Romans 8:7

Being free from sin in Christ Jesus, we are also free from its results - condemnation and death; or rather - for the result is one - the death, of which condemnation is but one aspect.

I. THE MIND OF THE FLESH. In a state of sin, as in a state of holiness, there is activity, though the activity be abnormal. The "flesh," equally with the "spirit;" has its "mind," i.e. its purpose, its aspiration; an activity which tends to a goal. And what is the dread goal to which the activity of sin must lead? Death! Yes, "the mind of the flesh is death;" this is as surely the result of such a perverse activity of our nature as though it were consciously designed and sought after. What is death, to such a one as man? The complete separation of the soul from God! And how is such death wrought by the "mind of the flesh"? By the reciprocal hostility between sin and God, which must work an utter mutual exclusion.

1. Sin's hostility to God. (Ver. 7.) The very essence of sin is rebellion against the Divine authority. The "flesh," viz. all the lower desires and passions of man's nature, broken loose from their proper governance, together with the more spiritual faculties which have been dragged down by the riotous animal impulses into a kindred perversion and anarchy - the flesh is "enmity against God." And, this being so, man's very sin, by its own action, shuts out God. Oh, what a suicide is here! For, with God, all good must ultimately be gone. The rebel rioters bar every avenue to shut out God; they darken the windows that the light of heaven may not shine; they exclude every breath of life and liberty.

2. God's hostility to sin. (Ver. 8.) But God is not a mere passive influence, whose exclusion from sinful man is determined solely by the express action of man's sin itself. God is a Spirit! Yes, no mere influence, but a living Person; a living Will! And God were no God, if he were not a holy God; and, being holy, ever hostile to all sin. It must be so. And therefore, when man erects his own rebellious will against his Maker, God's presence is not merely shut Out from the soul by sin, but God in grief - yea, and in wrath, in holy wrath - withdraws himself. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." So, then, on these two grounds, "the mind of the flesh is death." Both by the repugnant action of sin to God, and by the repugnant action of God to sin, all the favour and love and life of God are banished from the heart.

II. THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. But if the inevitable result, and in some sense the conscious choice, of sin is the loss of God, what is the result of the true and right activity of the renewed nature, when the "spirit" is inspired by the Spirit of God, and restored to its proper ascendancy over the "flesh"? "The mind of the spirit is life and peace:" this is the necessary result; this is the result which is consciously sought after and desired. What is this life? The perfect possession and enjoyment of God, and of all good in God. And how is it wrought by the "mind of the spirit"? As in the former case, by the reciprocal action between the renewed spirit and God; though here, not reciprocal enmity, but reciprocal love.

1. The craving for God. "The spirit thirsts for life in God, which is its element, and sacrifices everything to succeed in enjoying it perfectly" (Godet). This is the very essence of the new life, as of all true spiritual life, a desire for God (see the Psalms, passim). And, by the appropriating power of faith, the spirit possesses itself of that which it desires. It hungers, and is fed.

2. The response of God. As above, God is not a mere atmosphere to be breathed, but a living God to give or withhold himself. And just as he withdraws in holy wrath from sinful man, so he imparts himself in gracious love to the humble, believing soul (see John 14:17, passim). So then "the mind of the spirit is life" - life which consists in the full possession of God, and, with him, of peace, joy, strength, and perfect liberty. Yes, "this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Which shall be our portion, our destiny? Life? or death? We answer, practically, by living according to the flesh or the spirit. But this latter is possible only in one way: does the Spirit of God dwell in us? - T.F.L.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.

1. Enmity.

(1)Hating the thought of God.

(2)Resisting the grace of God.

2. Insubordination — transgressing the law of God.

3. Utter incompatibility with His nature.


1. He can only regard it with displeasure.

2. This is evident from His Word, procedure, and threatenings.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Biblical Treasury.
I. ITS OBJECT. God who is —

1. The kindest of beings; from His —

(1)Creative goodness.

(2)Sustaining care.

2. The most lovable.

3. The greatest. He is infinite in wisdom, power, etc.


1. The mind — the noblest part of man, because —



2. The carnal mind — carnal because of its —





1. Aversion from communion with God.

2. Wilful disobedience to His known commands.

3. Opposition to Him.

4. Hatred to His followers.Conclusion: This teaches us —

1. That all mankind are naturally degenerate.

2. That an entire change of mind is necessary to salvation.

3. That this change should be our serious concern.

(Biblical Treasury.)


1. We are not to suppose that the unregenerate man is at enmity with God according to the character which he usually forms of Him, He commonly thinks of God only as a great, wise, and good Being; and he feels no sentiment of opposition to the attributes of wisdom, greatness, or goodness. But His supreme authority as the governor of the world, His infinite purity and holiness as hating, and His justice as avenging, sin are kept out of sight; a being is framed in their imagination very much resembling themselves.

2. This enmity is not to be considered as personal, but rather as a dislike of the government which God exercises, and of the laws which restrain us from any course we are desirous to pursue, or require from us what we feel no disposition to perform; and enmity against them may be properly said to be enmity against God, for it resists His authority. Hence the carnal mind "is not subject to the law of God."

3. Again, we are not to understand that the carnal mind is totally destitute of everything that is good. It is sufficient to say that there is in all a natural tendency to approve and do things which it has pleased God to condemn and forbid, and a natural dislike of many duties which He has thought fit to enjoin.

II. WHAT PROOFS OF THIS DO WE EXPERIENCE IN OURSELVES OR SEE IN OTHERS? Do we, upon the careful review of our lives, perceive that the love of God has been our first and ruling principle, that our chief desire has been to glorify His name, and to fulfil His commands? And do we find the same disposition in others? Are the sins committed in the world committed through ignorance? Does the sinner repent of them and forsake them as soon as he hears they are contrary to the Divine will? Do our children discover a bias, even from their early infancy, to what is right? Alas! I need not proceed in an inquiry which begins already to assume the air of sarcasm. Let us, however, press the matter home upon our own consciences. Do not we find it a labour to do what is right? Does not even self-interest lose its efficacy? And when our fears of misery, or our desires of happiness, induce us to attempt God's service, how numerous, how powerful are the difficulties which arise to deter us! Conclusion: Let us learn —

1. Humiliation. To be at enmity with God is indeed a deplorable state of mind, for it is enmity with perfect truth, justice, goodness, purity.

