The root word of captivate is the word captive. It brings to mind the picture of someone who is held in captivity. Now a person in captivity can only do what his or her captor allows them to do. This is a picture that can either be negative or positive. If you think about this I think you’ll see what I am saying.
Sometimes we are held in captivity to something that is very negative, damaging or destructive. We get impatient for something we desperately want and we become captivated by the pursuit of getting it to the extent that we throw off all restraint in our pursuit. We get angry when someone disrespects us and we lash out at him or her destructively in our attempt to make him or her respect us. We get worried about the future so we obsess over it to the extent that we live in defeat, despair and fear. So sometimes, what captivates us can be very negative, damaging or destructive.
On the other hand, sometimes we can be held in captivity to something that is very positive and life giving. We want our marriage or some other relationship to become healthier so we become captivated by the pursuit of becoming a healthier spouse or friend. We want to overcome some addictive or destructive habit so we become captivated by a set of steps or principles that will help us to live in freedom from those habits. We see some injustice out there in the world that needs to be made right so we become captivated by the pursuit of making those wrong things right. So sometimes, what captivates us can be very positive and life giving.
You see, when we get our minds set on something, then that something actually holds us in captivity in either a negative or a positive way. Can I just ask: What is your mind captivated by today? If you think back over the last week, what has your mind been consumed with? Controlled by? Dominated with? In bondage to?
You see, the overriding theme of Romans 8 is the truth that the Spirit of the living God sets us free from the negative, destructive and damaging things that hold us in captivity. You see, when the Spirit of God sets us free he sets us free in a positive and life giving way. For every child of God this promise is true: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus has condemned what once condemned you.
If you have trusted in Jesus today, if you’ve trusted in his work at the cross and his victory in the empty tomb then you are no longer in captivity to the negative, destructive and damaging effects of Satan, sin and the grave. You have a new mindset now if you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior. You are not in bondage to that old mindset of the flesh any longer. Think about the mindset of the flesh for a few moments.
#1: The Mindset Of The Flesh (5 – 8)
The mindset of the flesh is a very dangerous place to live. It’s not a place of freedom. It’s a place of bondage and slavery. It’s a place that is characterized by spiritual death, spiritual conflict, hostility and rebellion towards God’s desires for your life. It’s a place of hopeless dysfunction where you and I are crippled, blind, sick and lost.
In verses 5 – 8, Paul says “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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 mindset of the flesh is a very dangerous place to live. Bondage. Slavery. Death. Conflict. Hostility. These are the characteristics of a mind that is set on the flesh.
When your mind is set on the flesh it is literally consumed with the things of the flesh. This kind of mindset is a spiritually dead mindset. It is a mind that is controlled with conflicting thoughts about God rather than being at peace with God. It is a frame of mind that lives in open hostility and opposition towards God. It is a kind of thinking and believing that is characterized by rebellion and disobedience towards God rather than submission and obedience.
If your mind is set on gratifying the desires of your flesh then you are determined to bring displeasure to God instead of being determined to bring him pleasure. You cannot please God with a mind that is transfixed or set on the flesh because your desires are in conflict with pleasing God. The mindset of the flesh is a very dangerous place to live.
Consider with me for a moment what it looks like when you live in this dangerous mindset of the flesh. What does this dangerous place look like in a practical sense for you and I? In Galatians 5: 19 – 21, Paul explains that the mindset of the flesh is obvious, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is what it looks like to live in the dangerous mindset of the flesh.
This is what it looks like to be a person who lives in condemnation. It’s a sort of spiritual blindness that has no awareness of the possibilities of living in spiritual freedom. It’s the picture of someone who has absolutely no desire to please God. No motivation to love God. No compelling vision to live in holiness. In this dangerous place of fleshly mindset there is only self and the immediate gratification of whatever self wants to do. Have you lived in this dangerous place recently? Are you living there now?
I remember when I lived in this dangerous place. And sometimes I still go back to this dangerous place of the mindset of the flesh. It’s a dark and ugly place. It’s a place where I become consumed with myself. I exist only to please me. Everyone around me exists to only please me. Sure, sometimes I do some good things to tip the scales back in the right direction. I cook a meal or two at home for my family or I do a good deed for someone on the side of the road. Sometimes I even give a little of my wealth away if I have a little leftover at the end of the week.
