Tag Archives: Bible Application

Romans 8:5-8 – We “Mind” What We Are

Romans 8:5–8 (ESV) — 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.

 

 

For Starters:

We need to be aware up front…

  • This is not a command, an imperative, to be “of the Spirit”.
  • He is declaring an accomplished fact.
  • Those in Christ areof the Spirit”.

 

Specifically…when Paul says “those who live”…

  • The word for “live” – eimi – means to already be and exist according to a specific reality.
  • In our text, this reality would be either “the flesh” or “the Spirit”.

 

Tom Schreiner says it this way:

“…those who ‘walk’ by the flesh or the Spirit do so because they ‘are’ of the flesh or the Spirit. In other words, [Paul’s] argument is that behavior stems from the being or nature of a person” – Schreiner.

 

This is hugely significant!

  • I will unpack why this is later.
  • First we need to unpack some phrases to understand our verses.

 

 

Flesh and Spirit Stuff:

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” – Verse 5.

 

(1) What does Paul mean by “flesh” and “Spirit”?

 

Flesh” here does not refer to anything physical specifically, such as the body.

  • In keeping with Paul’s usage in previous passages…
  • Flesh” refers to humanity’s rebellious human nature.

 

Spirit” here is the Holy Spirit.

  • Paul’s use of the Spirit here signifies that the believer is no longer alienated from God.
  • And participates in the life of the Spirit.

 

 

(2) So what is “live according to” the flesh or Spirit?

  • This is more dominion or address language from Paul.

 

To “live according to the flesh” is…

  • To exist under the dominion or address of sin.
  • This is to be slaves to sin and under the sway of the rebellious human nature.

 

To “live according to the Spirit” is…

  • The believer’s life giving experience of the Holy Spirit…
  • Under the dominion of grace, freed from the condemnation of the law.

 

 

(3) What is the “set their minds on” the flesh or the Spirit?

 

First, it is important we get something here.

  • This phrase is simply one word, the verb “phroneō.
  • And as we saw with the word “eimi/live”, this is not a command.
  • It is an indicative – a done deal.

 

This means it is a description of how the person’s mind already operates…

  • By virtue of being of the flesh or Spirit.
  • It is not a method of thinking a person can “will”.

 

Given this, what does “phroneō” mean?

  • It relates to our desires, intentions and will as shaped by our address/dominion.

 

The DPL says, “phroneō denotes an attitude of mind which finds expression in the will” – DPL.

  • The BDAG says, it means, “to be intent on” – BDAG.
  • The EDNT says, it means, “single-minded commitment to something and the conditions for such commitment” – EDNT.

 

So to “phroneō” in the flesh…

  • Is to, by default, desire, intend or will the things that are sourced by the power and dominion of sin.
  • Those who “live according to the flesh” don’t try to “phroneo” this way…they just do.

 

Paul gives a list of some of the “things of the flesh” in Galatians.

  • Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV) — 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21a envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

 

So to “phroneō” in the Spirit…

  • Is to, by default, desire, intend or will the things that are sourced by the Spirit – the dominion of grace address.
  • Those who “live according to the Spirit” don’t try to “phroneo” this way…they just do.

 

Paul also gives a list of some of the “things of the Spirit” in Galatians.

  • Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

So let’s look at verse 5 again, and parse it out.

  • 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.

Given what we have just learned we can paraphrase it this way:

  • Those who live under the power and dominion of sin…
  • Dominated by the rebellious human nature…
  • Persist in a “will,” desire and intention towards its things.

 

Those who live under grace…

  • Dominated by the Spirit…
  • Persist in a “will,” desire and intention towards its things.

 

We can also put it this way:

  • To exist in the dominion of sin is to be orientated or inclined in its direction.
  • To exist in the dominion of the Spirit is to be orientated or inclined in its direction.

 

BTW – This doesn’t mean those in the Spirit can’t or don’t do the things of the flesh.

  • In fact, it doesn’t mean that we don’t continually struggle with the same sin.
  • But this means that our sinning doesn’t condemn us.

 

The persisting in sin that leads to condemnation, for Paul…

  • those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” – Gal. 5:21b.
  • Is to continually sin from the address that is “situated in” (resides in) the flesh – EDNT.

 

 

Paul’s Implications:

Paul doesn’t leave it there.

  • He tells us what the “phroneo-ing” in verse 5 means in verses 6-8.
  • 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.”

 

If you live according to, and thus “phroneo” the flesh…

  • You die the death of condemnation and alienation from God – eschatological death.
  • You live life hostile to God.
  • God’s law condemns you for your rebellion.
  • And you “cannot please God”.

