For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
[Rom 8:6 ESV]
First, notice that there are only two areas offered upon which the mind can be set—the flesh or the spirit. This dichotomy is consistently taught throughout scripture, but I will only include one other at this time.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” [Mat 6:24 ESV]
We may have a hard time seeing the depth of what Jesus meant here, because of the words “can” and “cannot.” We use them quite loosely to indicate different things.
The hard-nosed teacher, when asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?” will reply, “I don’t know. Can you?” The student asked in the form of gaining permission, while the teacher replied with the word’s strict definition of ‘ability.’
When we are told, “You can’t do that,” we say, “Watch me.”
“You can’t do 65mph in a 35mph zone.” “Yes, I can. Watch me.”
We so often use the word in relation to what is legal or acceptable that we have completely obscured its true meaning, which is one of ‘ability,’ not legality.
The word that is so translated in this verse is the same. It is the Greek word “dunamis” which means ‘ability.’
When Jesus said “you cannot serve God and money,” He was not saying it is illegal. He was saying it’s not possible.
It is not possible to have your focus on two different things. It is definitely not possible to have your focus on two things that are opposed to one another. That is like trying to see what is directly in front of you and what is directly behind you at the same time.
That is the thought in our verse from Romans. You will either focus on the Spirit, or you will focus on the flesh. You cannot have it both ways.
Paul is not, however, laying out a command here so much as giving us a way of measuring, of discovering, of knowing where the mind is.
If you are setting your thoughts on yourself, then when you begin to see ‘death’ all around you, you have a clue as to what is causing it.
This is not the death of the dissolution of the body, but the death of bad things happening, things not going right, everything getting messed up.
If this is what is happening in your life, then you might want to take stock of where your mind has been.
Only YOU have control over the thoughts that are allowed to take up residence within your mind.
Where is your mind set? Where is it set most of the time? Where do you want it to be?