by Mike Ratliff
6 τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς θάνατος, τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη· Romans 8:6 (NA28)
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but he mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Discernment work is no fun. I wonder at some who seem to thrive on it. I do not. I will take up the sword when necessary and will not hesitate to take that firm stand, but my heart yearns for that time of peace like I am in right now as I am working my way through Romans 8:1-11 in light of my reading Matthew Mead’s The Almost Christian Discovered. The other side of discernment work for me is dealing with the inevitable spiritual assaults that come through our enemy’s servants. Their nagging little cuts and slices are nothing compared to the power of our Lord. They are simply those ugly voices of small people who are being used to echo the accusing of our enemy as he attempts to derail us from exposing one of his favorites. Let us never forget that our God is Sovereign and Satan can do nothing to us unless God allows it. Over that several days I have really been struggling staying focused spiritually. My shoulder is hurting again which doesn’t help and I have been doing a lot of research into the eschatology, which can really overwhelm you if you are not careful. If you become self-focused while doing that sort of research your flesh will cause you to start worrying about things that we have no control over. Our focus must never be set on the flesh, but always on the Spirit, God and HIs glory, especially when studying eschatology.
Carefully read the verse (Romans 8:6), which I placed at the top of this post. Why am I totally at peace now, but earlier today I was not? Why did everything just the least bit negative send me into a funk earlier today, but this evening I am bulletproof? This started yesterday. Earlier today, my whole focus was on how angry I was at how some things were done during the installation of our new washer and dryer yesterday. After the crew left we found that the dryer was stuck in an error code and it took us hours to get the thing to actually work to dry some clothes we just washed. The error code is telling us that the vent is plugged up, but it isn’t. Now we are fighting that and trying to find someone to come and check it out for us. If it is okay then we have a new dryer with a problem. Yes, I am distracted and angry.
What does it mean to set our minds on the flesh? It means to think continually about and/or constantly desire the things characteristic of fallen, sinful human nature, that is, to think just the way the unbelieving world thinks. This is elevating or emphasizing what the world thinks is important, pursuing what it pursues, in disregard of God’s will. Yep, that was the path I was on this morning and God made sure that I had no peace and no joy in the midst of it. It was ugly. Right in the middle of it, I received hateful emails and comments from people obviously controlled by their emotions and their flesh as well and so it went. It was like circling a drain. I thought eating lunch would help. Nope, it did not help at all. I did not turn this around, or God did not allow me to turn this around, until I started working on this post.
IHere is Romans 8:1-11 from the NASB.
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 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. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 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, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:1-11 (NASB)
This is the Apostle Paul’s glorious exposition of the new life of the Spirit that all Christians enjoy because of Christ’s saving work. However, as I shared above, we can get our hearts set wrongly and then the peace of God becomes a memory. It is an ugly thing my brethren. Let us keep our hearts set on the things of the Spirit and remember that what the earth has is nothing compared to what we have awaiting us in eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria!