Mindset Matters (Romans 8:5-11)

August 7, 2022, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, Alabama

Good morning. I’d like you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 8, as we continue our journey through what many people believe to be the greatest chapter in the entire Bible. We intRoduced chapter 8 by talking about how it was the greatest portrayal…

  • Of the depth of God’s love for his children.
  • Of the brokenness of creation
  • Of God’s design and purpose for life
  • Of the relationship we have with the Trinity
  • Of our assurance of salvation
  • Of the Holy Spirit empowering us to walk with Christ.

And it’s this last point that you are really going to see in our text for this morning. One of the features of Romans 8 is that the Holy Spirit really takes center stage in this chapter. Up to this point, Paul has only mentioned the Holy Spirit twice. But in chapter 8, Paul mentions Him twenty times.

We are going to be studying verses 5-11 this morning. Hopefully you’ve found it in your copy of God’s Word, and I’d like you to stand to honor the reading of God’s Word. I am reading from the English Standard Version:

5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. You may be seated.

[Pray]

There’s a phrase that Paul uses five times in the first three verses. He talks about setting our minds on one of two things, or the mind set on this thing or the other.

So I want to start off this morning by asking you, “What is a mindset? When people talk about their mindset, what does it mean? And is it the same thing Paul meant when he talked about what we set our minds on.

If you ask a psychologist, they will tell you that your mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. It influences how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation.

Henry Ford had maybe the most famous quote about mindset. The pioneer of mass production of the automobile said,

 “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,”

In 2006, psychologist Carol S Dweck made a splash with her book Mindset. Dweck was interested in how people cope with failure. She ran a series of observations of children who were given increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. She watched as some kids threw their hands up in frustration and said “I just can’t do it.” But other kids would sit down in front of a hard puzzle, rub their hands together, and say, “I love a challenge.” Dr. Dweck said the difference was mindset.  Mindset, said Dr. Dweck, profoundly affects the way you live your life.

Some people have what she calls a “fixed” mindset. This is the idea that the intelligence, talents, and abilities you are born with set the limits for what you are able to achieve.

These are people who believe they have only a limited level of intelligence, a set personality, and a fixed moral character. And people with a fixed mindset will either spend their lives trying to prove that they are living up to whatever their potential is, or they will throw their hands up in the air and do nothing when they encounter a problem they see as beyond their capacity.

But then there is the growth mindset. Instead of looking at their current IQ or personality or moral character as the limit of their capacity, they see it as their starting point. People with a growth mindset believe that a person’s true potential is unknowable. That it is impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with passion, effort, and training.

So, all that is fascinating, and Carol Dweck’s book has helped a lot of people. But the question we need to ask this morning is, is this what Paul meant when he talked about the mind set?

And the answer is, no. See, the world defines “mindset” as a set of beliefs you have about yourself. But God’s Word is never all that interested in what someone believes about himself or herself. The first sentence in AW Tozer’s classic, The Knowledge of the Holy is

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

So when Paul talks about mindset, it is not the set of beliefs we have about ourselves. In fact, Paul doesn’t talk about a mindset as something you have. He talks about setting your mind, as something you do.  Look again at verse 5:

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.

The Greek word is phroneo, and it’s a verb. It shows up twenty times in the New Testament, seventeen of them in Paul’s writings. It means to be in agreement with, or to have the same understanding as.

Interestingly, when the Greeks thought about the mind, they didn’t think about the brain or the head. The word phrane, which is the root of phroneo, referred to the midriff or the diaphragm. What we would call the core. When a body builder talks about strengthening their core muscles, this is what they are talking about. Their phrane.

So if you put it all together, when your mind is set on something or someone, it means that at the very core of who you are, you are in agreement with them. You have the same understanding as them.

Do you see the difference between the world’s definition of a mindset and the command of Scripture to set your mind? Psychology says you either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Scripture says you set your mind either on the things of the flesh or the things of the spirit.

And then Paul gives the warning:

 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

I need you to understand something. The Bible does not offer a middle ground option. A person either has their mind set on the flesh, which, remember, means that at your core you are in agreement with the flesh, you are striving toward the flesh, you have the same understanding as the flesh.

Or they have their mind set on the Spirit. At their core, they are in agreement with the Spirit. They strive toward the Spirit. They have the same understanding as the Spirit.

Sometimes we talk about a carnal Christian. Someone who is saved, but they are still chasing after the things of the world. Or we might say that someone has accepted Jesus as their savior but not as their Lord.

But according to Scripture, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian. The so-called “Christian” who accepts Jesus as their savior but not as their Lord doesn’t exist. That isn’t even a category for Paul. If your mind is set on the flesh, that’s death. You are hostile to God. You don’t submit to God. You can’t submit to God. Verse 8: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You are lost, and if you die that way, you will go to hell. Full stop.

