Romans 8: The Two Minds
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Romans 8:5-8 NASB1995
It’s always a fun challenge to find a photo that encompasses the message in one of my devotionals. As I read and re-read this passage and read a few links in the marvelous Precept Austin resource, this photo really jumped out at me. There are two paths or mindsets for humans and those paths are like our narrow gate or broad pathway from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:13-14), just like these two one-way streets. We set our minds on things of the flesh OR we set our minds on things of the Spirit. In this translation (NASB 1995) it says the mind set on flesh is death.
We must careful here not to take this too literally or our physical and emotional needs will not be met (we still have to eat and work and love other humans and do other things in this life to support ourselves, and most people cannot afford or don’t want to enter a monastery for life). Let’s look at a couple of other translations of Romans 8:6; comparing versions is a very useful analytical technique. I use the Blue Letter Bible to do this comparison because I like other tools that are available.
King James Version:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
NLT (New Living Translation) Version:
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
These two translations offer more to work with: Letting our sinful nature or carnal mind control us is the way to death - our flesh should not be an instrument in our rebellion against God. I am still double-minded, as are most people. I think in the way of the Spirit more and more, but the distractions of this life sometimes get in the way. Those distractions don’t have to be part of an active sinful rebellion against God. Thinking in the way of the Spirit DOES lead to more peace and to an abundant life, and we should choose to follow the Spirit in everything that we do.
Looking at the two minds that we can have, I thought of one of the best C.S. Lewis books I have read: The Great Divorce. I highly recommend this imaginative look at Heaven and Hell; as you read it, you realize that the people inhabiting the bleak hell that Lewis depicts CHOOSE to be there, because they idolize the ways of the flesh over the Spirit. I have read this book several times and am always finding something new to ponder. You can download a free copy at a variety of sources, including the link I included above. Here’s a great quote from the book, which also hearkens back to the Sermon on the Mount.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
My next devotional will examine Romans 8:9-11: Belonging to Christ