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Romans 8:5-8 (2)

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Let’s all unite our hearts together in prayer: Our God and Father, we commend ourselves to You today as we now come to the time of the preaching of the Word of God. Let us know our hearts, let us know our needs. We pray Lord for wisdom and for the power of the Holy Spirit.
We pray for words that will be directly from You, the Lord Himself. And we pray that in everything, Your great name will be glorified. Oh Lord abide with us now, bless us Lord. Grant us a great sense of Your presence and moved among us we pray in Jesus name and for His sake, AMEN.
5 "For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. 6 "Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 "The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. 8 "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” ()
The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said:
“Your religion is what you do with your solitude.”
In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it—that is what you really live for.
That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind.
The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.
So to win against the struggle of sin, begins by having our “minds set on the things of the Spirit.”
This is not the same thing as simply thinking about religion all the time, or theology in general.
The “things” of the Spirit would be those things to which
the Spirit draws attention; to “mind” the Spirit
would be to be preoccupied by the things that preoccupy the Spirit.
What are those things?
In the rest of chapter 8, we will see that the Spirit comes to show us that we are sons and daughters of the Lord.
We will explore this at a later time but it is worth seeing here
what the “things” or truths the Spirit wants us to “mind” are:
■ Verse 14 will tell us that: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
■ Verses 15–16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.
■ Verses 15–16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.
■ Verses 26–27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.
■ Verses 26–27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.
In other words, the rest of tells us what the Spirit is preoccupied with: how in Christ we are
adopted,
loved and
welcomed.
We are to be preoccupied with our standing in Christ.
We are to drill into our minds and hearts his love and adoption of us.
To “mind … the things of the Spirit” () means never to forget our
privileged standing or the fact that
we are loved, and to
let this dominate our
thinking, our
perspectives, and therefore our
words and
actions. [slow]
The passage under consideration this morning is of most importance when we look at it
from the perspective of the weakness and need of the church of Jesus Christ at this present time.
It actually serves to correct a mistake that is very popular in Christian circles today:
It corrects everyone’s understanding of what it means to even be a Christian.
There is a teaching (an error) in many popular Christian circles today that divides people up in three classes:
(1) those who are not Christians,
(2) those who are Christians, and
(3) those who are Christians but who are living in an “unsaved” manner. Which are often called “carnal Christians.”
Let me read to you a line or two out of a book entitled: “Layman, Look Up! God Has a Place for You”
Which was a book with very good intentions. Which was to help laymen to function as leaders in the local church.
It encouraged them to move beyond being mere “Christians” to being “disciples” of Jesus Christ.
Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
At one point it said, “All followers of [Christ] are his sheep, but not all sheep are his disciples.”
With statements like this we are led to believe this morning that there are lost people, sheep, and disciples.
The author is right in wanting laymen to assume their proper role in the church’s life.
But the problem lies in their procedure.
The book has adopted the three-category view, and this, I am convinced, inevitably leads the reader to think that
—although it may be wise and perhaps even beneficial to become serious about the Christian life
—becoming a “disciple” of Jesus Christ is, in the final analysis, merely optional.
This conclusion is fatal, because it encourages us to suppose that we can be careless about our Christianity,
doing little and
achieving nothing, and
yet go to heaven securely when we die.
It’s a problem that inevitably lead to the thinking that a man can live as the world lives and still go to heaven.
If the this popular teaching in Christianity today, the teaching of this book is true, it is comfortable teaching.
We are to have the best of both worlds, sin here and heaven to follow.
But if it is not true, those who teach it are encouraging people to believe that all is well with them when they are, in fact, not even saved.
They are crying, “Peace!” when there is no peace. They are doing damage to their souls.
Think of the parables of Jesus:
Good fish and bad.
Good fish and bad.
Tares or Wheat
Tares or Wheat
You’re either in the banquet or out of the banquet.
You were a lost sheep, coin, son but you’ve been found.
Two doors, two ways, and only the narrow road leads to life.
You’re either in the banquet or out of the banquet.
Two builders (wise and foolish).
You were a lost sheep, coin, son but you’ve been found.
Pharisee and tax collector
Two doors, two ways, and only the narrow road leads to life.
Wise virgins and foolish virgins
Two builders (wise and foolish).
Pharisee and tax collector
Wise virgins and foolish virgins
The good Samaritan and the others who wouldn’t help.
The good Samaritan and the others who wouldn’t help.
The bible is black and white. It’s not black, white, and gray.
It’s only lost or saved. Not lost, saved, and the saved but they act lost.
