“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
The being verb are is also in the present continuous state; therefore, it is describing a continuous action which characterizes the type of person being discussed. What people truly believe may be determined by how they continuously live. Jesus said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20).” This is not to say that a Christian cannot be carnally minded, because he certainly can be. Should a believer not allow the Spirit to control his will, he will be fulfilling the same principles of a carnal lifestyle.
Carnality always works death. For a lost man, the apex of this death is separation from God in hell. For the believer, carnality destroys eternal rewards, wreaks havoc in the lives of people, and manifests itself in a lifestyle that is not subject to biblical principle. On the other hand, when a person bows the knee to Jesus Christ, the Spirit of life regenerates that person, and God imparts to him his covenant of life and peace. Life and peace are what characterized the Levites who truly knew God as their Redeemer (Malachi 2:5). If a believer will choose to daily submit to this Spirit of life, the effects of life and peace will be manifested in his life. Eternal rewards will be earned and submission to biblical principle will be evident.
The verb not subject in verse seven is in the passive voice; this means that the action is being performed upon the subject, which in this case is the carnal mind. The carnal mind has not been subjected to God's law, and it is completely unable to subject itself. Some people continuously struggle with submission to the things of God because they simply are not saved, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (I John 5:3).” A man who has not been changed from the inside out by the presence of God's Spirit has never been made subject to God's law through repentance and he will never be able to subject himself. Keeping this truth in mind, it quickly becomes obvious that the Christian who lives according to sense rather than Scripture will be in a continuous up-and-down struggle.
Verse eight ends the passage with a short, easy-to-grasp truth. The flesh and God are continuous enemies. The person who is continuously characterized by the god of this world is not saved, and the believer who attempts to live by feeling and desire rather than principle will be at enmity with the One he is supposed to be serving. As James said, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).”