For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 KJV)
Paul says in Romans 8:6 that the spiritual condition of our minds is a matter of life or death. This sobering thought is enough to make us want to know what the carnal or spiritual mind is, and how to be spiritually minded. This devotional will briefly describe what Paul means by “spiritually minded.”
There are multiple facets to correctly understanding the phrase spiritually minded. This phrase in the original Greek is not spiritually minded but the mind of the Spirit; its parallel, carnally minded, is the mind of the flesh. The Amplified Bible puts this in perspective:
“Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].” (Romans 8:6 AMPC)
Before proceeding any further, it is crucial to remind you that the phrases, mind of the flesh and mind of the Spirit, do not mean there are two minds in our hearts—one of the flesh (or soul) and another of our spirit under the control of the Holy Spirit. I have taught and written extensively about this common misconception, especially in pentecostal or charismatic circles, in the series of articles on spirit, soul, and body.
While we live here on earth in the body, the human spirit does not have a separate mind from the mind in our soul. Furthermore, when the Lord commands us to be spiritually minded, He is not asking us to suppress or eradicate the soul’s mind and try to live by our spirit’s mind. No! We have only one mind, and the descriptive phrases, the mind of the flesh or mind of the Spirit, refer to two distinct dispositions of the same mind rather than two separate minds in us.
In the expression spiritually minded (Greek phronema), the term means mindset or “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.” For example, trusting God is a mindset, just as the tendency to be angry or offended easily. The mindset is not merely an accidental momentary tendency; instead, it is a habitual, regular, and almost predictable way someone sees events or responds to them. The mindset defines our personality and behavior. So, everyone has a mindset, whether carnal or spiritual. When the mind is set on the things of the flesh, it is the carnal or fleshly mind, and when it is set on the things of the Spirit, it is the spiritual mind or the mind of the Spirit.
Consequently, the mind of the Spirit is the human mind that is set on the things of the Spirit or is under the control of the Spirit. When our minds are set on the things of God, we love God, desire prayer, want to study the Word, forgive quickly, trust God’s Word, live holy, etc. But when our minds are set on the flesh or controlled by it, the things of the world are our focus: we find little to no delight in spiritual things while there is a passion for the things of the flesh. For instance, the carnal mind finds no problem spending large sums of money on entertainment but has a hard time giving to help others or sponsor God’s work. It is a pattern of thinking and living.
The spiritual mind drives our spiritual lives. We are in big trouble if our minds are set on the flesh. Have you ever tried encouraging someone with a fleshly mind to attend Church or love spiritual things? It feels like an uphill task with little hope because the carnal mind finds its greatest delight in things that gratify the flesh; it cannot enjoy or delight in the things of the Spirit. The carnal mind is an enemy of the things of God (Romans 8:7). Therefore, the Lord commands us to renew our minds—gradually grow from fleshly to spiritual minds as we mature spiritually. And the Spirit’s primary tool for strengthening the mind of the Spirit or the spiritual mind in us is a meditation on the word.
Please take a moment to reread Romans 8:6, pondering and muttering those words as you let the Spirit work on your mind.
Apply the Word
One of the most powerful indications of a spiritual mind is a persistent desire or hunger for the things of God. This is so powerful that if you find it, you can be sure the Spirit has control of that mind. But when it is absent—when our desire for God is gone or extinguished—it is a red flashing light to signal that a subtle but powerful change is taking place in us. Let the mind of the Spirit grow in you.
Ask the Spirit to help you develop a spiritual mind.