That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
~ John 3:6, 1 Corinthians 15:48
But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
~ Mark 8:33
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
~ Romans 13:14, Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:22-23
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
~ Colossians 3:12-17
Are You Spiritually-Minded?, by John Gill. This is from his work, “A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity”, Or “A System of Evangelical Truths”.
The contrast between a carnal man and a spiritual man, and between carnal mindedness and spiritual mindedness, is very strongly expressed by the apostle in Romans 8:5-6: “They that are after the flesh.” They are carnal men, sinful and corrupt, who are as they were born, having nothing but flesh, sin, and corruption in them. They are without the Spirit and His grace, who walk after the flesh and fulfil the desires of it. These mind the things of the flesh; their minds are fleshly minds. They seek nothing but the gratification of the lusts of the flesh and employ themselves in doing the works of it, which are called the sins of the flesh, the consequence of which is death. For to be carnally minded is death—eternal death, the just wages of sin—as it must needs be, since such carnality is sin and sinful and enmity against God, as in the following verse. Now, the spiritual man, spiritual mindedness, and the consequence of that are the reverse of all this, as will appear by considering,
Who are the men who mind spiritual things and are spiritual men?
They are described as they that are “after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1, 4-5). Not all that think they are spiritual men and would be thought such are so…but such who call themselves spiritual men are to be tried by the Word of God, whether they are such or not. They may seem so to others and yet not be such. And if only outwardly righteous or externally reformed in their lives, they may be at most but moral men, not spiritual men. Yes, men may have a “form of godliness” (2Ti 3:5), a show of spirituality, yet not have the truth and power of it…Nor are all truly spiritual men, who have spiritual gifts (as they may be called) distinct from special grace. For the apostle, after having dis- coursed on spiritual gifts, speaks of “a more excellent way” and observes that men may have various gifts, extraordinary and ordinary, and yet be destitute of true grace (1Co 12:1, 31; 13:1, 3). Nor are such only intended who have a greater degree of spiritual knowledge and of real grace than others. For though these are most certainly spiritual men and of the highest class (1Co 3:1; Gal 4:1), yet they are not the only ones: others, who have less knowledge and a lesser degree of grace, are also entitled to this character. Much less such are meant who have no flesh or sin in them, for there are no such spiritual men on earth. None but the saints in heaven—the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb 12:23)—will have spiritual bodies at the resurrection.
1. They are such who are regenerated, renewed, and quickened by the Spirit of God. They are such as our Lord describes as “born of water and of the Spirit”—or of the Spirit of God compared to water— and who and whatsoever is so born is spirit or spiritual (Joh 3:5-6). Such are born of God and made partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4); not of blood, by carnal generation and descent; not of corruptible but of incorruptible seed (1Pe 1:23); begotten again of God to a lively hope of a glorious inheritance (1Pe 1:3), according to His abundant mercy and of His own sovereign will and pleasure. (They) are a kind of first fruits of His creatures; yea, they are new creatures; for the grace bestowed on them is “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Ti 3:5). They are renewed in the spirit of their minds and have new hearts and new spirits given them. The Spirit of God (is) put into them, by which they are quickened, who before were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). But now the Spirit of life from God enters into them, and like the dead witnesses and Ezekiel’s dry bones, (they) stand on their feet and live. Being thus made alive, they breathe in a spiritual manner after salvation, the way of it, and the knowledge of it. They breathe after Christ when directed to Him, after God and communion with Him, after a discov- ery and application of pardoning grace and mercy—all those, and more things of a spiritual nature, they vehemently desire with their whole souls and spirits. (They) may be truly said to be spiritually minded.
