The importance of spiritual mindedness is seen in the epistle written by Paul to
the Roman Christians, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of
the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be
carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law
of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please
God.” (Rom. 8:5-8)

Christians are supposed to be spiritually minded. As seen above, the spiritual
mind stands in opposition to the carnal. It thus behoves us that we should first
consider what a carnal mind is, so that we will stay clear of carnal thoughts and
affections in our lives.

A starting definition of a carnal mind is given in verse 5, “For they that are
after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh”. This word “flesh” here is the
Greek term sarkx (σαρκξ), which is also translated as “carnal” in verse 8. Here,
it refers to the fallen human nature. A man who is “after the flesh” talks about
how unregenerate man is dominated by the sinful nature in which he is born (i.e.
he cannot help but sin). He is conceived in sin, and he continues living in sin.

Man being conceived in sin will naturally “mind” the things of the flesh. His
thoughts, understandings, affections and desires are held captive by sin. He is
thus voluntarily devoted and concerned about “the things of the flesh”. He
adores to manifest the works of the flesh, of which some are described in
Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft,
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings,
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you
before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things
shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 John 2:15-17 expands what is meant by “the things of the flesh”. “Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the
flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is
of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that
doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 Jn. 2:15-17) Thus, we see that those
who mind the things of the flesh are those whose heart is devoted to earthly and
temporal things. To the unregenerate, life is about the belly and fulfilment of
sensual pleasures.

Paul proceeds to state in verse 6 that to be carnally minded is death. Indeed,
those who have a carnal mind are those who are spiritually dead. They cannot
understand spiritual things. It is thus little wonder that the carnal mind is enmity
against God. Such a mind will not obey the law of God, neither is it able to obey
the law of God, for it is disposed to be in rebellion to Him.

The key question to answer now is, ‘Can the Christian be carnally minded?’
Yes, they can be so if they do not walk closely with the Lord. Let 1 Corinthians
3:1-3 provide the answer, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto
spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.I have fed you with
milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet
now are ye able.For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you
envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1
Cor. 3:1-3)

Another example is found in Peter’s dialogue with Christ in Matthew 16. Peter
first gave an excellent answer when Christ asked, “But whom say ye that I
am?” (Matt. 16:15). “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt.
16:16). However, when Christ talked of how He must suffer many things of the
elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day,
Peter retorted, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matt.
16:22). Christ gave a sharp rebuke, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an
offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those
that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23). The Greek word translated “savourest” is the
same word as “mind” in Romans 8:5. Thus, Christ rebuked Peter for being
carnally minded, and thus thinking of the things that be of man and not of God.
How swift can a believer shift from being spiritually minded to being carnally

Going back to 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, we see some manifestations of believers
who for a period of time are carnally minded. Firstly, we see of how Paul
lamented of how he has to speak to the Corinthian Christians as though they
were unbelievers. It is as though they have not known the gospel of Christ, and
he has to start from the basic elements of the faith. Secondly, we see that they
are not able to bear the deep things of Scripture. Just like a baby that has no
teeth to chew meat, thus the meaty doctrines of God’s Word cannot be
comprehended by the Corinthian Christians. It is not the doctrines that are
unprofitable, but the Corinthian Christians desired to remain in spiritual apathy
that caused them to be unable to understand the things of Scripture. Lastly, we
see how the Corinthian Christians were man-centered in their ways.
Those who were carnally minded did not think of the things of God but
of men, and thus would like to place self or other men on the pedestal
before God. This created schisms in the church.

Seeing how carnal mindedness is destructive, we should therefore strive
not to mind the things of the flesh but rather the things of the spirit. But
what does it mean to be spiritually minded? We hope to answer this
question in the coming few weeklies, the Lord being willing.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew


Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I
desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:25)

Gotthold was invited to an entertainment, and had the hope held out that
he would meet with a friend whom he loved, and in whose society he
took the greatest delight. On joining the party, however, he learned that,
owing to some unforeseen occurrence, this friend was not to be present,
and felt too much chagrined to take any share in the hilarity. The
circumstance afterward led him into the following train of thought: The
pious soul, that sincerely loves and fervently longs for the Lord Jesus,
experiences what I lately did. She seeks her Beloved in all places,
objects, and events. If she find him, who is happier? If she find him not,
who more disconsolate? Ah! Lord Jesus, thou best of friends, thou art
the object of my love; my soul seeketh thee, my heart longeth after thee.
What care I for the world, with all its pleasures and pomps, its power
and glory, unless I find thee in it? What care I for the daintiest food, the
sweetest drinks, and merriest company, unless thou art present, and
unless I can dip my morsel in thy wounds, sweeten my draught with thy
grace, and hear thy pleasant words. Verily, my Saviour, were I even in
heaven, and did not find thee there, it would seem to me no heaven at
all. Wherefore, Lord Jesus, when with tears, sighs, yearnings of heart,
and patient hope, I seek thee, hide not thyself from me; and there is none
upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but
God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

From Spurgeon’s “Treasury of the Psalms”