“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.” —Romans 8:6-8
In the first clause of Romans 8:6 we are told that “to be carnally minded is death;” that is, having the reason, understanding and affections set upon those natural things has no life in it whatsoever. Certainly, of those who are unsaved, who are only natural and have nothing of the Holy Spirit in them until the day they die, shall suffer eternal death and will be cast away from the favor of God forever. The second clause of Romans 8:6 gives the stark contrast to death: life and peace.
The first thing that we should note is that we, who are saved, have life. Not only do we have eternal life in Christ, whereas once we were dead in sins (Ephesians 2:5), but we are now alive unto Christ. We are awakened to the truth of what He has done: that Christ has died so that we might have life; that Christ made an open show of sin through His sufferings upon the cross, and therefore, we rejoice in the life He gave us and recoil at sin as being so offensive that it required God to become a Man so that sin could be dealt with.
Second, as we are awakened to truth by life in Christ, we are also awakened to the truth that we have peace with God. The next verse presents the truth that explains this:
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). The carnal, fleshly, natural, unsaved person, who has his mind set upon carnal things, whose reason, understanding, affections and inclinations are upon SELF, is the enemy of God; and that man’s reprobate being, with all his wicked inclinations are at war against God’s will. The law of God exposes the carnal man’s sin for what it is, but cannot bring him under subjection to the law, because it is the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Therefore, we, who have been saved, have peace with God, as it is written in Romans 5:1,
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The reality of our justification by God’s grace is manifested in our sanctification, having peace with God, when we were once His enemies; and the evidence of that is that our minds are being renewed by His Word; and walking after the Spirit, we have, by God’s continuing grace, our minds set upon spiritual things. Our thoughts and desires grow in obedience to God, lining up with God’s will revealed in His law, and not warring against it or being at enmity with it. So, the apostle caps it off with the truth of our next verse:
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). The soul that walks according to the Spirit is awakened to the truth that the things of the flesh are not pleasing to God, and this truth is monumental. For those who are unsaved and “in the flesh” are not only unpleasing to God, but basically unaware of the truth that they are displeasing to God. Sure, some unbeliever might say, “I know this is wrong;” or “I know that God doesn’t like this;” but it’s just an academic acknowledgement; the reality of its gravity and seriousness is not there, nor can it be, because that soul is dead to spiritual things. That I can actually please God is a truth that comes by supernatural revelation, and that, by the Spirit of God to the ones He has saved and regenerated. Are all the saved made immediately aware of this? Sometimes, because of the brightness and holiness of Christ’s righteousness, the understanding of my being pleasing to God may be subdued, overshadowed, or overlooked. Yet, with every believer that has been saved by God’s grace, I believe that there is an awakening, at least to some measure or another, that God takes real delight in His creation, and His creatures in particular. And when we grasp that incredible truth of God’s delight in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, then it becomes an utterly awesome thought to consider: that God receives pleasure from those souls in whom He has redeemed. Why? because our redeemed lives magnify and glorify Christ!
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Read the previous article in this series, “Which Way to Walk” (Romans 8:5).