27 Oct Mind the Spirit
Read: Romans 8:5-11
Last Sunday, Pastor Jason preached from Romans 8:1-4 on the Christian’s liberation from sin through the condemnation of sin in Jesus Christ. This Sunday Pastor Ken will preach from Romans 8:5-11 on what it means to live according to the Spirit as children of God in Christ. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Tim Keller aid you in setting your mind on the things of the Spirit.
How do we overcome sin with the Spirit? Or, to put it another way, how do we “live in accordance with the Spirit” (8:5), in the way that our inner self truly desires (7:22)? The people who do this are those who “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (8:5). Paul says that the connection between living and thinking is a tight and close one. Literally he says: “For those being according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but those being according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” In other words, whatever you have set your mind on shapes your lifestyle and character. What does it mean to “mind” something or “set the mind”? Even in English, when the word “mind” is used as a verb, it has a stronger meaning than simply “to think about.” It means to focus intently on something, to be preoccupied with something, to have the attention and the imagination totally captured by something.
The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it— that is what you really live for. That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind. The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.
So a successful fight against sin begins by “mind[ ing] … the things of the Spirit” (8:5, AV translation). This is not the same thing as simply thinking about religion all the time, or theology in general. The “things” of the Spirit would be those things to which the Spirit draws attention; to “mind” the Spirit would be to be preoccupied by the things that preoccupy the Spirit.
What are those things? In the rest of chapter 8, we will see that the
Spirit comes to show us that we are sons and daughters of the Lord:
- Verse 14 will tell us that: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
- Verses 15-16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.
- Verses 26-27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.
In other words, the rest of Romans 8 tells us what the Spirit is preoccupied with: how in Christ we are adopted, loved and welcomed.
A parallel passage is Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated … your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Here, Paul tells us to be preoccupied with “things above”: We are to remember that we have been raised with Christ and are accepted in him before the Father. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, but the principle is the same. We are to be preoccupied with our standing in Christ. We are to drill into our minds and hearts his love and adoption of us. To “mind … the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) means never to forget our privileged standing or the fact that we are loved, and to let this dominate our thinking, our perspectives, and therefore our words and actions.
Excerpt from Romans 8-16 For You, by Tim Keller
Song List for Sunday
1. “This I Believe,” Arr. by Shane & Shane
2. “Come Thou Fount,” by Passion Band
3. “O Praise the Name (Anástasis),” Arr. by Shane & Shane
4. “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” by Sovereign Grace Music
5. “Lord I Need You,” Arr. by Shane & Shane