Arie den Hartog a missionary of the Protestant Reformed Churches, is currently laboring in Singapore.
Spiritual mindedness is and should be the great characteristic of the true child of God. When the Bible uses the term “mind” as in Romans 8, and many other places as well, it refers not only to our thinking and reasoning but also to the related desires, purposes, and affections of our mind. The child of God is spiritually minded because the Spirit of God dwells within him. The spirit of God has transformed and renewed his mind. The Christian is led by the Spirit of God. This spiritual mindedness must always be evident in the life of the child of God. We are exhorted to walk in the Spirit and not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
There is an absolute difference between the spiritual and the carnal mind. Those who are ungodly are carnally minded. These have not the Spirit of God. They do not know God truly. They are none of His. God is not in all their thoughts. They do not seek after Him. Their entire life is consumed by carnal ambition. The apostle John in his first epistle characterizes their life as being of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and of the pride of life. That is all you can say about them. A true evaluation of their life will reveal this. If you hear their speech you will find that it is full of pride and lust and vanity. They do not speak of God at all except in cursing and swearing and blasphemy. If you consider their desires and ambitions you will find that they are worldly. They seek only the vain glory of man and of life without any regard for God at all. If you truly examine their works you will find that they are evil altogether. It is not true that their works are in some sense good and pleasing to the Lord as some in the church have sought to claim. Paul says in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” What a dreadful reality this is. In all of his thinking, in all of his purposes, all of his desires and affections the carnal-minded man stands at enmity against God. What can be more terrible than to be at enmity against the Sovereign Holy Lord of heaven and earth and the judge of all men? And to be carnally minded is death. The carnally minded man has no life in him at all, no life toward God, no spiritual life. He is destined to die eternally in hell. Jude speaks of the terrible judgment that shall come upon ungodly sinners: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 1:14-16).
We were also once carnal by nature and subject to the same judgment. But the Lord has chosen us to be His people according to His grace in Christ. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. He has sent forth His Spirit in our hearts and renewed our minds. We must never forget how awful it is to be carnal. We must always remember how wonderful and blessed it is to have been made spiritual. Paul exhorts us inRomans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Therefore we must always show ourselves to be a spiritually-minded people.
There is a real and constant danger that we will again become carnal. Sin still dwells in our bodies. We must not let sin reign again in our mortal bodies. We must not obey the lusts of sin in our bodies nor yield our members to unrighteousness unto sin (see Romans 6). We must always remember that to live after the flesh means death. “But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
As children of God we must strive always to be truly spiritually minded. But what does it really mean to be spiritually minded? A spiritually minded man minds the things of the Spirit of God. He thinks about these things, he desires these things, he sets his affection on these things. This spiritual mindedness will come out in his conversation and walk. Let us give some examples of this to determine whether we are truly spiritually minded. By the Spirit of God is the knowledge of God. There is no higher joy and blessedness for the Christian than to know God, to know Him in a deeply personal and rich way. Without the Spirit of God no man can know God. (See I Corinthians 2). Through the Spirit we learn of Him, what and who He is. The spiritually-minded man desires to know God more and more. He hungers and thirsts after the true knowledge of God. He will not be satisfied with a shallow and superficial knowledge of God. He seeks to know the deep and wonderful things of God such as His sovereign grace and love, His wisdom and knowledge, His wonderful predestination, His perfect righteousness and holiness. The spiritually- minded man will therefore search the scriptures diligently and eagerly for therein God reveals Himself. He will have regular times of devotion and prayer to God in which he truly meets with God and talks with God and learns of God. It will be the great delight of the spiritually-minded man to frequent the house of God for he knows and experiences that God dwells there. He diligently attends unto the preaching of the Word of God wherein God’s truth is made known and explained to him. He will make good use of the many excellent books and Christian literature that is available today. He will not waste his time reading the carnal trash of this world nor watching the evil and carnal movie pictures of the world on TV and on the video and in the theater. If one were to examine our life carefully, would he find us to be truly spiritually minded?
