Romans 8:7
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
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(7) The carnal mind is death—because it implies enmity with God, and enmity with God is death.

8:1-9 Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer's person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1Ti 5:6. A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character by inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not, ver. 9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown by a life and conversation suitable to his precepts and example.Because - This is given as a reason for what is said in Romans 8:6. In that verse the apostle had affirmed that to be carnally minded was death, but he had not stated why it was. He now explains it by saying that it is enmity against God, and thus involves a sinner in conflict with him, and exposes to his condemnation.

The carnal mind - This is the same expression as occurs in Romans 8:6 τὸ φρόνημα τὴς σαρκός to phronēma tēs sarkos. It does not mean the mind itself, the intellect, or the will; it does not suppose that the mind or soul is physically depraved, or opposed to God; but it means that the minding of the things of the flesh, giving to them supreme attention, is hostility against God; and involves the sinner in a controversy with him, and hence, leads to death and woe. This passage should not be alleged in proof that the soul is physically depraved, but merely that where there is a supreme regard to the flesh there is hostility to God. It does not directly prove the doctrine of universal depravity; but it proves only that where such attention exists to the corrupt desires of the soul, there is hostility to God. It is indeed implied that that supreme regard to the flesh exists everywhere by nature, but this is not expressly affirmed. For the object of the apostle here is not to teach the doctrine of depravity, but to show that where such depravity in fact exists, it involves the sinner in a fearful controversy with God.

Is enmity - Hostility; hatred. It means that such a regard to the flesh is in fact hostility to God, because it is opposed to his Law, and to his plan for purifying the soul; compare James 4:4; 1 John 2:15. The minding of the things of the flesh also leads to the hatred of God himself, because he is opposed to it, and has expressed his abhorrence of it.

Against God - Toward God; or in regard to him. It supposes hostility to him.

For it - The word "it" here refers to the minding of the things of the flesh. It does not mean that the soul itself is not subject to his Law, but that the minding of those things is hostile to his Law. The apostle does not express any opinion about the metaphysical ability of man, or discuss that question at all. The amount of his affirmation is simply, that the minding of the flesh, the supreme attention to its dictates and desires, is not and cannot be subject to the Law of God. They are wholly contradictory and irreconcilable, just as much as the love of falsehood is inconsistent with the laws of truth; as intemperance is inconsistent with the law of temperance; and as adultery is a violation of the seventh commandment. But whether the man himself might not obey the Law, whether he has, or has not, ability to do it, is a question which the apostle does not touch, and on which this passage should not be adduced. For whether the law of a particular sin is utterly irreconcilable with an opposite virtue, and whether the sinner is able to abandon that sin and pursue a different path, are very different inquiries.

Is not subject - It is not in subjection to the command of God. The minding of the flesh is opposed to that law, and thus shows that it is hostile to God.

Neither indeed can be - This is absolute and certain. It is impossible that it should be. There is the utmost inability in regard to it. The things are utterly irreconcilable. But the affirmation does not mean that the heart of the sinner might not be subject to God; or that his soul is so physically depraved that he cannot obey, or that he might not obey the law. On that, the apostle here expresses no opinion. That is not the subject of the discussion. It is simply that the supreme regard to the flesh, t the minding of that, is utterly irreconcilable with the Law of God. They are different things, and can never be made to harmonize; just as adultery cannot be chastity; falsehood cannot be truth; dishonesty cannot be honesty; hatred cannot be love. This passage, therefore, should not be adduced to prove the doctrine of man's inability to love God, for it does not refer to that, but it proves merely that a supreme regard to the things of the flesh is utterly inconsistent with the Law of God; can never be reconciled with it; and involves the sinner in hostility with his Creator.

(Calvinists have been loudly accused of "taking an unfair advantage of this language, for the support of their favorite doctrine of the utter impotency of the unregenerate man, in appreciating, much less conforming to the divine injunctions." It is alleged that φρονημα της σαρκος phronēma tēs sarkos refers to the disposition of the mind, and is properly translated, "the minding of the flesh." Therefore, it is this disposition or affection, and not the mind itself, that is enmity against God. But the meaning of the passage is not affected by this change in the translation. For the apostle affirms that this minding of the flesh is the uniform and prevailing disposition of unregenerate people. "They that are after the flesh," that is, unregenerate people," do mind the things of the flesh." This is their character without exception. Now, if the natural mind be uniformly under the influence of this depraved disposition, is it not enmity to God. Thus, in point of fact, there is no difference between the received and the amended translation. To affirm that the mind itself is not hostile to God, and that its disposition alone is so, is little better than metaphysical trifling, and deserves no more regard than the plea which any wicked man might easily establish, by declaring that his disposition only, and not himself, was hostile to the laws of religion and morals. On the whole, it is not easy to conceive how the apostle could more forcibly have affirmed the enmity of the natural mind against God. He first describes unrenewed people by their character or bent, and then asserts that this bent is the very essence of enmity against God - enmity in the abstract.