2. They are such who exercise their spiritual senses to discern both good and evil, to choose and mind the one and to refuse and shun the other. They have a spiritual sight, a discerning of things, even of spiritual things, which are only spiritually discerned, which spiritual discernment the natural man has not. But the spiritual man has it and can make a judgment of them. He can try things that differ, approve the more excellent, and prefer them. Spiritual men have the seeing eye given them; the eyes of their understandings are enlightened (Eph 1:18) by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of themselves and of Christ. This one thing they can say: whereas they were blind, they now see (Joh 9:25). They see themselves lost and un- done and Jesus as their only Saviour. They behold His glory, fulness, excellency, and suitableness as a Saviour. They now hear the gospel with pleasure: it is a joyful sound to them—good news and glad tidings of peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and salvation by Christ! They hear the voice of Christ and are charmed with it, and their affections are drawn out to Him. They hear it so as to under- stand it and be delighted with it, and to distinguish it from the voice of a stranger (Joh 10:5). Therefore, they follow Him and not a stranger. They taste and have a gust for spiritual things; they taste that the Lord is gracious and invite others to come and taste and see how good He is. The words of Christ, the doctrines of the gospel, are sweeter to their taste than the honey or the honeycomb. The fruits that drop from Christ whilst sitting under His shadow and the blessings of grace that are from Him are also sweet and pleasant to their palate. They savour the things that be of God, Christ, and a spiritual nature. Because of the savour of His good ointment, His rich graces, their love is drawn forth to Him. They smell a sweet savour in His person, righteousness, and sacrifice. All His garments—His garment of salvation and robe of righteousness—smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia. They handle the Word of life, lay hold on Christ, the tree of life, and pluck, take, and eat of the fruit that grows upon it. When they have lost sight of Christ their Beloved and have found Him again, they embrace Him in their arms, hold Him fast, and will not let Him go! The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto them. They receive it and the love of it cordially, feel it powerfully working in them, and find themselves strongly influenced by it to love and serve Him.
3. They are capable of spiritual acts and exercises and do perform them. Spiritual men, and they only, worship God in the Spirit, in a spiritual manner, with their spirits, and under the influence of His Spirit. Such worship, as it becomes their character, is only acceptable to God. When the worship of carnal and formal professors is very disagreeable to Him, spiritual men can talk and converse with each other about spiritual things. The Lord turns unto them, or bestows upon them, a pure language—the language of Canaan—in which they speak one to another, to understand and be understood by each other. Because they are favoured with abundance of rich inward experience, out of the abundance of their hearts their mouths speak in Christian conference with one another; and their speech in common conversation reveals them and shows to what company they belong. It shows that they are not carnal, but spiritual men. They are capable of walking, and they do walk, “not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1, 4), which distinguishes them from carnal men and entitles them to the character of spiritual men. Yea, they walk in the Spirit, live in the Spirit, and are led by Him, out and off of themselves, to Christ and the fulness of grace in Him, and into all truth as it is in Jesus. Such who are under His leadings and teachings, as they are the sons of God, they must be spiritual men and mind spiritual things.
4. They have much of the Spirit of God in them, the several graces of the Spirit of God, such as faith, hope, love, and all other fruits of the Spirit. The good work of grace, of which He is the author, the work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope (1Th 1:3), is begun in them by Him. That work will be carried on, performed, and perfected. He works in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phi 2:13), and whatsoever is well-pleasing in the sight of God (Heb 13:21). He strengthens them to do the will and work of God; and under His influence, they exercise every grace. Grace is the governing principle in their souls: they are not under the Law, but under grace, and therefore sin has not the dominion over them (Rom 6:14); grace reigns, through righteousness, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:21). Yea, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ frees them from the law of sin and death, from the tyrannical power of it (Rom 8:2), so that they appear to be spiritual men and to be spiritually alive. Even the Spirit of God Himself dwells in them. He is the criterion1 that distinguishes them from carnal men: “Ye are not in the flesh,” that is, ye are not carnal men, “but in the Spirit,” spiritual men, “if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9). Therefore, they are called the temple of God and of the Holy Ghost (1Co 3:16; 6:19). The world, carnal men, cannot receive Him nor know Him. But the true disciples of Christ know Him, for He dwells with them and shall be in them (Rom 8:9; Joh 14:17), even though in these spiritual men there is much carnal mindedness, and many carnal affections, lusts, and desires: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit,” and they are ready to say with the apostle…“with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom 7:14, 24-25)…
It may next be inquired how any of the sons of men come to be spiritual men and to be spiritually minded. They are not so naturally or by their first birth. They are born of the flesh and are flesh; they are carnal, sinful, and corrupt. Their minds are fleshly, i.e., they are carnally minded. Their minds and consciences are defiled with sin, and from thence nothing proceeds but what is sinful. Their minds are vain and empty, and they walk in the vanity of their minds (Eph 4:17). They are without God, any true knowledge of Him, love to
1 criterion – distinguishing characteristic by which something can be judged or estimated.
