change from one that is only going to produce death and hostility to one that is going to produce life and peace. Perspective starts to change our outlook on things and love, the true meaning of love, starts to rain through. This is a powerful realization that, by the grace of God, I am walking through; we all do as we submit our lives to Christ. There is a change in the way we think and how we look at things. It is a process; one with peaks and valleys, trips and falls, triumphs and defeats. But, it is one that our Comforter, our Encourager, our Counselor, our Encourager, is with us through all the way. It is also one that He is going to win in us. I look forward to seeing this play out throughout the rest of Chapter 8, but more importantly, I look forward to seeing this play out in my life.