Sinfully Minded versus Spiritually Minded (Romans Sermon 50 of 120)

Sinfully Minded versus Spiritually Minded (Romans Sermon 50 of 120)

January 06, 2002 | Andrew Davis
War Against the Flesh, Life in the Spirit, Man, Indwelling Sin

An Eternal Promise, or a Temporary Meal?

Please, if you would take your scriptures and open to Romans 8. And we're going to be looking this morning, at verses 5-8. Romans 8:5-8.

Do you enjoy a good stew? Do you like stew? Think about it. Did you have something hot on Thursday? You know what I'm talking about, maybe some beef stew, or with some kind of chunks of potato, or something steaming, something thick. You need something thick and hot on a day like that. Do you like a good stew? I love a good stew, but I wouldn't trade Heaven for a good stew. And it's shocking to me, that the Bible records the story of a man who did, in effect, just that. I'm talking, of course, about Esau. Now, we're preaching in Romans 8, but you know the story about Esau. And there was a day, in which he came in from the open country. He was a hunter. I am not a hunter, but he was a hunter. And I guess, when you've been hunting all day long, and came up empty, you come home hungry, and you want something to eat. And Jacob was making a stew that day, and it smelled so good. It smelled delicious. And Esau said to Jacob, "Give me some of that stew. It smells good." And Jacob said in response, "First, sell me your birthright."

Now, what is the significance of that birthright? Well, you remember that we've been learning in Romans chapter 4, that the moment that Abraham was justified was the moment that God made a promise to him. You remember what I'm talking about? God took Abraham out and had him look up at the stars. He had promised him a child, a child of promise. He had already said earlier, "Through your offspring, through your seed, all peoples on Earth will be blessed." Well, Abraham continued to move on, year after year, his wife Sarah continued to get older. She was still barren, and it seemed like the promise was fruitless, just like her womb. And so, at one point, in Genesis 15, he said, "Lord, what can you give me, since I remain childless? You haven't given me a child." And so He took Abraham out, and had him look at the stars, and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars, if indeed you can count them... So shall your offspring be." That's a promise. He made him a promise, "So shall your offspring be." You'll have as many descendants as there are stars. And one of those descendants would be the blessing to every people, and tribe, and language, and nation on Earth." Abraham heard that promise. He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Well, Abraham had a son, Isaac, and Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. And you know that Isaac explained all this to those boys, you know he did, from when they were early enough to understand the significance of why they were living in tents, wandering around in a country not their own. And there was a promise that they would inherit that land, but the Amorites still lived there, and Isaac continued to tell the twins, Jacob and Esau, it wouldn't be theirs, but it would belong to their descendants after them, after they had sojourned in a country not their own for a long time.

And so, one day, Esau came in, and he was hungry. His tummy was empty, he wanted something to eat. And Jacob said to the firstborn, Esau... He was the firstborn... "Sell me your birthright." And do you remember what Esau said? He said, "What good a birthright to me?" "I'm about to die from hunger. Give me some of that stew. You can have the birthright. It means nothing to me." That is about the opposite, as opposite as you can get from, "Abraham believed God and He credited it him as righteousness." This promise meant nothing to Esau, if only he could have a bowl of stew. And so, we have displayed before us, in living form, the doctrine that Paul is going to teach us today, concerning the mind of the flesh.

Look at it again in verse 5,  "Those who are, " literally, it says, "In the flesh, have their mind set on the flesh, but those who live in the Spirit, have their mind set on what the Spirit desires." So we have before us two different ways of looking at life, two different minds, as it were: The carnal mind, the fleshly mind, the mind controlled by the sinful nature. And then you have the spiritual mind, the mind controlled by the Spirit, by the promise of God. And so, therefore, we have a radical transformation that's been described, because all of us were born into Esau-ishness. Is that a word?