But the difference maker, is the Holy Spirit.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 

Remember our Tupperware from last week? You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, and the Spirit dwells in you. The Holy Spirit is the X-Factor. We don’t talk about the Holy Spirit very much in Baptist churches. We’ve kind of left that up to the Pentecostals. Which is really unfortunate, because that means that when most people think about the Holy Spirit, they think about speaking in tongues, or faith healing, or a lot of the nonsense you see from televangelists.

The way the Bible describes the Holy Spirit is way different. According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit:

  • Points people to Christ: John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
  • This one isn’t on your listening guide, and that’s my fault, but write this in the margin. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, John 16:8: when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
  • He regenerates us and renews us. Titus 3:5
  • He baptizes us into the body of Christ. In your notes the reference is Romans 6:3, but it should be 1 Corinthians 12:13. Again, my fault, not Stacey’s.
  • Through the Holy Spirit, we understand the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:12: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 
  •  He prays for us. We’ll talk about this in a couple of weeks. Romans 8:26—The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
  • Yes, the Holy Spirit does distribute spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 12 lists some of the gifts of the Spirit. So does Romans 12. We will get to that in a few months.
  • He guarantees our inheritance. Ephesians 1:13-14 says that when we believe in Jesus, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.
  • Finally, he sanctifies us to bear fruit.

And this is where I want us to end this morning. One of the biggest challenges to preaching and teaching that we are saved by grace alone through faith is that we can sometimes leave people with the impression that the only thing that matters is that you believe in Jesus, and how you live your life doesn’t matter at all. Beloved, that could not be further from the truth. Martin Luther said that we are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is is never alone. The evidence of saving faith is that we will bear fruit. Go back to verse 5:

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. 

It doesn’t say those who are in the spirit are given a spiritual mindset. It says that those who LIVE according to the Spirit SET THEIR MINDS on the things of the Spirit. LIVE. SET. These aren’t nouns. They are verbs. And they aren’t passive verbs, describing an action that is done to you or on your behalf. You are the one that sets your mind.

And notice too that it doesn’t say you set your mind on the Spirit. If it was just setting your mind on the Spirit, then being a Christian could just be about sitting around thinking about religious stuff. Listening to Christian music, putting Bible verses on your wall, going to church.

No, verse 5 says we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. The things of the Spirit are the fruit of the Spirit, contrasted with the works of the flesh in Galatians 5.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries,dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

That’s a pretty sobering list. It should help you evaluate not just your media—the music, movies, TV shows you consume, but also your news media. Your social media.

Look at the way it ends—those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. This isn’t a one strike and you’re out thing. We all stumble and sin. But I’m begging you to take this list seriously. Do any of these things characterize your life? Are you habitually angry? Do you thrive on causing strife, stirring the pot, being at the center of dissension? Are you habitually involved in sexual immorality or impurity. If that’s you, then you’ve set your mind on the flesh, and you’re not a Christian.

You’re saying, James, you can’t judge me. You don’t know my heart. And you’re right. I don’t know your heart. But God does know your heart, and it’s God’s word that is doing the judging here.

But now, look at verse 22:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

These are the things of the spirit that a true Christian sets his or her mind on. Again, we don’t set our mind on the Spirit. Christianity is not just about thinking about religious stuff all the time.

  • It’s loving every person, all the time.
  • It’s choosing joy when joy doesn’t make any sense.
  • It’s peace when the world is in chaos.
  • It’s patience in circumstances. Patience with foolish people. Patience with your spouse. Patience with your kids. Patience to wait on God’s timing.
  • It’s kindness. Choosing words that build up instead of tearing down.
  • It’s goodness. Acting justly. Loving mercy. Doing the right thing.
  • It’s faithfulness. Being a person of integrity. Telling the truth. Keeping your promises.
  • It’s gentleness. Not using your position or your authority to power up on other people.
  • It’s self control. Resisting the urge to spend all there is to spend, own all there is to own, eat all there is to eat, drink till you pass out.

These are all intentional actions. They don’t come easy. But they are things we set our minds on.

You say, but that’s hard! And you’re right. It’s hard. But being a Christian means choosing hard things.

And we don’t have to do it alone. Look at the promise of verse 11:

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesusfrom the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Our countdown video this week was Jeremy Camp’s “The Same Power.” Remember the lyric?

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea

Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us

We have hope
That His promises are true
In His strength
There is nothing we can’t do
Yes, we know
There are greater things in store
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

That’s the promise of verse 11. What God calls us to do, God equips us to do through the indwelling of his Spirit.

[INVITATION]

Author: James

I pastor Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, and be the best father/grandfather I can be. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: