Daily Readings: Leviticus 9-10, Psalm 33, Romans 8
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
What is my mind set on?
This is a question that is so important for Christians to consistently ask themselves. We are all human and will have moments of weakness. Our inability to be perfect is why Christ had to come on our behalf in the first place!
However, moments of weakness are very different than a conscious decision to live our lives focused on the desires of the flesh as opposed to choosing every day to ask God to help our mind be governed by the Spirit. An intentional decision that we are going to pursue what we desire above the desires of the Spirit, a decision to rationalize sins in our lives, a refusal to accept Jesus as Lord over our lives; these are not the same as a moment of weakness.
These amount to living according to the flesh.
Back in Matthew 7, Jesus encouraged us to observe our own fruit. Do our lives reflect a life truly turned over to Christ? Would we say that we have “our minds set on what the Spirit desires”?
Or are we living the majority of our lives according to the flesh? Are we consumed by greed, pride, lust, envy, and anger?
Paul doesn’t pull any punches today when he says that, “a mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God”. Those are pretty strong terms. He doesn’t say, “A mind governed by the flesh isn’t ideal. That is something you should work on. But just make sure you are in church regularly and God will overlook it.”
He said, “hostile to God”.
He went on to say in Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
I kind of want to go back to that version of faith that only requires, “praying a prayer” and then living the exact life I want to live and waiting for heaven one day!
The world desperately wants us to live according to the flesh. We are bombarded by stimulus that encourages us to stop worrying so much about loving God and loving others, but instead to focus on our own status, wealth, appearance, social life, material possessions, etc.
Do we buy into consumerism or Christianity? Are we focused on the desires of the Spirit or our own desires of the flesh?
Now, again, none of us are perfect. One chapter earlier Paul shared that he too is constantly fighting the battle of Spirit vs. Flesh. Paul said he frequently found himself not doing the things he wanted to do for God and instead found himself succumbing to the desires of his flesh. That is going to happen! God does not want us living out of shame, but out of a place of deep appreciation for the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf knowing that we would fall short over and over again.
The question we need to ask ourselves as Christians is this:
Are these simply moments of weakness because we are still human and still battle these desires of our flesh? Do we then repent and turn back to God to be the Lord over our lives? Is the ultimate focus of our lives on serving God and serving others?
Is this a conscious decision we have made to put ourselves on the thrown that belongs to God? Are these are not moments of weakness but rather a sign that we are unwilling to give our lives fully over to him? Are we simply living out of the flesh?
These are tough issues to wrestle with, but so critical for us to attack if we truly want to follow Jesus and not simply talk about following Jesus.
Once we truly give our entire lives over to Christ instead of simply dipping our feet in to test the temperature of the pool, I agree wholeheartedly with Paul in the way he wrapped up Romans 8:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Once we fully give our lives over, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. Sign me up for that!
Thought to ponder
If I am being brutally honest with myself, do I have my mind set on the spirit or is my mind set on the desires of my flesh?