Romans 8:5-6

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

flesh, carnal — the old nature

mind = habit of thought, total interest — not understanding. It’s the same word translated “set affections on” in Colossians 3:1-3.

peace — not reconciliation but the enjoyment of it

Christians can be dead as far as experiencing the fruit of the Spirit — dead experientially

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Ephesians 5:14).

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Galatians 6:8).

The death spoken of in Romans eight must be understood as the loss of a life that is dedicated to God and blessed in Him on earth. There are many Christians who have physical life, and who go about their tasks, even religious tasks, but who are not rejoicing in the great triumphant realities that are available for us, but which remain unclaimed and unused. Life, in this passage, is nothing less than the abounding triumph of the believer in the joy of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Anything less than this, when it is possible, is death. Death, then, in this passage, is the living existence of a born-again believer on a spiritual level that is lower than that which God has designed for us. When this is understood the passage returns to its place in a logical sequence and becomes a powerful exhortation to high and holy Christian living. — Barnhouse, page 30-31.


I was somewhat puzzled when I realized how many times the word “things” was being used by the Holy Spirit in presenting this teaching to us. “The things of the flesh … the things of the Spirit” are found in our text. And in Corinthians we have “the things of a man,” “the deep things of God,” “the things that are freely given to us of God.” We are reminded that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit,” but that “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Corinthians 2:10-15). In Colossians we are exhorted to “seek those things which are above,” to “set our affection on things above and not on the things which are on this earth” (Colossians 3:2). It would not be difficult to extend this list.

I think the explanation lies in the fact that while the great central truths are the same for all men, and the life of Spirit carries all believers in the same general direction, God is so diverse in His dealings with al His children that no two of us pass through the same experience. I am beginning to believe that I have a different concept of “the things of God” from anyone else, and that every believer has his own experience of these divine “things.” When we understand this we will be very hesitant about judging any other man, but will learn that the Lord is leading each individual in ways that are His own, forming Christ in us within the boundaries of our responsibility, exalting Himself by the great diversity of His dealings with us.Barnhouse, page 35.

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