“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace.”
- What is the goal for our lives and church? To be the most pleasing to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
- If this is the case, then we must avoid the warnings given and horrible temptations seen of a carnal generation.
- Can we truly walk with God and be filled with all the fullness of God, as Paul prayed for Ephesus (Eph 3:14-19)?
- We are commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ to prove our own selves, whether we are in the faith (II Cor 13:5).
The Doctrine: What does this text mean in both its small context and its large context.
- The large context is 5:1 – 8:39 and teaches that our glorious salvation by the work of Jesus Christ is not grounds for a careless or sinful life in the expectation of God’s grace.
- God’s grace in Christ, the Second Adam, does not grant presumption (5:1 – 6:2).
- We are dead to sin legally and free to righteousness practically (6:2 – 7:6).
- The law manifests our great sinfulness, but Jesus saved us from it (7:7 – 8:17).
- As the sons of God, we are waiting for our certain, final deliverance (8:18-39).
- The small context is 8:1-16 and teaches that eternal life and deliverance from our just condemnation for sin is shown by desire and activity in spiritual things by the Spirit.
- God chose us in Christ for salvation, but our spiritual walk is the evidence (8:1).
- Our legal and vital salvation in Jesus Christ is evidenced by our walk (8:2-4).
- There are fleshly and spiritual men, and they are known by their interests (8:5).
- Our interests are the visible evidence of the condition of our souls, and these interests lead to the certain consequences of their nature – death or life (8:6).
- There is a violent enmity between our flesh and God – the rule is certain (8:7-8).
- The absolute identifying mark of a child of God is the Spirit’s Presence (8:9).
- We are in debt, not to our flesh, but rather to the Spirit of life (8:10-12).
- Whatever is leading our conduct produces the evidence of our future (8:13-14).
- The Spirit, Who leads in spiritual things, is also an internal Witness (8:15-16).
The DANGER: Why is this subject important for us at this time in America?
- The grave peril for professors is to deceive themselves and end up lost (Matt 7:21-23).
- The grave peril of Christianity in the last days is carnal Christianity (II Tim 3:1 – 4:5).
- The grave peril of our own souls is carnal Christianity, which is hypocrisy (II Peter 1:9).
- Every church has carnal members of both varieties – elect and reprobate, which have crept in with their words and show; and we have our share, though we don’t want them.
- Satan is devouring Christians in our nation with peace, prosperity, and pleasure.
- Persecution, poverty, and pain, ordinarily undesirable, provoke greater spiritual zeal.
The DEFINITION: What is spiritually minded and how do I measure myself and others?
- Every person either minds fleshly things or spiritual things, but not both (Rom 8:5-8).
- Mind. verb. To perceive, notice, be aware of; to have one’s attention attracted by (something presented to one’s eyes or outward perceptions).
- Spiritual things are the Lord and His Word, kingdom, church, and righteousness.
- Fleshly things are those of this world, of physical life, of nature, of money, etc.
- You can tell by their passion. What are they most energized and excited about?
- You can tell by their works. Where do they apply their time and energy most?
- You can tell by their words. What do they talk about freely and voluntarily?
- You can tell by their fruit. What are their evidence, character, and marks?
- You can tell by their influence. What affect do they have on those around them?
- You can tell by their family. What is the character of their spouse and children?
- It is a matter of priority. What do you emphasize? How do you order your free life?
- He has a set of priorities for saints, which should establish our rankings.
- We are to seek His kingdom and righteousness first, not second (Matthew 6:33).
- Truly seeking it will have no problem cutting off temptations (Matt 5:29-30).
- Would you rather be a spiritual doorkeeper than dwell with the rich (Ps 84:10)?
- David chose one preeminent thing – to behold the beauty of the Lord (Ps 24:4).
- It is a matter of direction. Are you aimed toward heaven? Or much earthly emphasis?
- We are to lay up treasures in heaven by our investments there (Matt 6:19-21).
- We focus our efforts toward those things which cannot be seen (II Cor 4:18).
- The Thessalonian saints were waiting for Jesus from heaven (I Thess 1:9-10).
- It is a matter of passion. What do you love? Where are your preferences and delights?
- We are to set our affection on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:1-3).
- We are to love the Lord God with our complete being above all else (Mk 12:30).
- We are to love Him with our first love, not with casual interest (Revelation 2:4).
- The Lord prefers cold infidels to lukewarm Christians (Revelation 3:15-16).
