Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
June 26, 2007
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace:
7 because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be:
8 and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
- I. The Background.
- A. One of the divine purposes for God's redemption of human beings is, according to 8:4, that they might fulfill the righteousness of the Law by means of a new manner of "walking".
- 1. This is a "servant-purpose" in that it is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Walking according to the Spirit addresses the "manner" and "character" of the fruit of the body's activities. But these activities are "seeds" of a harvest set in motion in a cause and effect universe and, as such, are merely the means to the harvest, not the harvest itself. The ultimate harvest issue is Life and righteous behavior is the means to that end.
- 2. As one of God's purposes, this cannot be set aside without grave consequences. All who minimize the importance of doing what is right (regardless of the pain or loss that is inherent to doing right in a fallen world) are purveyors of Death. If a "doctrine" becomes a method for making light of legitimately righteous behavior, it is false no matter what words are used to explain it. Paul, it is true, was often accused of teaching a doctrine of grace that will automatically lead to doing evil (Romans 3:8), but the accusation was false and the "condemnation" of his accusers was "just". Thus, we must be careful to not "assume" that a "doctrine" will lead to godlessness, but if, once legitimately evaluated, it actually does encourage sinful behavior, it is not Truth.
- 3. The fundamental issue in the production of true righteousness is its Source. Paul was adamant that true righteousness only arises from the Spirit of God as the Inner Husband of the Soul. It is, according to John, the "seed of God" that yields actually legitimate behavior (1 John 3:9). Thus, the "bottom line" is always going to be the answer to this question: How does one "walk according to the Spirit"? This seems to be the issue of 8:5.
- B. There are twin issues in God's provision for a walk by the Spirit.
- 1. There is the issue of God's provision in Jesus, His Own Son. This is the external, objective, provision that has nothing to do with any specific individual son of Adam's fall. What God did in Jesus was His doing altogether and has no point of contact with fallen humanity. This is the vicarious atonement.
- 2. There is also the issue of God's provision in the indwelling Spirit. This is an internal provision that, though it is directly "of the Spirit", does have "points of contact" with fallen men. The chiefest such point is what the Bible calls "faith". Without faith, the vicarious atonement does not atone for men. It is perfectly adequate, it is just not applied to the problem apart from faith. And, in like manner, it does no one any good whatsoever to be a temple of the indwelling God if there is no "faith" in His attributes and commitments.
- II. The Doctrine.
- A. In 8:5 Paul begins to "explain" [he wrote, "For..."] the issue of "walking according to the Spirit."
- B. The first aspect of the "walk" that is according to the Spirit is the actual "state of being" involved.
- 1. He wrote of those who "are according to the flesh" and of those who "are according to the Spirit."
- 2. His claim is that the "being" has an automatic result: "...those who are according to... mind the things of...".
- 3. However, there is a kind of "breakdown" in the so-called "automatic result". If it were comprehensively true that those who "are" a certain way "act" automatically according to that way, there would be no need for anything beyond the doctrines of redemption. If, once a person received the Spirit, he would "automatically" walk by the Spirit, all we would really need to know is how to receive the Spirit.
- 4. This "problem" is resolved immediately as we understand that what we "are" as the redeemed is not comprehensive, or pure. If a person "is" according to the flesh, there is no contradiction; he will "do" according to the flesh. But, no man "becomes" according to the Spirit in the same comprehensive sense. Those who, in this body, "become" according to the Spirit are now both "according to the flesh" and "according to the Spirit". God has "added" His Spirit without taking away the flesh. Thus, the "automatic" aspect is, by this mixture, somewhat subverted. Now the issue of "faith" becomes more crucial than ever.
- C. The second aspect of the "walk" that is according to the Spirit is the consequent "minding".
- 1. Paul wrote of "minding the things of the flesh" and "minding the things of the Spirit" and of being "fleshly minded" and "Spiritually minded".
- 2. The term Paul used to write of "minding" things is a word that is used to describe a person's "commitments to certain objectives". In Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 Jesus strongly rebuked Peter because he was "minding" ("savouring" is the AV word) the "things that be of men". This means that he was thinking as fallen men think about the twin issues of what is valuable and what is true. The word arises from a physical reality that is tied to the diaphragm: breathing. When the diaphragm moves downward, the lungs are expanded to take in what is in the atmosphere (smells, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, particles of smoke, whatever...). In the lungs, the oxygen is separated from the other entities and taken into the bloodstream and the carbon dioxide that is in the blood is released to the lungs so that when the diaphragm moves upward and the lungs are squeezed, the person exhales whatever was not taken into the blood in the lungs. This process introduces the issue of "discrimination" at the "lung" level. The lungs are designed to accept oxygen and eject carbon dioxide as a "discriminatory exercise". But, there are other elements that are often introduced into the atmosphere that are extremely dangerous and about which the lungs have no discriminatory abilities. If those elements are introduced into the lungs, the person's life is imperiled. At the purely physical level, there is no protection for a person who has suddenly been subjected to a poisonous atmosphere. The lungs only have a specific discriminatory ability and it is seriously limited. Likewise there is only one issue of "minding": whether "another" is more important than oneself.
- 3. Paul's predominant focus of attention regarding "minding" in Romans is upon the question of one's value relative to that of others (Note Romans 12:3; 12: 16 and 15:5).
- 4. In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul wrote of "minding" like a "child"; an activity that is to be put away by reason of growth to maturity. Note particularly 1 Corinthians 14:20 where Paul insists that it is childish to be "malicious".
- 5. The implication of Paul's use of "minding" is that the Spirit empowers the production of "spiritual" fruit whenever the believer's "focus of value" is upon "spiritual" Truth. There is, for Paul, no question of the Spirit's willingness to produce good fruit; the only issue is the believer's willingness to buy into what is valuable and what is true.
- a. This reveals why Paul's focus in "minding" is upon "others"; only when "others" are the genuinely "valuable" can the Spirit produce His fruit. In Philippians 2:2, 2:5, and 3:15 he insisted upon a "fixed" value system that put others above oneself with a promise that this would be an area where the Lord would "reveal it to you" if you were off track. Ten of the twenty-one uses of this verb are found in Philippians.
- b. But Paul also had another "focus": the focus upon divine revelation as absolutely determinative of "Truth". In 1 Corinthians 4:6 he insisted that "what is written" is the crucial bottom line in "relating to men" and in Galatians 5:10 he insisted that "Truth" was a critical fixation that would actually lead those who dismiss it into judgment.
- D. A third consideration is Paul's warning/promise in 8:6: those whose "minds" are focused upon the flesh will die; those whose "minds" are focused upon the Spirit will live in peace.