So to in our passage. As we look at it today. I’ve entitled this message: “What do you have your mind set upon?”
Let’s look first of all at
The Concerns of the mind sets.
5 "For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh”
Paul is moving from what people do (in v4) to what they are.
What your mind is set upon is the way that you’re going to live.
Those whose lives are dominated by “flesh” are strongly opposed to the things of God.
His list of “the works of the flesh” in shows that we must
not think only of gross sensuality, for Paul includes such things as
enmity,
jealousy, and
anger.
There are many ways of manifesting a disposition that is confined to the flesh.
Those in the flesh, he now says, have their minds set on the things of the flesh.
Lost people have a thinking problem. Their minds are set on “the things of the flesh” (v5)
Not just those big sins of debauchery. Not just those things of the flesh.
Perhaps you appear to have good intentions but your horizon is bounded by the things of this life.
Do you
have a preoccupation with money?
Materialism?
Desire the praise of man?
Pride?
Is your mind set on these things?
Take a very moral person, for example. He or she does not indulge in debauchery.
Does this mean that such a person is therefore thinking spiritually rather than according to the sinful nature?
Not at all. In an unsaved state,
the cultured,
well-spoken moral person
is as devoid of the Spirit of God, and is therefore as lost, as any other.
Many are in this moral delusion of pleasing God by your morality.
The Consequences of this mindset
The consequence is death: "Now the mind-set of the flesh is death...” ()
5 “but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.” ()
Paul is not speaking of physical death, of course.
He is speaking of spiritual death, and what he means is that
the unsaved person is as unresponsive to the things of God as a corpse.
The Bible tells us that the power, wisdom, and glory of God are clearly revealed in nature:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” ().
The unsaved person does not see this. He may use the word God at times,
but the word does not really mean anything to this person.
He would far rather believe that the universe came into being by evolution or chance or in any other way rather than
being created by a God who demands a proper respect and proper living from those He has created.
The unbeliever’s condition is even worse when it comes to the truths of the Bible.
Either he cannot understand them at all or else they seem utterly foolish to him. Why?
It is because it takes the Holy Spirit to provide such understanding. The Bible says,
"But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” ()
One who does not have the Spirit does not necessarily and self-consciously say,
“How can I destroy my life today?”
He may choose a path that looks good and proper, but it leads to destruction:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” ().
A relentless anti-God energy is at work in the minds of unbelievers,
distracting,
deceiving, and
dragging down every thought into a grave and eventually into hell itself.
Then we have The Conflict in the mind set.
"The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.” ()
Paul describes the relationship of those whose minds are of the flesh as one of hostility towards God.
For Paul sin is not only something that has adverse effects on humanity itself, but it also constitutes enmity with God.
For this reason, not only does human sin need punishment, but God’s wrath needs appeasement as well.
A mind “that is set on the flesh” must also be treating God and the desires of his Spirit as an enemy.
This is why our minds are, naturally, unable to deal with sin.
We may realize that a particular impulse is unhelpful, or that a certain course of action is destructive.
We may even decide to cut it out, and may do so successfully.
But the root of sin is still implanted in the mind—hostility to God. So sin will still grow unchecked in our lives.
Which leads directly into The Curse of this mind set.
"Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” ()
That hostility makes us incapable of pleasing God.
Left to ourselves, we are totally unable to live in a way that cause our Creator to approve of us.
Why? Because the mind that drives the actions is acting out of hostility to Him.
The person controlled by their own flesh is able to have
a thought that is good, or
perform an action that is right.
But it cannot please God, since it is thought or done in enmity toward Him.
This is why Paul says that people in their unsaved state are hostile to God and why they do not submit to his law.
The two go together.
They do not submit to God’s law because they are hostile to Him, and
because they are hostile to God they inevitably try to construct a religion that will protect themselves from Him.
The Christian has a mindset too. It also has CONCERNS AND CONSEQUENCES.
Look at what The CONCERN for the Christian’s mind-set.
5 "... those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.” ()
In verse 5 the apostle contrasts the unbeliever and the Christian in terms of their thinking,
saying that the unbeliever has his mind set on what the sinful nature desires but
that the Christian has his mind “set on what the Spirit desires.”
Unless we’ve been born from above, we are simply unable to recognize spiritual realities.
Jesus tells Nicodemus (In ) that a failure to understand spiritual things is
a mark of those who are not born “from above”.
Nicodemus responds by saying, “I don’t understand” (“How can these things be?” []).
