For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.Romans 8:5 (The NET Bible)
What I appreciate about the Apostle Paul is how he is always practical in his teaching. Paul here clearly teaches that whatever dominates, rules, and permeates your life will affect how you view things. Nothing is neutral in this life. Everything we engage with, from friendships, movies, books, conversations, etc., influences us for the better or, the worse.
“For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh…”
- The flesh in the Bible is often used as a stand-in for things that are contrary to God and His ways.
- So, for those participating in activities, intaking media, and associating with those of the flesh, it is not that they might be influenced; they will (Cf. Matthew 6:22-23).
- The NET Bible uses the word “outlook.” Outlook is, in general, one’s point of view or attitude to life.
- The Apostle is saying here that if we are living ungodly lives, lives that dabble in sin, we should not be surprised when our entire attitude or way of looking at things is changed or that we begin thinking in ways contrary to God.
“…but for those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”
- Paul contrast the influence of the flesh with the influence of the Spirit.
- To live according to the Spirit is simply living according to the things the Spirit has revealed (1 Corinthians 2:6-13), which is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Those who would live by what God has revealed in His Word will be influenced for the better by them. Their whole attitude toward life will be changed for the better.
- This is why, in part, I believe there is an emphasis in the Bible on knowing the Word of God, studying it, to rightly handling it (2 Timothy 2:15).
Let’s think practically for a moment. Here are a few questions to help us determine if we are being influenced more by the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit:
- Are my friends helping me get to heaven, or are they taking me in the other direction? (1 Corinthians 15:33).
- What sounds better, binging my favorite TV show or studying the Bible with my brethren? (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Am I spending daily time in the Word, or do other things have my attention?
- Is worship with God’s people a priority in my life, or is it easily cast aside when something else comes up?
- Do my thoughts frequently drift to things of God or other lesser joys?
This list is not exhaustive, but it is a good start to get us thinking.
What shapes your outlook? I hope you are being shaped by the things of the Spirit this day and always.