2. The unspeakable value of an atonement. Great as our vileness may be, there is a way in which we may have access to God, and in which He will receive us graciously.

3. The necessity of Christian vigilance, of self-denial, and earnest supplication for the influence of the Holy Spirit.

(J. Venn, M. A.)

This enmity involves —


1. This necessarily comes out of the very definition of the carnal mind. If the law of God be a law of supreme love toward Himself, how is it possible for that mind to be in subjection to such a law whose affections are wholly set on the things of the world? It not only is not subject to this law, but it cannot be so — else it were no longer carnal.

2. But this is not only logically true, it is also true physically and experimentally. There is no power in the mind by which it can change itself. It can, e.g., constrain the man in whom it resides to eat a sour apple rather than a sweet. But it cannot constrain him to like a sour apple rather than a sweet; and it has just as little power over the affections toward God as it has over the taste. There are a thousand religious-looking things which can be done; but, without such a renewal of the Spirit as the Spirit itself cannot achieve, these things cannot be delighted in. We can compel our feet to the house of God, but we cannot compel our feelings to a sacred pleasure in its exercises. We can bid our hands away from depredation, but we cannot bid away covetousness.

3. And when I charge you with enmity against God you may be ready to answer, that really we are not at all aware of it. On which we have to observe, that your greatest enemy will excite no malevolent feeling so long as you do not think of him. When one is in a deep and dreamless slumber his very resentments are hushed into oblivion. And so of you who are not awake unto God — are you no judges of the recoil that would come upon your spirits did He but stand before you in all His truth, justice, jealousy, and holiness. The manifestation of God as He actually is would call forth of its hiding place the unappeasable enmity of nature against Him.

II. IF WE CANNOT PLEASE GOD WE NECESSARILY DISPLEASE HIM; nor need we to marvel why all they who are in the flesh are the objects of His dissatisfaction. We may do a thousand things that, in the exterior of them, bear a visible conformity to God's will, and yet cannot be pleasing to Him. They may be done from the dread of His power, or to appease the restlessness of an alarmed conscience, or under the influence of a religion that derives all its power from education or custom, and yet not be done with the concurrence of the heart. And however multiplied the offerings may be which we laid on the altar of such a reluctant obedience, they will not and cannot be pleasing to God. Would my father amongst you be satisfied with such a style of compliance and submission from your own children? So the frown of an offended Lawgiver resteth on everyone who lives in habitual violation of His first and greatest commandment. That enmity which now perhaps is a secret to himself will become manifest on the great occasion when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open, and the justice of God will then be vindicated in dealing with him as an enemy. Conclusion: It is only by taking a deep view of the disease that you can be led adequately to estimate the remedy. There is a way of transition from the carnal to the spiritual; from the enmity to the love of God, and that is through Christ. The trumpet giveth not an uncertain sound, for it declares the remission of sin through the blood of Jesus, and repentance through the Spirit which is of His giving; and your faith in the one will infallibly bring down upon you all the aids and influences of the other.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
An enemy may be reconciled, a carnal man may become spiritual; but "enmity," in the abstract, cannot be reconciled, and therefore the carnal mind must be crucified and destroyed. Consider —


1. He possesses every perfection, and in Him every perfection is infinite.

2. He stands to us in the important relations of Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor.

3. He has so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son for its salvation.

4. His requirements are reasonable. Can He require anything less than the supreme love of Himself? Is He not worthy of our unlimited confidence?


1. Disobedience of the commands of God.

2. Neglect of communion with God.

3. Dislike to the image of God, as reflected upon His people.

4. Aversion to the method of salvation which God has revealed in the gospel.

5. Delight in the society of persons who are alienated from God.


1. How deplorable is the state of man compared with what he was when he came out of the Divine hands.

2. That those persons are much mistaken who, whilst they are severe in condemning all offences which affect society, think little of the evil of such sins as are committed principally against God.

3. The necessity of regeneration.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

I. THE MIND OF MAN IS CARNAL. By the "mind" we are to understand all the powers of the soul, and the affections. It is called carnal, because its desires and delights are fleshly (John 3:6).

1. The understanding of man, however rational, is carnal (Colossians 2:18).(1) In its conceptions of the Divine Being, of His worship, and of the way of acceptance with Him (Romans 1:23).(2) In its ideas of the holy law of God (Romans 7:14).(3) In its views of the gospel. Some understand by it nothing but the history of Christ; others only a set of good precepts; others a kind of new law, offering us salvation on easier terms than the old law. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." Many hear the truths of the gospel plainly preached for years, and never understand them. To many others its great doctrines seem nonsense, and they revile them accordingly. And the apostle says it cannot be otherwise (1 Corinthians 2:14).

2. The will is also carnal. "It is not subject to the law of God." It rejects those things which are truly good and excellent, while it chooses those things which are bad and hurtful (John 5:40).

3. The affections, such as hope, desire, and love, are also carnal (ver. 5). "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" These are the inquiries of carnal persons; not, "What shall I do to be saved?" not, How shall I please and glorify God?

II. MAN, BEING CARNAL, IS IN A STATE OF ENMITY AGAINST GOD. This is the very essence of sin; the transferring that love, which is due to God, to His creatures, and to sin. It is turning our backs upon Him, as if He whom angels adore were not worthy of our notice. The carnal man —

1. Takes no pleasure in the perfections of God. That glorious attribute, holiness, is peculiarly obnoxious to him.

2. Greatly dislikes the spiritual worship of God. That which constitutes the joy of angels and the redeemed, is a burden: and therefore wholly omitted, or very carelessly performed.

3. Is in opposition to the law of God. The law is holy, and just, and good; it requires only that we should love Him supremely, and our neighbour disinterestedly. God certainly has a right to require this; and it is our most reasonable service; but the carnal mind refuses submission. Nor is the enmity of the carnal mind against the gospel less than that against the law. The proud Pharisee disdains to submit to the righteousness of Christ; the carnal worldling, intent upon his land, his oxen, etc., begs to be excused; the vain philosopher, puffed up with his mental acquirements, cavils at all its humbling doctrines.

4. Contemns or hates God's people.

(G. Burder.)

