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Third Millennium Study Bible
Notes on Romans 8:6-8

The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace - Romans 8:6

Bruce notes, "The two spheres of existence are so opposed that the one is described as death, the other as life. Compare the antithesis in Galatians 5:19-23 between 'the works of the flesh; and 'the fruit of the Spirit'. Calvin insightfully says:

The minding of the Spirit he calls life, for it is life-giving, or leads to life; and by peace he designates, after the manner of the Hebrews, every kind of happiness; for whatever the Spirit of God works in us tends to our felicity. There is, however, no reason why any one should on this account attribute salvation to works; for though God begins our salvation, and at length completes it by renewing us after his own image; yet the only cause is his good pleasure, whereby he makes us partakers of Christ.

Hodge summarizes saying:

The mind of sinful man is death. The Greek phrase expresses a state of mind. The idea is not just that seeking the things of the flesh leads to death, but that an unspiritual mind, which reveals itself in the desire and pursuit of unspiritual objectives, is death. Death, of course, means spiritual death, the absence and the opposite of spiritual life. It includes alienation from God, unholiness, and misery. On the other hand, the "mind controlled by the Spirit" is that state of mind which is produced by the Spirit and which reveals itself in the desire and pursuit of the things of the Spirit. This state of mind is life and peace. This is where the true life and blessedness of the soul lies. As this is the case, there can be no such thing as salvation in sin, no possibility of justification without sanctification. If we share the spiritual benefits from Christ's death, we also share in his life. If we died with him, we live with him. This is pertinent to the apostle's main purpose in this chapter, which is to show that believers can never be condemned. They are not only delivered from the law and justified by the blood of Christ, but they participate in his life. They have the mind controlled by the Spirit [which] is life and peace.

Depraved Man - Romans 8:7-8

In Romans 8:7-8, Paul says, "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Note the four-fold severity of the depraved man. He

  • (1) is hostile towards God (Rom 8:7)

  • (2) does not submit to God's law (Rom 8:7)

  • (3) cannot submit to God's law (Rom 8:7)

  • (4) cannot please God (Rom 8:8)

This reveals man's utter depravity. Before they can come to God something must happen outside of themselves - as there is nothing inside of them that glorifies or can glorify God. See "The Gospel: What Is Salvation and How Do I Get It?" below.

Hostile to God - Romans 8:7

"Hostile: to God" (Rom 8:7) is literally, "enmity toward God." This describes the attitude, condition, and the nature, of everyone not renewed by the Spirit; pure hostility against God, the author of the law (Rom. 3:9-18). They are set on a course against God himself. Human nature is so corrupt apart from Christ that not only does it refuse to serve God, but it is unable to do so ("does not . . . nor can it"). 'Nothing proceeds from the efforts of our flesh but death, because it contends as an enemy against the will of God' (Calvin). See WCF 6.4; 9.3; 10.2; WLC 149; 192; HC 5. Haldane says:

The carnal mind in its wisest thoughts is rooted enmity against God. This is the reason why the carnal mind is punished with death. The mind of the flesh, or of man in his unconverted state, walking according to the flesh, in its best as well as in its worst character - however moral in conduct - whether seeking acceptance with God by its own services, or following altogether the course of this world in its sinful practices - is not merely an enemy, but enmity itself against God in the understanding, will, and affections. Every man whose heart is set on this world hates God, 1 John 2:15. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;" and the heart of every one who has not been renewed in his mind by the Spirit of God is set on this world. Such men hate the holiness of God, His justice, His sovereignty, and even His mercy in the way in which it is exercised.

Romans 8:7 should give much assurance to a struggling Christian who, while sincerely dealing with their sins (1 John 1:8-10), is still truely desiring and seeking God. This "true" desire and ability to seek God are evidences of salvation (1 Cor. 2:9-16). The presence of sincere anxiety over sin is evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives bringing us to repentance - a gift of God (2 Tim. 2:24-26) - a gift only for God's children.

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