Walking According to the Spirit - Part 2

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberIf we are going to walk according to the Spirit we must first of all understand the choice that must be made.

Romans 8:5 says "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." The term "set their minds" shows us a choice that has been made. Any lifestyle which is reflected in one's behavior is always governed by a "mindset". That mindset begins with one's choice as to who or what they have decided to obey. A mindset determines how a person acts. It motivates a person to do what he does, influences who or what a person chooses as sources of knowledge and authority, affects a person's view of every experience, shapes a person's value system, and dominates a person's private and public life.

The words "according to" in the phrase "according to the flesh" are translated from the little word kata, which in verse 5 reflects the measure of what a person is about. Here is a person whose diet is the things of the flesh. He has set his mind on the things of the flesh! The term "sets his mind" comes from the word phroneo , meaning a determined and chosen mindset.

Recently I flew in a Beechcraft King Air 90 to and from Georgia. It was a brand new plane and had the Doppler radar that the big jets use. We flew through huge anvil shaped clouds that signaled horrible weather but the pilot had set the controls to navigate the plane between those clouds so that we hardly experienced anything more than small bumps as we flew through. That's what it is like when something is "set" on something that determines the course of its behavior. A person who has set his mind on the flesh has honed in on fulfilling the desires of the flesh like a heat seeking missile honing in on a flaming jet engine.

Obviously this is the way a lost person lives, but Paul is showing us a principle here of a resulting lifestyle when the flesh is chosen. In contrast, he says "but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." You see, there are two different mindsets; two different attitudes; two different choices. One seeks the things of the flesh; the other seeks the things of the Spirit, who is the only one who produces life within us. There are only two choices that we can make-there is no "in between". One is to choose our flesh; the other is to choose to yield to the Holy Spirit and set our minds on things above. If we are going to walk according to the Spirit we must realize the choice that must be made.

Not only that, we must also understand the consequence of making the wrong choice. Paul continues in Romans 8:6 to say, "For the mind set on the flesh is death." When we choose to walk after the flesh and fulfill its desires whether religious or rebellious, then immediately there is a death that is experienced. There is no definite article here which would point to eternal death. When the definite article is not there, it qualifies something (as it does here). It qualifies what the believer will experience when he makes the wrong choice.

Paul talked about the results of the flesh in chapter 7. According to Galatians 5:22-23, which details for us the evidence of Christ living in us and manifesting His character in us, we can conclude that there is an immediate death when one chooses his flesh-the absence of the fruit of God's Spirit. Since all of these words identifying the fruit of the Spirit are relationship words, we can see how relationships are ruined when we choose our flesh. There is the death to the joy that enables one's attitude; there is the death to the peace that strengthens and comforts one's heart in hostile times; there is the death to the patience that enables us to deal with hard people; the death to the kindness that makes us tender towards others; the death to the goodness that causes us to do good for the benefit of others; the death to the ability to trust God regardless of what is happening; the death to the inner calm that gentleness brings to our life; the death to the self-control amidst the conflicting circumstances of life. That's why Paul tells us that "the mind set on the flesh is death".

In addition, Romans 8:7 tells us that "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God". The word for "hostile" is the Greek word echthra. It implies more than just hostility, expressing an intense hatred towards God and His will. Remember the words of Jesus when He said Matthew, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24 nasb)

When one chooses his flesh he in no way is interested in subjecting his will to the lordship of Christ. Paul goes on to say in verse 7, "for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so". It is amazing how wicked our flesh is. Paul says of his own flesh, "For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish" (Rom.7:19). But Paul tells us in Romans 8:8 that "those who are in the flesh cannot please God". My question to you is "what choices are you making?" Are you living under the lordship of Jesus Christ? If not, do you realize the consequences?

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad