For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (ESV)
Who doesn’t want life and peace? The apostle Paul gave a way for us to get both; ‘set the mind on the Spirit’. In other words ‘exercise the mind, entertain the mind, be mentally disposed and interest oneself in the things that pertain to the Spirit of God’. Sounds easy enough, right?
The apostle Paul wrote that we were all once hostile toward God in our minds (Colossians 1:21). All of us were born with a carnal nature; a nature that dwells on the flesh (Ephesians 2:3). Or, to say it another way, a nature that dwells on the things of the body and how we can please it; that is, the things we can see, things that are external. We don’t have to try to think on these things. It just comes natural to us. Unfortunately, though we are new creatures in Christ, our old minds still have powerful sway on our thought lives. We, more often than not it seems, find ourselves beating back the sensual thoughts of this present world instead of thinking on spiritual and heavenly realities.
The stuff we bring into our minds through seeing with the eyes and hearing with the ears largely determines whether we will set our minds on the flesh (earthly or carnal) or set our minds on the Spirit (heavenly or spiritual). The battle for us who believe in Christ is exercising our minds on heavenly and spiritual things and entertaining thoughts on God.
What do we think about when we ‘set the mind on the Spirit’? I think we meditate on the attributes of God; his power, goodness, faithfulness, love, mercy, grace and others. We meditate on his works; how he worked in the lives of the people in the bible and our own lives and those of people we know. And importantly, we meditate on his redemptive work; the sending of his Son and the work Jesus accomplished on the cross. All of these things we find in the scriptures. To meditate on the scriptures is to meditate on the very words of God and it is vital that we meditate on them if we are to be spiritually minded. Prayer and worship are also vital in our quest to set our minds on the things of the Spirit.
In his book Spiritual-Mindedness, John Owen wrote, “We can only be considered to be spiritually minded if we are delighted with the idea of thinking about God. True believers find great joy in thinking about God, which stirs them up to praise him.” When we come to entertain thoughts about God we should never do so with a sense of duty. If we desire for our meditations on God to be sweet or pleasing, he must be considered precious and treasured by us (Psalm 104:34).
There is a war going on for the control of our minds (Romans 7:23). It’s a war we will probably be fighting until we leave this world. However, the fight to be spiritually minded is worth the reward; life and peace. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:2-3 ESV)
Are you fighting to be spiritually minded?
Scriptures for meditation:
Romans 8:7; 12:2