We were born like Esau, whose god was their stomach. I have a little five-month-old, whose god is his stomach right now, if he has a god. He lives for feeding that desire. We are born into that, aren't we? And at some point, a transformation occurs, where we would not sell our birthright, any longer, for a bowl of stew, a radical transformation.

I. A Radical Transformation

Now, in Romans chapter 8, Paul is laboring to prove his original premise, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And so, all of chapter 8, he's going to be laying out proofs that that is true. That is unspeakably precious to people who are of Jacob's mind, who hear the Word of God and believe it. A promise from God means everything, and so he's trying to prove it. And now, in the verses we're looking at this morning, Paul is going to pick up on what he said at the end, in verse 4. He's describing who it is true for, that there is no condemnation. It's not true of everybody. As a matter of fact, Jesus said that most are on the road to destruction. It's true, of only a certain category of people, that there's no condemnation, and so he's describing it. He said in verse 4, "In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit, for those who live according to the flesh, [this sinful nature] have their mind set on what that nature desires."

He's describing the category of people, that it's true of them, that there is no condemnation. On Judgment Day, they will be acquitted, they will go to Heaven when they die, they are saved. Who is it true of? It’s true of those who do not have the carnal mind, the fleshly mind, but those who have the mind of the Spirit. And so he gives us Romans chapter 8, either that we may be assured of our salvation, because we look inward, and we see that that new mind has come to us. We have been transformed from the carnal mind to the spiritual mind, that we may be assured that we may have joy of our salvation. And from that joy, we may have power to serve Him, to put sin to death, to grow. From that fruit, comes eternal life, from all of that. That we may be assured or that we may be warned, that we are still under condemnation, because we are characterized by the fleshly minds. He's giving us either assurance or warning here.

Paul is Describing All Christians

Now, I want to make two key assertions, as we look at this text. First of all, I'm asserting that Paul is describing here all Christians, when he talks about those who are controlled by the Spirit. What do I mean by that? There's not, I don't believe, a special class or category of Christian, halfway between converted and unconverted, that we would call the carnal Christian, that you have the unconverted, the carnal Christian, and then the spiritual Christian. I am denying that. I believe that He's talking here about all Christians, and about all non-Christians, and he's making a big cleaving and a dividing of the human race into these two categories, as he's done all the way through, from Romans 5, into 6 and 7, and now 8. You're either in Adam or you're in Christ. You're either under the law or you're in the Spirit. You're either saved or you're not. And so that's what you do.

I don't believe he's talking about a special category or class called the spiritual Christians, the Holy Spirit-filled Christian. He's going to say, very plainly, "If you don't have the Spirit, you're not a Christian." We'll get to that, God-willing, next time. There's not a special category, nor is there a second blessing needed, so that you need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, not having had the Spirit, but you're already justified. That's impossible. If you are justified, you have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. That's the first assertion that I want to make. The distinction here is between Christian and non-Christian, not between immature Christian and mature Christian, or between somebody living right at that moment, and somebody who's not living right at that moment.

Total Transformation is Absolutely Essential to Salvation

Secondly, I want to say that this total transformation, from the carnal mindset to the spiritual mindset, is absolutely essential to salvation. If it hasn't happened in you, you're not saved. You have not been justified. You are still in your sins, you're still under condemnation. Those are the two assertions that I want to make. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way, "Christianity involves a complete radical change in the nature of the human being. A radical change in your mind, in your heart, from within. Something that is supernatural, something that can only be done by God, a radical change in your nature."

II. The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Now, as we come to this text, and as we continue on in Romans 8, we're coming to the issue of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been mentioned four times in the first seven chapters of Romans. He is going to be mentioned over 20 times in this chapter. This is the chapter of the Spirit, the indwelling Holy Spirit. John MacArthur put it this way, "The Spirit is to a believer, what God, the Creator, is to the physical world. Without God, the physical world would not exist. Without the Spirit, a Christian would not be a Christian." And so we have the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Gift Promised

Now, the gift was promised. It is the promised gift. You remember Joel chapter 2, "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." This is the promise of Joel. And so Paul, in Ephesians 1:13, says, "He is the Spirit of promise." He is the promised Holy Spirit. He's been promised to us. Just like God made a promise to Abraham, so this promise has been given to us.

