Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
In Romans 8, Paul said there are only two kinds of people: those who are of the flesh and those who are of the Spirit. “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (8:5-6). You are either headed toward God, or you are headed away from God.
In verse 14, Paul said, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” What does Paul mean by “being led”? He was not talking about personal decisions, such as being led to know which car to buy, which house to purchase, or which job to take. He was talking about being led on the path of righteousness. Those who are becoming more like Christ every day are the ones who are on the road to Heaven. They are the true children of God.
There are only two roads in life. One road is making us more like Christ; the other road is making us more unlike Christ. Which road are you on? Paul first described the road of the unbeliever: “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (8:5). The first characteristic of an unbeliever concerns his affections: his mind is centered on the things of this world. One piece of evidence that you are an unbeliever is that all you can think about is this world. When you get up in the morning, you think, “How can I earn more, achieve more, or experience more pleasure?” Your mind-set reveals which road you are on. “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (8:7). A person who is of the flesh is hostile toward God. That does not mean he says, “I hate God.” A person of the flesh may have fooled himself into thinking he actually loves God. But the proof is that he cannot desire to please God instead of pleasing others.
Paul then described characteristics of the believer: “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (8:10). The greatest evidence of being on the road to Heaven is being spiritually alive. Someone who is of the flesh is spiritually dead; he is unresponsive to the things of God. But a person who is in Christ is alive to the things of God. First, he is alive to God Himself. God is not just an idea; God is a Person with whom he has fellowship. Second, he is alive to the Bible. To an unbeliever, reading the Bible is boring. But when a Christian reads God’s Word, something reaches into his innermost being and causes him to say, “Yes, Lord, that is what I need to change in my life.” Third, he is alive to other Christians. If you are spiritually alive, you are drawn to other believers. But if you are spiritually dead, you are drawn to non-Christians. The Bible says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).