BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words
Spirit and Flesh
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D
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.
Paul explains the difference between life “according to the flesh” (kata sarka) and “according to the Spirit” (kata pneuma) (vs. 4).
- Flesh (sarka) is not human tissue, human appetites, human instincts, or even humanness as God intended humans to live. “Flesh” means the corrupt, fallen, unredeemed, ego-centric, sin-dominated self.
- Spirit (pneuma) is not our higher nature, better angels, or moral intentions. “Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit who gives new life (regeneration) and lives within us (indwelling).
Paul explains that “flesh” and “Spirit” are two different mindsets:
First, these mindsets express our essential nature as Christians or non-Christians. There is a great divide between those who “have their minds set on what the flesh desires” and those who “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (vs. 5). This has to do with a way of thinking, but more than thinking. A person thinks a certain way because he or she is that way. A person’s nature determines a person’s mindset.
- The desire of the “flesh” is self-glory.
- The desire of the “Spirit” is to glorify Christ.
Second, our mindset has eternal consequences, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (vs. 6). The life controlled by sin in search of self-glory is alienated from the source of life, God himself. Such a person lives in death now and will experience death for eternity. The life liberated by the Spirit, who glorifies Christ, is filled with life now and forever.
Third, our mindset determines our fundamental attitude toward God, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (vs. 7-8). People with a sinful mindset are hostile toward God. They are unwilling to align with God’s purpose. They are unable to do so. Thus, it is impossible for them to please God.
This article is 409 words in length.