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, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5, NKJV)
Paul lays out a series of contrasts in Romans 8:5-9 between what it means to be carnally minded and what it means to be spiritually minded. He begins by drawing our attention to this central point: We live what we think. Whatever your mind is set upon produces how you live. If your goal is to “walk according to the Spirit,” then you must set your mind on “the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, 5). The “flesh” is the source of evil appetites, and carnally minded people set their minds on these things. The gospel calls us to set our minds on things above and not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). The gospel renews our minds (Romans 12:2). This occurs as we deliberately develop the mindset to seek and do the will of God which the Spirit has revealed in the Scriptures. Put your mind on the word and will of God, not on the wisdom and will of those who do not know God (1 Peter 4:1-2). Putting your mind in the right place translates into making choices to do God’s will in life. You live what you think!
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
Billions of people do not regard sin as sin. That word has been all but stricken from the lexicons of languages around the world. What Jesus said here reminds us that we are dual beings, made of both flesh and spirit; both mortal and immortal. The inner person – the person possessing identity, volition, conscience, intelligence and emotions – is identified as the heart, from which comes our words and actions. Jesus identified sexual immorality of all sorts (including adultery, homosexuality and premarital sex) as sin that comes from the heart. Oppression of one’s neighbor, whether by murder, thievery, covetousness or deceit, is also sinful. See how pride is considered evil along with all the rest. Sin is real, and we must define sin the way Jesus does. If not, we will likely call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2, NKJV)
In what direction have you set your mind? The word of God simplifies our choices. In truth, our mind is either set on heavenly things, or we set our mind on things of this earth. The first is spiritual, fulfilling and eternal. The second is worldly, unsatisfying and temporal. This is not a “one off” setting of the mind. We are to keep on setting our mind on things above. Are you seeking heaven (Col. 3:1)? If so, you cannot attain it by fixing your mind on earthly things. We are so much more than flesh and bones. We have been made in God’s image, with a mind that reasons and operates on free will (not instinct), possessing moral consciousness intellect and emotions. And so, we should fixate our whole being on heaven. For the Christian live for the earth instead of for heaven defies the very reason we have been raised with Christ from spiritual death (Col. 2:12; 3:1).
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, NKJV)
We all fashion ourselves after something or someone. Some set of values, someone we admire, or some goal to which we aspire. The Christian makes a conscious decision not to assimilate the thinking, values and goals of the world – that system of evil that is in opposition to God. Now converted to Christ, a change occurs – a metamorphosis – that is visible and recognizable. This transformation must begin in the mind, for that is the seat of all that we are. Rather than doing those things that offend God, we live for His approval. His full or “perfect will” is set before us in His Scriptures, and there we go to learn what is “good and acceptable” before Him. Renew your mind, your thinking, so that in your life will be the light of the world and please your heavenly Father (Matt. 5:14-16).
Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Luke 8:18)
It is not enough simply to listen to what Christ says in the Scriptures, we must hear with understanding to do His will. To achieve this, be careful how you listen to the word of Christ. Be cautious not to listen with your mind already made up about what is right and what is wrong. Such a closed mind will not help you find the truth and accept it. Truth is snatched from the closed mind even as it thinks it knows the truth (the wayside soil, Matt. 13:19). Instead, be like the Bereans and have a ready, willing mind to receive the word of Christ, examine the Scriptures to know the truth, then believe it and do it (Acts 17:11-12). With such a “noble and good heart” you will bear fruit for Christ and increase in His blessings (Lk. 8:8, 15).
2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. (Philippians 4:2-3)
Paul made a personal appeal to these two Christian women to achieve unity of mind in the Lord. He implores each in turn, as it were, “face to face”. He urged his fellow companions to help these women. Here’s the lesson: Be careful not to immediately take sides when differences arise between brethren. This aggravates the situation, making it more difficult to achieve a godly resolution. Keep the best interests of all parties before you. The goal is unity in the Lord. With that in place the Lord’s work is unhindered and names remain in the Book of Life, undefiled by sin.