040 | Romans 8:5-11
Now, in the previous episode we established that you don’t achieve a good standing with God through works of the law (aka, doing the right stuff), but rather through what Jesus has done on our behalf.
Following that thought, Paul immediately goes to the “mind”. Actually, Paul was talking about the mind all the way back in the end of chapter seven. So, for now, I want to focus on your “thought life.”
Your thoughts exist in a few different categories. The first is perspective.
It amazes me how much the way we think frames everything in our life. I chose the word frame specifically because it’s like a photo. Everything in the direction of the lens is what it is. You can’t change that. But the photographer gets to choose the angle in which they will capture the image. We get to do the exact same thing with the perspective we choose to look at life. For instance, when something bad happens in your life you can think “Oh my god! Why me? Why does bad stuff keep happening to me all the time?” OR you can change the direction of your attention and think, “You know what? This isn’t great, it’s a setback, but I’m gonna find a way around... or through... this issue.”
Neither one of those thoughts changed anything about the situation. But moving forward is gonna be easier with the attitude that says, “it’s a setback, I can still do this…” Not only will it be easier for you, but also for the people around you. The atmosphere around you is better when you choose to look for opportunities rather than problems.
Thoughts also exist in focus which allows me to continue with the photo analogy. Not only can the photographer choose the perspective, they also can choose the focus. One of the cameras I use for this show is the Sony A6500. It’s actually not as good as the main camera, but it does one thing better… FOCUS!! With the A6500, all I have to do is tap the screen to focus on an item, so if I want to focus on one thing, all I have to do is tap it. All I have to do is put my finger on it. When I do that, everything around it gets blurry and the item that I tapped gets my attention.
This passage primarily talks about focusing the mind.
5 For those who live according to the flesh *set their minds* on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit *set their minds* on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to *set the mind* on the flesh is death, but to *set the mind* on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For *the mind that is set* on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.
It’s easy for us to set our mind on the flesh even after we’ve realized that we’re only made righteous, only qualified, only accepted through the work that Jesus has done. Yet the natural tendency is to constantly evaluate ourselves and our behavior. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be aware but I am saying that our focus should drift from our performance to Jesus’ performance. What Jesus has done qualifies us.
Verse seven says that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God because it’s unable to submit to God’s law. The more we focus on what we can’t do, the more we focus on our failure to live up. The more we can’t do it, the more likely we are to grow in hostility toward God... toward the church... toward the whole thing.
I’ve seen this stand true for years. I’ve seen countless people who did their best to serve the Lord all the way from their teenage years to their mid thirties and all of a sudden just vanish from anything that even remotely resembles a Godly life much-less a church service. I’ve never understood it until I read this passage. Most people don’t leave the church because they love sin and wanna do whatever they wanna do. Usually, it’s the opposite. They genuinely love God, but at some point failure wore them down into a state of retreat.
But when we keep our focus on the fact that we remain righteous so long as Jesus remains righteous, we don’t don’t have to constantly worry (and keep our mind on) what we’re doing and whether or not we’re doing it good enough.
This brings me to the third place thoughts operate, and these are systematic-ish…
Our perspective involves everything around us and how we chose to see it and how we chose to let it affect us.
Our focus hones in on the things that matter and the truth that defines our life.
Finally, there’s our expectation... or our belief.
You know, what you focus on can determine what you believe. For instance, if you focus on the flesh, or your performance, you’re gonna be limited in what you believe are your rights in the Kingdom of God and you're not going to expect to receive much. However, if you focus on Jesus and what he’s done for you, you’re gonna expect a lot more!
Think of it this way… Let’s say you left something at a friends house and the friend went on vacation. All of a sudden, you need that item you left at their house. You can’t reach your friend on the phone so you go to the house and the door happens to be unlocked. Now, if you’re like me, you’re going to be a little concerned about whether or not your friend is gonna be okay with you going in the house when they aren’t there. Now on the other hand, let’s say you had a key. Well, if you have a key to the house then you’re in business! It doesn’t matter if the door is unlocked or not, you know you have access!
Well, when we focus on the flesh, it’s like coming up to the door and finding it unlocked but being unsure whether or not you’ve behaved well enough, prayed enough, worshiped enough, served enough to actually go through the door. But when we set our mind on the Spirit, we recognize that Jesus has handed us the key and we can walk in with full permissions and rights!
This passage even goes on to say that when we focus on what Jesus has done we can expect that Jesus will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.