and I will be his God and he shall be My son


Book of ROMANS
A Study of Chapter 8

Part 5

Romans 8:5-8


"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. 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, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
- Rom 8:5-8 NKJV

We’ve spent a bit of time in verses 1-4 looking a little at what it means to be “In Christ”; how we enter into “Sanctification” by the blood of the “Spotless Lamb”; and the Kingdom principles of “Sowing and Reaping.” Truly these things cannot be comprehended with our natural (carnal) mind. This is why the Apostle Paul prayed for the saints -

“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him. 18 May He enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope His call holds for you, how rich is the glory of the heritage He offers among His holy people.”
– Eph 1:17-18 NJB

Our journey toward eternity and personal walk with the Lord Jesus begins with our mind, and that which we choose to focus our thoughts on.

“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
– Rom 8:6 NRSV


That is the promise of the Scripture. Let’s delve into this a little deeper… looking at the Mind.

When asked by one of the scribes which was the greatest of God’s commandments, “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”
– Mark 12:29-30 NKJV

Some may have noticed in their own reading & study that the words “with all your mind” do not appear in the passage this comes from in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which begins the Shema of Israel - “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

The Hebrew word translated “heart” here in Deut 6:5, לֵבָב - lebab – used as a noun means “inner man, mind, will, heart.” (Strong’s 3824)
- The “heart” could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and as a synonym of “mind.”

We find the same Hebrew word – lebab-  again in the Lord’s promises given through Moses

“And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.” – Deut 11:13-14 NKJV

“Life and peace” are the result when we set our minds on the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Jesus confirmed this commandment of God -

“An expert in the Law, tested Him by asking, 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus told him, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment.”

- Matt 22:35-35 ISV

So, we have the commandment to love God with all our mind. And then we read here in Romans that “the carnal mind is enmity (hostile) against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:7-8)

If this is not possible with the carnal thinking mind, then how can we truly love God with our mind, and enter into that promised Life & peace? What does it mean to be “spiritually minded”? To have our mind “set on the Spirit”?

The first exhortation preached by John the Baptist, as well as Jesus, was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 3:1-2, 4:17). In the first Apostolic sermon preached, Peter cried out – “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Our minds need to be “transformed”, “renewed.” This is one of the aspects of true repentance. Without beginning a life of True repentance when we come to salvation in Christ, truly we have not begun to walk the road of discipleship.

I feel we must address this briefly here… the Biblical meaning of “repentance”: for it seems few in the churches today understand what God means when His Word speaks of this necessary aspect of redemption.

Our modern definition and common understanding of repentance falls far short of what Jesus, John, and the Apostles meant when they taught we must repent. I wonder if the Lord had this definition of Repentance in mind when He rebuked and warned those in the churches in Revelation chapters 2&3 -

‘to be very sorry for something bad you have done in the past and wish that you had not done it.’ – Cambridge Dictionary offers a similar description of Repentance -  
1. deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.
2. regret for any past action.

While sorrow and remorse are indeed a part of repentance, the Scriptural meaning involves much much more. It demands a behavioral response on our part as well.

Repentance - μετανοιας metanoia (Strong’s Gk 3341) – (noun) means “afterthought, change of mind, repentance” is used of “repentance” from sin and evil…

In the NT the subject chiefly has reference to “repentance” from sin, and this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God. The parable of the Prodigal Son is an outstanding illustration of this.

The root word of metanoia, μετανοειτε metanoeo (Gk 3340) used 34 times in the NT definitely includes an aspect of the modern understanding, but doesn’t end with sorrow and regret. The implication is that the mind is the “seat of moral reflection” and defines “repent” as follows –
- To change one’s mind or purpose. Always involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always, of “repentance” from sin.
- The three steps found in metanoeo is (a) new knowledge, (b) regret for the previous course, displeasure with self, and (c) a change of action.

This tells me there is no such thing as hypothetical repentance; it must be supported by evidence. If our mind is changed, it is only proven by a change also of behavior. John the Baptist admonished the Pharisees who came to hear him to “Bear fruit worthy of repentance”, and so prove that they had indeed turned from sin. The original Amplified Bible renders that verse -
“Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]” – Matt 3:8 AMPC

So too, the course of our lives should bear witness that we have truly repented and have chosen to follow Jesus. As the prodigal son, who “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17), we must come to realize that our former behaviors and lifestyles are contrary to God’s design for a holy and righteous Church, and leave them behind when we humbly go to the Father.

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior”
– Titus 3:3-6 RSV

“we were once…” meaning we are no longer acting foolish and purposely disobedient. Indeed, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Not because we observed feast days, cleansed our dishes a certain way, abstained from pork, and offered our animals to atone for our sins: but because of His great mercy and love He saved us and “called us to repentance” (Matt 9:13)

It is not our initial salvation that causes the heavens to rejoice, for salvation has been offered to all; but rather, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). Salvation is the opportunity, repentance is the proof that we have “come to our senses” and are being “saved.”

