Romans 8:7


130705_washington_paintingFriday, 5 July 2013

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Romans 8:7

This verse reiterates the phrase used in Romans 8:6, phronēma tēs sarkos or “the carnal mind.” This is more often than not misunderstood to refer to the mind itself as if it is an authoritative statement on the depravity of man. But Paul is speaking of the minding of the flesh rather than the state of it. Whether a man is in Adam and minding the flesh or dead to Adam and alive in Christ, either way he can mind the flesh. When he does, this avenue is one which is at enmity with God.

There is a second problem with the misuse of this verse. Far too often it is used as a text to claim that any person who hasn’t called on Christ is unable perceive any good at all or even understand the contents of the Bible in an real capacity. It becomes a tool of “superior knowledge and spiritual depth” for the believer against the lesser “unregenerate mind.” This is problematic, because it would then logically imply that nobody could call on Christ. The message would be beyond fallen man’s ability to grasp. This leads to the misguided Calvinist doctrine of being “regenerated” in order to believe. After this according to Calvinism, the belief is then what leads to salvation. This concept is found nowhere in the Bible.

If it were true, then after being regenerated the Bible should suddenly be completely understandable to the “now regenerate” soul. This is the last thing seen in believers. There is more disagreement about biblical doctrines among faithful believers than there are grains of sand on the sea.

Another validation of this can also be found in Old Testament verses such as Genesis 5:22-24 – “Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” If Enoch and many others prior to Christ walked with God, then it is obvious that the Calvinist viewpoint is untenable on this issue. “The carnal mind” is the minding of the flesh, not the state of it.

Such things as those found in Calvinist doctrine on this issue are not taught by Paul, nor does the Bible imply them at any point. In fact, throughout the Bible, those who have the Spirit – (David for example in the Old Testament and the Corinthian believers in the New) continuously fail to meet the law of God, and often they even fail to properly grasp it at all. Instead, they mind the flesh – even though they have the Spirit and thus “are not subject to the law of God.” When minding the flesh, indeed, they cannot be. This truth is even seen in the apostles as times.

Where this verse says, “for it is not subject to the law of God” the “it” is speaking of the carnal mind, not the person. This carnal mind, be it in a believer or in a non-believer, is not and cannot be subject to the law of God. This is the reason why we are asked to think on that which is noble, reject that which is evil, fix our thoughts on Jesus, etc. When we fail to do this, our minds are obviously not subject to the law of God.

Life application: When you are born as a human, you can never get “more human,” but humanity can get more of you. When you are born into Christ, you can never get more “born again,” but Christ can get more of you. This is what Paul is speaking of. A person in Christ is in Christ, but Christ is in people in varying degrees. This is a state that we allow based on our obedience to Him, our proper knowledge and yielding to Him, and our fellowshipping with Him. If this is the state you desire, then fix your thoughts on Him and allow His Spirit to fill you and guide you.

Lord Jesus, You are my hope, my desire, my longing. I shall set my gaze upon You and fix my thoughts upon You. Fill me and guide me. Keep me from myself and my earthly desires and give me the ability to understand the things of God which are revealed through You and Your Holy Spirit. I praise You for what You have done and will continue to do in me. Amen.

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