Rom 8:5-8 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
It should be fairly apparent, and yet this seems to be an idea that we struggle with. When we are concerned about natural things (job, rank, power, etc.), our thoughts are going to be on the carnal. This is not to say that we should not be determined to do our very best in life. However, it does tell us where our focus concerning these things should be.
If we aim to be the very best employee, it should be with the view that this honors God. As ministers, we desire to be recognized as faithful servants. Seeking this recognition so that men might honor us is carnal (of the flesh). Desiring this because it bears testimony of the truth and love of God is after the Spirit. We want to always be found in every way seeking good things so that God is glorified in them and not us.
Seeking good for carnal reasons is death. It will eventually separate us from our fellowship with others and with God. This is not about a loss of our eternal relationship, but rather suffered in our walk in God’s kingdom here. We find ourselves in the same condition as King David when he begged God to restore the joy of His salvation. It was not salvation that David had lost, but the daily manifestation of God’s deliverance in his life.
To enjoy life and peace, we must be mindful of spiritual things. We cannot be carnally minded and spiritually minded at the same time. This is what Jesus was telling us when He instructed the disciples that they (and we) could not serve two masters. We will become attached to one and dead in our feelings for the other.
In an earlier verse, Paul made the observation that with the mind he served the law of God. It should be obvious by this passage of scripture that he was not talking about his carnal mind. The carnal mind is enmity (the reason for opposition – see Strong’s) against God. We serve the law of God by being spiritually minded. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God: that is why Paul said his members served the law of sin.
Another way the scripture describes being spiritually minded is having the mind of Christ. In First Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul tells us that the natural (carnal) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned. He then closes the sixteenth verse with the statement “But we have the mind of Christ.” We cannot receive something we have not been given: we receive the things of the Spirit because we have been GIVEN the mind of Christ.
When we are living carnally, we cannot please God. Even if we are doing things that appear good to men, if we are doing them for self-aggrandizement it is not pleasing to God. We will not find life and peace in those things until we give God the glory for them. Only in exercising the mind of Christ that we have been given through the Holy Spirit can we please God.
May we walk in the mind of Christ and serve God!