As we read in Titus above -
We used to live according to the flesh.
Now we are to live according to the Spirit.
Paul, by the Spirit, writes elsewhere to the saints -

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
– Col 3:5-10 ESV

It all begins with the mind. Our minds need to be renewed. Outwardly our physical appearance remains the same. (The physical change comes later, when the Lord returns). The new self is spiritual; it is a renewing or regeneration of our minds. A rebirth. The Holy Spirit has come for this purpose, to give us true knowledge of the One whom we follow, working with us to conform us into His image. That image delights to do God’s will by nature. The fulfillment of the New Covenant will be when Christ, Head & body, are in the likeness of our Creator, in actual righteousness and holiness.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
– Jer 31:31-34 NKJV

The Holy Spirit is with us to imprint God’s Eternal Moral Law in our minds and hearts, so we say like our Lord – “I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” (Psalm 40:8, Heb 10:7). We’re being made new. It does not happen all at once. Our transformation is a process, and we sometimes almost need to, like Paul, “beat our bodies into subjection” as we walk a life of repentance. (see 1Cor 9:27)

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.”
– Eph 4:17-19 NIV

If we willfully continue to “walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds (ESV), we are still in darkness and risk being separated from the Life of God, regardless how many times we may have recited a “sinner’s prayer” or believed the oft-taught lie that “we will always fall short in this life.”  

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
– Eph 4:20-24 NIV

Our lives are played out with our actions and deeds, but it starts with the “attitude of our mind.” With our minds we choose to believe the things that Jesus and His Apostles taught. And with our minds we choose to obey or disobey. We must choose even to obey that which Jesus called the greatest commandment -

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”
– Mark 12:30 NLT

And perhaps even the mind is most important of the four characteristics of our being here. As our heart can be affected by emotion, our soul can be stirred by passion, and our strength can fail, we must keep our mind focused on God: seeking Him and His righteousness.

“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
2Cor 4:16 NKJV

The Holman translation of Paul’s exhortation reads as though the saints abandonment of the fruitless things of the flesh is past tense, and the transformation into the image of Christ is fully underway -

“You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds.”
– Eph 4:22-23 HCSB

Did we? Are we? Or are we still hanging on to things that will only bring corruption?

Does not the Scripture instruct us - “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2 NAS)

If we are to be made new, our minds must be in line with the mind of Christ, and affect how we choose to believe, walk and act. Daily we are faced with the choice to set our minds on the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit.

“those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
– Gal 5:24-25 NKJV

When the Lord confirmed His covenant with Israel He declared -

“I make this covenant and this oath with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today… so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.” – Deut 29:14,20 NKJV

This is thinking with the carnal mind set on the things of the flesh and not with the spiritual mind that is communing with God’s Spirit. This is not uncommon even today in the churches. The Scripture prophesies of priests & prophets who give the people a false comfort even as they remain walking according to the flesh.

“They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.”

- Jer 6:14 NKJV

They teach initial salvation, but not deliverance. They emphasize forgiveness, but rarely mention repentance. They teach from the natural man’s heart instead of from the renewed spiritual mind.

That is our battle, between thinking from a human understanding and viewing things with a Kingdom perspective, even as we are walking a life of repentance.
We see this with Peter, when he let his heart do the talking -

“Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

– Matt 16:21-23 NKJV

It was carnal thinking that drove many of His disciples to abandon following Jesus. When He began to teach them deeper Truths of God’s Kingdom that were outside of their human understanding, instead of humbly submitting themselves to Him, they walked away.

“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

– John 6:60-63,66

And then even Jesus’ words here were misunderstood, and soon twisted by human thinking into a belief system called Gnosticism. I see this as the carnal mind trying to grasp spiritual realities without consulting the One who is and has all authority over both the physical and spiritual realms.

The term "gnostic" derives from "gnosis," which means "knowledge" in Greek. The Gnostics believed that they were privy to a secret knowledge about the divine, hence the name.

A one-sentence description of Gnosticism: a religion that differentiates the evil god of this world (who is identified with the god of the Old Testament) from a higher more abstract God revealed by Jesus Christ, a religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil archons/powers who wish to keep the human soul trapped in an evil physical body, a religion that preaches a hidden wisdom or knowledge only to a select group as necessary for salvation or escape from this world. (earlychristianwritings/gnostics)

No, the physical realm is not evil. When God created the world and man at the beginning, “He said, It is very good.” (Gen 1:31)

And in the end it is physical man, made like unto the Lord Jesus, who will rule with Him over all creation, including the spirit world. Truly, there is so much more than we have known, as a whole, about God’s great plan. The calling of God to be His house, His chariot: being made One with Jesus as He is with the Father; the destiny of some to actually sit with the Lamb on His Throne to rule over creation and minister Life to the multitudes; and fact that one Day we will be even as the Becoming One in our very nature.

Our natural mind cannot comprehend these, or many other mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Our mind must be changed, renewed.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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.”
– Rom 12:1-2 NKJV

This is where we must look beyond our natural mind. We must choose to be transformed. We must choose, as Jesus did, to surrender our human will to God’s holy will.

“But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

We know the promise of this verse well (first found in Isaiah 64:4). And indeed our carnal man cannot see, hear, or understand. But…

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
– 1Cor 2:9-16 NKJV

“we have the mind of Christ.” “God has revealed these things to us through His Spirit.” We can only receive this by faith. Our natural man, our old nature, will tell us we cannot know what God is thinking, especially when problems arise in our lives, and we don’t see God in them. But He is.

We need to exercise our spiritual mind that communicates with the Holy Spirit of God, to see how He is working “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

“You will keep the man in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You, because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3 NLV

This is a Bible verse well worth memorizing. This promise is for any who will trust in Him.
The Voice translation puts it this way -

“You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You,
        for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.”

- Isaiah 26:3 VOICE

Indeed, it begins with the mind.
May we fully commit our hearts and dedicate our minds to the Lord from this day into eternity.




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