I. ITS MANIFESTATIONS. Enmity against God.

1. In His truth. This is shown (Psalm 50:17; Hosea 7:12) —(1) In men's unwillingness to believe any Divine truth, or to meditate upon it. Men shun the thoughts of what they do not love. It is hard to believe Divine truths; because they are against the interests of our lusts, and the more Divine, the more unwilling are we to close with them. If the Word lays hold upon a man, he endeavours to shake it off as a man would a serjeant who comes to arrest him (Romans 1:28). Have not men often had secret wishes that some truths were blotted out of the Bible; because they face their consciences, and damp their pleasures? When men cannot shake off a truth, but it sticks fast in them, yet they have no pleasure in the consideration of it, which would be if there were a love to God; for men love to read over the letters which are sent by them to whom they have an affection.(2) In their opposition to it. God's truths cast against a hard heart are like balls thrown against a stone wall, which rebound the further from it. Sin, as a garrison in a city, is up in arms upon any alarm from its adversary (1 Kings 22:8; John 3:19, 20).(3) If men do entertain truth, it is not for truth's sake, but for some other by-end. Judas follows Christ for the bag.(4) If men do entertain truth, it is with unsettled affections, and much mixture. The Jews cry Hosannah to Christ one day, and crucify Him the next. Some were willing to rejoice in John's light, which gave a lustre to their minds, not in his heat, which would have given warmth to their affections. Our hearts are like lute strings, changed with every change of weather, with every temptation.(5) In a carnal improvement of truth. Some endeavour to make truth subservient to lust, as when men hear of God's willingness to pardon they will argue from hence for deferring their repentance (Psalm 94:7). Wicked men father their sins upon God's Word. A liar will find a refuge in Rahab's lie for preserving the spies. Some will venture into all kind of wicked company, from Christ's example. As the sea turns fresh water into salt, so a carnal heart turns Divine things to carnal ends.

2. In the duties God doth enjoin.(1) Unwillingness to it. If men do come to God, it is a constrained act, to satisfy conscience. If conscience, like a taskmaster, did not lash them to duty, they would never perform it. If we do come willingly it is for our own ends (Isaiah 26:16). This unwillingness is a wrong to His providence, as though we stood not in need of His assistance, and a wrong to His excellency, as though there were no amiableness in Him to make His company desirable.(2) Slightness in the duty.(a) In respect of time. As men reserve the dregs of their life, their old age, to offer up their souls to God; so they reserve the dregs of the day, their sleepy times, for the offering their service to God.(b) In respect of frame. We think any frame will serve God's turn. In worldly business you may often observe a liveliness in man; but change the scene into a motion towards God, and how suddenly does this vigour shrink.(3) Weariness in it. How tired are we in the performance of spiritual duties, when in the vain triflings of time we have a perpetual motion! How will many force themselves to dance and revel a whole night, when their hearts will flag and jade at the first entrance into a religious service (Malachi 1:13).(4) Neglect of expecting answers to prayer. They care not whether their letters come to God's hands or no, and therefore care not much for any returns from Him; whereas if we have any love for a person we send to, or value of a thing we send for, we should expect an answer every post. If God does not answer us, naturally we cast off the duty, and say with those in Job (Job 21:15). They pray not out of conscience of the command, but merely for the profit; and if God makes them wait for it, they will not wait His leisure, but solicit Him no longer.


1. Dissimilitude between God and a natural man. As likeness in nature and inclinations is a cause of love, so dissimilitude and unsuitableness is a cause of hatred. God is infinitely holy, man corrupt. Darkness and light, heaven and hell, are directly contrary, so is Christ and Belial. The remedy, then, will be to get a renewed nature, the image of God new formed in the soul.

2. Guilt. Men fly from God out of shame; they consider the debts they owe God are great, and naturally debtors fly from their creditors. Terror is essential to guilt, and hatred to a perpetual terror. The remedy, then, is to labour for justification by the blood of Christ, which is only able to remove that guilt which engenders our hatred.

3. God's crossing the desires and interests of the flesh. All hatred arises from an opinion of destructiveness in the object hated. And a sinner being possessed that his darling sin is inconsistent with the holiness of God's law, hates God for being of a nature so contrary to that which he loves. The Jews expecting an earthly grandeur by the Messiah was the cause that they were the more desperate enemies to Christ. The remedy, then, is to have a high esteem of the holiness and wisdom of the law of God, and the advantages He aims at for our good in the enjoining of it (1 John 5:3).

4. Love of sin. The more we love that which hath an essential enmity against God, the more we must hate that which is most contrary to it. Light must be odious when darkness is lovely. The remedy, then, is to endeavour for as great a hatred of sin as thou hast of God; to look upon sin as the greatest evil in itself, the greatest disadvantage to thy happiness.

5. Injury we do to God. Whereas the person injured might rather hate, yet the person injuring hath often the greatest disaffection. Joseph's mistress first wronged him, and then hated him. Saul first injured David, and then persecuted him. The remedy, then, is to endeavour a conformity to God's holy will; to think with thyself every morning, What shall I do this day to please God?

6. Slavish fear of God. Men are apt to fear a just recompense for an injury done to another; and fear is the mother of hatred. A fear of God as an inexorable judge that we have highly wronged will nourish an enmity against Him. Then, be much in communion with God; strangeness is the mother of fear; we dread men sometimes, because we know not their disposition. Consider much the loveliness and amiableness of His nature, His ardent desire that thou wouldst be His friend more than His enemy.

7. Pride. Men lift up the pride of reason against the truth of God, and the pride of heart against the will of God. Then endeavour after humility.

8. Love of the world (1 John 2:15; James 4:4). Despise the world, and the devil hath scarce any bait and argument left to move thee to an enmity against God.


1. The information to be derived from the subject.(1) How desperate is the atheism in every man's heart by nature! The desperateness of this natural enmity will appear —(a) In that it is as bad, and in some respects worse, than atheism. An atheist does not so much affront God as a man who walks as if there were no God. The atheist barely denies God's being, the other mocks Him (Jeremiah 32:38).(b) In that it is of the same nature with the devil's enmity. Natural men have a diabolical nature (John 8:44; Matthew 16:33), and every natural man is a friend to the devil. There are but two sovereigns in the world, one rightful, and the other usurping. If we are enemies to the right sovereign, we must be friends to the usurper (2 Corinthians 4:4).(2) What an admirable prospect may we take here of God's patience! (Romans 3:4).(3) Hence follows the necessity of regeneration. This division between God and His creature will not admit of any union without a change of nature.(4) Hence follows the necessity of applying to Christ. It is Christ only that satisfies God for us, by the shedding of His blood, and removes our enmity by the operation of His Spirit.

