Do you ever say you are going to do something, start doing it, and then stop? Maybe you feel super committed at one point but then as time goes on find yourself less enthused, less interested, and just do not want to do it anymore even if you know you should. The reasons for stopping can be out of our control if circumstances change, but most often, if we are honest, we stop because it is “just too hard”. What we are really saying is we want to take the easy way – which is rarely the better way especially when God is involved. The truth is friends, we are going to get weary and heavy laden in this lifetime. But Jesus says “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest!” What a great God we serve. We experience rest in Him in and are able to persevere even when things are hard.
We set our minds to do many things in life such as: exercise regularly, lose weight, be more consistent with disciplining our children, serve the Lord more faithfully, quit smoking, get more involved at church, to name a few. Perhaps the Lord tells us to do something and we are gung-ho at the beginning but when we get tired, do not get support, or when it appears to be harder than we expected, we tend to give up concluding we heard God wrong or His grace was not covering it. However, the truth is we have not truly “set our minds” to something if we do not continue in our effort.
Each of us has our own battles to face in life. Perhaps you are a high school student dealing with peer pressure, unsure of where you fit in, trying to discover who the real you is. Perhaps you are a young college student lost in the grind of school and work, wondering if an education will help you acquire a fulfilling career. Perhaps you are a single person who longs to find the right person to spend your life with and wonder if it will ever happen. Perhaps you are a young mother trying to figure out how to raise and discipline your children, balance family and career or ministry. Perhaps you are a hardworking father struggling to meet the needs of your family and are tired out. Perhaps you are in ministry and the stress of trying to keep people “fed” and “satisfied” to no avail has become overwhelming. Perhaps you are an elderly person, feeling forgotten and useless. No matter what our battles are there are questions we should ask ourselves. What has the Lord told us to set our minds to do? What do we need to overcome in our lives? Are we setting our minds to the Spirit of God or to our battles?
These battles are our training ground here on earth and as we face them we must do it while our minds are set on the things of God, living according to the Spirit of God as we raise children, minister, go to school, work, and recreate. We need to be able to accomplish the things we set our minds to on this battle ground in order to be successful in the weightier things of eternity. Our nation is already dramatically changed and quickly moving from a God fearing nation to being a Godless nation. Christians must apply the truths of God’s Word to our lives now, not later, and we must begin with getting our minds set. Let us not be deceived; persecution is coming! If we do not have our minds set in the “little stuff” we will not have the discipline and fortitude to set our minds on the “big stuff”.
Most people including Christians are struggling to find hope, peace, joy, and fulfillment in life. We are tired, worried, concerned about our own future and that of our children. The economy is unstable, jobs scarce, and fear reigns in the lives of Americans. People suffer with health problems with no end in sight, prescription drugs only seem to complicate issues and healing seems as far-fetched as peace in the midst of turmoil. It is difficult to set our minds on anything but survival on most days. I know what it is like to be engulfed with wave after wave of bad news, disaster, heartbreak, loss, and betrayal. It seems when the world comes crashing in, even the little things that ordinarily would not move us only seem to validate how terrible our lives have become. It is at those very times I discover what my mind has been set on; myself and carnal things. Beloved, God understands our dilemma and still has the answer. The Word of God tells us what to set our minds on and how to live as a result. Though we find ourselves in hard times, when we choose to set our minds on the things of God victory is not only in sight but it is ours in Jesus!
Romans 8:5-7 “For 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. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
To really “set our minds” to something means we decide to do it without turning to the right, left, looking back or giving up. It means to direct our minds to seek and strive for something. In this Scripture it literally means to pursue either those things which gratify the flesh or the Holy Spirit. A quick inventory of our thoughts reveals whether we are carnally or spiritually minded. Some questions to ask ourselves: Which way do our thoughts move with the most pleasure? On what do our thoughts dwell with the most satisfaction? Wisdom resides in our minds therefore are we wiser in the things of the world or of the Spirit? When we are tired and feel like we cannot go on because it is just too hard, do we think about looking for alternatives and/or quitting? Or do we find our rest in Christ alone, finding peace that passes our understanding? One thing I have discovered; when things seem too hard we will not find answers by quitting, finding alternative routes, or running away. These are certainly options but they will not rid us of exhaustion, diminish our worries and fears, or change our tendency to give up when it is too hard.
The answer lies in being passionate about setting our minds on the things of the Spirit so that we live according to the Spirit which brings life and peace. We live according to the Spirit when we set our minds on the things of God and allow Him to bless and help us. We live according to the flesh when we set our minds on things that gratify or help ourselves. God does not force us to live according to the Spirit nor do circumstances and other people make us live according to the flesh. People of God – We CHOOSE by the grace of God, how we are going to live by choosing what we are going to set our minds to. We have been given the Spirit of God to help us in our weakness and to help us make life not death choices. We simply need to cooperate with Him.
Living according to the flesh involves profiting ourselves and honoring those things which pertain to our physical bodies and senses. Let me qualify. It is necessary and wonderful to experience pleasure through vacations and recreating with family and friends. It is not wrong to enjoy life and glory in what God has provided us. But it IS wrong to set our minds to pursuing worldly things, spending all our time and effort trying to be successful, comfortable, happy, and self-serving. In other words when God provides pleasure, success, happiness, and the like in this lifetime as a result of our focus on Him and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit, it is good. But when we purpose to bring ourselves pleasure by seeking after the things of this world by being carnally minded, it causes spiritual death by alienating us from God who desires to be our greatest pleasure!
This slow death not only alienates us from God but puts us in opposition to Him as this Scripture reveals when it says “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” This enmity causes us to rebel against His authority, hinder His plans to prosper us, resist His will, and oppose His Lordship in our lives. Because of this enmity, the carnal mind needs to be destroyed and expelled. It will not nor can it come under submission to God because it is not subject to the law. We must completely rid ourselves of the carnal mind and then replace it with a spiritual mind by bringing our minds, wills, and emotions under subjection so that we are in union rather than opposition to the Spirit of God.
We are told in this verse that setting our minds on the things of the Spirit brings life and peace. So while in the midst of our everyday routines, while raising children, taking care of our homes, working, going to school, exercising, keeping a positive attitude, developing and maintaining our relationship with Christ, serving others, and the like, we must train our minds to be set on the things of the Spirit in order to experience life and peace. Then we acquire the fortitude to persevere no matter the obstacles, no matter how tired we are or how hard it is, and no matter how circumstances seem in opposition to us. Living according to the Spirit means we seek relationship with God, receive His favor, watch over the welfare of our souls, and live as kingdom minded people, concerned about eternity rather than this present life.
As children of the living God it is part of our inheritance, privilege, and responsibility to live according to the Spirit. If we are ever going to impact the world for Jesus on a major scale we need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit and destroy our carnal thinking. We are to “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all He has commanded us.” Setting our minds on the things of the Spirit is just a taste of what He commanded us. Teaching them is much easier done if we are living in these commandments ourselves. What is your mind set on every moment of every day? Let us not be dead men walking by setting our minds on the things of the flesh but let us be people who are alive, experiencing life and peace, by setting our minds on things of the Spirit. And when we have set our minds on God, let us pursue Him with our entire beings! Let us seek after God and when we find Him, stay with Him and experience MORE every day! Then we will bring life and peace to those who are not living in it! In Jesus’ Name!