I have a problem.
Although I am born-again -breathing the new life of the Spirit- I still struggle with temptation to live in the flesh.
I imagine you can identify with this problem as well. It’s just a part of the Christian life on earth.
Paul addresses the issue in Romans 8:5-6 when he says,
“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. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Just to be clear, when Paul talks about living “according to the flesh,” he is referring to any way of living and thinking that does not honor God. Its more than just the “big sins” of adultery, murder, and theft.
More often, “living according to the flesh” takes place in issues like busyness, selfishness, anger, and bitterness. These are things we all battle daily.
Here’s what I think is interesting. Paul doesn’t say that those who live according to the flesh “have their minds set on the things of the flesh” but instead, they “set their minds on the things of the flesh.”
Do you see the difference? It’s subtle, but powerful.
Paul’s implication is that we consciously place our thinking upon things of the flesh. Its not a passive situation –its active.
In other words, believer, although you were born into sin, Christ has now given you the freedom to choose something better than the flesh. Before we came to Christ, we were “stuck” with the flesh. But now we have access to the Spirit!
That’s why he says, “but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
Every moment is an opportunity to choose where you will set your mind. In this sense, the “mind” is used to refer to the “control center” of your life. Whatever the “mind” chooses, your entire being follows.
The implications are massive. Paul explains, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
For the believer, it might seem strange to read that setting the mind on the flesh is death. After all, aren’t we guaranteed eternal life? Of course. I think, however, what Paul is referring to is a present state of being –on earth. That’s why he doesn’t say that setting the mind on the flesh leads to death –no, it is death.
In other words, living in the flesh is like dying a slow death. Haven’t you ever said something like, “This schedule is killing me”? Maybe what you are really saying is, “The sin of busyness is death to me.” Or what about, “I’m suffocating beneath this debt.” Maybe that could be translated to say, “The sin of greed is killing me.”
But -here is the good news- it doesn’t have to be that way! Because, “to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Wouldn’t that be nice? Life… Peace…. Wow, it’s right there at your fingertips –available to you in Christ.
You have the freedom to choose –where will you set your mind today?