Romans 8:5 “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.”
Baby, it’s cold outside. The Artic Jet Stream has lost its way and has been flowing through Middle Tennessee for about a week now. Last night it was single digits and that’s just what we did to the weather man. (I know I shouldn’t have said that but it is funny.) Anyway, it is bone chilling, breath-taking, toe numbing cold. I walk outside and I shiver.
I was driving home yesterday evening and I saw a bunch of kids sledding on a hill beside the road. It was obvious from the beaten down snow and broken make-shift sleds that they had been there for some time. How do they do that? How do kids ignore the cold and stay out so long oblivious to what seems obvious to me…..cold!
I guess they have their minds fixed on the goal, having fun, enjoying the experience, laughing with their friends, making memories. Me, I have my mind fixed on the circumstances, freezing weather, creaking bones, aching lungs. Isn’t getting old fun?
In Romans 8:5 Paul takes a little bit of a turn. The first 4 verses have been about God’s response to us. No condemnation. Freedom. Grace. Righteousness. Amazing, amazing stuff that He does for us through Christ. Now all the way through verse 17 he turns to address our response to the thing that God has done for us. We’ll read words like control, submit, obligation, and share. Things that we do, or at least participate in when it comes to this “life in the Spirit.”
In verse 5 Paul says that those who live according to the sinful nature, that is still trying to be right by the law, still thinking that they can somehow do good enough, be good enough, act good enough; those people set their minds on what the nature desires. But those that live in accordance with the Spirit, that is, they have released themselves and their “trying,” to the Spirit of Life that Christ gave us when He paid all of the price of the law for us (remember the last few weeks); those folks have their mind set on the things that the Spirit desires.
It’s kind of like those kids in the snow I think, when I am trying to live the old way, fulfilling every jot and tittle of the law, and just terrible at it, then all I can see is the stuff around me. I get frustrated by all of the temptations and trials of this world. I’m trying to live for Jesus, why are so many bad things happening to me? Or I get caught up in comparing me to the other guy. I’m doing better in this law thing than he is. Why is he driving a new Lexus and I’ve still got this Nissan with hail damage in the hood? I am so caught up in the circumstances that they are all I see. And we’ll see in verse 6 that there is only death in that kind of thinking.
But, when I decide to turn my thinking full time to the goal, a life of grace and peace, lost in an intimate relationship with the very One who set me free from all of this stuff in the first place; when I do that it’s not cold anymore, the circumstances don’t capture my attention anymore. I can stay at this thing with Jesus all day long. (Or at least until my mom calls me in for soup but that’s another metaphor.)
The Greek word for set is phronounsin. I have no idea what that means. I just wanted to impress you. I’m kidding. It means to turn or direct or focus. In other words, it’s something that I can do. He has set me free from the “law of sin and death.” He has said He will condemn me no more for my fumbling and failure at trying to keep the law. Now what I get to do is direct my attention, my thoughts, my focus to Him and to the wonderful life in the Spirit that He has for me. And when I do, well, I see His grace and His peace all over me. There is joy. There is hope. There is relationship. There is, well… “love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) And that life is a blast.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful Face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
So quit shivering and complaining about the chill. Get your eyes off of the circumstances. Grab a sled, focus on the fun, and hang on for the ride of your life. Mike