Him, and fear of Him. They have not learned Christ and think nothing about Him. They are sensual, not having the Spirit, nor any of His graces (Jude 19). They mind earth and earthly things (Phi 3:19)— these engross all their thoughts, affections, and desires. All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—are the principal entertainments of their minds and what they are chiefly conversant with (1Jo 2:16). Their natural bias is to that which is evil, the imagination of the thought of their heart is evil and that continually. Yea, their hearts are fully set in them to do evil (Ecc 8:11); and such is the disposition of their minds that they cannot think anything of themselves, especially that which is spiritually good. This, then, being the case of the minds of men naturally, there must be a renewing of the mind, or it must be cast into a different mould. Before a man can be spiritually minded, he must have a new heart and a new spirit put within him (Eze 36:26). The Spirit of God must work in him to will, must give him an inclination and disposition to that which is spiritually good. He must enlighten his mind and fill it with the knowledge of spiritual things and put the laws of God into the minds of men—write them in their hearts. He must influence and attract their affections to spiritual things, make them in love with them, and thoroughly convince them of the evil of carnal mindedness and its sad effect, (which is) death.
The effects, consequences, and so the evidence of being spiritually- minded: To be spiritually minded is life. They must be alive who are spiritually minded, and they must be alive in a spiritual sense. Their spiritual mindedness is an evidence of their spiritual life and makes it plainly appear that they are in such sense alive. This is manifest,
1. From the exercise of their senses, before observed. They have their spiritual senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, and therefore must have life, without which there can be no senses and the exercise of them. As he who has his natural senses must be naturally alive, so he that has his spiritual senses must be spiritually alive.
2. From acts of spiritual life that they perform. They breathe after spiritual things. Prayer is the breath of every spiritually minded man; “Behold, he prayeth!” (Act 9:11), and this shows life. He discourses of spiritual things, which discovers the temper and disposition of his mind. His walk and conversation are spiritual, he walks and lives by faith on Christ, and walks on in Him as he has received Him.
3. From the lively exercise of grace in him and fervent discharge of duty. His faith is living, not a dead faith (Jam 2:17). His hope is lively (1Pe 1:3), and his love is as strong as death (Song 8:6) and cannot be destroyed by it, all which evidence his spiritual life. The exercise of these graces evidences his spiritual mindedness and hence follow a fervency of spirit in serving the Lord and a running in his ways with- out weariness and a walking without fainting (Isa 40:31).
4. Such who are spiritually minded are not only alive themselves, but they are the means of enlivening others—by their spiritual conversation, by their spiritual counsel and advice, by the spiritual consolation they administer, and by their spiritual exhortations stirring up to love and good works.
5. Spiritual mindedness issues in everlasting life, which is the gift of God and flows from His grace. All that are spiritually-minded partake of and shall have it. This is certain from the promise that whosoever seeth the Son and believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Joh 6:40; 3:16); from the grace of God in them, which is a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life (Joh 4:14); and from the Spirit of God in them, Who makes them fit for eternal life and introduces into it because of the righteousness of Christ.
Another effect and consequent of spiritual mindedness is peace. To be spiritually minded is peace—inward peace of soul, which is a fruit of the Spirit and is had by believing in Christ. It flows from the righteousness of Christ received by faith and from His peace-speaking blood in the conscience. The spiritual things their minds are conversant with are productive of internal peace and serve to maintain and increase it. Spiritually minded persons are of peaceable dispositions: they are desirous to lead a quiet and peaceable life under whatsoever government they be. As much as lieth in them, they endeavour to live peaceably with all men in the neighbourhoods in which they are (Rom 12:18); to promote peace in their families and among their friends. They study to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in (their) church…Spiritual mindedness issues in everlasting peace: the end of people is peace, they depart in peace, they enter into it; and this is their everlasting portion and happiness.