The Promise Fulfilled: Peter’s Sermon

And so, on the Day of Pentecost, it came true. God poured out His Holy Spirit on all who believed, all who were assembled there. And so Peter, by the power of the Spirit, stood up, and preached a great Pentecostal message, and people who heard it in Jerusalem were cut to their heart, and they said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter answered, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord, your God, will call." Who are the ones who are far off, is it not us? Durham is a long way from Jerusalem, isn't it? The year 2002 is a long way from the time that Peter preached that sermon. "For all who are far off, for all whom the Lord God will call." The promise is for you. The gift of the Holy Spirit is yours. We're talking about this promised Holy Spirit.

The Gift From Above

Well, what is this gift? How shall we describe the gift of the Holy Spirit? What is the power of the Spirit? Is it some impersonal force, like electricity that comes out of an outlet, and you take an extension cord, and plug it in, and you've got this power flowing through you? And if you unplug the cord, the machine stops, but if you plug it back in, it starts going, is that what it is? Is it kind of like, "Use the force, Luke"? Is that what it is?  Absolutely not. He is not electricity and he is not the force of Star Wars. He is the third person of the Trinity. He is a person. He has a will. He has an intellect. He has passions and desires. He has a plan. He has a personality. And if you're a believer, He lives inside of you today, the indwelling Holy Spirit. Look at verse 9 in our text. I know that we're not covering it today, but look at it. "You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit," or controlled by the Spirit, "if the Spirit of God," look at this, "lives in you." If He dwells, if He has taken up residence within you. And he says, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Do you see that? It's very plain. If you're a Christian, the Spirit lives in you, He dwells in you. It's the very promise that Jesus had made in John 14 about the Comforter, "Another Comforter, whom the world cannot receive, but you can receive Him, for He lives with you," Jesus said, "And will be in you," the indwelling Holy Spirit.

And so Paul is going to talk about the activity of the gift of the Spirit, in Romans chapter 8. He's very active. He is not passive in your life. He basically comes in like a King, and takes over, and He controls, and He moves, and He works, and He does not take sin lightly. He is the Holy Spirit, and so He works in you. He works in you to put sin to death. We'll talk about that, God willing. He works in you to testify to your Spirit, that you're a child of God. He works in you, so that you go through Christ's sufferings with Him. He works in you, so that you can pray effectively and powerfully. He is active, He is working, He is assuring, He is comforting, He's convicting, He's moving, He's indwelling, the indwelling Spirit.

III. The Carnally-Minded Person

Now, in verse five, we talk about the carnally-minded person. Now, we've got two categories. The carnally or the sinfully-minded person does not have the indwelling Spirit, and so he's got a mind of the flesh. He's got the carnal mind. Look again at verse Five, "Those who live according to the sinful nature, have their minds set on what that nature desires. But those who live in accordance with the Spirit, have their mind set on what the Spirit desires." We have two different categories of people that we're comparing. We have the carnal, fleshly mindset, and we have the Spirit-controlled mindset. Two different categories.

And may I say that these two types of people that live in this world, just simply do not understand each other? They don't. The Spirit-filled person makes no sense at all to the carnally-minded person, "Why in the world would you live the way you do, suffering, making sacrifices, and for what? When you could have it all. When you could have it all." And meanwhile, the spiritually-minded person looks at the carnally-minded, and says, "What are you thinking? This is all temporary. In a flash, your life will be over, and then you're gonna stand before God, and give an account on Judgment Day. What will you do then?" And so we make no sense to each other, but we make up the whole population of the world: The carnally-minded and the spiritually-minded, the non-Christian and the Christian.

