Those Who Are in the Flesh Cannot Please God
Romans 8:7-8 (ESV) – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Scriptures often cut against the grain of common thought. One example of that is the idea that people are neutral towards God. The Scriptures teach that each individual is either hostile to God or born again and reconciled to Him. But there is no neutral. If someone does not follow Christ, and submit to Him by faith, then they are hostile to God. Unbelievers may be nice people that we enjoy the company of, but that doesn’t mean they are living in harmony with God’s desires. They could be great parents. They may be kind neighbors. But Scripture assures us they are hostile to God.
This is the subject of our passage today. We read in Romans 8:7-8, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Paul teaches that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God. What does it mean to have a mind set on the flesh? It doesn’t only mean a mind seeking to fulfill fleshly impulses. It includes a mind not submitted to God’s Word. If we don’t actively seek to know God’s will through His Word, then our flesh will gravitate toward doing whatever we desire. We will be led by our own impulses. This is what Paul taught about the condition of the unregenerate heart. It is hostile to God. No person is neutral.
He goes on to teach that the person who doesn’t submit to God’s law cannot please God. But the person in the flesh cannot submit to the law. The condition of sinful man is that he cannot and will not submit to God’s law; therefore, he lives in his flesh. While living in his flesh he is hostile to God. This is why we need the grace of God to intervene in our lives. We need the Lord to change our hearts. We put to death our fleshly impulses and hostility to God. We submit to the Word so we can live for the pleasure and approval of God in Christ.
Recognize what makes
people hostile to God.
It is not whether they are nice or not.
It is whether they submit to God’s
law or continue in the flesh.
Give thanks to the Lord if you have been reconciled to Him.
This is not of your own doing, but the gift of God.
Apart from this we would still be hostile.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why is it important to distinguish what makes someone hostile to God?
- What is the relationship between submitting to God’s law and hostility?
- How should believers see the role of the law in their lives?
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