By BK Thomson.
In Romans chapter 8, Paul speaks of the two great realms that affect man’s thinking and his behavior—the flesh and the Spirit. He speaks of those who are governed by these realms as being so minded. “Minded” refers to what a man thinks of; aims at; cares for; one’s purpose, aspiration and goal. “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.” (Romans 8:5).
OBSERVE THESE OUTSTANDING FACTS: A Christian can become carnally minded. To make the saints in Rome aware of such was Paul’s purpose in writing as he did in this chapter. Be it understood that a spiritual mind is required as one becomes a Christian, but later one can serve the flesh and certainly cease to be spiritually minded. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in a Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1). Remaining free of condemnation is conditional… “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
These two minds are diametrically opposed to one another. The great conflict that engages the Christian is that of overcoming and subduing the flesh. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:4). The apostle was aware of this ever present conflict: “but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). These two minds are opposed in purpose and aim. The spiritual mind delights in serving God - the carnal mind delights in rebellion toward God’s law. In results or end, they continue to be opposed one to another. The carnal mind results in death - to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6-7).
One in whom the Spirit is supreme. Barnabas and Stephen are good examples of those being spiritually minded. (Acts 7:55; Acts 11:24). The spirit of man has asserted its rightful position bringing the lower passions under control...thus, obeying the will of God and following the directions of the Spirit of God. One in whom the Spirit is supreme does not practice the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21), but produces in his life the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23).
One who discerns the excellence of spiritual objects. He recognizes the scriptures as being God’s divine word. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Psalm 19:7-10). He thinks of God with veneration and affections. He respects the blessing of salvation and of the life to some. Men may witness the same scene or deed - yet how different the emotions. The one gloats over the sin - the other loathes the wickedness. Their training and preparation of mind causes them to discern to the point of gloating or loathing! An artist has trained himself to discern the beauty of a modernistic painting, while to me, it may represent nothing more or less than paint splatter on a canvas. It does nothing for me! However, the artist has developed a sensitive appreciation for such and is able to discern the value. In like manner, the spiritually minded are following the direction of the Spirit and have developed the love and appreciation to discern the excellence of spiritual objects.
He loves spiritual exercise. To the spiritually minded these exercises are not deemed as a round of duties, but enjoyments. To the activities and services of the church, he flies as a refuge from cares and anxieties confronted in life. To the fleshly minded, these are burdens and at times elements of sheer boredom. The fleshly minded are deaf to the charms of the spiritual melody and blind to the glory of the spiritual sunrise. The spiritual are rejoicing in the truth being preached and drink it into their souls, while the fleshly minded are bored and wondering when it will be over. He is intent upon how little he can do in spiritual exercise and at the same time salve his conscience in thinking he is faithful rather than doing more and wanting to do more for the cause of Christ. What are you minding…the Spirit or the flesh?
By being led by the Spirit of God. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). Not by some special decree or mysterious operation from God does one become spiritually minded. Nor is such accomplished by hereditary and environmental means. Some with best backgrounds seem to be at times less spiritually minded. But by the word of God as the Spirit directs. (Revelation 1:11, 2:11). We must continually obey God’s word and appreciate its value. The proper diet of spiritual food in study of God’s word and exercise in practicing such is essential to the development and retainment of a spiritual mind.
We can train our minds to appreciate spiritual things and become spiritually minded that we might have the hope of eternal life.