Whether Living a Mindset of Success or Living a Mindset of Failure: Living Into a Mindset of Spirit, of His Life, His Peace. Romans 8:5-8

Romans 8:5-8 The Message

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Lately, I have been focusing my devotional efforts on success and failure, being in an living out the “balanced” “Sermon in Shoes” God devoted Christian life –

In my search and study of the Scriptures, learning an praying over the idea of flesh vs. spirit, I’ve been reading through Paul’s letter to the Romans recently.

And I am stuck on one passage that I keep coming back to over and over.

I am kind of stuck on it, not because it is particularly difficult to understand.

But because it has just grabbed hold of my heart and my soul and won’t let go.

Am I “a Sermon in Shoes” living according to the Spirit?

Or am I “a Sermon in Shoes” living according to the flesh?

Is there supposed to be some kind of balance between the two mindsets?

Not to be “so heavenly minded to be no earthly good ….”

Not to be “so earthly minded to be no heavenly good ….”

Living in the Flesh or Living in the Spirit?

Romans 8:5-8 New International Version

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

This passage provides a test.

Am I living according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit?

In this passage the flesh refers to my own nature, who I just naturally am. 

In our natural state we all live according to the flesh.

And in that state our minds are set on what the flesh desires. 

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Is this necessarily a good thing?

The best answer to either one is probably …. Not in and of itself.

It is just what we are. 

For some, the flesh desires things that are hurtful to self and others.

And we condemn the expression of those desires. 

For others, the flesh desires things that are helpful to self and others.

Things of beauty, wisdom, knowledge and understanding, peace and love.

We rightfully, righteously hold these in high regard and set them as examples.

But what both of these extremes, and any middle ground, hold in common, is that they are hostile to God.

They are unable to please him, and lead to death.

It is not too challenging to apply this to an icy path on the “broad road leading us to our own inevitable and eternal destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14)

We find it altogether different to apply it to a great humanitarian who dedicates his life to helping the helpless. 

But Paul is clear that if I am following the desires of my own nature I am in deep trouble – stunningly it makes no difference where those desires might lead us.

Paul contrasts this person with the one whose mind is set, not on what they want, but on what God’s Spirit wants.

That one will experience life and peace in relationship with their Creator. 

It is ironic that only in dying to self will I find true life.

Only in giving up will I discover what I was created to be.

Life in the Flesh, Life in the Spirit: Taking the Test

It is so easy to read and study this passage without actually taking the test.

I have done it for several decades.

But it is demanding an answer now.

As I walk through my day, do I do what I want, or what the Spirit wants of me?

Do I take any quantity or quality time to inquire of the Spirit what he wants?

Or do I just take my own quantity, quality time to just act on my own desires?

Am I trying to please God?

Or am I doing what I want and hoping and praying that it is pleasing to him? 

According to Paul’s teachings here, if my response is the latter, then I am not pleasing him, but I am actually using my time to be more, more hostile to him.

No matter how good my actions might be, if it is in response to my own desire rather than at the Spirit’s leading, then, guess what folks, I have fallen short.

I am afraid too much of my life is lived without regard for the Spirit’s leading.

But this passage is stuck on a continuous replay cycle in my mind and soul.

It rigorously, vigorously challenges me every single day to change the channel, listen to the Spirit rather than to my own success vs. failure nature and desires.

Will I dare to let go of the tightly held reins of my success vs. failure mindset and lifestyle, which I have continuously, purposely, tightly held for so long?

What Are The Two Lives Referring To?

Paul shifts from preaching (second-person) to teaching (third-person) so that you an I can better understand the message of this passage more clearly.

He elaborates on two types of people — those who live according to the flesh vs. those who live according to the Spirit. 

In describing these two groups of “spiritual” people, Paul establishes a key spiritual principle.

In verse 5, we notice 2 verbs laid out — “set” and “live”.

What is the implicit connection between these 2 verbs? 

Paul is saying that we live according to what we set our minds on. 

What does it mean to set?

It carries with it the idea of choosing to build upon something only after careful inspection.

It is a simple, but very important principle. 

Many of us think that we are autonomous, self-sovereign, rational human beings, but this is not true.

We are the sum of our choices, and so much of who we are is a result of what we chose yesterday.

Romans is helping us see that those who live in the Spirit have set their mind on things in the Spirit, and those who do not, have made the choice not to. 

We need to set our minds on something.

There’s no way we can choose not to set our minds on anything.

Yet, many of us have neglected this simple truth.

So, what have you set your mind on? 

What have you fixed your thoughts on?

What have you chosen to be the site of your daydreaming, imagination and fantasizing?

A simple way of identifying it, would be to think about the things that have succeeded and disappointed and failed you, encouraged you, given you hope.

After all, Romans 8:5 remind us that the way we live reflect where we have set our thoughts and minds. 

Let’s press it a bit further.

What is one implication of this verse?

If you are a “Sermon in Shoes” Christian today, it means that there was a time when you lived in the flesh and set your mind on things of the flesh, but there was a turning point to mark the change to the mind, to mark life in the Spirit.

It could be that moment when you realized the greatness of God and His love became real and evident when told to you.

It could also be that heart warming moment when before, church, Bible study, sermons and prayer were all boring and did not make sense, but then they did.

What marks the Christian and what changes in the mind of a Christian?

The Christian sees truths about his or her true state, and has a fundamental awareness of his or her inability to do what God requires.

Or, as Reverend Dr. Timothy Keller aptly describes it, we suddenly realize that

“we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we would have ever dared ourselves to hope before.” 

The good news of what our Savior Jesus Christ did became the very wisest of good news indeed, and the truths of the gospel becomes ever more clear and truly results in transformative actions such as gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc.

Dear “Sermon in Shoes” Christian, does this begin to describe your journey?

Whether our life has been abundantly blessed with life’s successes …

Whether our life has been abundantly weighed down with life’s failures …

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16 The Message

16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around—
    what splendid friends they make!

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
    Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
    like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
    And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
    And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.


Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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