- Holiness and separation from the world are loved by spiritually minded saints.
- What do you glory about? Strength, riches, or wisdom? Consider Jer 9:23-24.
- It is a matter of prosperity and success. For the measure of success reveals the man.
- It is ignorance that falsely believes gain is a reflection of godliness (I Tim 6:5).
- Godliness with contentment is great gain, regardless of prosperity (I Tim 6:6).
- What if you gain the whole world? Is that a big accomplishment (Matt 16:26)?
- What if you were living in poverty, but you were breathing the Spirit of God?
- A spiritually minded person is content regardless, for he has the Lord (He 13:5).
- It is a matter of contrast. There should be clear delineation in our lives between them.
- Since the two things are at enmity, there cannot be carnal-spiritual Christians.
- Everything we do, no matter how mundane or natural, is to Him (I Cor 10:31).
- And we cannot allow even noble matters to crowd Him in our lives (I Cor 7:32).
- If we save our fleshly lives (to have both), we lose them both (Matthew 16:25).
- We err by defining “things of the flesh” as base and abominable sins, which we hate.
- Sins like sodomy and witchcraft are works of the flesh, but not all (Gal 5:19-21).
- So are spirit sins like unthankfulness, hatred, anger, envy, debate, and bitterness.
- So are “good sins” like covetousness, greed, emulation, extortion, and boasting.
- Then there are noble things that distract like marriage, job, children, and hobby.
- There are examples in the Bible to help us by visualization and emulation in this matter.
- Jesus was clearly as spiritually minded as a Man could possibly be (John 3:34).
- Anna was an extreme holy widow, who did not leave the temple (Luke 2:36-38).
- There are widows indeed and widows, yet they live very different (I Tim 5:5-6).
- Are you as conscious of God’s pleasure and family sinfulness as Job (Job 1:4-5).
- David and Paul, described in detail, passionately preferred spiritual things.
- The definition is neither so high we cannot reach it, nor so low it has no significance.
- It is not living in a monastery, wearing a brown robe, and fingering beads all day; or working minimum wage and reading and praying every spare minute.
- It is an independent, voluntary, and zealous performance of the above definition; which will manifest itself as someone constantly craving things of the Spirit.
The DIFFICULTY: Why is it so hard to keep my soul and life spiritually minded?
- Your fleshly spirit and body have the consequences of sin – loss of love toward God.
- The world – entire economic, educational, and entertainment system – loves the flesh.
- Satan, as a roaring lion, seeks to devour any spiritual effort to honor Jesus; since loving God is the first commandment, he labors mightily to direct our affection elsewhere.
- Satan, the world, and your flesh have conspired together to keep you from being so.
- Since most Christians are very carnal, we relax by their tempting and popular example.
- Evil communications corrupt good manners, and we are bombarded by it (I Cor 15:33).
- We cannot love both, even though we so desperately want to (I John 2:15; Matt 6:24).
- Even good and noble things like a spouse take us away from the Lord (I Cor 7:32-35).
The DILEMMA: What can I do to arouse and increase my spiritual mindedness?
- First, admit and accept that as Creator and Saviour, He deserves all we are and have.
- Second, remember the warnings we cannot be both carnal and spiritual, though we try.
- Third, understand carnal things include even those things you may admire and desire.
- Fourth, believe you truly can be more spiritually minded by rearranging your lifestyle, as you can keep yourself in the love of God waiting for eternal life (Jude 1:21).
- Stop the fleshly inputs in your life. Do you know what and where? Books, magazines, friends, television, radio, music, sports, hobbies, and family are often fleshly inputs.
- It is the duty of fathers to arrange their family’s life to be spiritually minded, and it is the duty of husbands to encourage and help their wives; and wives can also encourage.
- You will read God’s Word more, which will effectually work in you (I Thess 2:13).
- You will pray more, which is the lifeblood of the saints (Eph 6:19; I Thess 5:17).
- You will choose the fellowship of saints over most anything (Ps 119:63; Mal 3:16-18).
- You will crave assemblies, which require prep and priority planning (Heb 10:23-25).
- Choose to have less carefulness in your lives, even with spouses (I Cor 7:32,29-35).
- If you have not been as spiritually minded as you should be, then confess, repent, and reform. It is easy.
- The Lord is faithful and just to forgive all unrighteousness, and He will increase your spiritual strength.
- Walking after the Spirit, you will find the greatest joy, fulfillment, and peace you have ever known.