Reflection on Rom 8:7-8Post date: 2019-11-16
Reflection on Rom 8:7-8
The preceding verse reads, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
The Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul once again repeats and categorically emphasizes the basic contradictions: to be carnally minded and to be spiritually minded. We need to be aware that our mind reflects our life. If we live according to the flesh, we set our minds on the things of the flesh. And if we live according to the Spirit, we set our minds on the things of the Spirit.
What does it mean to live according to the flesh? It means to ignore God in our personal life and to occupy our minds with mere material interests, with no respect for God’s commandments, without seeking God’s truth, giving no thought to God’s judgment or eternity.
What does it mean to live according to the Spirit? It means to perceive spiritual realities, to have our eyes lifted up, as we hear in the Holy Mass: “Lift up your hearts! We lift them up to the Lord.” Life according to the Spirit is connected with prayer, in which we turn to God and try to conform our life to God’s commandments.
The carnal mind is synonymous with the mind of the old self. The old self embodies the connection between the carnal mind and mental life, which only affects the horizontal. The old self philosophizes about purely human values and things but ignores or even rejects God’s truths and God’s commandments. The mind of the old self, i.e. of the flesh, revolves only around its own false interests but constantly boycotts the most important thing, namely the salvation of the soul. The focus of the carnal mind is its own human pride, career, self-divinization and practical independence from God. Even so-called spiritual persons cannot be regarded as spiritual; they often only have a name that they are spiritual, but they are materialists, careerists and egoists because they live according to the flesh rather than according to the Spirit of God.
In the past, people believed that our Earth was at the centre and everything revolved around it – they were adherents of geocentrism. But it was found to be a false opinion and people started to believe the theory about the Sun being the centre around which everything revolves – i.e. heliocentrism. This too was found to be a false theory. In spiritual terms, many people regard their ego as the centre of the whole universe, which is egocentrism. Unless we truly live by faith in the Triune God, egocentrism becomes the main programme for and value of our life and we are on a false path. The true view is theocentrism, which means that Theos (God) is the centre of the universe and of our life.
To allow God to be at the centre of the life of a Christian, it is necessary to resist the rule of ego and its mind, i.e. egocentrism, which is the carnal mind. The Scripture says about it, “...the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
Conversion means to receive Christ as our Saviour and as our Lord, too, and the following of Christ means that we continue on this path and in this direction, in other words we follow Christ as He calls us saying, “Deny yourself... and follow Me!” We must deny the carnal mind, which is a cross for us to bear. Let us carry this cross patiently and follow Jesus. Then we will come to Calvary, where we will put off our old self, and after that we will enter into the eternal glory of heaven. This is the programme for every Christian, be it a man or a woman, a monk or a priest.
It is a wrong attitude for parents to force a teenage boy or girl to deny themselves and resist the spirit of the world without being provided an opportunity for conversion. Self-denial without true conversion is an unbearable burden which they want to get rid of as quickly as possible. However, even if they are converted and change their minds – which is a gift of the Spirit of God – they have to go through the next stage of struggle so as not to be drawn back to the world. Therefore they need a living fellowship and encouragement on the path of following Christ.
Download: Reflection on Rom 8:7-8