2. Exhortation.(1) To sinners. Lay down thy arms against God. Lament this enmity, and be humbled for it.(2) To regenerate persons.

(a)Possess your hearts with great admirations of the grace of God towards you, in wounding this enmity in your hearts and changing your state (Romans 5:10, 11).

(b)Inflame your love to God by all the considerations you can possibly muster up. Outdo thy former disaffection by a greater ardency of love.

(c)Watch against the daily exertings and exercises of this enmity.

3. Motives.(1) Consider the disingenuity of this enmity.

(a)God hath been good to us. He is love, and we are out of love with love itself (1 John 4:8).

(b)God hath been importunate in entreaties of us.(2) This enmity is the greatest folly, because God —

(a)Is the most lovely object.

(b)Is the chiefest good, and the fountain of all goodness.

(c)Cannot possibly do us wrong.

(d)Cannot be hurt by us. It is a folly among men to show their enmity where they cannot hurt.

(e)But though thou canst not hurt God, yet thou dost mightily wrong thyself. Thy shot will fall before it reach Him, but His arrows will both reach thy heart and stick in it.(3) Consider the misery of such a state.

(a)Thou canst not possibly escape vengeance.

(b)Thou dost even force God to destroy thee.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)


II. MAN HATES THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. God is the Supreme Being; all things being made by Him and for Him. His right to accomplish His own desires. But what if the plans of a sovereign God require the abandonment of our most beloved objects? Must we then cordially submit? Yes, you must either love, or hate a sovereign God.

III. THE CARNAL MIND HATES THE MERCY OF GOD. Here we seem to be in even more glaring inconsistency with consciousness than in any former assertion. If the mercy of God consisted in the mere direct gratification of the wants of men, our position were then false. This vague notion is wonderfully prevalent in the world, but is infinitely removed from the sublime and holy attribute called mercy in the Scriptures. It was mercy that bowed the listening ear to Abel's prayer; it was grace that inclined him to make the acceptable offering. What was the effect of that display of grace to fallen man? It kindled the passions of hell in the bosom of Cain, and the hatred, which could find no vent toward the God of mercy, fell in murderous stroke upon an innocent brother. At last the Son of God came, the Messenger of mercy. From the cradle to the tomb, He drew forth the rage and malice of men. The relations of life are such, that the religious principles of one person may very greatly interfere with the schemes of profit or pleasure formed by another; and these religious principles are the fruits of God's mercy. But the carnal mind, thwarted and checked, feels a hatred of those principles, and thus of the mercy which caused them. That renovated power of conscience is from the blessed Spirit. But how is it treated? We have reason to fear that the greater part who hear the gospel, dread and detest those very feelings and conditions of the mind. God has no other mercy than a holy mercy; no other merciful treatment of thee than to make thee holy. If this please thee not, it is because thou hast the carnal mind which hates God. Remarks:

1. The supreme love of the creature is a dreadful evil.

2. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

(E. N. Kirk, A. M.)

The apostle does not say it is opposed to God merely, but it is positive enmity. It is not black, but blackness; it is not rebellious, it is rebellion; it is evil in the concrete, sin in the essence. It is unnecessary, therefore, to explain that it is "enmity against God." It does not charge manhood with an aversion merely to the dominion, laws, or doctrines of Jehovah; but it strikes a deeper and a surer blow.

I. THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THIS GREAT STATEMENT. It needs no proof since it is written in God's Word. But did I need witnesses, I would conjure up —

1. The nations of antiquity, and tell you of the awful deeds of mankind.

2. The delusions of the heathen. I would drag their gods before you; I would let you witness their horrid obscenities, the diabolical rites which are to them most sacred things. Then after you have heard what the natural religion of man is, I would ask what must his irreligion be?

3. The best of men who have been always the readiest to confess their depravity.

4. Your conscience. Didst thou never hear the heart say, "I wish there were no God"? Have not all men at times wished that our religion were not true? Now suppose a man wished another dead, would not that show that he hated him? Or has not thine heart ever desired, since there is a God, that He were a little less holy. Has it never said, "Would to God these sins were not forbidden"?


1. As to all persons. There is in the carnal mind of an infant, enmity against God; it is not developed, but it lieth there. Young lions when tamed and domesticated still have the wild nature, and were liberty given them, would prey as fiercely as others. So with the child. And if this applies to children, equally does it include every class of men.

2. At all times. "Oh," say some, "it may be true that we are at times opposed to God, but surely we are not always so." Yes, but mark, the wolf may sleep, but it is a wolf still; the sea is the house of storms, even when it is glassy as a lake; and the heart, when we perceive not its ebullitions, is still the same dread volcano.

3. The whole of the mind is enmity against God. Look at —(1) Our memory. We recollect evil things far better than those which savour of piety.(2) The affections. We love a creature, but very seldom the Creator; and when the heart is given to Jesus, it is prone to wander.(3) The imagination. Only give man something that shall well-nigh intoxicate him, and how will his imagination dance with joy!(4) The judgment — how ill it decides.(5) The conscience — how blind it is. I might review all our powers, and unite upon the brow of each, "Traitor against God!"


1. What is God to us? He stands to us in the relationship of a Creator; and from that fact He claims to be our King. He is our Legislator, our Lawmaker; and then, to make our crime still worse and worse, He is the ruler of providence; for it is He who keeps us from day to day; and I ask, is it not high treason against the Emperor of heaven that we should be at enmity with God?

2. But the crime may be seen to be worse when we think of what God is. God is the God of love. Do you hate God because He loves you?

