Romans 8:6 – “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)
What does it mean that to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace?
In John 6:63, Jesus says “the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Jesus said that he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. And in this section of Romans Paul is talking about the mind set on the flesh versus the mind set in the spirit. So what does all of this mean?
I think what this really means is where you focus your mind is what you get.
We can use two analogies to help us understand this. First, when you set goals, it’s the goals you focus on that you typically accomplish. Or second, in the case with automobile accidents, a large portion of single car accidents hit telephone poles. When the drivers were asked why, they said, “I kept looking at the pole trying to avoid it, and then I hit it.” So whether it’s goals or telephone poles, what you focus on is usually what you get.
What Paul is saying to us is similar but much more profound. We are Spirit beings living in a physical world. Satan has been defeated but he continues to try to defeat us from living the life the Lord has blessed us with. He’s the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. And the way he does it is with our mind. Paul says in 2 Cor 10:4-5 that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Our warfare is not in the flesh but in the spirit, and the spiritual battle ground is our mind… our arguments and opinions. And we are to take those thoughts captive to obey the words of Christ.
When we focus our mind on the flesh we get the consequences of the natural. When we focus our mind on the spirit we get the truth of the spirit, which is life and peace.
We see this clearly played out with Peter walking on the water. As long as he kept his mind on the things of the spirit he walked on water. But as soon as he let his logical mind take over and put it on the things of the flesh, then he saw the wind and became afraid. As soon as that happened he fell into the law of the flesh (sin and death), doubted Christ’s truth, and began to sink. That’s when Jesus rebuked him for his sin when he said, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Or to put it more bluntly, “why did you doubt my truth?” Sin is anything that does not conform to the image of God, therefore doubting God’s truth, his word, is sin. This is why the mind set on the flesh is sin and death.
I love what Tom Loud says about the mind and healing. He says when you lay hands on someone and command the healing, you have to put your natural mind in the car and park it there, away from you. In other words, he says don’t even think about healing. Don’t concentrate on it. Don’t imagine it. Just turn your mind off. And when you turn your mind off it doesn’t get in the way.
The natural mind is logical. And logically the law of the spirit is not logical. It can’t happen. There’s no way if you have no money in your account that you can pay your bills. There’s no way if you’re sick and the doctor says there’s no recovery that you can get well. There’s no way you can step out of a boat and walk on the water. Logically none of these make sense. And as soon as your logical, carnal mind gets involved, that’s when your mind gets set on the flesh. That’s when you doubt God’s word. And that’s when your mind becomes hostile to God. This is why Paul says in Rom 8:7 “for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God”… it doubts God’s word, and when you doubt God’s word you are calling him a liar.
We are to set our mind on the spirit. And Jesus tells us his words are spirit and life. So the only way to set your mind on the spirit is to know God’s word and to trust his word only. It doesn’t matter what the logical mind sees. In fact, when you let your logical mind see that’s when you have the battle because it wants to believe reality and overpower the spirit mind focused on God’s truth. So you must put blinders on your logical mind. You must not let it out of the car. You must keep it dormant and dead. You must focus only on what God’s word says regardless of what reality seems to be. Reality shifts, but the only constant is God’s truth from his word.
That’s what it means to set the mind on the spirit. And when you do you have all the life and peace God has promised you.