“For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the things of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7).
It’s not just that believers and unbelievers think in different ways. Rather, it’s that spiritually-minded Christians and carnally-minded church members (let’s assume they are believers, but it’s hard to know) also act and value in opposite ways.
Let the church take notice.
In an article on sacrificial giving, I made a statement that attracted drew a lot of attention: Those who are in the flesh resent being told they are in the flesh.
More than one reader reacted to that in anger. (Thus proving the point, some might conclude.)
God’s shepherds (i.e., pastors of all varieties) can appreciate the strong division Scripture makes between being spiritually minded and carnally minded. The Lord’s Word does not allow a blurring of that line, but draws a stark contrast between the two. “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
The reality of the dichotomy, the reasons for it, and the results that follow are vastly different. (No, that is not a sermon outline, although it might work. One hopes, however, that every preacher knows “alliteration doth not a sermon make.”)
Two passages of Scripture deal with this division, the opposing operations of “the mind set on the spirit” and “the mind set on the flesh.” Romans 8 (here) and also First Corinthians chapters 2 and 3.
Now, we know the spiritually-minded are redeemed Christ-followers. They are saved. But are the carnally-minded saved? Answer: They may be either. Unsaved people are, of course, “in the flesh” since they have not been “born of the Spirit.” However, immature believers may look and act, walk and think, “in the flesh” also, thus confusing the issue. This is one reason we preachers must be careful in assuming everyone who does not act like Christ is lost and needs to “get saved.” They could simply be immature, untaught, and in need of a friend in Christ.
Our primary concern here is with church members who are carnal. They may look just like lost people, but based on First Corinthians 3:1-4, we conclude they are immature believers who are not walking or thinking “in the Spirit.”