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5 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, the things of the Spirit.


Verses 5 to 11 demonstrate why Christians are enabled to fulfill the law—they are no longer in the sphere of the flesh but in the sphere of the Spirit. The non-Christian is not partly oriented to the flesh; no, his whole direction is to the “flesh.” The same principle is true for the believer; the fundamental orientation of his being orients around the fundamental relationship to the Spirit. His whole being revolves around his orientation of being “in Christ” and “in the Spirit.”

In Romans 8:5-8 Paul contrasts the differences between those oriented to the Spirit versus those oriented to the flesh. A person can fundamentally orient his entire life only around one object, either the flesh or the Spirit. New life in the Spirit makes it possible to have the mind-set of the Spirit. These verses tell us why we must live “according to the Spirit” (v.4).

        Contrasts between the flesh and the Spirit (Ro Ro 8:5-6)

        Discourse against the flesh (Ro 8:7-8)

5 For

The “for” explains verse four, which affirms that those walking according to the Spirit fulfilled the law through their position in Christ (“in us”). Those who hold the same status that Jesus provided live their lives according to the divine standard of walking in the Spirit; they are not exclusively dominated by walking in human standards of the flesh.

Believers do what they do because the Spirit works in their heart. This change roots in the Spirit. It is no burden forced on them from without like legalism of the law. This is a new kind of deference, distinct from the life we had in Adam.

There are not two categories of people in Romans 8:5-8, such as Christians versus non-Christians or Spirit-filled believers versus carnal Christians; rather, opposite extremes of a spectrum demonstrate two ways of life as God looks at it. The way in which one lives is determined by to whom and what he is oriented:

o   Those who live according to the flesh settle on hostility to God or His Word.

o   Those who live according to the Spirit settle on orientation to God and His Word.


The fundamental orientation of the Christian is toward God and his values.


The Holman New Testament commentary gives this outline to distinguish life in the flesh from life in the Spirit.


Those Who Live in Accordance with the Flesh

Those Who Live in Accordance with the Spirit

What they think about doing

Minds are set on the desires of the flesh

Minds are set on the desires of the Spirit

Ultimate end

Leads to death

Leads to life and peace

Attitude toward God

Hostile toward God

Receptive toward God

Attitude toward God’s standards

Does not submit to God’s law

Seeks to fulfill God’s law

Ability to keep God’s standards

Unable to submit to God’s law

Able to submit to God’s law

Ability to please God

Cannot please God

Able to please God