Under (Therefore After) the Flesh: Position, Desire, and Lifestyle

Well, let's try to understand this carnal mind. First, "Of this person, they are under the flesh." That's what the text literally says. The NIV does not do a great job here. Literally, "This person is under or in the flesh, and therefore, they are after the flesh." That's the point. It's a matter of position first, mindset or desire second, lifestyle third. Do you understand how that works? What kingdom are you a member of? What kingdom are you part of? How do you think in that kingdom, and out of that, how do you live your life? Position, desire or mindset lifestyle.

Well, what is the position of the carnally-minded person? They are enslaved to sin. They are in Adam. They are under the law. They are under condemnation. They have no power to refuse sin. Sin has authority over them. They are enslaved to sin. Alright, well, what of their mind? They desire, or yearn for, or think about the things of the flesh, the things of the world, and as a result, they live out a lifestyle accordingly.

Now, what is the carnal mind? If you were to say... Maybe you don't say it anymore... But when I was a child, I had an older sister. And from time to time, I would tell her to mind her own business. Now, when you say to somebody, "Mind your own business," what are we saying? "Be busy with, be active in, be engaged in your own affairs, and let me do that for myself." So when we use the word 'mind,' you're talking about being busy. Or if you leave somebody to "mind the store." We don't really talk that way anymore, but that's how it used to mean... Look after the store, tend the customers that come in, sweep the floors, make it look nice, mind the store. And so this carnally minded person is minding the things of the flesh, the things of the world. They're thinking about them. They're passionate over them.

Now, look back at Romans 1:28, and this mind has already been described to us, but it's been so long ago, since I preached on this, that I think it would be worth looking at again. Romans 1:28, this is describing those people apart from God, under the wrath of God, probably Gentiles in context. He's going to get to the Jews in chapter 2, but in verse 28, he says, "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over [look] "to a depraved mind." Do you see that? "To do what ought not to be done." That is the carnal mind I'm describing, the mind, the desire, the way of thinking. It's a worldview. And out of that, comes everything that follows, "To a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done," Verse 29, "They become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil. They disobey their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless." This is the carnal mind, and then the lifestyle that flows from it. Do you see it? "He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do," it says, "What ought not to be done." It's a yearning after those things.

Now, when you think about the sins of the flesh, you tend to think of, perhaps, sexual sins, or addictive-type sins, like alcohol, or drugs, that kind of thing, but it extends to a bigger area than that. In First John 2:15-17, John lists the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life, as being those things in the world. These are the worldly things. This is what the devil has to offer. Imagine the devil, like a waiter, coming to your table and say, "Well, today, we have three things on the menu. We're going to offer the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life." He's been offering the same menu for 2,000 years. It never changes. It's always the same stuff, and so he's offering that.

John Bunyan, in his brilliant "Pilgrim's Progress," talked about it in terms of Vanity Fair. You remember Vanity Fair? And Bunyan described the world this way, "At this fair, are all such merchandise sold, as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and whatnot." You can put anything you want in 'whatnot.' Now, we have DVDs, and computers, and four-wheel drive automobiles, whatever. 'Whatnot' is what he called it. "And moreover, at this fair, there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false swearers, and that of a blood red color. Now, as I said, the way to the celestial city lies just through this town, where this lusty fair is kept. And he that will go to the celestial city, and yet, not go through this town, must needs leave this world." You got to go through Vanity Fair. You've got to walk through this Vanity Fair. And the carnally-minded man looks at that, and says, "Wow, what an exciting place. What a great thing this is." A spiritually minded man says, "Lord, deliver me from this place. What a weird world we live in."

But it extends beyond, just what we call the sins of the flesh. Trench put it this way, "It's the floating mass of thought, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, and aspirations, at any time current in the world." Do you know what I'm talking about, worldview? You just listen to a talk radio station, read an op-ed, an editorial page in a newspaper, listen to the news, and see if you can see any bias there at all. Just listen and take in. You know what I'm talking about. It's the mind of the flesh, and it extends even to the greatest accomplishments of the human race: Political interests apart from God, social causes apart from God, cultural achievements apart from God, human philosophies, human art, human culture, human music, human literature, all of them done apart from God.

