Today’s thoughts are from Joel Spencer at the blog, The Double-Edged Sword. There is much good Bible study material here, so be sure to click through to read this at source, where it appeared under the title, The Mind Set On The Carnality Of The Flesh.
Romans 8:6 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
STRONGS HEBREW/GREEK ORIGINS
“For the mind (phronema: thoughts and purposes) set on the flesh (sarx: carnally minded, the body, sensuous nature of man) is death (thanatos: misery of the soul arising from sin; figuratively, a region enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and sin), but the mind set on the Spirit (pneuma: Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Jesus Christ) is life (zoe: vitality, fullness, active and vigorous devoted to God) and peace (eirene: rest, quietness, tranquility, tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ).”
For the thoughts and purposes of man that are of the carnal, sensuous nature are misery and darkness, but the mind set on the Holy Spirit is a life of vitality and rest, assured of its salvation in Christ.
Some people are fascinated with the goings on of the flesh. Indulgences and pleasures are front and center throughout every corner of the globe, perhaps none more tangible and present than here in the US. Many a Christian, with great pleasure I might add, will woefully point a finger at the carnality of the world. But what of us (those called according to Christ)? Are we, the Body of Christ not also riddled with a different set of carnal pleasures often disguised as religious exercise or super-spiritualness? It should be of no surprise that carnal gratification can be found wrapped in religious performance. Have we not learned from Jesus’ confrontations with the religious elite of His day?
But that’s not what I’d like to delve into today. I’d like to pose a question. What if this verse could encapsulate a two-fold message? The first being the obvious – in Christ, we’re to forsake the carnality of our flesh and pursue the things of the Spirit. Although this is, and forever will be, an ongoing task, it’s quite elementary. Secondly, and perhaps missed entirely, is what I’d like to pose as a possibility. I like to call it “failure fascination”. This second message is that a Believer in Christ can actually be captivated with the existence of their carnality. This person is always consumed with their shortcomings and sin. Please don‘t get me wrong, there obviously needs to be a constant awareness of our need to pursue holiness and spiritual maturity.
That being said, I don’t believe it’s spiritually healthy whatsoever to have a mind entirely set on my carnality and sin.
With the obvious instruction of this verse to be setting one’s mind on the Spirit, can that be done when one is always enamored with their personal failures and sin? I don’t think that it can. In an underlying sense of translation of this verse, I think that this too is a mind set on the things of the flesh (fixated on shortcomings and sin). As I’ve stated a lot over the last year or so, I’ve come to terms with the reality of my carnality. I’m OK with the fact that sin will be a certainty for me until the day that this body breathes its last breath. Now this in no way excuses me to sin or live a voluntary life of disobedience, excused away by this carnality. As Paul said, the fact that I have a proneness to sin and God’s forgiveness of it is absolutely not a license to excuse it. In fact, I still loathe my wretchedness apart from Christ. But…. but! In Him I’m being conformed more and more into His image. I no longer spend my days dwelling on my sin and offenses. Quite simply, I’ve embraced that they will always be a part of my physical state. It is a simple fact that my Heavenly Father is very well aware of.
So with this approach in action, I choose to set my mind on who I am in Christ. I meditate on who He is creating me to be, despite all of my disobedience and failures. I no longer walk in a lifestyle of willful sin. I just don’t. So I’ve moved out of that mindset to one of going to my Father in the midst of it all – my victories and my transgressions. Now I choose to delve deeper into cultivating my relationship with my Father, free from the distractions of my sin which will always be present.
God, in His superior design and handiwork, set in motion a plan before time that would leave me in my physical body post-salvation for a reason.
God’s blueprint was obviously never to remove us from our natural state upon surrendering our life to the Son. With this in mind, I rejoice over my current condition as one given to me by God Himself. So do I, as Paul did, groan and long for my heavenly dwelling? You’d better believe it! There are days when I literally cry out longing to be free from this body of flesh so that so I can interact with my Father unencumbered by the limitations of this body. I hate the sin that entangles me! But there is a beauty within this journey. Without my sin and disobedience, I would never see the beauty that is the forgiveness and longsuffering of my Father. I would never see my need for the sacrificial gift of my Saviour Who laid down His life for me despite knowing I would fall even after surrendering my life to Him. It’s my brokenness as I keep my gaze set upon the things of the Spirit that leads me back to the place of absolution.
So my constant challenge is this – am I walking in a place where I’m captivated by and fixated on my carnality? Or am I free to be me, in Christ, as I go about my day to day activities? Is my mind consumed with walking according to the Spirit or am I riddled with a failure fascination?
I just don’t desire to sit around and discuss how much of a mess I am anymore.
I’m not saying that there’s not a time to delve into one’s sin and divulge in conversation about it – in a group setting or in one’s own mind. But it should never be a constant theme that overshadows all other spiritual matters and crowds out our awe of the LORD. I want to talk about how awesome my LORD is. I want to meditate on His goodness and mercy. I want to be obsessed with Him to the point of absolute fascination. In His presence, all that opposes His plan for my spiritual growth into Christ-likeness goes. His light easily drives out my darkness so I have no fear that I might somehow miss “working out my salvation” as my passage from one age (natural) to another (spiritual) continues. As the light of Christ shines within the darkest crevices of my innermost being, I can choose to give Him access and address those places or I can remain in darkness. Of course the choice is mine and it will be ongoing until my new/eternal body is inhabited. But I long to walk in absolute freedom to be me – my Christ-identity! I’m a mess, I get that. Of this there’s absolutely no debate. But my Jesus is OK with that. He’s the washer of the feet of the betrayers. He’s the guest at the tables of sinners. He’s the lover of the diseased and afflicted. He pardons the murderers. He alone is my hope and anticipation of being freed from this natural state. I rejoice over this journey. I’m in need of saving. I’m in need of redemption. I’m in need of lovingkindness and mercy – daily! Thank You LORD that You are all of these and more. Praise be to the only One entirely capable of accepting me just as I am.