For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 ESV

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. NIV

Thinking on Thursdays – The Carnal Mind

Thinking on Thursdays is a new venture for 2022.  We will focus each week on Bible verses addressing the mind and our thoughts. Everything you encounter in life will flow through your mind. Even your emotions get filtered through your mind to determine how you will respond. To be sure, a shout of joy or an outburst of anger bypass the mental circuits rather quickly. How many times do we say after those outbursts, “what were you thinking?” and respond, “I wasn’t”.

Paul gives two directional paths for our mind to follow, one will lead to death and the other to life and peace. Out of those two choices, I would like my life to be influenced more by life and peace rather than death. Why would the mind not naturally flow to life and peace. Why does it get stuck on stinkin’ thinkin’?

Key Words

“Set” or “governed” –  is not present in the greek. The literal words for the verse are “for the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.”  English translators are trying to give verbiage to the application of a person who is living life thinking with the “mind of flesh” versus the “mind of spirit”. Some have translators have chosen “set”,“Governed”, “controlled by”.

The King James Version chooses to use flesh and spiritual as adjectives for the mind rendering thus, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” The Greek does not capitalize the word spirit so context determines whether it is addressing our spirit or the Holy Spirit.

“Flesh” – Gr. sarkos. This is not always a negative word in the Bible, for it means what is of the human body. Part of the definition includes “the parts of our nature which are unchanged by God”. To be carnally minded or fleshly thinking is to operate out of the arena of our thinking which has been unchanged by God.  

When we are born again, God brings our spirit man, our spiritual nature, to life. We are a new creation. But, our mindset of thoughts are still replaying our sinful past. All of the judgments made about others, curses we have harbored, lies we have believed, anger we have held back, unforgiveness withheld, and impure thoughts hidden inside, are still lurking in the dark recesses of our minds.

The mind set on the Spirit captures the idea of a mind which is yielding to the Spirit to lead. You don’t have to try to have better thoughts. Rather you let the Holy Spirit filter your thoughts and then follow His lead.

The rub for this simple pattern is the war between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh wants to remain on the throne of all things in your life. To follow the Spirit is to yield, to become subservient, to humble oneself, and to choose obedience rather than going your own way.

Let’s land this plane for today. As a follower of Jesus, every moment of thinking is a challenge to follow the “I want to live life my way of thinking” OR “I submit to follow the Holy Spirit’s direction for me.” Don’t get bogged down in the moment by moment of life, just be aware of the leading of the Spirit and the negative fleshly thoughts. Choose life.

So there you have it, the first installment of “Thinking on Thursdays”. The Bible has so much to share to help us gain freedom from fleshly thinking and about so many other issues we encounter in life.  I look forward to sharing some of these insights together.

Blessings on ya.