An illustration of this is Ludwig von Beethoven, the composer. A young composer that he was teaching sent him one of his works, and at the bottom, he said, "With God's help, I will try to improve this piece." And he crossed out the words, "With God's help," and scrawled below it, "O man, help thyself." I think Beethoven drank a little too much of that Enlightenment philosophy, and as he lay on his deathbed... I'm talking about Beethoven now... I think it was in Vienna. There was a weird storm. The sky was odd looking. There was thunder, and there was lightning, and it rained. And Beethoven looked out, bitter, probably because of his deafness, and he shook his fist at the sky. And shortly thereafter, he died.

Even the highest and best that we achieve, apart from God, that's what I'm talking about when I talk about the carnal mind. Psalm 10:4 puts it this way, "In his pride, the wicked does not seek God. In all his thoughts, there is no room for God." There's no room for God. We talk at Christmas time about there being no room at the inn for Jesus Christ. In the carnal mind, there's no place for God. And so it is, therefore, a life bounded by the body. The five sense world is everything: What you can smell, what you can taste, what you can touch, what you can feel, what you can see. Paul talked about it in Philippians Three, "For as I've often told you before, and now, say again, even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things, but our citizenship is in Heaven." And there's the contrast between Esau and Jacob. There's the contrast between a carnal mind and a spiritual mind. And Esau is the poster child for that, living for the flesh, living for the stomach.

Now, in verse 6, it says of this carnally-minded person, "The carnal mindedness is spiritual death." Look at verse 6, it says, "The mind of the flesh [or the mind controlled by the flesh] is death." It's not nearly that it leads to death, it is death, dead already. Ephesians 2 says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world." Dead already, dead to spiritual things, have no interest. John MacArthur talks about a tragic funeral that he went to, or actually, officiated at, a funeral for a baby girl killed in a traffic accident. And he remembers distinctly, the mother kept picking up the lifeless body of this little infant, and crying over it, and holding it, and talking to it, speaking to it, singing to it, but there was no response, and there never would be a response. The baby's dead. And so it is for the carnally-minded person with spiritual things. It doesn't matter how you say it. It doesn't matter how you preach it. It doesn't matter how it's presented. The person is dead. They will never understand it. They will never relate to it. They're dead in transgressions and sins.

William Wilberforce and William Pitt

In the early 1800s, in England, there was a man named William Wilberforce. He led England out of slavery, he and a group of other people. England was in the slave trade. And William Wilberforce said, "This is sin. It is wrong." This is way before the American Civil War. And so he was a godly man, a committed Christian. He had a best friend named William Pitt. William Pitt was Prime Minister of England. Pitt was a nominal Anglican, nominally went to church, but really wasn't all that interested in these things. And William Wilberforce was very concerned about the spiritual life of his friend. And so he invited him, again and again, to hear one particular preacher that he loved to hear, Richard Cecil, in London. He was a fiery, passionate Evangelical preacher. William Pitt really didn't have the time, wasn't interested, but finally, one day, he said, "You know, Wilberforce, I'd like to come with you and hear this guy."

And so, they went, and listened, and Cecil was at his best. He was preaching. He was empowered by the Spirit. He was speaking of things to come. He was speaking of the Heavenly realms, and he was speaking of the promises that we have laid before us in Romans. He was talking about these things, and Wilberforce, for a time, just forgot that his friend was there, and was just, himself, caught up in these things. They were delightful to him. But then, toward the end, he began to wonder what his friend Pitt was thinking about. Well, he didn't have to wait long, because as the two of them walked out, Pitt looked over to Wilberforce and said, "You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man was talking about."

