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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 8:5-8 - Mindset

What governs your mind?


Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man

Man subjected himself willingly to sin,

becoming wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways.

Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary

concerning man’s free will,

since man is nothing but the slave of sin

and cannot do a thing

unless it is “given him from heaven.”

For who can boast of being able

to do anything good by himself,

since Christ says,

“No one can come to me

unless my Father who sent me

draws him”?

Who can glory in his own will

when he understands that “the mind of the flesh

is enmity against God”?

Who can speak of his own knowledge

in view of the fact that “the natural man

does not understand the things of the Spirit of God”?

In short,

who can produce a single thought,

since he knows that we are “not able to think a thing”

about ourselves,

by ourselves,

but that “our ability is from God”?

And therefore,

what the apostle says

ought rightly to stand fixed and firm:

“God works within us both to will and to do

according to his good pleasure.”

For there is no understanding nor will

conforming to God’s understanding and will

apart from Christ’s involvement,

as he teaches us when he says,

“Without me you can do nothing.”



Mindset; Worldview; Outlook; Attitude. These are just a few of the synonyms of the concept at the heart of this passage. What governs your mind? By what standard do you understand reality and make choices?

Certainly there are myriads of perspectives to consider, and things get dicey quickly when you begin to favor one set of cultural inclinations against another while making aesthetic or even moral and ethical determinations, so it makes sense that our world has more or less given up in making any firm distinctions as to what is right and what is wrong.

Paul, representing the whole of Biblical insight in this magnificent chapter, makes the choice clear. After all is said and done, there are only two ways to think: you can have your mind set on what the flesh (sarx) desires, or on what the Spirit desires. You can either be governed by death, or life and peace. There's no independence or middle ground, or 'free will' so to speak; you're in one camp or the other - you live either according to the flesh or to the Spirit. You're enslaved either to sin or to righteousness (Romans 6).

We often refer to the famous first question & answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism to explain the purpose and meaning of life: "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." Notice how a mind governed by the sinful nature (flesh/sarx) destines a person to a purposeless existence: "those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." If you're unable to glorify God, you'll never be able to truly enjoy Him or anything He's made.

Dig Deeper

So why doesn't everybody make the clearly better choice and live according to the Spirit?

Simply put, they cannot.

The descendents of Adam are born enslaved to sin (Romans 6:17). In other words, the natural condition for a person is to have "their minds set on what the flesh desires," which results in a "hostility" towards God. Consequently, such people "do not submit to God's law" because they cannot do so, and since the ultimate expression of God's law is to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul, a person cannot independently choose to show love to God by living according to the Spirit's desires.

This is what makes grace so amazing. Your Father, who knew you before the dawn of time, chose you to be His own, and put His Spirit in you to give you a new heart/mind, set free from its slavery to sin and governed by life and peace. This is why you, as a redeemed child of God, see and understand the world so differently than the people around you do, and why you have an obligation to live so differently than they do.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who overcame our hostility towards Him by giving us His Spirit;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will live with your mind set on what the Spirit desires;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 14


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