IV. THE DOCTRINES TO BE DEDUCED FROM THIS. Is the carnal mind at enmity against God?

1. Then salvation cannot be by merit, it must be by grace.

2. Then an entire change of our nature is necessary.

3. This change must be worked by a power beyond our own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend; but enmity cannot.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is no contradiction to the statement of the text, and no proof of love to God —

I. THAT WE DO MANY THINGS THAT ARE AGREEABLE TO HIS LAW WITH THE WILLING CONSENT OF THE MIND. Propose the question, Would not I do this good thing, or abstain from this evil thing, though God had no will in the matter? If you would, then put not down what is altogether due to other principles to the principle of love to God or a desire of pleasing Him. You may have a very large share of estimable principles: but an enlightened discerner of the heart may look unto you and say, "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." For when He puts in for that share of your heart which you give to wealth, or pleasure, or reputation, then is not God a weariness? How would you like the visit of a man whose presence broke up some arrangement that you had set your heart upon? or marred the enjoyment of some favourite scheme that you were going to put into execution? Now, is not God just such a visitor? Yes; and to admit Him, with all His high claims and spiritual requirements into your mind, would be to disturb you in the enjoyment of objects which are better loved and more sought after than He. It is because your heart is occupied with idols that God is shut out of it. There is nothing monstrous in all this to the men of our world; but how must the pure eye of an angel be moved at such a spectacle of worthlessness! That the bosom of a thing formed should feel cold or indifferent to Him who formed it — that not a thought or an image should be so unwelcome to man as that of his Maker — that the creature should thus turn round on its Creator — there is a perversity here, which time may palliate for a season, but which must at length be brought out to its adequate condemnation.

II. THAT A GOD DIVESTED OF ALL WHICH CAN MAKE HIM REPULSIVE TO SINNERS SHOULD BE IDOLISED AT TIMES by many a sentimentalist. It would form no deduction from our enmity against the true God that we give an occasional hour to the worship of a graven image; and it is just of as little significancy to the argument that we feel an occasional glow of affection or of reverence towards a fictitious being of our own imagination. If there be truth in the Bible, it is there where God has made an authentic exhibition of His nature; and if God in Christ be an offence to you — if you have no relish for spiritual communion with such a God — then be assured that, amid the painted insignificancy of all your other accomplishments, your heart is not right with God.

III. THAT WE DO MANY THINGS WITH THE DIRECT OBJECT OF DOING THAT WHICH IS PLEASING TO GOD. Why, I may both hate and fear the man whom I may find it very convenient to please. I may comply by action; but I may abominate the necessity which constrains me. A sovereign may overrule the humours of a rebellious province by the presence of his resistless military; but you would not say that there was any loyalty in this forced subordination.

IV. THAT WE DO WHAT GOD WILLS BECAUSE HE WILLS IT. The terror of His power may constrain you to many acts of obedience. Thieves, and swearers, and Sabbath breakers may, under the fear of the coming vengeance, give up their respective enormities, and yet their minds be altogether carnal. There may be the obedience of the hand, while there is the gall of bitterness in the heart at the necessity which constrains it.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

This must needs be so, because man hath fallen from God through his first transgression in Adam, and so broken that sweet peace and league which was betwixt God and him. Now, till this be repaired and made up again in Christ, there must needs be enmity following thereupon. "Their iniquities have separated betwixt them and their God." For this purpose we must know thus much: First, that as friendship does properly consist in willing and nilling the same things, so enmity does properly consist in willing and nilling the contrary. But then, again, secondly, carnal men are said to hate God, according to that notion and apprehension which they have of Him, and that is, indeed, very opposite and contrary to themselves. And so now I have done with the first general part of the text, which is the doctrine or proposition itself in these words: "The carnal mind is enmity against God." The second is the proof or confirmation of this doctrine in these words: "For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." These words may be considered of us two manner of ways: either, first of all, simply and absolutely, as they lie in themselves; or, secondly, respectively and argumentatively, in their inference and textual connection. First, here is the simple pravity and disparagement of the carnal mind. It is not subject to the law of God. Corrupt nature it is a rebel against God's law, as it is enmity against God Himself (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 53:1, 23; 58:3-5). This is so, and will appear to be so, upon these considerations: First, from the prevalency of another law in such persons in whom this carnal mind is. Secondly, another ground of this point may be taken from the spirituality of the law of God. Thirdly, there is likewise, moreover, observable such a perverseness in man's heart by nature, as that the law of God it rather makes him worse than makes him better. This point which we are now upon, first, serves to give us an account of so much transgression of the law as there is; namely, from hence, that men's carnal-mindedness does still remain in them. Secondly, we learn from hence also how to come to be conformable to God's law, and to be obedient to the commands of it; and that is, by denying and contradicting our carnal reason. Thirdly, this gives us also an account of that wickedness which is sometimes observable even in persons of great parts, and wits, and natural accomplishments; namely, because they are as yet but carnal. One thing more before I pass this branch; and that is the phrase which is here used for subjection. The word in the Greek signifies such a kind of subjection as is after an orderly manner, as of soldiers in battle to their commander, which, being here denied to the wisdom of the flesh, does intimate thus much to us: that carnality it is an irregular business, and such as is much out of order; from whence it comes not to be so obedient as it should be to the law of God. Where there is nothing but confusion, there cannot be expected subjection, but every evil work. The second is the additional amplification, as it is not, so it cannot be neither. A carnal-minded person, he cannot be subject to the law of God. This is grounded upon those following considerations. First, the blindness which by nature is in man's mind. He that cannot see, cannot practise, because he wants light to direct him. Secondly, the will, that is likewise out of frame; that has a particular perverseness upon it, and is obstinate against that which is good. Thirdly, the affections. They are out of order too in all the kinds of them — love and hatred, and fears and grief, and anger and joy, etc., all out of course. To all these we may add some further considerations besides, as, first of all, custom in sinning. This makes the impotency of doing good to be so much the more, and the impossibility to be so much the greater. Secondly, it cannot likewise from the just judgment of God Himself towards it, while He gives up some persons above the rest to a reprobate mind and to a hard heart, whereby sin is made in some manner and in some sense necessary to them. But if they cannot, why, then, there is no hurt done. This seems to make for their excuse. To this we answer, That this does not excuse, for all that, because it is such an impotency and inability as man hath voluntarily brought upon himself. Now further, secondly, we may take them respectively and argumentatively in the force of their connection; for it is not subject. The Apostle Paul does from hence prove that the carnal mind is an enemy to God, because it keeps not God's law. From whence we may observe thus much: That disobedience to God is a conviction of enmity against Him. The ground whereof is this: because the law of God is that which is most near and dear unto Him. His will is Himself, and His sovereignty is that which He most stands upon of anything else. Secondly, let us hereby also judge and estimate, and take account of ourselves, and see how far we are God's friends, which is not so much by pretences as by obedience.

