“To set the mind on the spirit is life and peace”
Today we follow on from our thoughts yesterday on Romans 5 & 6 and read slowly and meditatively to savour the unfolding reasoning of Paul. He laments,
“I do not understand my own actions … I do the very thing I hate” (7:15)
and then adds,
“I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out” (verse 18).
This was his experience in trying to keep the law from Moses.
“I delight in the Law of God in my inner being, but I see another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (i.e., within me). Wretched man that I am!” (7:22-24).
He then asks the question,
“who will deliver me from this …” and he answers himself, in his meditations, “thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ …” (verse 25).
We are now back to the subject of grace! The questions recurs, does it matter how much I sin seeing that the “law of sin … dwells” in me? The answer at first seems to be ‘No’ when the first verse of chapter 8 tells us,
“There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”.
But the answer starts to unfold as we read on in this chapter.
Jesus also experienced “sinful flesh” (verse 3) and he achieved what we cannot, he remained sinless. Through him
“God has done what the law (of Moses), weakened by the flesh could not do … that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (verses 3,4).
What kind of walk is that?
Then we specially noted the next two verses,
“those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”.
There is no “life and peace” until we develop a spiritual relationship with our Lord. Those who do this are no longer
“in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (verse 9).
This is not the power to do miracles, rather it is the strength that comes from a heartfelt relationship with our Saviour. In his final letter Paul tells Timothy,
“God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
This is a spirit of mind that the old law could not do. Those who “set their minds” on this new relationship are “set free” and experience the reality of the Proverb,
“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (4:18).