In Romans 8, we can see that the Christian walk is a matter not of endeavoring to live a faultless, upright life but of walking according to the Spirit, who is with our spirit.
In this post we’ll discuss the crucial role of the mind related to walking according to the spirit with the help of verses and notes in the New Testament Recovery Version.
The importance of the mind in Romans 8
Let’s begin by reading Romans 8:4-6:
“That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Immediately following verse 4, which speaks of those who walk according to the spirit, in both verses 5 and 6 the word mind is mentioned.
Let’s focus on Romans 8:6:
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
Note 1 helps us understand the meaning of the mind set on the flesh. The first part of the note explains:
“Lit., the mind of the flesh. In vv. 6-8 the crucial item is the mind. The mind is the leading part of the soul, which is man’s personality, his person. The mind thus represents the soul, that is, the person himself.”
God created us with three parts: a spirit, a soul, and a body. And our mind, being the leading part of our soul, represents our person.
Now let’s read the next part of the note, which explains the position of the mind:
“In this chapter the mind is neutral, being between the regenerated mingled spirit and the fallen body, the flesh. Chapters 7 and 8 show that the mind may have two different actions, by which it can cause us to be either in the spirit or in the flesh.”
Our spirit is the innermost part of our being, and our body is the outermost. Our soul is positioned right between our spirit and our body, which in the fall, was changed into the flesh of sin. So our mind is situated between our wonderful mingled spirit and our fallen flesh.
Now let’s read the rest of the note that shows us the very different consequences of where the mind is set:
“If it [the mind] relies on and attaches itself to the regenerated spirit, which is mingled with the Spirit of God, the mind will bring us into the spirit and into the enjoyment of the divine Spirit as the law of the Spirit of life (v. 2). If the mind attaches itself to the flesh and acts independently, it will bring us into the flesh, causing us to be at enmity with God and to be unable to please Him (vv. 7-8).”
Our mind, being neutral, can go in one of two directions. Where it goes and what it attaches itself to determines whether we’re in our spirit or in our flesh.
The mind set on the flesh or on the spirit
Every day and even all day long we have a choice before us: setting our mind on the flesh or setting our mind on the spirit. Setting the mind on the flesh results in death; setting the mind on the spirit results in life and peace.
Of course, we all want life and peace, but being able to enjoy life and peace depends on where we set our mind.
Before we were saved, our spirit was dead and without Christ. We didn’t have the option of setting our mind on the spirit. We automatically acted in the flesh and spontaneously committed sins.
But based on what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:6, which was written to believers in Christ, we can continue to set our mind on our flesh even after we’re saved.
How do we experience death or life and peace?
When Paul said that the mind set on the flesh is death, he wasn’t referring to physical death but to spiritual death. Similarly, setting the mind on the spirit results in inward, spiritual life and peace. We experience both spiritual death or life through some particular inward sensations.
Let’s read the first paragraph of note 2 on death and life and peace in Romans 8:6:
“Life and peace result from setting our mind on the spirit. When our mind is set on the spirit, our outward actions are in agreement with our inner man and there is no discrepancy between us and God. He and we are at peace, not at enmity (v. 7). The result is that we feel peaceful within.”
When we set our mind on the spirit, we feel inwardly peaceful, restful, satisfied, even joyful; there’s no disagreement, no controversy between us and the Lord.
Now let’s read the first part of the second paragraph:
“When our mind is set on the flesh and the things of the flesh, the result is death, which causes us to feel separated from the enjoyment of God. We feel uneasy and deadened instead of peaceful and living.”
The sense of death causes us to feel spiritually dead and separated from the enjoyment of God. Consequently, we feel uneasy, and weak. These negative feelings tell us that in whatever we’re doing, saying, or thinking, we’re not setting our mind on the spirit, and we’re not living according to the life of Christ in our spirit.
Now let’s read the rest of the note:
“When we are minding the flesh and setting our mind on the things of the flesh, the sense of death should serve as a warning to us, urging us to be delivered from the flesh and to live in the spirit.”
The negative feelings from death are actually very helpful to us. They tell us where we are and warn us to stop what we’re doing.
The mind set on the flesh is death
We’ve all experienced the negative feelings of death from setting our mind on the flesh in our Christian life.
As an example, let’s say we’re reading the news online. At first, we feel quite okay. Then, after a while, we click on another link and then another, and we end up reading all kinds of things. The Lord within us says, “Stop,” but we ignore Him and keep going and are led from one thing to another. We begin to feel empty, dark, and uneasy within. These are all sensations of death. As we continue to set our mind on the flesh, those sensations increase.
Reading the news isn’t in itself sinful, but by not heeding the Lord’s speaking to stop, we set our mind on the flesh and end up in death.
The mind set on the spirit is life and peace
We’ve also experienced the sensations of life and peace.
We can surely recall times of fellowship with the Lord or reading His Word and having the sensation of joy, peace, and light.
And in our daily life, we also can experience this. For instance, let’s use the example of reading the news again. Let’s say we’re reading the news, and at a certain point the Lord says within us, “Good enough. Stop that and go do what you’re supposed to be doing.” When we obey and stop and go take care of our responsibilities, we have a sense of life, satisfaction, joy, and peace.
What a contrast between the sense of death and the sense of life and peace! When we set our mind on the spirit, we have a sense of satisfaction, light, peace, strength, and liberty. We’re enlivened and have peace. We may have experienced these positive feelings but may not have known they came from setting our mind on our spirit.
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Practicing to set our mind on the spirit
To set our mind on our spirit takes a conscious effort on our part. It’s not something we’re used to. And if we’re passive, our mind automatically drifts to whatever catches our attention and is then set on the flesh.
A few practices can help us set our mind on our spirit.
One is to begin the day reading and praying with the Word of God. That time is for us to enjoy the Lord in His Word, partake of Him, and set our mind on the spirit.
Let’s say that morning you enjoyed reading and praying with Ephesians 1:4:
“Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.”
By praying with this verse, you experience life and peace.
But even afterwards, when you’re going through your day, you can enjoy the verse again, praying with even a fragment of the verse: “Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You for choosing me! Lord, You chose me before the foundation of the world. Thank You, Lord.” Practicing to pray with God’s Word during the day greatly helps us set our mind on our spirit.
To set our mind on our spirit doesn’t mean we just think about Christ all the time and neglect attending to our work or studies. Instead, while we’re working, studying, driving, taking a walk—whatever we’re doing—we stay in contact with the Lord in our spirit.
We can also set our mind on the spirit by taking a moment to talk to Him with simple prayers throughout the day. And simply calling upon the name fo the Lord Jesus brings our mind back to the spirit.
Whenever we have a sense of death and feel empty, dark, and uneasy, we need to stop and turn back to the Lord. We can pray, “Lord Jesus, I repent and turn again to You. I set my mind on my spirit right now! Thank You, Lord, You are mingled with my spirit. You’re with me right now and You are my life.”
Like physical exercise, the more we exercise setting our mind on our mingled spirit, the more it will become a normal part of our life. Through daily practice, we’ll develop a stronger desire for life and peace, and we’ll learn to turn more quickly from what deadens us. The more life we enjoy, the more we’ll grow in the Lord.
If we set our mind on the spirit to walk according to the spirit, we’ll not only experience life and peace but we’ll live by the divine life of Christ in us, and God will be expressed in our living to all the people around us.
To find out more about this subject, we encourage you to read chapter 17 of The Economy of God for free here. You can download this book for free from anywhere in the world. If you live in the US, you can order a free New Testament Recovery Version with its enlightening commentary here.
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