Romans 8:5-6 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
What is the flesh?
Is it something inherently evil? Is it that this body cannot do anything right? As it is written:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 1
No. It is not the fact that the flesh—our bodies, our thoughts, our hearts, our wills—are evil and therefore incapable of doing good. Our bodies were created by God and God himself declared His creation to be good. But it is that our flesh is apart from God and separated from God which makes our bodies incapable of doing good.
But what of the people who do good who have no love, no knowledge, and no faith in Christ? Don’t they do good? Don’t they adopt orphans? Don’t they give to the poor? Christians don’t have exclusive claims to good. No, we don’t but God does. God is good and all things from him are good. God sets the standard of what is good. But that standard, God’s law, is beyond any mere checklist—do these things and you can be with Him. Anybody can do a checklist. But the question is, “Do you want to be with God? Do you love God? Do you trust God? Do you believe God and take him at his Word?” Those are not mere matters of the flesh but those are the matters of the heart.
Good deeds are messed up in our fallen, broken world. The end result might be good but why do we do things that we do? If I do good in order to do things my way, or to buy into false notion that I am the one in charge, is it still good? The immediate end is good. The orphan is adopted. The homeless are home. The hungry are fed. But all good things come from God and even to those who believe and do not believe he still does good to them. But what about the eternity good? Let me ask it in another way, “What about the eternity good for you?” You do good things but you despise or at worst, apathetic, towards the source of all good? You give mercy but you don’t want anything to do with the Being who defines mercy? You bestow grace but you ignore the lavisher of amazing grace? You love others but you have separated yourself from the One who is Love?
This is the mind apart from God. This is our bodies apart from God. This is our souls apart from God.
And something inn our minds thinks that we are the source of good, mercy, grace, and love.
My friends that is death. To think of us as the source of these good things is death. That is the mind that is set upon the flesh—the mind that is set upon itself. Here is logic: anything that is the sources for itself will die. Here is reason: anything that has separated itself from the source of life will die. Here is fact: we are separated from God and we are clueless and powerless to connect ourselves back to God.
Yet, here is goodness, here is mercy, and here is grace:
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 2
From birth, our minds, our wills, our hearts, our flesh are focused on one destiny: death. We are turned away from God, set ourselves apart from, want nothing to do with God, and do not love God.
But here is love: God’s mind was thinking you long before the human race came into existence. Before the mountains were formed and the formation of the stars in the sky, God thought of you and had his mind made up about you despite what you thought or what you would do.
And here is love: God knew your mind and your heart unto death, and made the decision to step into our lives to give us life and do so abundantly.
And here is love: God’s heart is for the fatherless, the husbandless and the homeless. In absolute truth, if we are without God, we are orphans, widows, and strangers. Yet God, in his sweet mercy, and loving-kindness, comes after us in the darkness, brings light to our dying lives, calls us His own children, brings into the warmth of bosom, and never lets us go forevermore.
Our world fails to live up to the God who is love. But the God who is love does it all to give us life and has, is, and one day, make all things new and right with Him—including this cosmos, including this world, and including our flesh, our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.
Certainly, that is love.