How: It So Matters
How matters. It runs everything.
I had walked out the front door into the summer morning to let my dog out. Standing on the front porch, eyes bleary with sleep, mind still in the slow process of waking, sluggish in my bones and tendons and feet, I stared out into green and blue. Didn't regard them or register them at all, though I was staring right at them. Focused somewhere in the in-between, I was lost in my own little world.
A thought occurred: "That's your carnal mind."
What the...? Instantly I cleared my vision, snapped to, and saw what I'd been staring at. A beautiful early morning scene, full of sunshine and birds and rolling hills laden with grass and trees in full blown splendor.
"And that's your spiritual mind."
What a difference.
In one frame of mind I was fuzzy, clogged, slow, focused only on me, my aches, my annoyance at having to wake up to a loud dog bark, my own experience.
In the other, I was clear, open to what was going on around me, a small but significant part of the whole scene. My powers of observation were pointed out, not in. I was a thousand times more aware of real life.
Carnal v. Spiritual: the How behind the What
Moments like that summer morning can set off a quantum leap. God's voice tends to shake things up like that. What He said is a major key insight about the meaning of life! Made me ask myself a few questions like:
How are you living?
In what way or manner? By what means?
What's the condition or quality of your life?
First I had to define a few terms.
The word "carnal" is interchangeable with the term "flesh," and means temporal, so it's locked in time and is limited to the laws of physics. It is the root word in "carnivore," which we all know means meat-eating. If "flesh" is meat, then "carnal" is too. So, the term "carnal mind" implies that you're thinking about things that will someday pass away, that which is not permanent, whatever is associated with the body and brain's chemicals, needs and nature...and other things in the world that will pass away like culture, media, news and weather.
Conversely, the term "spiritual mind" is not limited to time or space or physical laws. It refers to the part of a person that will go on after the body is gone, that which "wears" and animates the body. (You are not your body; you are a spirit who has a body--that part just carries the real you around. Someday you'll take it off and there you'll still be.) To think according to the spiritual mind is to use more than the physical brain, which will eventually stop and not function; it is to use reason that is not based on personal comfort or sensory stimulation. The spiritual mind understands that there is more to life than we see, and is interested in knowing more about the bigger story...and operating appropriately within it.
Romans 8 describes the "how"- the terms, conditions and quality - of two different kinds of life.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit,
for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.
Those who live according to the flesh nature set their minds on things of the flesh,
But those who live according to the spirit, the things of the spirit.
To be carnally minded is death,
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be...
so then those who are in the flesh cannot please God (*flesh nature doesn't have faith in anything but what it sees, has experienced, so is limited from believing in God who is beyond sight or physical experience).
But you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you!
(For if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He is not His.)
But if Christ is in you, the body is as good as dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of Jesus' gift of righteousness! If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body by His Spirit!
How we live depends on where we set our mind. Our mindset determines how we walk out our lives. It is our operating system.
limited by physical constraints/conditions
motivated by/reactive to physical stimuli/circumstances
power = earthbound/third-dimensional
at odds with God (doesn't believe Him or care to ever comply with His authority)
subject to laws of sin and death
bound by fear of punishment, ultimately condemnable for actions done that displayed one's nature
ends in death (separation from life-source)
free to move, not bound by constraints
able to respond independently of circumstantial stimuli/influence
power = extra-dimensional
aware of self and more than self
exists in peace
in agreement with God (believes/trusts/complies with His higher authority)
subject to law of Life in Christ Jesus
exempt from law of sin and death and any condemnation associated with it
free in love and trust, forgiven of all actions that displayed own nature, because accepting Jesus' nature (sacrifice and gift of righteousness) by faith cancels it out
promise of ongoing, unending eternal life-power when body fails
I pick Spirit, hands down!
Who would look at this list and do otherwise?
Only accepting Jesus as Savior makes living "in the spirit" even possible, by the way. We are stuck in our carnal nature for sure without Him; doing the spirit realm God's way is locked to us without His access. Unless we are attached to Him who literally is in heaven, we are strictly earthbound. Having His Spirit living inside of you is the only key that will ever make you able to switch over to a spiritual, heavenly mindset that will save your soul FROM sin and death...and TO life and peace. Jesus is the key that unlocks everything to get us out of here. He is the door into everything good.
What about you? Which do you choose?
All heaven rejoices when you choose Door #1 and enter into Life in Christ Jesus!
Even after accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, however, we tend to toggle between the two mindsets as we live in the body, still in this world. To live consciously aware of which one you're operating in at any time is the first step to waking up, maturing and becoming the person you were designed to be: one who matches Jesus...a son or daughter of God Most High.
How likely are you to start noticing which frame of mind you're operating in and make choices to engage a switch, now that you know there's a difference?
I have to confess that I have operated in more frustration, guilt, fear and shame than I ever had to for YEARS, all because I was walking in the carnal mind. *Sigh.* I'm sorry I've wasted so much time.
I am a child of God; I really need to learn how to walk in the spirit--THAT'S my inheritance! That's the life that Jesus died for me to experience with Him. Same goes for you.
That morning when He showed me the difference between carnal and spiritual in such a practical way, my Father was beginning to instruct me in a fundamental skill that will shift everything. I'm going after it with all I am. I want to change how I live. How about you?
More will be revealed as we learn a new "how."
Let's ponder this together, take action and see what happens.