Enmity against God

The carnal mind is enmity against God…

Romans 8:7

Although we all have access to the unprecedented favor of God, we have a challenge in that our human nature makes us enemies with God.

Salvation, however, provides forgiveness of sins and provides believers with forgiveness of their failures.

As natural enemies of God, we must behave in ways that bring reconciliation and, consequently, peace with God.

Be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:20


Here Apostle Paul refers to “the flesh” which, according to Vine, refers to “the unregenerate state of man” in this context. We see the same underlying word rendered as “flesh” in Romans 8:8.

“Carnal” has significance in the Bible, being rendered as “flesh” 147 times. Other instances of this word include “carnally minded” and “fleshly.”

The “carnal mind” does not refer to the flesh as in “flesh and blood” or “flesh and bone.” The “carnal” state of a person, in our text, refers to a spiritual rather than physical condition.

So, Apostle Paul speaks of the natural man who has not experienced the regenerating power of salvation.

In our natural state, we pursue behavior that pollutes the body and drives us away from God. Such behavior may include fornication, adultery, and other forms of sexual perversion. Carnal behavior can also include other types of destructive behavior, such as overeating.

Perhaps more importantly, note that salvation does not eradicate human nature. Those who have accepted the New Birth have an ongoing struggle with the flesh, as noted in Romans Chapter 7:

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Romans 7:21

Kittel says,

A better part of man is not distinguished from a worse. Both are threatened by pollution and both may be cleansed.

TDNT 7,125

You and I must make a conscious choice to choose God over our arrogant natural human inclination towards evil.

The good news is that, regardless of your state (regenerated or unregenerated), Jesus Christ provides pardon for our fleshly failures.


We have a choice between being spiritually minded or carnally minded.

To be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.

Romans 8:6

Do you want death, or do you want life and peace? Sometimes we cannot realize the simple choice we must make constantly as we traverse our lifespan.

Our natural mind brings destruction. Even when we know this, we often follow the carnal mind, without realizing its disastrous repercussions.

The Outline of Biblical usage defines the “mind” as.

What one has in the mind, the thoughts and purposes.

Outline of Biblical Usage

As “the seat of intellectual and spiritual activity” (Kittel), we better understand the mind and the tension we feel between good and evil.

By differentiating between the intellect and the spirit, we learn an important principle: intellect will not save us. In our text, the carnal mind is the intellectual mind. The spiritual man emphasizes agreement with the Holy Spirit rather than natural intelligence.

I say that not to deemphasize the need for education, but to emphasize that education and intellect do not bring us peace with God.

Also, those who have a spiritual mindset may seem silly and coarse without sufficient intellectual knowledge. We need both an intellectual and emotional response to God to overcome the carnal mind..

We are not to aspire so high that we miss the set goal: we are to aspire with moderation.

Kittel 9, 233

In the believer’s life, we have a need for intellect, but we also need spiritual knowledge. Finding a balance will help us overcome the flesh along with its condition as the enemy of God.

As part of the spiritually minded life, besides being in agreement with God, we must be in agreement with all believers on the same spiritual plane.

Apostle Paul prays for believers that we may live this way:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

Romans 15:5

As we understand the carnal mind, we can already see that we have a conflict between our natural and spiritual conditions which directly affects our relationship with God.

Look closer at how the flesh makes us enemies of God, regardless of our regenerated or unregenerated state.


The word that underlies the word “enmity” refers to hatred (Vine), introducing us to the severity of a carnal mind.

In our text, the “enmity” refers to the cause of the enmity: the carnal mind. The carnal mind comes from a fleshly hatred towards God.

The condition of enmity emphasizes an internal condition of hostile and “objective opposition” (Kittel) towards God.

As the carnal mind hates and opposes God, I must point out that this hostility and opposition is from us towards God and is not, in scripture, used to refer to God’s opposition or hatred towards us.


Those who have never accepted God’s salvation live after the flesh and – despite their intellect – live in a constant state of hatred of and opposition to God. As the enemy of God, the unregenerated can expect to spend eternity in Hell, forever separated from God.

Born again believers, though regenerated, have a choice. We can live after the spirit, or we can live carnally minded. When we choose the latter, we oppose God. We express hatred toward God. We open ourselves to the judgment of God, though we can find pardon through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

I want you to choose God.

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