That is the carnal mind. That's somebody who's spiritually dead. And somebody's sitting right next to him, whose ear drums are vibrating the exact same way, heard in those words, life itself, the promise of eternal life. "You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man is talking about." That's the carnal mind. That man was bored by it, couldn't be bothered, wasn't interested in it, couldn't figure it out.

The Hostility of the Sinful Mind Toward God

1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned," and so they are spiritually dead, and as a result of this, they're at war with God. In verse seven, "The sinful mind," it says, "Is hostile to God," at enmity or hostility to God. This is either a settled rebellion against the Word of God, or is a sense of passive indifference, a sense in which we don't really care about the things of God. "Well, we're going to craft God in our own image." We're going to say, "I like to think of God as a good friend." "I like to think of God as a gentle breeze on a summer day." "I like to think of God as a buddy, who comes alongside when I need Him." "But I sure don't like to think about the God of the Bible, the God who is the Holy Judge of the world, a God who can do what He wants with what He's made, without asking us, a God who dwells in unapproachable light, a God who reveals His wrath and His justice everyday, a God who has the right to make laws and enforce them." This is the God they do not love.

And so Existentialist French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre said, "Even if such a God existed, we would have to pretend He did not exist, so that we could live our lives." That is that carnal mindset, a desire to be free from the God of the Bible. And as a result, it's rebellious against God's love. Verse 7, "It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." When I was up in New England, I frequently saw pro-abortion bumper stickers, one that would say, "Keep your laws off my body." Have you ever seen that? "Keep your laws off my body." Well, that itself, just even apart from the abortion issue, that is representative of this attitude here. "I don't want God's laws on me. I don't want His laws on me." But you know something? God's laws are all over your body. As a matter of fact, God's law has actually crawled into your brain and say, "You shall not covet your neighbor's goods." "Coveting? That's an attitude of the mind, that's wanting something." That's right and it's forbidden in the 10 Commandments. God's laws are all over you and the carnal mind says, "I don't want God's laws on me. Keep your laws off me." There's a hostility and rebellion against God's laws.

And so how will they live? Well, they'll live their way. Frank Sinatra sang it, didn't he? "I did it my way." And so they make their way through the world the way they see best. They construct their own morality, and live up to it, and they do it their way. That is the carnal mindset. And as a result, verse 8, "It is impossible for them to please God." Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. It is impossible for them to please God. There is nothing in them at all that pleases God. And so people who think that they're going to stand before God, and give good works for their sin, they don't understand. They don't have any. It's not that they don't have enough, it's that they don't have any. There are no good works, because none of it was done to please God, none of it done to glorify Him. All of it, just a testimony to human arrogance and pride.

Summary of the Carnal Mindset

Position, they are under the flesh. They are in Adam. They are apart from the life of God. As a result, they have a mind, a desire after the flesh. They have a taste for the things of this world, and as a result of that, they live a certain kind of lifestyle. Well, that is the carnal mind.

IV. The Spiritually-Minded Person

Under (Therefore After) the Spirit: Position, Desire, and Lifestyle

What of the spiritual mind? Well, it's exactly the opposite. Look again at verse 5, "Those in the Spirit," it says, "set their minds on the things of the Spirit." This person is under, and therefore, after the Spirit. They're after the things of the Spirit. They used to be in Adam, and now they are in Christ. They have been transformed. There's a radical transformation that's occurred in their minds, in their whole way of thinking. What they used to hate, they now love, and what they used to love, they now hate. There's been a change in them by the power of the Spirit.

Now, the spiritual mind minds the things of the Spirit. It's like minding the store, you remember that? Being active or busy about the spiritual things. The gravitational center of your existence are the things of the Spirit, just like the sun is the gravitational center of the solar system. This is what you want, the things of the Spirit.

What ARE the “things of the Spirit?”