(Thomas Horton, D. D.)


1. Men may be unconscious of their opposition, and hence infer that it has no existence. Many circumstances may conduce to this unconsciousness.(1) Men generally are without any habitual and strong impression of the reality of the Divine existence; and, therefore, their enmity has little opportunity to exhibit itself.(2) Opposition may also be kept in check by a sense of our own weakness and God's power. But conscious impotence is no indication of a heart friendly to the Most High; for give to the sinner the means of successful opposition, and then his disposition will begin to exert itself, unawed and unrestrained.(3) Mere carelessness may keep the sinner in ignorance of the interior operations of his depravity to the holiness and sovereignty of God.

2. The homage of respect paid by many to religion and its institutions may be alleged as an evidence that they are not enemies to their Maker. But the force of education, the power of conscience, the beneficial influence of Christian institutions, the love of human estimation, the energy of servile fear, are sufficient to account for all the religion of unregenerate men.

3. Nor is the glow of imaginary love to the Divine Being, sometimes felt by unconverted men, any proof that they are not His enemies. They may form erroneous conceptions of His character, contemplating Him as devoid of all those attributes which are terrible to the unholy. The most sordid and malignant beings may conceive of a God to whom their hearts would feel no repugnance.

4. The social sympathies and the decencies of life are regarded by many as proofs of some innate sparks of love to God. The mistake here arises from confounding mere instincts and the refinements of enlightened self-love with real benevolence, and from overlooking that system of restraints which Divine Providence is pleased to employ as essential to a dispensation of mercy. A sufficient evidence of the radical deficiency of these social virtues is that they often exist in conjunction with manifest indifference or open opposition to any practical acknowledgment of God. Many a polite and even humane man would blush more deeply to be found on his knees in prayer than to be seen at the gaming table or the race ground.

II. MORE DIRECT PROOFS IN ITS SUPPORT. The native enmity of the human heart against God maybe inferred from —

1. Its entire selfishness. The popular philosophy maintains that ultimate regard to self is the grand law of our being, and ridicules the notion of disinterested goodness. If it be so, love to God is impossible. For against the Divine requisitions, selfishness arises, exasperated and alarmed. It can love nothing which does not secure the gratifications it covets. In the same proportion as it sees its plans thwarted, itself condemned and exposed to hell, its enmity is roused against God.

2. The erroneous and preposterous views which have been commonly entertained by mankind respecting God's character and government.(1) Look at those destitute of the light of revelation. The religious rites of the great body of mankind have been degrading and impious, as the objects of their religious veneration were impure and cruel.(2) Look at those who sit under the sunshine of the gospel. Do we not observe among nominal Christians a strong tendency to error and practical unbelief?

3. The general conduct of mankind to God.(1) "God is not in all their thoughts." Every trifle can engross the mind; but a place within it can scarcely be found for musings on the adorable attributes of Him by whom it was made. The Scriptures are neglected, or read only as the record of curious facts, and fervent prayer is odious. This general reluctance to spiritual duties is unaccountable, if there be no repugnancy in the human heart to intimate communion with God.(2) Do we not observe everywhere a disregard and resistance of the authority of God? A dislike of the law, in its spirituality and strictness, involves opposition to Him by whom it was given, and of whose moral purity it is a transcript. "The carnal mind is...not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Sinners are "enemies to God by wicked works." To please the unholy, He must abandon His sceptre, or rule only for their benefit.(3) How can we account for the treatment which God's messengers have received from an ungodly world, unless there is naturally a strong aversion to pure religion, and consequently enmity against that God from whom it proceeds? Unkindness to an ambassador, who acts simply in accordance with his instructions, is universally accounted an insult to the court from which he derived his commission.(4) How has Christ been treated by sinners?

4. Experience. Every real Christian is ready to charge himself with rebellion. And is this universal consent of such as are most deeply imbued with spiritual Christianity, and have noticed most faithfully the interior actings of their depravity, to be accounted nothing?

5. The Scriptures have settled the question. Deny the native enmity of the heart to God, and its leading doctrines become wholly unintelligible. What will you make of regeneration? Does not reconciliation import a previous state of variance between the parties?Conclusion: This humiliating subject teaches us —

1. The importance of those restraints which a wise and benevolent Providence is pleased to employ in the government of mankind. Conceive of all restraints withdrawn from a world like this, full of the enemies of God. No tongue can describe, no fancy can paint, the complicated scenes of guilt and misery which would ensue.

2. The mysterious love of God to our apostate world.

(J. Woodbridge, D. D.)


1. It is to be understood of nature and not of actions only. Every action of a natural man is an enemy's action, but not an action of enmity. And as waters relish of the mineral vein they run through, so the actions of a wicked man are tinctured with the enmity they spring from. Godly men may do an enemy's action, but they are not in a state of enmity. They may fall into sin as a man into a ditch, but they lie not in it. But a natural man is in a state of universal contrariety.(1) All times. It is Called a "root of bitterness," for while it remains a root, it will remain bitter.(2) In every sinful act. Though the interest of particular sins may be contrary to one another, covetousness and prodigality cannot agree, but they are all in league against God. As all virtuous actions partake of the nature of love to God; so all vicious actions are tinctured with inward enmity.(3) Against all the attributes of God. For sin being an opposition to the law of God, is consequently a contrariety to His will, and His understanding, and therefore to all those attributes which flow from His will, as goodness, righteousness, truth; and His understanding, as wisdom, knowledge.

2. This enmity is habitually seated in the mind (Ephesians 2:3; James 3:15). The mind thus infected is like those eminent persons that spread the contagion of their vices to all their attendants. The other faculties, like common soldiers, fight for the prey and booty; but the mind, the sovereign, fights for the superiority, and orders all the motions of the lower rout. There is —(1) As opposed to desire. Thus man hates God, because he turns from Him. By sin we stand indebted to God, and therefore have an aversion from Him; as debtors hate the sight of their creditors, and are loath to meet them. God's purity is too dazzling for sinful men, and therefore they cannot look upon God, but are like sore eyes that are distempered with the sun.(2) A detestation opposite to love (Colossians 1:21). This is —(a) Natural, which we call antipathy. Sin being the greatest evil, is naturally most opposite to God, who is the greatest good. So that God can never be reconciled to sin, or sin to God.(b) Acquired, which is grounded upon diversity of interests. The interest of a sinner as such consists in gratifying the importunities of his lusts; and the interest of God lies in vindicating the righteousness of His commands. This is either direct (John 15:24) or implicit. Men love not the things that God loves, and therefore may be said to hate Him.


1. Negatively. We hate not God —(1) As God. Which is impossible, because God, absolutely considered, hath all the attractives of love; as a man cannot will sin as sin, because it is purely evil, and therefore cannot be the object of the desire. We never yet met with any so monstrously base as to hate a creature as a creature, or man as man; not a serpent as a creature, but as it is venomous.(2) As Creator and Preserver. Hatred always supposes some injury, or the fear of some; and our hatred doth evaporate when we find our supposed injuries recompensed by benefits. What servant can disdain his master for feeding him? or what child hate his father for begetting and maintaining him?

2. Positively. We hate God —(1) As a Sovereign. Man cannot endure a superior; he would be uncontrollable (Psalm 12:4; Exodus 5:2). We hate God as a lawgiver, as He prohibits sin (Luke 19:27). It is impossible that man should do otherwise, because it is as natural to us to abhor those things which are troublesome as to please ourselves in things agreeable. The sea foams most, and casts up most mire, when restrained by some rock, or bounded by the shore:(2) As a Judge. Fear is often the cause of hatred. All men have a fear of God, not of offending Him, but of being punished by Him. Corruption kindles this enmity, but fear, like a bellows, inflames it. This hatred of God is stronger or weaker, according as the fear is, and therefore in hell it is in its meridian and maturity.(3) In His very being. When this fear rises high, or men are under a sense of punishment. All men are actuated by a principle of self-preservation, and when men look upon God as a punisher of their crimes, if they could, by the undeifying of God, rescue themselves from those fears, there is self-love and enmity enough against God in them to quicken them to it. Did none of you ever please yourselves in the thoughts how happy you should be, how free in your lustful pleasures, if there were no God? Now all hatred includes a virtual murder. If he who hates his brother is a murderer, he that hates God is a murderer of God. Man would have God at the greatest distance from him, and there is no greater distance from being than not being (Job 21:14; Psalm 14:1).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. THE BREACH OF GOD'S LAWS. If obedience be a sign of love, disobedience is an argument of hatred (John 15:14). Then in the breach of it all those attributes are despised. This enmity appears in —

1. Unwillingness to know the law of God. Men hate the light, which would both discover their spots and direct their course (Zechariah 7:11; Romans 3:10; Isaiah 28:12; Isaiah 30:10, 11). And when any motion of the Spirit thrusts itself in to enlighten them, they "exalt themselves against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and resist the Holy Ghost. Men are more fond of the knowledge of anything than of God's will.

2. Unwillingness to be determined by any law of God. When men cannot escape the convincing knowledge of the law, they set up their carnal resolutions against it (Jeremiah 44:15; Malachi 3:13; Psalm 78:10). Men naturally affect an unbounded liberty, and would not be hedged in by any law (Jeremiah 2:24). Hence man is said to make void the law of God (Psalm 119:126; Matthew 15:6).

3. The violence man offers to those laws which God doth most strictly enjoin, and which He doth most delight in the performance of. The more spiritual the law, the more averse the heart (Romans 7:8, 14). Men will grant God the lip and the ear, but deny Him that which He most calls for, viz., the heart.

4. Hatred to conscience, when it puts a man in mind of God's law. This is evidenced by our stifling it when it dictates any practical conclusions from the law. Now, since men hate their own consciences it is clear that they hate God Himself, because conscience is God's officer in them.

5. Setting up another law in him in opposition to the law of God (Romans 7:23). This men do when they plead for sins as venial, and below God to notice.

6. In being at greater pains and charge to break God's law than is necessary to keep it. How will men rack their heads to study mischief, wear out their time and strength in contrivances to satisfy some base lust, which leaves behind it but a momentary pleasure, attended at length with inconceivable horror, and cast off that yoke which is easy and that burden which is light, in the keeping whereof there is great reward.

7. In doing that which is just and righteous upon any other consideration rather than of obedience to God's will, i.e., when men will obey Him only so far as may comport with their own ends.

8. In being more observant of the laws of men. The fear of man is a more powerful curb to retain men in their duty than the fear of God. What a contempt of God is this; it is to tell God I will break the Sabbath, swear, revile, revel, were it not for the curb of national laws, for all Thy precepts to the contrary.

9. In man's unwillingness to have God's laws observed by any. Man would not have God have a loyal subject in the world. What is the reason else of the persecution of those who would be the strictest observers of God's injunctions?

10. In the pleasure we take to see His laws broken by others (Romans 1:32).

II. IN SETTING UP OTHER SOVEREIGNS IN THE STEAD OF GOD. If we did dethrone God to set up an angel, or some virtuous man, it would be a lighter affront; but to place the basest and filthiest thing in His throne is intolerable.

1. Idols.

2. Self. This is properly the old Adam, the true offspring of the first corrupted man. This is the greatest anti-christ, the great anti-god in us, which sits in the heart, the temple of God, and would be adored as God; would be the chiefest as the highest end (2 Timothy 3:2). Sin and self are all one; what is called a living in sin in one place (Romans 6:2) to self in another (2 Corinthians 5:15).

3. The world. When we place this in our heart, God's proper seat and chair, we deprive God of His propriety, and do Him the greatest wrong (Colossians 3:5). The poor Indians made a very natural and rational consequence, that gold was the Spaniards' god, because they hunted so greedily after it.

4. Sensual pleasures (2 Timothy 3:4). A glutton's belly is said to be his god, because his projects and affections are devoted to the satisfaction of that, and he lays in not for the service of God.

5. Satan. Every sin is an election of the devil to be our lord. As the Spirit dwells in a godly man to guide him, so doth the devil in a natural man, to direct him to evil (Ephesians 2:2, 3). What a monstrous baseness is this, to advance an impure spirit in the place of infinite purity; to effect that destroyer above our preserver and benefactor.


1. In challenging titles and acts of worship due only to God.

2. In lording over the consciences and reasons of others. Whence else springs the restless desire in some men, to model all consciences according to their own wills and their anger.

3. In prescribing rules of worship which ought only to be appointed by God.

4. In subjecting the truth of God to the trial of reason.

5. In judging future events, as if we had been of God's privy council when He first undertook any great action in the world.

6. In censuring others' state (Luke 12:14).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

Against —


1. In sinning under a pretence of religion. Many resolve upon some ways of wickedness, and then rake the Scripture to find out at least excuses for, if not a justification of their crimes. Many that have wrung estates from the tears of widows and heart blood of orphans, think to wipe off all their oppression by some charitable legacies at their death. It is abominable when men sin for God's glory.

2. In charging sin upon God.

3. In prescribing rules of worship, which ought only to be appointed by God (Genesis 3:12; Genesis 4:9; 2 Samuel 11:35). If we find a way to lay our sins at God's door, we think then to escape His justice. But it is a foolish consideration; for if we can fancy an unholy God, we have no reason to think Him a righteous God.

3. In hating the image of God's holiness in others. He that hates the picture of a prince hates the prince also. He that hates the stream hates the fountain; he that hates the beams hates the sun.

4. In having debasing notions of the holy nature of God. God made man according to His own image, and we make God according to ours. It is a question which idolatry is the greatest, to worship an image of wood or stone, or to entertain monstrous imaginations of God. It provokes a man when we liken him to a dog or a toad.

5. In our unworthy and perfunctory addresses to God. God is so holy, that were our services as refined and pure as those of the angels, yet we could not serve Him suitably to His holy nature (Joshua 24:19); therefore we deny this holiness when we come before Him without due preparation.

6. In .defacing the image of God in our own souls (Ephesians 4:24).


1. In slighting the laws of God. Since God hath no defect in His understanding, His will must be the best and wisest; therefore they that make alteration in His precepts practically charge Him with folly.

2. In defacing the wise workmanship of God. The soul, the image of God, is ruined and broken by sin. If a man had a curious clock which had cost him many years' pain and the strength of his skill to frame, for a man to break it would argue a contempt of the workman's skill.

3. Censuring His ways (Isaiah 45:9; Job 40:2). A reproof argues a superiority in authority, knowledge, or goodness.

4. Prescribing rules and methods to God (Jonah 4:1; Luke 2:48).


1. In secret thoughts of meriting by any religious act. As though God could be indebted to us, and obliged by us. In our prosperity we are apt to have secret thoughts that our enjoyments were the debts God owed us, rather than gifts freely bestowed upon us. Hence it is that men are more unwilling to part with their righteousness than with their sins, and are apt to challenge salvation as a due, rather than beg it as an act of grace.

2. Trying all ways of helping ourselves before we come to God. Having hopes to find that in creatures which is only to be found in an all-sufficient God.

3. In our apostasies from God. When, after fair pretences and devout applications, we grow cold and thrust Him from us, it implies that God hath not that fulness in Him which we expected.

4. In joining something with God to make up our happiness. Though men are willing to have the enjoyment of God, yet they are not content with Him alone, but would have something else to eke Him out; as though God had not in Himself a sufficient blessedness for His creatures, without the additions of anything else. The young man in the gospel went away sorrowful because he could not enjoy God and the world both together (Matthew 19:21, 22). If we would light up candles in a clear day, what do we imply but that the sun has not light enough in itself to make it day l


1. When we commit sin upon the ground of secrecy.

2. When men give liberty to inward sins. God "trieth the heart, and searcheth the reins." Manasseh is blamed for setting up strange altars in the house of God; much more may we for setting up strange imaginations in the heart, which should belong to God. Hypocrisy is a plain denial of His omnisciency. Are we not more slight in the performance of private devotions before God than we are in our attendances in public in the sight of men.

3. When men give way to diversions in a duty. It wrongs the majesty of God's presence that when He speaks to us we will not give Him so much respect as to regard Him; and when we speak to Him we do not regard ourselves. What a vain thing is it to be speaking to a scullion when the king is in presence t Every careless diversion to a vain object is a denial of God's presence in the place.


1. In the severe and jealous thoughts men have of God. Men are apt to charge God with tyranny, whereby they strip Him of the riches of His glorious mercy. The worship of many men is founded upon this conceit, whereby they are frighted into some actions of adoration, not sweetly drawn. We hate what we fear.

2. Slighting His mercy and robbing Him of the end of it. The wilful breaking of the prince's laws, upon the observance whereof great rewards are promised, is not only a despising his sovereignty, but a slighting his goodness. Often this enmity rises higher; and whereas men should fear him, they rather presume to sin (Romans 2:4; Ecclesiastes 8:11).


1. In not fearing it, but running under the lash of it.

2. In sinning under the strokes of justice. Men will roar under the stroke, but not submit to the striker.

3. In hoping easily to evade it (Psalm 50:21; Psalm 10:11).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

"After all, I do not hate God. No, sir; you will not make me believe that. I am a sinner, I know, and do many wicked things; but, after all, I have a good heart — I don't hate God." Such was the language of a prosperous worldling. He was sincere, but sadly deceived. A few months afterwards that God who had given him so many good things crossed his path in an unexpected manner. A fearful freshet swept down the valley and threatened destruction to this man's large flour mill. A crowd was watching it, in momentary expectation of seeing it fall; while the owner, standing in the midst of them, was cursing God to His face, and pouring out the most horrid oaths. He no longer doubted that he hated God. But nothing in that hour of trial came out of his mouth which was not previously in his heart.

I. TO DISCOVER THIS ENMITY. The carnally-minded man is enmity against God —

1. As a servant.

2. As a subject.


1. What an injustice it is!

2. What an infamy it is!

3. What an injury is this to yourself!


1. It can never be done but by the Holy Ghost.

2. It can only be done by deliverance from the great guilt of not having loved God. Nothing but the love of Jesus can soften your heart and do away with its enmity.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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