Carnally Minded and Spiritually Minded Christians Romans 8:1-21 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Rom 8:1-8 Paul contrasts carnally minded and spiritually minded Christians. Both are saved but only one pleases God. We will study this passage by simply explaining the differences between carnally minded and spiritually minded Christians.
Spiritually minded Christians walk after the Spirit; carnally minded Christians walk after the flesh – Rom 8:1-4 – that is spiritually minded Christians know that they are led by the Spirit [Rom 8:14] and so they follow him. Paul says that there is no condemnation to a Christian who walks after the Spirit. This is true for several reasons:
- He is free from the law of sin and death – Rom 8:2 the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed him from the law of sin and death. He is going to live forever in spite of the fact that his body is going to die. As a matter of doctrine, God considers that his body is already dead [Rom 8:10, 6:11].
- Jesus Christ condemned sin in the flesh – Rom 8:3 – sin doesn’t have a legitimate claim on him. Whereas the sinner was “condemned already,” [Jn 3:18] before he trusted Christ, now he is not condemned because of what Christ has done for him.
- The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us – Rom 8:4 – Jesus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth [Rom 10:4]. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you get his righteousness as a free gift [2 Cor 5:21; Rom 5:17].
Modern Bibles make a mistake in Rom 8:1 by removing “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This phrase puts a conditional limit on “no condemnation.” While a carnal Christian cannot lose his salvation and be condemned to hell, he will certainly face condemnation for returning to the life of sin from which he has been saved. By removing the last half of Rom 8:1 modern Bibles teach that a Christian can do as he pleases after he gets saved without suffering consequences. Consider Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-10]. There was condemnation to them for walking after the flesh. See also Rom 14:22, 1 Cor 11:32-34, and 1 Tim 3:6.
Spiritually minded Christians mind the things of the Spirit; carnally minded Christians mind the things of the flesh – Rom 8:5 – the things of the Spirit include bearing his fruit [Gal 5:22-23], praying [Rom 8:26, Eph 6:18], reading Bible [Jn 16:13], exalting Jesus Christ [Jn 16:14], glorifying God [1 Cor 6:19-20], witnessing [Acts 1:8], etc. The things of the flesh predominately deal with sins: pride, self-will, greed, lust, covetousness, bitterness, anger, hatred, and so forth.
To be spiritually minded is life and peace; to be carnally minded is death – Rom 8:6 – spiritually minded Christians enjoy their eternal life now and have the peace of God that passeth all understanding. These are manifested in them by the Spirit of God. Carnally minded Christians are interested in sin and “the end of those things is death,” [Rom 6:21].
Spiritually minded Christians please God; carnally minded Christians cannot please God – Rom 8:7-8 – the things that are true of spiritually minded Christians in these two verses are seen by implication when contrasted with the carnal mind. For instance, the carnal mind is:
- Enmity against God – as in Jas 4:4
- Not subject to the law of God – because he serves the law of sin [Rom 7:25]
- In the flesh and cannot please God – as in Heb 11:6
By implication the spiritual mind is, therefore:
- Friendship with God – as in 2 Cor 13:14
- Subject to the law of God – because he serves the law of God with his mind [Rom 7:25]
- In the Spirit and pleases God – as in 1 Thes 4:1
After examining the differences between spiritually minded and carnally minded Christians, Paul then makes the case that we have no business being in the flesh but in the Spirit if we are saved. If you are saved the following things are true:
The Spirit of God dwells in you – Rom 8:9 – as a Christian, doctrinally, you are in the Spirit; not in the flesh. As an unsaved sinner, on the other hand, you didn’t have the Spirit and you were not his. So, now that you are his and he dwells in you, you shouldn’t be “in the flesh.”
Your body is dead – Rom 8:10 – Christ is in you and therefore the body is dead because of sin. It is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be destroyed [Rom 6:6]. Therefore, we have no business serving sin in the flesh.
Your mortal body will live – Rom 8:11 – the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. As he raised Jesus from the dead so he is going to quicken your mortal body. He is just waiting for the signal from heaven to do it [1 Cor 15:50-55; 1 Thes 4:16-18]. Therefore, you should be serving him, not the flesh.
You owe the flesh nothing – Rom 8:12 – the flesh has done nothing for you but lead you into sin and corruption. The Spirit, on the other hand, has given you life. Therefore, you should be serving the Spirit not the flesh.
Conclusion: In Rom 8:13 Paul sums up this passage and offers you life or death. You can live after the flesh and die as in 1 Cor 11:30. Or you can, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body [Col 3:5] and live. Paul’s obvious recommendation through this whole chapter thus far is to let that body die and live in the Spirit.