Defined – The Flesh & the Spirit – Romans 8 – by Ty Tamasaka
“5 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. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8 NIV
As we begin to move forward in our journey through Romans 8, there are two terms that need to be defined. Our understanding of the chapter will be based on our understanding of these two terms that Paul uses frequently.
The flesh and the Spirit.
1 – What is the flesh? – Paul uses this word over and over in Romans 8. When Romans speaks of the flesh, it is NOT speaking of our physical bodies. The Bible does not say that physical things are bad. When it refers to the flesh, the Bible is not referring to sexual desire. The Bible is not anti-human sexuality. The Bible actually has a higher view of marriage – that sexuality is reserved for one man and one woman in the context of a marriage.
When Paul mentions the flesh in Romans 8, he is using it as a word that is used to describe our sinful nature. It is the part of you that views God as a threat of you getting what you want. It’s the part of you that says in your heart. “I have enough God in my life, what I really need is more money, or more power.” The flesh is the part of you that desires more than anything else, to live independently of God.
2 – What is the Spirit? – Christians believe God is the Trinity – He is three and one. The Spirit is the person of God that comes and lives in you when you become a Christian. The Spirit of God is the One who plants inside the heart of man, the soul of God. The Holy Spirit comes and makes people alive to God. He gives conviction of sin and power for obedience to Christ.
If you’ve met a person who loved to party, then became a Christian. After they became a Christian, they were unable to enjoy partying. They felt guilty and found partying miserable. What happened?
That person started with a singular nature – the flesh. The flesh was the one thing driving and leading them.
After becoming a Christian, they were imparted with two natures – they now have a dual nature. They are no longer just flesh – although they still have their flesh. They now have the nature of the Spirit living within them.
The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is not that one has the flesh and the other doesn’t. The difference is that the Christian sets his mind on the Spirit. The Christian has changed his mindset.
We think there are three types of people.
1 – The Fleshy People – These are non-Christian people who live for drugs, sex, self-pleasure, partying and whatever, with no regard for God.
2 – The Ordinary Christian – This is the person who still lives for success, financial gain, ease, and comfort, but is religious and still loves Jesus.
3 – The Really Spiritual Christian – This is the really spiritual Christian who lives for Heavenly rewards and is totally sold out for God. This is the person who pastors the large church, preaches to the masses, serves as a missionary, and is given fully to their faith with a reckless abandon.
Romans 8 says tells us that there are not three categories. There are only two. There are only fleshy people who set their minds on the things of the flesh and there are those who set their mind on the Spirit. There are those in whom the Spirit resides, and those in whom the Spirit does not reside.
A person who sets their mind on the flesh is the person whose life is centered on earthly things with earthly payoffs.
A person who sets their mind on the things of the Spirit is the person whose life is centered on heavenly things with heavenly payoffs.
Are you a Christian? Is your mind set on heavenly things with heavenly payoffs.
O’ Lord I pray that my heart will increasingly be set on Your Spirit and less on the flesh. May my flesh nature decrease as Your Spirit increases in me. Forgive me for the times my mind is set on the flesh. I want more of You. I want to set my mind on You. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.