What does Romans 8:5 mean?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 8:1–11 begins with an enormous declaration about the grace of God: There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. After describing how this is possible, thanks to the life and death of Jesus, Paul compares two kinds of life. One is life in the Holy Spirit, for those who are in Christ, the other is a life lived according to the flesh. Those in the flesh, meaning non-Christians, are hostile to God. Christians have the Spirit; those who do not are not Christians. Because the Spirit is in us, we will be resurrected from the dead as Jesus was.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of the Christian's absolute security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed the gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God. That allows us to call God Abba Father. We suffer with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. With the help of the Spirit, we are confident that God is for us and loves us in Christ.
Chapter Context:
In Romans 7, Paul revealed his frustration of trying to do good only to be thwarted by his sin. He begins Romans 8, though, with the triumphant statement that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. We live in the Spirit, and we relate to God as a child does to a father. The Spirit helps us in this season of suffering along with all of creation while we wait for our adoption to be complete with the redemption of our bodies. We are confident, though, that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
Accessed 4/18/2024 6:47:38 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com