As Paul begins to lay out the gospel in his letter to the Romans, he makes it clear that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Because sinners refuse to acknowledge God as God, their thinking became futile. Although they thought they were wise, they became fools with depraved minds, resulting in doing things that ought not to be done (see Romans 1.18-28). But by grace through faith, God made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 4.3-6).
Now that we have peace with God and have gained access into this grace by which we now stand (see Romans 5.1-2), we now live according to the Spirit and not according to the sin nature. In fancy theological terms, sanctification follows justification. In street talk, increasing holiness is the natural result of being made right with God. And the key to increasing holiness is living according to the Spirit instead of according to the old sin nature (see also Galatians 5.16).
One of the keys of living according to the Spirit is found in Romans 8.5-8 where Paul wrote,
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8.5-8)
So, to live according to the sin nature is to have our minds set on what the Spirit desires instead of having a mind set on what the sinful nature desires. Whereas the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, the mind set on what the sin nature desires is death and hostility towards God.
The Bible teaches us that we have the ability to either set our minds on things above or on things below (see Colossians 3.1-2), and that there is a connection between our minds and our sanctification. In Ephesians 4.20-23, Paul connects putting off the old self and being made new in the attitude of our minds. In short, with our minds we decide what we will believe to be true. Then our hearts drink in this truth, and we act upon what our hearts and minds believe to be true.
This is why Paul urges us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (see Romans 12.1-2). Our minds need to be renewed so that we can be transformed into the image of Christ. On the road to transformation, we will discover that there is a huge battle going on in our mind.
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10.3-5)
The Father of Lies is constantly bombarding us with lies, logical arguments, and lofty things all raised in opposition and hostility towards God. We have to constantly take these lies captive to obedience to Christ so that we can keep our minds set on what the Spirit desires.
The sermon that I will be preaching on Sunday morning will be exploring these truths in greater depth. We will see that life in the Spirit begins with a mind set on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8), that our minds need to be continually renewed so that we will know what God’s will (or desire) is (Romans 12), that we have the ability to set our mind on either things above or things below (Colossians 3), that what we set our mind on is what our heart accepts as truth which leads to either the old self or the new self taking hold (Ephesians 4), and that we are waging war with the Father of Lies by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10).
We will also explore some of the common landmines that Satan places in our path to get our minds set on what the sin nature desires instead of what the Spirit desires. I hope you will come to church expecting the Lord to speak to you about what it means for you to set your mind on what the Spirit desires.
Remember that we are following the 5th Sunday Worship Schedule at FBC Benbrook on Sunday, October 31. Sunday School is at 10 AM and Joint Worship is at 11 AM.