It is true that there are all kinds of people in the world. There are different colors of people: red, yellow, black and white people. There are nice people and mean people. There are rich and poor, short and tall people. The list could go on and on. But interestingly, the Bible categorizes everyone into one of two kinds of people. It could be said many different ways, but the final analysis is the same. Here are a few ways the Bible states it. People are either “born again,” or not “born again” (John 3:1-8), “children of God” or “children of the devil” (1 Jn 3:10), “of the Spirit” or “of the flesh” (Rom 8:5-9), either the “spiritual man” or “natural man” (1 Cor 2:14-16), “believers” or “unbelievers” in Jesus Christ (John 3:18) and lastly “found & saved” or “lost” (Luke 15). In God’s world, He says there are only two types of people. People may look the same on the outside, but inside determines who they are! So how then does one identify the distinguishing features of these two types of people? Romans 8:5-9 is one of the most descriptive passages that describes the differences between the two groups. It is clear that they both have a very different mindset, a very different disposition toward God and His word, and in the end a very different destiny.
Very Different Mindsets
The Apostle Paul says that the two types of people first “set their minds” on specific things. People in the flesh set their minds on the “things of the flesh” while people in the Spirit set their minds on the “things of the Spirit” (v. 5). There couldn’t be a bigger contrast. When Paul uses this phrase, “set their minds,” he is describing the principle that is governing a person’s life. To set your mind on something means that a person is absorbed with or sharply focused on a particular view of life. This is not a description of an occasional glance, but an absorbed desire to pursue a certain lifestyle.
The person who lives in the flesh is absorbed with and governed by the “things of the flesh.” So, what are the things of the flesh? The Apostle John tells us that the “world and the things in the world… the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life– is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-17). To put it short, worldly people love worldly things; the world is all they have. The unregenerate unbeliever is only concerned with the things of the world: material possessions, fleshly desires, prideful attitudes, secular beliefs, self-interest and self-promotion. In addition, they are opposed to anything spiritual. Not only do they not understand spiritual things, but spiritual things are foolishness to them (1 Cor 2:14).
On the other hand, the person who has been changed by the grace of God, the person who lives according to the Spirit, has a new mindset; he has the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). According to Paul this new mindset is set on the “things of the Spirit.” So, what are the things of the Spirit? The things of the Spirit are the things that belong to God: The Kingdom of God, the Son of God, the Word of God, the Truth of God and the will of God. The man who is “in Christ” and made a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) has a new mind for spiritual things. Because we are “of the Spirit” we desire to know and glory in the things of God. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that the unbelievers naturally worry themselves about food and clothing. But we as believers don’t worry and rather we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt 6:33). Because we are tempted to seek the things of the world, Scripture commands us to “set our minds on things above, since we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3).
Very Different Dispositions
Second, very telling of these two kinds of people is their disposition toward God and particularly His Word. Again, the Apostle Paul tells us in v. 7-9 the stark contrast. Paul gives four descriptions of the person who is still in the flesh. First, they are “hostile toward God.” This hostility may be either an active or passive hostility. Either way, this person doesn’t want God interfering with their life. Second, they do not submit to the Word of God. In short, the unregenerate person doesn’t want God telling them what to do. Their motto in life is “I’m the boss of me!” And as a result, they are unwilling to listen and obey what God’s Word says. It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a worldwide conspiracy against the Bible to redefine marriage, the family, gender, ethics and faith. The world hates what God’s Word says. Third, the unregenerate are “unable to submit” to the Law of God. This is very telling, because it speaks of the deadness of their volition or will. According to the Apostle, the unregenerate man has no ability to submit to God outside of the grace of God. Fourth, ultimately the lost person “cannot please God.” But Paul goes on to say, “however,” believers are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (v. 9), and as a result have the power of the Holy Spirit which enables them to do exactly opposite of the world. Not only do believers have a desire, but they also have a power to obey the Word of God. They have faith which enables them to “please God” (Heb 11:6).
Very Different Destinies
Lastly, and tragically, these two kinds of people have two very different destinies. The person in the flesh is promised spiritual “death” while the person in the “Spirit” is promised eternal “life and peace” (v. 6). While this may not be politically correct in our day, the truth of God’s Word is clear. Those without Christ will go to everlasting death in hell, which is a real place. It is a place of torment and a place of no return (Luke 16:23-31). Hell is a place of unquenchable fire where the worm never dies (Mark 9:43-48). Hell is a place of internal anguish seen by the gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:43). It is also a place of eternal darkness and eternal punishment (Matt 25:30-46). However, those who are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit, redeemed by the grace of God, will go to eternal life and everlasting peace with God. These are the promises of Scripture (Jn 3:16).
Which Kind of Person Are You?
After reading this particular text of Scripture, the obvious question should be, “Which kind of person am I?” The answer to that question should be obvious. Ask yourself what you have “set your mind” on in this world. Ask yourself if you have a desire for the things of God. Secondly, ask yourself what your attitude is toward God and His Word. Particularly ask yourself what you think of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Do you love God’s Word, and while you may not obey it completely are you striving to obey it by faith in Christ? The answer to these questions will determine your destiny, either hell or heaven. These are not trifling matters, but the most important questions of life. Please take stock of your life (2 Cor 13:5). There are only two types of people in the world! Every one of us is one or the other!