Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Roman 8:5-8)
This is where I would raise my hand to ask Paul, "Umm...excuse me, but aren't we all living in the realm of the flesh? I still have a body... and hello, it's made of flesh". I've spent quite a bit of my life in church, and during that time we all knew what 'living in the flesh' meant. It meant doing anything fun. To be 'spiritual' meant denying all that, and 'living for the Lord'--aka, being a missionary or something. Forgive me--I don't mean to completely dis that. I think there is some truth in it. It's missing something though...because to deny the 'flesh' so you can 'make to heaven' is going against the concept of grace. So, I'm going to address this thought of 'making it to heaven'; because I think it's a problem. As you can see from the above scripture, Paul is speaking about life right now. Having a mind that is governed (controlled) by 'the spirit' is life. The life controlled by 'the flesh' cannot even try to please God...Paul is clearly saying this is not possible. But how are we to be 'governed by the spirit'? What in the world does this even mean? Going back to this 'inner' place...the 'spiritual' realm if you will; what is it? I'm going to throw out a very crazy idea; but stick with me, please. Here is Hannah Hurnard's explanation:
"We have already seen that 'the heart of a man' is his individual thought life and that his spirit is the real being who thinks those thoughts and thus creates and produces this thought life. It is clear therefore that thinking spirits live in a realm of thought and that the spirit realm or spirit world must thus be a world made up of thought substance instead of material matter. It is in fact a realm of the mind".
Bizarre, I know...but it explains a lot of things. We are told in 1 Corinthians that we are given the 'mind of Christ'...is this not the Holy Spirit? We are told in 2 Corinthians that what we are making 'war' against 'strongholds' and 'casting down imaginations' and 'bringing into captivity every thought'. If the heart or mind of mankind is a fallen world, then maybe this outer world in which our bodies live reflects that fallen spirit world. When we change the 'inner', the 'outer' will be changed as well...because it is only a reflection.
"for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known. 1 corn. 13:12"
Why are we here? That's the big question, isn't it? A spirit in a body of flesh...there has to be a reason for it. But again, I need to continue on another post. So much to consider.