Meditation Commentary on Romans 8:5-8
5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
In these four short verses of Scripture, we find a book’s worth of wisdom and knowledge that all Christians should long to employ in their own lives. There is a saying, “You are as close to God as you want to be.” This statement is very true, and at the same time is very challenging to me as one of God’s children. In the Christian walk, one goes through ups and downs, through stronger times and through weaker times. In the times when a person is not as close to God as he or she would like to be, is it because God has stepped away and distanced Himself from that individual? No. God is always faithful and true, never wavering or changing. It is we, as humans who find ourselves drifting from the Lord when we “live according to the flesh” rather than setting our minds on the things of the Holy Spirit.
When we read verse 5 of this passage, we are informed that we can live by the flesh or by the Spirit, and that our minds will be directed accordingly. The word “flesh” that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word “sarx,” which also means “the body” (as opposed to the soul [or spirit]) or “human nature.” It is very simple: we can be supremely selfish and live life for ourselves, or we can live according to God’s Holy Spirit and serve Him.
Life or Death? Found in verse 6, this is a choice that we must make. The word “carnal” used in this verse comes from the same Greek word, “sarx” that was spoken of in the previous verse. One might think that a choice between life and death would be an easy choice to make and that everyone would eagerly choose life! It is, in fact an easy choice to make, but the amount of people that choose death is alarming. Millions of people choose to live the short life that they have on earth for themselves; not thinking of what awaits them in eternity.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” It is impossible for a person who has a carnal mind to keep God’s greatest commandment. Not only is it impossible for a carnal minded person to keep the greatest commandment; it is impossible for him to keep any of part of God’s law.
Verse 8 is the shortest verse of this passage, yet seems to contain the most information. It is a vital, valuable key to life: If a person is living for himself, he cannot please God; therefore, he will die. If we take this verse and turn it around, we find a most encouraging insight: If a person acknowledges his need for God, and lives according to the Spirit, he will find life!