 

BTW – What does it mean that a “flesher” cannot please God?

  • Does this mean they can do no good works?
  • Can a “flesher” persist in good works?

 

But if you live according to, and thus “phroneo” the Spirit…

  • You have life and peace.
  • You are free from “the law of sin and death” – Doug Moo.
  • You are no longer alienated from God.
  • And you do not suffer eschatological death of condemnation and alienation from God.
  • There is therefore now no condemnation.

 

Importantly, this life and peace aren’t something we do.

  • They aren’t feelings.
  • In other words, they are “an objective reality not a subjective state of mind” – Doug Moo.

 

 

Back to the Hugely Significant:

Earlier we saw that:

  • “…those who ‘walk’ by the flesh or the Spirit do so because they ‘are’ of the flesh or the Spirit….[and that] behavior stems from the being or nature of a person” – Schreiner.
  • In other words, it’s “being” before behavior – Robert Jewett.
  • Inside to outside.

 

I said that this was hugely significant!

  • Now I want to unpack why this is so.

 

The reason this is hugely significant is because…

  • This truth speaks volumes on how we mature as believers under grace.

 

What is the typical way we are taught to be better Christians – to be more Christ-like?

  • Usually we are given “to do” lists – imperatives.
  • Pray more, give more, love more, learn more, sin less, etc.

 

And, of course, our actions do matter.

  • So, we should strive to “do”.
  • Commonly known as “applying” God’s word.
    • Making God’s word about us by translating it into actions we can do.

 

But we sometimes operate under the illusion…

  • That spiritual growth and transformation…
  • Comes only from this type of application of God’s word.

 

In other words…we find value in God’s word…

  • Mostly when we can take home a “to do” list…
  • That we can add to the routines of our life.

 

 

The Problem:

Knowing God’s word for its own sake and on its own merits…

  • Gets short shrift.
  • It is characterized as just an intellectual exercise.

 

A false narrative is created that pits…

  • The heart against the mind.

 

So this is what we desperately need to realize.

  • If our behavior “stems from” what we are in Christ and the Spirit…
  • If we act because we are…a process that flows inside to out…
  • And not the other way around…
  • What should we spend more time understanding and comprehending…
  • What we are to do or what we are?

 

The answer is:

  • Valuing, Knowing, and Understanding…
  • For its own sake and on its own merits…
  • What we are in Christ and the Spirit…
  • And how God has secured what we are.

 

And how does this valuing, knowing, and understanding of what we are happen?

  • With a to do list?

 

Answer – by consuming the living and active word of God!

 

Here’s the thing:

  • What do you think happens when a person that “phroneo’s” in the Spirit…
    • That is to say, desires, intends or wills the things that are sourced by the Spirit…
  • Consumes God’s living and active word?

 

I can testify from years of doing so…

  • That it actually changes you!
  • No to do list required!

 

To say that knowing God’s word is a mere intellectual exercise?

  • Is to devalue and downplay both…
  • God’s word, your Union with Christ…
  • And the very thing Paul is teaching us today…the power and life of the Holy Spirit…from which we “phroneo”.

 

It is time for us to see that…

  • Consuming, Valuing, Knowing, and Understanding God’s word…
  • Is of utmost importance.
  • And it brings lasting application that to do lists and will power can’t.

 

 

Close with This:

Jeremiah and Ezekiel understand how powerful it is to consume God’s word:

  • Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” – Jeremiah 15:16
  • And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.” – Ezekiel 3:3

 

We need to know that there is no Hebrew word for “mind” or “brain”.

  • They thought that the heart and mind stuff happened together in the bowels.
    • Which could be the heart, the stomach, etc.
  • So they did not pit the heart and mind against each other like we do.
  • It was all the same stuff.

 

So these texts mean exactly what we have been saying.

  • To eat God’s word and find it to be a joy, delight and taste of honey includes…
  • The valuing, knowing and understanding of God’s word for its own sake and own its own merits.
  • If there is something we need to “do” – it is this!

 

 

Romans 8:1 – No Condemnation

 

Romans 8:1–4 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Given the “something” that Paul has taught thus far, he says…

  • There is therefore now no condemnation…”

 

We need to answer a couple of questions to begin to unpack our text.

  • (1) What does Paul mean by condemnation?
  • (2) What is the “therefore” – the something – that Paul is referring to?

 

(1) The answer to the first question is crucial in realizing the awesomeness of Paul’s words.

“No condemnation! This assurance can of course only carry its full force for someone who has pondered carefully the seriousness of sin and the reality of God’s judgment” – N.T. Wright.

 

The non-believer simply does not have the worldview to apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.

  • And quite honestly, perhaps the average Christian doesn’t properly apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.
  • Hopefully, having made it this far into Romans…this doesn’t apply to us!

 

In a nutshell, condemnation is a status or state of a person living “under sin”.

  • This includes being “in Adam” and all that goes with it.

 

It entails both death, and an “estrangement from God” – Doug Moo.

  • In other words, it is the result of being excluded from God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.

 

And some refer to it simply as suffering the curse and punishment of sin.

  • Something that is both now and not yet.

 

Condemnation, then, is not something that fundamentally results from bad behavior!

  • It is not something unfair that befalls a good person by a mean God.

 

(2) The answer to the second question is multi-faceted.

  • Romans 7:24 seems to be forecasting it.
  • Romans 7:24–25 (ESV) — 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

 

And Doug Moo says Paul also has in mind Romans 5 – where he began his discussion on condemnation.

  • Romans 5:16–21 (ESV) — 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Now we need to tie this text back in to Romans 8:1.

  • But I want to do so in a peculiar way…so bear with me.

 

So…is Paul’s “therefore” referring to history or theology?

 

What is the history?

  • “one man” – Adam
  • “death”
  • “one man” – Jesus
  • “one act” – the cross

 

We have to notice something here.

  • What does the history tell us?
  • How is it that the history has any force?

 

If you engage yourself or another in conversation with merely:

  • “Adam died.”
  • “Jesus died on the cross.”
  • What meaning is conveyed?

 

So here is what we have to notice:

  • The real meaning…the real application…is the theology!

 

The historical facts of Adam and Christ have to be applied to humanity.

  • And they must be applied correctly.
  • It is the inspired theology of the Bible writers that does this work!

 

In fact, the theology attaches to the history.

  • And as a result, the theology actually becomes historical.

 

So let’s look at the theology of Paul’s “therefore” found in Romans 5:

  • “free gift”
  • “sin”
  • “judgment”
  • “through that one man”
  • “trespass”
  • “condemnation”
  • “justification”
  • “death reigned”
  • “grace”
  • “righteousness”
  • “through the one man”
  • “Christ”

 

The history is that one man, Adam, died.

  • The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “sin”, “judgment”, “through that one man”, “trespass”, “condemnation”, and the “death reigned”.

 

The history is that one man Christ died on the cross (and rose).

  • The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “free gift”, “justification”, “grace”, “righteousness”, “through the one man”, and the “Christ”.

 

These are the theological truths that…

  • Make sense of the death of the one man Adam…
  • And the one act of the one man Jesus.
  • And give them their “so what?”

 

Now we can see what Paul is doing in 8:1.

  • Because of the theology attached to the events in history concerning Adam and Jesus…
  • We see why we were under condemnation…
  • And why we are delivered from condemnation.

 

The theology is the meat on the bones of the history!

 

But how are we joined to this Gospel history and theology?

  • Paul says it is for “those who are in Christ Jesus”.

 

Here we go again!

  • Those” is the history.
  • who are in Christ Jesus” is the theology.

 

Who are the “those”?

  • They are the people who profess Christ – Christians.

 

But, again, we need the theology to apply this and fill out its power and meaning.

  • We need the “in Christ Jesus”!

 

Why?

  • Because, all kinds of people profess all kinds of people.
  • Muslims profess Allah.
  • Buddhists profess Buddha.

 

So we need the theology attached to “in Christ Jesus”…

  • Because it is the theological content that sets this apart from any competing claim.

 

So what does it mean…Tom Schreiner says:

  • “‘In Christ Jesus’ refers to those who died with Christ Jesus and will be raised with him, harking back to 6:1–11” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Well, lets look back at Romans 6:3-11.

  • Romans 6:3–11 (ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

So to be “in Christ Jesus” means:

  • He died…we died!
  • He was raised…we “were” raised, will be raised, and “live with him”.

 

As a result:

  • We have newness of life.
  • We are “no longer enslaved to sin”, “dead to sin”, and “alive to God in Christ Jesus”.

 

Think of it this way:

  • To be united to Christ is to be…
  • Joined to both Christ’s history…
    • Who He was and what He did historically
  • And the theology (the meaning) that resides in Christ and His history.

 

How does being “in Christ Jesus” do this?

  • We will answer that next week.