The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Romans 8:1-11 speaks of the difference between thinking the thoughts of the flesh and the thoughts of the Spirit. For those who are in Christ, who are thinking according to the Spirit, there’s no condemnation. But what’s the difference? Really, how are we going to distinguish between thinking in the flesh and thinking in the Spirit?
This is a difficult idea. The challenge is compounded because of the tremendous influence of Gnosticism on culture. Many would like to suggest that the flesh is evil and the spirit is good. Then they will suggest that anything which is bodily is a bad thing. This immediately departs from Christianity, which confesses that Jesus came in bodily form, lived a sinless life in a body, was killed, buried, and resurrected from the dead in his body, and who ascended into heaven to rule . . . in a body. The body is not evil. That isn’t what Paul is talking about in this passage.
Maybe it has to do with thinking of earthly things. But again, Jesus is the one who created and redeemed all of the world, all the earthly things we depend on every day. He uses his people as good stewards of those earthly things. We can’t say they are evil.
When Paul uses the term “flesh” in this passage, he is referring to the thoughts and attitudes that deal with sin. He is saying that we need to be governed not by our sinful desires but by the desires of God. It’s as simple as that. We seek that the Lord would give us His mind and His desires. What do we find then? We find that there is no condemnation for us.
We can’t make a comprehensive list of what to think about or what to desire. We ultimately have to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us. But we know that we should seek and desire the things which are pleasing to God as revealed in Scripture. So the life according to the Spirit rather than the flesh begins with reading what God’s Word has to say about God’s attitudes. May we be governed by Jesus our savior.
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