Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)
The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference is facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God's resources and perspectives. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." When a Christian deals with life by his flesh, he typically thinks about "what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when a Christian deals with life by the Spirit, he typically thinks about "what God wants for my life" or "what God can accomplish through my life."
The consequences related to this choice are monumental. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly self-indulgence ("what I can get out of this") or religious self-accomplishment ("what I can do for God"). The result of either carnal perspective is "death" (spiritual deadness). On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual tranquility).
Another analysis of these two options can be seen in the contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." When we put our hope in our own capabilities, our flesh produces deeds such as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Galatians 5:19-21). Contrariwise, when we place our expectations upon the Lord, His Spirit brings forth through us fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Consider this fundamental truth. These "flesh-Spirit" choices are what all of us will face every day of our lives. The persistency of these issues is inherent in the fact that God offers only two options for every issue of life; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit."
O Sovereign Lord, I bow to Your wisdom and authority that offer these two choices alone. Lord, I renounce the natural path of my flesh which brings severe, but deserved, consequences. I gladly embrace the supernatural path of Your Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of Your grace at work in me, Amen.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon