STRAIGHT FROM ROMANS 8 - What Mindset Do We Have?
July 14, 2019
Romans 8:5-8 (p. 786)
I did a survey with some folks I really trust with only one question. Ready…“Who controls your thinking?”
And over and over again I got back this answer…“I do…but sometimes I can’t control all the thoughts that enter my head. Especially after I’ve had encounters with certain people.”
And every single one of us know exactly what they mean. “How people treat me sometimes influences the thoughts I have.”
We’ve all walked away from some encounters thinking: “Man, I really feel encouraged…I love that person…they have such a good heart.”
But each of us have had other encounters where our thoughts have a tendency to run down a much darker rabbit hole…“What a jerk! I feel really angry right now…I feel really guilty…I feel really hurt”…or a combination of these feelings…and then we replay the conversation over and over again in our thoughts…
Wishing we’d said “this or that” or wishing we hadn’t said “this or that.”
Does Satan try to influence our thinking? Absolutely!!! It’s where lust, greed and hatred begin.
Temptations always begin in our desires…and they find a ready helper in our thoughts if they are not controlled.
James tells us…“Each one is tempted when by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
It’s important we all remember that temptation in itself isn’t a sin…Hebrews 4:15 tells us “Jesus was tempted in every way, as we are, but never sinned.”
Anyone who tells you that Christians don’t sin hasn’t read scripture and they haven’t been honest about real life.
Paul writes to the Galatians and says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. But (Big warning!!!) watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Gal 6:1)
But Romans 8 is about ownership…Christians aren’t owned by sin anymore. Those chains were broken by Jesus at the cross. Paul is shooting straight in Romans 8 when he paints a contrasting picture between sin’s ownership of us or the Holy Spirit’s ownership of us.
Let’s look at this contrast…
I. THE MIND CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE
Romans 8:5 clearly says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires.”
[My father-in-law, Ken, has this metal detector that’s really cool…I mean it’s high tech and expensive…you can set it to identify the metal you want to find…you can get really specific with it…He’s found gold chains and coins because he can ignore all the beer bottle caps.]
The human heart, because of Adam & Eve’s fall in the garden, is set on “sin,” my natural desire because of my disobedient grandparents. Seek the things that make me happy, that feel good, that I want…my thoughts work that way. I can begin to formulate a plan and a scheme…and the beeper starts going off stronger and stronger the closer I get to what I passionately desire.
Yes, I might know the law. Yes, I might know what’s right and what’s wrong…but my nature says “forget that…do what you want…”
A popular songs in our culture today says “F-you” that’s really it’s title…and the theme is…I’m here for me…F-you. (Cee-lo Green).
For the individual who has not been set free from the law of sin and death by the Spirit of Life, sin is the driving force for your decision making…selfishness is the filter for your direction…and it leads to one destination…DEATH.
?“The mind of sinful man is death.”
Listen…“The sinful mind is hostel to God…It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
One of the most powerful sentences in the Bible is…“Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
If you are owned by your sinful nature you don’t make God a little upset, or make Him unhappy…or mad every once in a while. You cannot please Him…You are still subject to His wrath…YOU CANNOT PLEASE HIM…PERIOD!!!
Paul makes it really clear in Ephesians 2:1-5
EPHESIANS 2:1-3 (p. 814)
Pretty clear huh…before Christ we had our minds set…we were living according to what the flesh wanted…we were under the ownership of the god of this world.
The two words that jump out at me are in verse 5: “minds set.”
For any of you that have ever worked in concrete…or ladies if you’ve glued something and you’ve waited for it to dry…you get what Paul is trying to communicate in the text…“Minds set…phroneo.”
Like concrete or set glue…someone who lives according to the sinful nature has a thoroughly hardened, predicted, set way of thinking…sin is approached, accepted and persuaded in the same pattern of thinking over and over and over again…(It’s easy for the truck tires to fall into the rut they’ve made in the road over time.)
Do circumstances influence my thinking…absolutely!!! Do people influence my thinking…you bet ya! Are we prone to let our thoughts run down the dark rabbit hole when we’re depressed, stressed, or grieving…yes we are…it’s our nature.
Here is the radical difference for those who are living their lives according to the Spirit and not according to that nature…
II. THE MIND CONTROLLED BY GOD’S SPIRIT
Remember that “the mind governed by the flesh is death”…It’s hostile to God…It will not submit to God’s law…and it can’t…it’s impossible to please God in this realm…
But the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Jesus clearly says, “Very truly I tell you no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (Jn 3:3,5-6)
None of us are sick in our sins before Christ…we are dead in our sins. Every one of us live by the flesh…separated from God…it’s impossible to “clean up our acts…or lives” and please Him.
We think selfishly…and we live selfishly.
It’s why Paul says this:
ROMANS 7:14-24 (p. 786)
He’s basically saying, “I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison…God’s law teaches me what’s right but I don’t do it…I need something more…the power of sin in me is too strong…I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t there someone who can rescue me from this dead body?”
And then Romans 7:25 reveals the amazing truth of who rescues us from this dead body…
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Our mindset isn’t changed because we know what’s right or wrong and then choose to do right in our own strength…
Our mindset changes because we change the realm we live in…we see God’s Kingdom and enter it through a new birth in water and spirit.
The written code of God’s law is read…and maybe even believed and delighted in…but until there is a radical transformation…a resurrection from the dead and new birth, it’s frustrating and enslaving.
Our minds cannot be filled with life and peace until they are controlled by the Spirit of God. Dead men and women will not have life until they are resurrected, and people who constantly want to be at war will not be at peace until they surrender to Jesus.
“We must be born again!!!” Literally “Born from above.”
Everyone in this world is God’s creation…but He only becomes your Father…you only become His child…if you are born again through the Holy Spirit…
But even as God’s children, our thoughts have to be brought under His Lordship…And since our thoughts control our actions, it’s essential that we operate by Kingdom thinking instead of worldly thinking…
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians and says,
2 CORINTHIANS 10:2-5 (p. 807)
The filter the child of God uses to control their thinking is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading. It’s the way we worship God on a daily basis…because of His great mercy…we surrender our bodies and our hearts to His will…
It’s the very reason Paul encourages the Roman Christians later in his letter by saying:
ROMANS 12:1-3 (p. 789)
We can live with conformed thinking…Just like the world…or we can live transformed lives…by the renewing of our minds…through His Word…through His Spirit daily…This is real worship…This is how we live daily in His will.
What would happen if we put our thoughts in captivity to the Word of God? Jesus says “you’ll know the truth and it will set you free.” What would happen if we stopped using the same weapons as the world and began to avail ourselves of weapons filled with divine power? We’ll start desiring what God desires…We’ll start seeing people as God sees them. We’ll start living in the realm of the Spirit and understand true life and peace.
Satan would have us live in anger…continually worrying over how we can fix situations and people…our minds become war zones filled with turmoil.
But let me end with a final verse of scripture I go to constantly.
PHILIPPIANS 4:4-9 (p. 820)
Great advice, huh?