But even those good things that I do are only my feeble attempts at balancing the scales of justice. At the end of the day these good actions aren’t always motivated by the bloody cross or the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. Sometimes they are only the actions of a self-inflated, pleasure seeking, and status building man. I used to live in that dangerous place constantly. I used to live in that dangerous place of the mind that was always set on the things of the flesh. I was stuck. I was powerless to change. I could not break free from the shackles of my flesh. I did not have the mindset of the Spirit of God. Think about the mindset of the Spirit of the living God.
#2: The Mindset Of The Spirit (9 – 11)
The mindset of the Spirit is a place of true safety and freedom. It’s a place where there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It’s a place of spiritual vitality. It’s a place where I am growing in holiness. It’s a place where I have the supernatural ability to please God. It’s a place where I desire to obey God. It’s a place where I live in peace with God.
In verses 9 – 11, Paul says that, “you however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who dwells in you.” This portion of Scripture is all about animated freedom.
Our lives are like movies that are animated by invisible forces. We are not in control of our own lives. Something or someone is controlling them. We have operating systems with little invisible codes that tell us what to think, feel and do. We are captivated or held captive by something. Some desire or some emotion or some goal. And whatever holds us in captivity dictates the pathway we are traveling down.
There are only two pathways according to the Bible. There is a wide pathway and a narrow pathway. The wide pathway seems easy because it seems to satisfy our immediate desires. The narrow pathway seems hard because it starves our immediate desires. The wide pathway is controlled or captivated by our flesh because it’s corrupted by our sin. The narrow pathway is controlled or captivated by the Spirit of God. And it’s characterized by freedom to love/obey God.
If your life is controlled by the mindset of the Spirit then the Spirit of God is alive inside of you. Your desires are changing. You are more concerned with who you are becoming because you know who you belong to. You recognize that your body is wasting away because of sin but your life is characterized by all of these brand new desires to please God. You are now living your life under the shadow of the bloody cross in the doorway of the empty tomb. This is the mindset of the Spirit of the living God.
How do you know if this is you? How do you know when you’ve crossed over from the dangerous place of the mindset of the flesh into the safe place of the mindset of the Spirit?
In Galatians 5:22 – 24 Paul says that just as the mindset of the flesh is obvious, the mindset of the Spirit is obvious too because “the fruit (evidence) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” This list of fruit is the evidence that gives you the assurance that you belong to Jesus. If you desire to have and you actually do have the evidence of this fruit of the Spirit in your life then you have the mindset of the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus. The mindset of the Spirit is a place of true safety and freedom.
In conclusion, I want to remind us that sometimes we are held captive to something that is very negative, damaging or destructive. On the other hand, sometimes we are held captive by something that is very positive and life giving. We get our minds set on something and that something holds us in captivity in either a negative or a positive way.
Can I just ask this question again: What is your mind captivated by today? If you think back over the last week, what has your mind been consumed with? Controlled by? Dominated with? In bondage to?
You see, the overriding theme of the Scriptures we’ve just studied today teach us that the Spirit of the living God sets us free from the negative, damaging and destructive things that once held us in captivity. When the Spirit of God sets you free he sets you free in a positive and life giving way. For every child of God this promise is true: There is therefore now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus has condemned what once condemned you.
This is radically good news!! If you have trusted in Christ and his work at the cross and his victory in the empty tomb then you now are no longer in captivity to the negative, destructive and damaging effects of Satan, sin and the grave. You have a new mindset if you have trusted in Jesus as your Savior. You are not in bondage to the old mindset of the flesh any longer. You can rejoice now in the good news that you are free to love God with everything you have!!
Think about the mindset of Jesus during this Easter season. Today is Palm Sunday. On this day we celebrate what is known historically as the Triumphal Entry. It was the day where Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people of Jerusalem threw a party because the new king was in town.
But what they failed to understand was that Jesus had a mind that was set on the cross. Jesus was captivated by the cross. The Scriptures teach us that for the joy that was set before him he set his face like flint towards Jerusalem and he endured the horror of the crucifixion so that you and I might be set free from what used to condemn us.
This was his mindset even though your mind would be set against him. This was, and will always be his mindset towards you. Even when your mind fails to be set on him, his mind is set on your freedom. The mindset of the Spirit is a place of true safety and freedom. Amen!?Jesus’ mind was set on the horror of the cross and the victory of the empty tomb so that you and I might be able to say, my Savior is better at saving me than I am at sinning. My Savior is more relentless than my enemy is. My Savior condemned what once condemned me. The cross is bloody and the tomb is empty. There is therefore now no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus. This is the new mindset of the newly resurrected life.