Romans 8:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 8:5, NIV: 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.

Romans 8:5, ESV: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5, KJV: 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.

Romans 8:5, NASB: For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:5, NLT: Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

Romans 8:5, CSB: For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

What does Romans 8:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul introduced a big idea in the previous verse. He wrote that Christians do not walk—or live—according to the flesh but according to the Holy Spirit. He didn't say that Christians should walk by the Spirit. He said that we do. It is no longer our path, our nature, to walk by the flesh.

But what does that mean? What is the difference between walking by the Spirit and walking by the flesh as we used to do before we were Christians? That's the question the next few verses will answer.

Paul first describes this difference as being about where we set our minds. In other words, what do our minds dwell on most intently? Those who are not Christians, who live by the flesh, think only and ever of things of the flesh. This makes basic sense, but what does it mean? The flesh, as Paul uses the term here, refers to the wants and needs driven by the physical body, and the spiritual approach of this fallen world. Those who walk by the flesh must focus only on meeting those necessarily selfish wants and needs, day after day, year and year.

Those who live by the Spirit, Christians, set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit, who comes to live in and with Christians when they trust in Christ. The Spirit of God in us, not surprisingly, is thinking about godly things. Since we are now alive by the Spirit's power, we begin to think about godly things, too—things that reach beyond meeting our basic human wants and needs of the moment.

Does this mean the Christians never thinks of things of the flesh or that we never sin? No. Instead, it means our minds are set, pointed, elsewhere. Focus on the flesh, on our sinful, self-serving desires, is not who we are, even when we find ourselves drawn that way.