Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:5-11

We can, in a way, divide the western Christian world into two groups, those who live according to their own selfish unresponsive ways and those who allow the Spirit to live within them. We either have our minds set on fitting into our culture or we allow the Spirit to lead and direct our thoughts and goals.

What I have discovered, over many years of misunderstanding, is that no amount of striving or works based morality will ever bring me to the place where the “mind is set on what the Spirit desires.” The only way that we come into relationship with the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives is when we come to the cross. It is only when we understand that all our works “are as filthy rags” that we run to the cross.

To know Jesus is to love Him and to love Him is to know Him. The result is we want to walk closer to Him and rejoice in His love and mercy. That is what it means to have our minds set on what the Spirit desires. The Spirit longs for us to have a closer walk with Jesus and to put all our faith in trust in Him. The Spirit opens our eyes to the reality that our redemption is not about us but about Jesus. We are the recipients not the catalyst of our salvation.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace,” (v. 6) should be the mantra of every born again Christian. I know so many Christians who do not have peace because they don’t have the assurance of life. They constantly wonder if they are living up to everything that they believe is required of them in the Bible. They are frightened that their sins might not be forgiven by God and are stored somewhere waiting to jump out at them if they make the smallest mistake. They struggle under the illusion that they must be perfect for God to accept them, but know in their hearts they have fallen far short of such a requirement. Christianity to these people is a heavy burden that keeps them struggling for elusive goals that are ever beyond their reach.

However, when we come face to face with the Gospel our hearts are set free and grace and joy and peace flow into our lives. We suddenly understand that we have assurance in our redemption and it is a promise that cannot be broken because it was made to us at the Cross. Our redemption is signed in blood that flowed from the hands, feet, back and head of Jesus. When we accept that sacrifice, the offering of His substitutionary death on our behalf we walk with the Spirit.

This next statement may sound harsh but it is not intended to be harsh. As long as we continue to strive to be godlike in our character we will never appreciate the magnitude of the cross. The whole point of the cross is that I am not godlike nor ever will be. I am a sinner who falls far short, even on my best days, of what God would have me be.

I am constantly in need of His grace and mercy. That is the only way that I can have peace with God. Remember, peace is a technical term that has the meaning of assurance of salvation. We can only have assurance of salvation when we understand that it is a gift and not based on our performance.

For all of you who are about to write me an email saying that I teach cheap grace—just stop it. There is nothing cheap about grace and the fact that it is a precious gift makes it even more costly. The fact that we rejoice in the free gift doesn’t make it cheap. We are simply thankful for such an undeserving present and we do think it is precious and something to be cherished and held close to our hearts. Now, here is the kicker. People who live according to grace live lives more in harmony to God’s desire for them than those who strive to prove themselves to God through their works. When we have been given such a precious gift as salvation we don’t want to treat it indifferently or neglectfully. Instead we cherish it with all our hearts, minds, and actions.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (v. 7)  The mind ruled by the sinful nature (the flesh) is selfish and thus indifferent to the Gospel. It doesn’t submit to the law of God (to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves) because selfishness always puts our wants first.

I was hoping to finish this section of Romans 8 in this post but I see we will need to carry it over into the next one. Remember, I am just skimming the surface of these verses in chapter 8 and I am sure that as you study this amazing chapter you will find a great deal of insight that I have skipped over or missed.

Many of your thoughts and insights that you send to me through email should be written in the comment section so that others can get the benefit of your thoughts and insights. Please make 2016 the year you share your great comments with the readers of this blog so we can all grow closer to God through each other’s encouragement and wisdom.

I hope and pray that your Christmas season was a blessing and that 2016 will be even more so.

* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. there is much more on the internet…