To anyone ignorant of the subtleties of theological controversy, the doctrine of moral inability would seem a plain consequence from this view of the natural mind. "It is," says Mr Scott, on the passage "morally unable to do anything but revolt against the divine Law, and refuse obedience to it." We are told, however, that the passage under consideration affirms only, that unregenerate people, while they continue in that state, cannot please God, or yield obedience to his Law, and leaves untouched the other question. concerning the power of the carnal mind to throw off the disposition of enmity, and return to subjection. But if it be not expressly affirmed by the apostle here, that the carnal mind has not this power, it would seem at least to be a plain enough inference from his doctrine. For if the disposition of the unregenerate man be enmity against God: whence is the motive to arise that shall make him dislike that disposition, and throw it aside, and assume a better in its stead? From within it cannot come, because, according to the supposition, there is enmity only; and love cannot arise out of hatred. If it come from without, from the aids and influences of the Spirit, the question is ceded, and the dispute at an end.

A very common way of casting discredit on the view which Calvinists entertain of the doctrine of man's inability, is to represent it as involving some natural or physical disqualification. Nothing can be more unfair. There is a wide difference between natural and moral inability. The one arises from "some defect or obstacle extrinsic to the will, either in the understanding, constitution of the body, or external objects:" the other from "the want of inclination, or the strength of a contrary inclination." Now the Scriptures no where assert, nor have rational Calvinists ever maintained, that there is any physical incapacity of this kind, apart from the corrupt bias and inclination of the will, on account of which, the natural man cannot be subject to the Law of God. But on the other hand, the Scriptures are full of evidence on the subject of moral inability. Even were we to abandon this passage, the general doctrine of revelation is, that unregenerate people are dead in trespasses and in sins; and the entire change that takes place in regeneration and sanctification, is uniformly ascribed not to the "man himself," but to the power of the Spirit of God. Not only is the change carried on and perfected, but begun by him.

7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God—The desire and pursuit of carnal ends is a state of enmity to God, wholly incompatible with true life and peace in the soul.

for it is not subject—"doth not submit itself."

to the law of God, neither indeed can be—In such a state of mind there neither is nor can be the least subjection to the law of God. Many things may be done which the law requires, but nothing either is or can be done because God's law requires it, or purely to please God.

Neither can the carnal man look for any better issue,

because the carnal mind is enmity against God. He doth not say it is an enemy, but in the abstract, it is enmity, which heightens and intends the sense: an enemy may be reconciled, as Esau was to Jacob; but enmity cannot be reconciled; as black may be made white, but blackness cannot.

For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: this is rendered as a reason of the foregoing assertion, and it is taken from the property of enmity. Those that are at enmity, cross each other’s wills, and will not submit to one another: and the carnal mind is rebellious in the highest degree against the will of God, unless it be changed and renewed; it is impossible it should be otherwise; there is in it a moral impotency to obedience: see John 8:43 1 Corinthians 2:14. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God,.... These words contain a reason why the issue of carnal mindedness is death; because the carnal mind, the wisdom of the flesh, is not only an enemy, but enmity itself against God: against his being; it reasons against it; it wishes he was not; it forms unworthy notions of him; thinks him such an one as itself; and endeavours to bury him in forgetfulness, and erase out of its mind all memorials of him: it is at enmity against his perfections; either denying his omniscience; or arraigning his justice and faithfulness; or despising his goodness, and abusing his grace and mercy: it finds fault with, and abhors his decrees and purposes; quarrels with his providences; it is implacable against his word and Gospel; especially the particular doctrines of grace, the Father's grace in election, the Son's in redemption, and the Spirit's in regeneration; and has in the utmost contempt the ordinances and people of Christ. This enmity is universal, it is in all men in unregeneracy, either direct or indirect, hidden or more open; it is undeserved; it is natural and deeply rooted in the mind, and irreconcilable without the power and grace of God. It shows itself in an estrangedness from God; in holding friendship with the world, in harbouring the professed enemies of God, in living under the government of sin and Satan; in hating what God loves, and in loving what God hates; in omitting what God commands, and committing what he forbids; it manifests itself in their language, and throughout the whole of their conversations.