Now, what are the things of the Spirit? Well, first, I would say, I've given you this list at the bottom, in 'Applications,' that you are intensely concerned about the soul. You see yourself, not as a body, primarily, but as a soul, a soul that can never die, an eternal soul, a soul that will come before God on Judgment Day. After death, comes judgment, and you see yourself in that light. We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of God, that we may receive the things we did while in the body. You will say, "While my soul was in that home called the body... " A spiritually-minded person thinks about the soul, they think of themselves as a soul.

Secondly, they're intensely aware of personal sinfulness. There's a sense of sin before a Holy God. Not dodging it or avoiding it, but saying, "I am a sinner. I need a Savior, and I see it more clearly, the more I go on. I see myself that way, as a sinner."

Thirdly, they are totally consumed, therefore, with the person of Jesus Christ. They can't think about Him too much, they can't love Him too much, they can't say thank you enough to Jesus for what He did. There would be no hope, were it not for Jesus. And so they are consumed by the person of Jesus. They see Him to be the most delightful person that ever lived. They are thrilled with the stories of His control over the wind and the waves, ability to walk on water, His miracles. The words He spoke are precious. The fact that He eternally existed as God, the Son, these things are precious to a spiritually-minded person.

Fourthly, they are deeply absorbed in the way of salvation. Terms like justification, regeneration, sanctification, glorification, they're theological terms, but the ideas behind them are delightful to a spiritually-minded person. They love the idea that God has declared them not guilty of all their sins. They're delighted with the fact that God is working holiness within them. They're happy to learn about these things. They have a taste for them, they're interested in them, and so they can't wait to hear about the glory that's going to be revealed in us. That's what they live for, the way of salvation.

Fifthly, they have a yearning for a growth in prayer. They want to talk to God. They've got a hunger for it. They want to have communication with God. They talk to Him privately, not so everybody can see. There might be time for public prayer, but that's not the point. The point is, through the day, they want to talk to God. They speak to Him and they call Him 'Abba Father.'

And sixthly, there's a hunger for true Christian fellowship. When you are like this, you like being with other people who are like this. Isn't that true? You delight in Christian fellowship. And when we're talking about the things of the Spirit, there's a joy that comes. It's like everybody brings a log to the fire, and it just gets bigger and bigger. We have delightful fellowship and you have a taste for it.

Seventhly, passionately concerned about evangelism and missions. You want to hear about the advance of the Gospel. How is it going on those frontier missions? You already know that the Lord's not coming back, 'til the work's done. "Well, how's the work going? How can I advance it? Have I shared the Gospel? Am I concerned about these things?" Evangelism and missions.

More than anything, number eight, you're concerned about the things in this book. They're not dry, boring things to you. You want to know what's in there. This is the mind of the Spirit. This is what you are interested in. If anybody can explain it or make it clear to you, you are delighted in it. You love the things of the book.

Now, it says in verse 6 that the spiritual mind is life and peace. In other words, this is the essence of the life that God gives. Jesus says in John 10 that he, "came that you might have life and have it abundantly." The spiritual mind is the life He came to give, and if you don't have this mind, if you don't have this yearning, this desire, this hunger, you're not a Christian. You have not been converted, because this is the life that He came to give. This is the life He came to give and there's a fruit that flows from it.

Now, this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. This is the life that He came to give, and if you are justified, you have received that life. Look at Romans 5:18. "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass, was condemnation for all men," remember that word 'condemnation.' "There is, therefore," what? "No condemnation." We're talking about condemnation. The result of Adam's sin was condemnation. Look at, "So also, the result of one act of righteousness, was justification that brings life." Do you understand what I'm saying? If you are justified, you have life, spiritual life. You have this life that I'm describing today. This is what salvation is. It's not just that your sins are written off, and then you can live whatever way you want. It's that He transforms you from within, by the power of the Spirit. You are a spiritually-minded person. This mind of the Spirit is life. And, the mind of the Spirit is peace. You know the Hebrew word is 'shalom,' a sense of deep rich fellowship with the eternal God. Everything is right, things are put in their right place, God is at peace with you, and you are at peace with God. Oh, how precious is that.

