The Carnal Mind?

The Carnal Mind?

The Gospel Story
The Gospel Story

We have received excellent questions as a result of our last study on the nature of Christ.  We praise God that these studies are awakening thought and inquiry!   One of the questions, as can be seen in the comment section of the last post, was regarding the carnal mind, and if we no longer have it to contend with when we are born again.  Here is what I believe is the Biblical answer:
Romans 8:5-14. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Paul here starts out with a statement about “the flesh”, and without skipping a beat, in the next verse, says, “For to be carnally minded….” This is a clear analogy between the “flesh” and the “carnal mind”.  Then, further in this passage, he talks about the deeds of the flesh, or body, so Paul is again linking the carnal mind with the flesh, and goes on to describe the outcome of one who lives “after the flesh”-he will die.  Gal 5:16-25 is a clear description of the difference between the deeds of the spirit and the deeds of the flesh.  Combining these two passages we can come to the following conclusions:
1) the carnal mind WILL yield to the fleshly lusts
2) the mind of the Spirit WILL NOT yield to the fleshly lusts
3) we are either under the control of the Spirit or of carnal mind, there is no middle ground. We either “mind” or obey the flesh and its desires, or we “mind” or obey the Spirit.
The carnal mind longs to fulfill its desires, the fleshly desires.  But when the mind is converted and under the control of the Holy Spirit, the flesh no longer rules.  The bottom line is that the carnal mind is the fallen nature we are born with–and all that it pulls and prods us from within and without to do, we will do, unless we allow the Holy Spirit to control our minds, our thoughts, our decisions or choices.  We can be thankful for Philippians 2:5!  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

The carnal mind is the mind that will yield to the lusts of the flesh; the mind of Christ never yielded, and this is why we are told to “let” the mind of Christ be in us.  The word “flesh” in the Romans 8 passage, and the word “carnal” or “carnally”, are the same:  sarx, which is defined by the Greek concordance as “the human nature with all its frailties and passions”.  The word “mind” or “minded” is the word phronema, which simply means the mental inclination or purpose, in other words, the thoughts.  When we are converted, or born again, when we choose to die, this flesh, carnal mind, this bent towards and love of sin, is subdued and kept “dead” by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We “reckon” it dead, according to Romans 6:11.  It is not changed until the second coming when “this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal (must) put on immortality” 1 Cor 15:53…we “shall be changed”, and this is what is taught by the sanctuary service.  The life that the repentant lives as he walks out of the court of the sanctuary, or away from the cross,  is not his own.  Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The teaching that the carnal mind is done away with at conversion is really the teaching of holy flesh, which we do not believe.  Neither do we believe that the carnal mind is incapable of being subdued and kept under the control of the Holy Spirit, for such teaching smacks of original sin, which we do not believe.  We believe that the teaching of the sanctuary, as mentioned above, provides the clear explanation of the plan of salvation needed by man, and provided by God.

  1. The sinner approaches the sanctuary (the cross) with his sacrifice.
  2. He confesses his sin, which is then transferred to the lamb, goat, (in reality, to Christ) etc.
  3. He slays the sacrifice, representing his own death, and his repentance is deepened as he realizes the cost of sin (the death of the Son of God).
  4. As he leaves, therefore, he leaves with the realization that he is living a borrowed life.
  5. The blood of the sacrifice  (Christ) is ministered in the holy place, where the penitent’s sin is covered and he is given a period of probation.  During this time, he can choose to remain subdued, covered, and forgiven, allowing the Spirit to guide and control his thoughts, or he can take that sin, that minding of the flesh, that carnal mind, that old life, back.
  6. If he does not do this, though severely tried, then on the day of Atonement, during the work in the Most Holy Place,  that sin will be blotted out and he will be sealed and safe to take to heaven.  He has demonstrated that, under all circumstances, he will keep the mind of Christ. 
  7. He will then be granted a new body, a glorified body, at the return of Christ.  He then no longer has a carnal mind, a carnal flesh to keep subdued.  He is made again like Adam before the fall…yea, even higher, for he will now share the throne with Jesus.  Rev 3:21
  8. Thus the fulfillment of the promise of God in Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”  This is because the sinner enters the sanctuary experience from the “east”, the courtyard or the cross, and ends up in the “west”–the most holy place experience of cleansing and blotting out of sin.

Consider, in closing, this clear passage from the pen of inspiration:
“The mind of a man or woman does not come down in a moment from purity and holiness to depravity, corruption, and crime. It takes time to transform the human to the divine, or to degrade those formed in the image of God to the brutal or the satanic. By beholding we become changed. Though formed in the image of his Maker, man can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him. As he ceases to watch and pray, he ceases to guard the citadel, the heart, and engages in sin and crime. The mind is debased, and it is impossible to elevate it from corruption while it is being educated to enslave the moral and intellectual powers and bring them in subjection to grosser passions. Constant war against the carnal mind must be maintained; and we must be aided by the refining influence of the grace of God, which will attract the mind upward and habituate it to meditate upon pure and holy things.”  Adventist Home, page 330
Finally, consider this sermon:

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