A Bible teacher Nicodemus may be, but without the Spirit,
his understanding of Scripture remains earthbound.
This is a profound way of speaking, for it eliminates many misconceptions of what it means to be a Christian
while it establishes the truly essential thing.
First, it eliminates the idea that the Christian is someone who is merely very “religious.”
To be religious and to be mindful of the things of the Spirit are two entirely different things.
The Pharisees were religious, excessively so, but they killed Jesus.
Before he was saved, Paul was religious, but he expressed his religion by trying to do away with Christians.
Ironically, one function of religion is to try to eliminate God.
Paul’s way of speaking also eliminates the idea that a Christian is anyone who merely holds to right theological beliefs.
Much popular Christianity makes this destructive error, suggesting that
as long as you simply confess that you are a sinner and
believe that Jesus is your Savior and
“receive him,” whatever that means,
you are right with God and will certainly go to heaven.
Do not get me wrong here.
I know that there are degrees of understanding on the part of Christians and
that many true Christians are yet babes in Christ, perhaps because
they have never been given adequate teaching.
Many might be unable to describe their faith in any terms more adequate than those I have just given.
I do not want to deny that they are Christians.
But what I do want to say is that it is possible to confess those things and still not be a Christian,
simply because being a Christian is more than
giving mere verbal assent to certain doctrines.
It is to be born again.
And since being born again is the work of God’s Spirit, it is right to insist that
those who are truly born again will have their minds set on what God desires.
That the Concern of the Christian’s mind-set.
Then The CONSEQUENCE of the Christian’s mind-set.
6 "Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.” ()
It is the opposite of “death,” which describes the non-Christian.
The Christian is a person who has been made alive by God’s Spirit.
Spiritual matters make sense to him now.
Before, he was dead in his sins; now he is alive to a whole new world of reality.
And he is at peace—peace with himself, as he never was before, in spite of many heroic efforts to convince himself that he was.
Above all, he is at peace with God.
The word peace, corresponds to the points of verse 7 step by step.
The natural man, the mind that is set upon the flesh, is
enmity against God,
is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be.
But of the Christian, you say at once:
He can be subject to it,
he is subject to it,
he desires to be subject to it, and
he goes out of his way to subject himself to it.’
He ‘hungers and thirsts after righteousness,’ he desires to keep the commands which God has given.
Here’s the application to this sermon this morning. Everything that I’ve just said is directed towards just one end:
Once we become aware of our sinful condition, divine sovereignty is all we have left—
and what a gracious and wonderful thing it is to know that
what we cannot do, God is both willing and able to do.
I want to encourage you to take a long hard look into your own heart.
To examine yourself and ask, “Am I actually following Jesus everyday of my life?”
To “set the mind on the Spirit” () is to walk “in step with the Spirit” ().
Here is a test:
» When the Spirit’s way—Christ’s way—says, “Take the path of self-denial,” do we respond by saying:
“Self-denial is for wimps. I know my rights”? That’s the earthly minded response.
» When the Spirit’s way—Christ’s way—says, “Endure the trial; it will be good for you,” do we respond by saying, “That’s not fair; I deserve better than this”? That’s the earthly minded response.
» When the Spirit’s way—Christ’s way—says, “Endure the trial; it will be good for you,” do we respond by saying,
“That’s not fair; I deserve better than this”? That’s the earthly minded response.
» When the Spirit’s way—Christ’s way—says, “I want you to glorify Me in everything you do,” do we respond by saying,
» When the Spirit’s way—Christ’s way—says, “I want you to glorify Me in everything you do,” do we respond by saying, “This time it’s going to be about me and only me”? That’s the earthly minded response.
“This time it’s going to be about me and only me”? That’s the earthly minded response.
We are called to spiritual-mindedness.
I’m not asking if you’re
great at being a Christian or
if you’re a well taught Christian,
certainly I’m not asking if you’re a perfect Christian (none of those exist),
but whether or not you are truly born again.
Has the Holy Spirit of God made you alive in Jesus Christ so that your thinking condition has all changed?
Have the Spiritual realities of
Christ,
grace,
Scripture,
prayer,
fellowship,
service,
living for the glory of God—
filled our vision and is so large, so desirable,
that other things, by comparison, seem to shrink in size and become bland to the taste?
Do not default to the mind’s natural setting.
Go back to where you began this journey of spiritual life—with
an outstretched hand
receiving grace,
an eye fixed on Jesus, and
a heart filled with wonder, praise, and adoration.
Do you hear the call to repentance?
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