Romans 5:1, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Where you were at enmity with God, now you're at peace, and He with you. And there's a status of peace, He's at peace with you, though you may not always feel the peace in your feelings. There is peace with God, and then there is the peace of God. We've talked about this before. Sometimes you feel that peace. You experience it, even in the midst of difficult times. Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God," and what happens? "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding," will do what? "Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The Christian mind, guarded and protected in Christ Jesus. That's what prayer does for you, among other things.

The spiritual mind is life and it is peace. And though it's not mentioned in the text, this minded person is very pleasing to God, very pleasing to God. This is what pleases Him, that you be this way, that you have this mind given you as a gift. At His baptism, Jesus Christ stood in the waters. After his baptism, and you remember a voice came down from the Father, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am," what? "Well pleased." If you have this spiritual mind, you are well pleasing to God, well pleasing to God. And as a result, you live for that, don't you? You yearn to please God. You yearn for it. Every day, you want to search out and find out what is pleasing to God. Second Corinthians 5:9, "So we make it our goal," to what? "Please Him, whether at home in the body or away from it." We want to please God and that includes the law.

1 John 3:22-23, "We obey His commands, and we do what pleases Him, and this is His command: To believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another, as He has commanded us."

V. Application

Now, what is the application that we can take from this? As you look at these verses, do you see any commands in here? Something to obey? Is there something that you should do, as a result of it? Look at it. Or is there only spiritual description of what is true of you, if you're a Christian? Look at it. It's only description. You're not commanded to do anything. You're described or you are not described, do you understand what I'm saying? Either this is true of you, what I've been saying to you today, or it is not. Either you are controlled by the Spirit, you have the mind of the Spirit, or you don't. And if you do not have the mind of the Spirit, you have the carnal mind, and therefore, you're in Adam, under judgment still, and Romans 8:1 does not apply to you. There is condemnation for you.

Basically, the application here, is for you to diagnose yourself. And I would suggest you go backwards, start with your lifestyle, go back to your mind, your desires, and then what does it say about your position? As you look at your lifestyle, how do you live? How do you invest your resources? How do you act? What do you do in reference to the commands of God? How are you living? Trace that back to your mindset. How do you look at the world? What are your ambitions, your goals, your desires, your hungers? What do you want? What is of value to you? What do you think about? Look at those things that I've listed there. Are you intensely concerned about your soul? Do you see yourself as a soul? Are you aware of your personal sinfulness? Not dodging it or hiding it, but knowing that you need a Savior? Are you consumed with the person of Jesus Christ, who is that Savior? Are you absorbed in the way of salvation? Are you yearning for growth in prayer? Are you hungry for true Christian fellowship? Are you passionately concerned about evangelism and missions? And are you hungry for the Bible, the Word of God? And if so, what is your position? Diagnose yourself.

Lloyd-Jones, this is Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the Welsh preacher, after he got done with the sermon on this text, said, "May I be so bold as to say, how have you thought of this sermon?" Now, he had preached for 40 years before he said that. And I'm not going to do it, I'm going to quote him. I'm going to step aside and let him say it, "Were you interested in these things or was it boring? Was it dry? Was it dusty to you? Another sermon, more text, more doctrine. Or was it engaging, exciting? Did it entice you? Did it make you want to say, 'Do I have the spiritual mind? What has God done in me? Is it true of me, that there's no condemnation? Am I hungry and thirsty for righteousness?'" That's how Lloyd-Jones ended his sermon. I'm not going to end mine that way, but that's how he ended his. Investigate yourself. Diagnose yourself. Think about these things and apply it.

If you have not come to Christ, please come today. Come and talk to me. If you're concerned about your soul, if you don't know whether you're a Christian or not, you don't know whether you've given your life to Christ, don't let another day go by. Come and talk to me. Don't let your pride stand in the way. We're going to have a closing hymn in a minute. It'd be a good chance for you to come and talk to me. After the service, you can do the same.

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