For it is not subject to the law of God; carnal men are subject to the law's sentence of condemnation, but not to its precepts, by obedience to them; there may be an external, and which is a servile obedience to it, but not a free, voluntary, internal one, and still less a perfect one: the carnal mind is so far from an obedient subjection to the law, that it is far off from the law, and the law from that; it hates and despises it, thwarts and contradicts it in every instance, and, as much as in it lies, makes it void; which fully proves the enmity of the carnal mind against God; for hereby his being is tacitly denied, his sovereignty disputed, his image defaced, his government withdrawn from, and these persons are declared, and declare themselves enemies to him:

neither indeed can be; without regenerating grace, without the power and Spirit of God, unless it is written upon the heart by the finger of God; for carnal men are dead in sin, and so without strength to obey the law; and besides, the carnal mind, and the law of God, are directly contrary one to another. Where is man's power and free will? no wonder the carnal mind do not stoop to the Gospel of Christ, when it is not, and cannot be subject to the law of God. Hence we see the necessity of almighty power, and efficacious grace in conversion. It is Christ's work to subject men to the law, and which is done when he justifies by his righteousness: agreeably to which the Targum on Isaiah 53:11; paraphrases it thus:

"in his wisdom he shall justify the righteous, that , "he may subject many to the law".''

And in Isaiah 53:11, the transgressors he hath subjected to the law.

{8} Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: {9} for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

(8) A reason and proof why the wisdom of the flesh is death: because, he says, it is the enemy of God.

(9) A reason why the wisdom of the flesh is enmity to God, because it neither wants to nor can be subject to him, and by flesh he means a man that is not regenerated.

Romans 8:7. Διότι] propterea quod, introduces the reason why the striving of the flesh can be nothing else than death, and that of the Spirit nothing else than life and blessedness: for the former is enmity against God, the source of life; comp. Jam 4:4. The establishment of the second half of Romans 8:6 Paul leaves out for the present, and only introduces it subsequently at Romans 8:10-11, in another connection of ideas.

The ἔχθρα εἰς Θεόν has its ground assigned by τῷ γ. νόμῳ τ. Θ. οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται, of which τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός is still the subject (not ἡ σάρξ, as Hofmann quite arbitrarily supposes); and the inward cause of this reality based on experience is afterwards specified by οὐδὲ γὰρ δύναται (for it is not even possible for it).

δύναται] namely, according to its unholy nature, which maintains an antagonistic attitude to the will of God. This does not exclude the possibility of conversion (comp. Chrysostom), after which, however, the σάρξ with its φρόνημα is ethically dead (Galatians 5:24). Comp. Romans 6:6 ff.Romans 8:7 f. The reason why the mind of the flesh terminates so fatally: it is hostility to God, the fountain of life. Alienation from Him is necessarily fatal. It is the flesh which does not (for indeed it cannot) submit itself to God; as the seat of indwelling sin it is in permanent revolt, and those who are in it (a stronger expression, yet substantially identically with those who are after it, Romans 8:5) cannot please God.7. Because] The reason of the radical difference of the two “minds” is now further shewn by a description of the essential condition of the “mind of the flesh.”

the carnal mind] Lit. the mind of the flesh; the same phrase in Gr. as that rendered “to be carnally minded,” Romans 8:6.

enmity] Cp. ch. Romans 5:10. The expression here is as forcible as possible. As truly as “God is Love,” so truly, essentially, and unalterably is the “mind of the flesh,” the liking and disliking of unregenerate man, “enmity,” “personal hostility,” towards the true God and His real claims.

Nothing short of this is St Paul’s meaning. It is not to be toned down, as by the theory that other impulses in the unregenerate may counterbalance, or at least modify, this enmity. We must keep clearly in view the reality of the claim of the Holy Creator to the love of the whole being. To decline this, when it is the creature that declines it, is not mere reserve; it is hostility.

the law] In its two great Precepts. Matthew 22:37-39.

can be] Again a perfectly uncompromising statement. The will of the unregenerate, as such, is incapable of cordial submission to the claim of the true God. Its essence is alienation from Him; self, not God, is its central point. When the man in reality “yields himself to God,” ipso facto he is proved to be no longer “in the flesh,” (see next verse,) but “in the Spirit.”Romans 8:7. οὑδὲδύναται, neither can he) Hence the pretext of impossibility, under which they are anxious to excuse themselves, who are reproved in this very passage, as carnal.—V. g.Is not subject (οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται)

See on James 4:7. Originally to arrange under. Possibly with a shade of military meaning suggested by enmity. It is marshaled under a hostile banner.

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