Spiritual mindedness stands in contrast to all worldliness and materialism and covetousness. How much is our mind on earthly things? How much of our time and energy is spent in gaining material wealth of this world? How little is spent in obtaining spiritual things? Yes, we must be involved in an earthly occupation. We must study to prepare ourselves for such an occupation. We may seek to establish ourselves in our career. We may seek to advance our business and seek to make our farm prosper. But at what point are we becoming carnal when we do this? How much may we give ourselves to these things? If we are truly spiritually minded all the things of this world are secondary. Spiritual and heavenly things are primary. We are ready to sacrifice and even to lose all earthly things for the heavenly. Are we? That is what it means to be spiritually minded.
The spiritually-minded man is deeply concerned about himself. His concern is not merely to improve himself and advance in this world. His great concern is to advance in sanctification and obedience to the Lord in his life. The spiritually-minded man is by the Spirit of God convinced of his own sin. He knows the seriousness of sin and the great offense it causes against God. Therefore he hates his sin, he seeks to flee from it. He is very deeply concerned, very earnestly desirous about overcoming his personal sins and weaknesses. He longs to be made spiritually perfect before the Lord. The remnants of the sinful nature within him are the source of constant struggle for him. With all his might he strives against the sin that remains in him and prays earnestly to God to overcome it. He is not satisfied with sitting still in his sinful nature. He strives for change and progress in his Christian life. He desires to be made more and more conformable to the image and example of the Lord Jesus Christ. His great ambition in life is to be holy as the Lord our God is holy. He desires to be a humble and faithful and obedient servant of the Lord. He desires to be made a vessel fit for the master’s use. He desires that the Lord God might be glorified in all of his life.
You can distinguish the spiritually-minded man from the carnally-minded man in his daily conversation. Eavesdrop on the home of those who are truly Christian. Listen to the conversation. In the home of the carnally-minded man you will find that the conversation always centers in worldly things, material things, careers, business, farms, making lots of money, sports, pleasure, and vacations. In the home of the carnally-minded you will constantly hear foul gossip and slander and evil speaking. It will be different and must be different in the home of children of God. Their speech about and towards one another will be seasoned with grace. The spiritually-minded man constantly speaks of the truth of God that he loves so deeply in his heart. It is inevitable for him. It is spontaneous. What his heart is full of his mouth overflows with. If you hear two spiritually-minded Christians speaking to each other you will often hear them encouraging and exhorting and edifying each other with the Word of God. They will speak with each other of the wonderful things of God, of His blessed promises, and of the joy and hope of His salvation.
You will find that a truly spiritually-minded man thinks often of the church of Jesus Christ. The church belongs to the things of the Spirit of God. She is gathered and defended and preserved by the Word and Spirit of God. The spiritually-minded man loves the church. He is concerned about her welfare. He is concerned that the truth and righteousness of God be maintained in her midst. He is concerned that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ be faithfully preached by her. He seeks to maintain her peace and unity by walking in love with his brethren. He is concerned lest he cause a member of the church to be offended and to stumble and fall. When offenses arise between brethren he earnestly desires by the grace of God to bring peace and reconciliation. The spiritually-minded man sees the great importance of taking an active part in the life and work of the church. He desires to serve the Lord in her midst. He does not make himself so busy in his business or farm that he has no time to attend church meetings and join in the fellowship and life of the church.
The spiritually-minded man knows that the work of evangelism is part of the great task of the church of Jesus Christ here on earth. He knows that the gospel must be preached not only to the members of the church but also to the community. His great desire is that the name of God be exalted in the preaching of the gospel. His earnest desire is the salvation of his fellow man, even as many as the Lord will call and save according to His purpose of election. Therefore the spiritually-minded man is actively involved in programs of evangelism in his church. He desires also personally to give a faithful testimony of his Lord in his life. He desires by his testimony and good works to bring others to the Lord. He is not ashamed of the gospel which is the power of salvation unto all them that believe. He speaks boldly which is the power of salvation unto all them that believe. He speaks boldly and courageously for his Lord to those whom he meets in the daily intercourse of life.
We could go on in our description of the truly spiritually-minded man. Are we truly such people? Is this clearly evident in our life. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace. . . . For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:6, 14).