Friday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 8:5-8

Set Your Mind

Having spoken of Christians as people who “walk according to the Spirit,” Paul now contrasts unbelievers who “live according to the flesh.”  It is obvious by the way that Paul describes these two ways of living that living according to the Spirit and living according to the flesh are mutually exclusive.

We first notice that Paul equates “living according to” with “setting one’s mind on.”  We must understand that our lives are affected by what we think, what we set our minds on.  And what we set our minds on will be determined by whether or not we have renewed and regenerated hearts (and why it is then so important that we guard our hearts, Proverbs 4:23).  But right now, we speak of minds, and as we said before, there are two ways to “set” one’s mind that have nothing to do with one another.  The first way is to set one’s mind on the flesh.  This is our natural way of being and thinking, our modus operandi.  We do not have to teach ourselves to think this way; we are born thinking this way as sinners.  But what does setting the mind on the flesh mean?  To think as the world thinks, to set one’s sights and goals on worldly things, to desire what the world desires: fame, fortune, pleasure for pleasure’s sake, licentiousness, impurity (i.e., sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman), lewdness, lawlessness, and the list goes on (Colossians 3:5-8).  The end result of setting one’s mind on the flesh is willing hostility towards God and inability to submit to God’s law, all of which leads to death.  That is, the unbeliever is both unwilling and unable to set his mind of matters of the Spirit and thereby please God.

But the born again believer is both willing and able to please God because God has changed his nature; he has a new way of being and thinking.  To put it another way, as people born of the Spirit, we have been given the means to “set our minds” which the unbeliever does not have, namely, a new principle of spiritual life (the new man or changed nature) and the Holy Spirit within us enabling us to think as we should and desire godly things in direct contrast to worldly things (Colossians 3:12-17).  Thereby the believer sets his mind on things of the Spirit and experiences life and peace.  Now we must add that though we have been given this new nature, setting the mind on matters of the Spirit still requires work and habituation; that is, it requires that we train our minds that we may think accordingly.  But one proof of our regeneration is this God-given desire and ability to do this.  We are not of the flesh but of the Spirit.  So desire, so set your mind, so walk.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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