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Romans 8:5‑8


The movie, "A Beautiful Mind," is based on the true‑life experiences of John Nash, a professor of Mathematics at Princeton University.

Nash is both a brilliant mathematician and a paranoid schizophrenic.

The combination has caused him considerable difficulties in his life, but it has not prevented him from making world‑class discoveries in mathematics or from experiencing a rewarding family life and teaching career.

The movie depicts Nash going through a long phase in his life where his mental illness controlled him.

He was hospitalized when he was no longer able to function in society and became a threat to himself and to his family.

His return to society after the period of hospitalization was not satisfactory.

The medication that controlled his mental illness dulled his senses so that he could not function mentally or emotionally with his wife.

Nash took himself off the medication and almost immediately returned to his paranoid delusions.

The psychiatrist urged his wife to return him to the hospital.

Nash believed that if he were hospitalized a second time, he would never get out of the hospital again.

One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is where Nash begs his wife not to return him to the institution, but to give him a chance to control his schizophrenic delusions with his mind.

She agreed with his request and slowly, with her help and with some newer medications, John Nash began to gain control of his life again.


The title of the movie comes from the fact that John Nash demonstrated the beauty of his mind with the mathematical insights that won him a Nobel Prize.

That accomplishment alone would have distinguished him as possessing one of the greatest minds in the world.

But John Nash also demonstrated the beauty of his mind by controlling the debilitating effects his paranoid schizophrenia had on his life.

His mind is beautiful because it grasps the logic of mathematical realities and controls a mental illness that in most people is debilitating.


The Bible recognizes the role the mind plays in directing human behavior.

One of the key passages where the power of the human mind is addressed is Romans chapter 8, verses five through eight‑

Romans 8:5-8 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.

There is a story about a hobo who stole a box of oranges from a train.

The man was arrested and sentenced to prison.

Those trying to rehabilitate the prisoners and turn them from their lives of crime to become productive citizens of society believed that the problem was education.

They believed that if they could just give the prisoners an education, the prisoners would leave the prison and become productive citizens of society.

The hobo excelled at education and eventually received a Ph. D. in economics.

When he was released from prison, he got a responsible job with a railroad where before long he was able to steal an entire train.

The point is that the nature of the person has to be changed before his behavior changes.

This is the point the Apostle Paul is making in this passage.

The nature of the person controls the direction in which the mind works.


Paul states in this passage that the mind controlled by the sinful nature has five characteristics‑


1. The sinful nature turns the mind to what sin desires (v. 5). For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;


Our thoughts follow patterns that are laid down by our nature.

Words have meanings to us in our minds.

Our language is contained in the commonality of a large group of words between a large group of people.

But even words are understood differently according to what our nature is.

If we are cynical and distrusting, we suspect that there are hidden meanings.

Common words have changed also.

Gay, queer, etc.

I am glad that my mind has rest, that has been given to my by the Spirit.

NBC is a place of peace and rest.

Our inclination is toward the things of the Spirit.

Abut they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.@


2. The sinful nature always directs the mind to death (v. 6).

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.


Wherever sin abounds death is not far behind.


For instance, the terrorist hates and his hatblack justifies in his mind his right to kill those whom he hates. He would not think of killing family members or friends. He would consider that morally repugnant. But he feels free to target those whom he hates and believes he is fully justified in carrying out whatever deeds of evil against them he can carry out.


Sin always has a taint of death.


3. The sinful nature causes the mind to be hostile to God (v. 7a).

Romans 8:7a Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God:


Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and the way they thought about God immediately changed.

They no longer wanted to walk with God or to talk with Him.

They were now afraid of God and hid from His presence.


We are, all of us, sinners.

And because we are sinners, we are busy hiding from God.

Our worst fear is that God will find us in our hiding places and assert His claim over our lives.

We do not like God.

We do not like His holiness or His goodness.

We do not like to be reminded that we are dependent upon Him.


People want to live as if there is no God.

So Christians should not be surprised that the world hates them and wants to persecute them (Matthew 24:9).

It isn't anything personal.

The world hates God and Christians represent God to the world.


4. The sinful nature excites the mind to rebel against God's will (v. 7b).

Romans 8:7b For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.


In 1829 a man in Philadelphia by the name of George Wilson robbed the U. S. mail and killed a person in the process of committing the robbery.

Wilson was arrested, found guilt of the crime and sentenced to hang.

Friends of Wilson appealed to President Andrew Jackson who pardoned him.

But when Wilson was informed of the pardon, he rejected it.

The sheriff refused to hang a man who had been pardoned by the President of the United States.

The matter ended up back in the lap of President Andrew Jackson who referblack the matter to the United States Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that if the pardon is refused by the condemned, then it is not a pardon and that the sentence of death should be carried out.

Wilson was then hanged while a pardon for his release lay on the Sheriff's desk.


In the same way, Christ died for our sins and a pardon for every person on the planet is ours to claim.

But, sadly, many people are in such ferocious rebellion against God that they want nothing to do with God, even if it means they will end up in eternal torment.


5. The sinful nature poisons the mind so that it cannot please God (v. 8).

Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.


Sin has so twisted and convoluted our thinking that we have it all backwards when it comes to spiritual things.

We think we are being wise when we raise our objections and throw out our challenges to belief.

All the while little children enter the kingdom of heaven while the learned and the wise fumble blindly at the door of faith.

The human mind in its unregenerate state cannot please God.




Our nature controls how we think.

A mind controlled by sin is a mind so twisted and distorted that it‑


‑ seeks to satisfy the sinful nature,

‑ always leads to death,

‑ is hostile to God,

‑ rebels against God's will, and

‑ cannot please God.


But that is only part of the story.

A mind controlled by the Spirit of God seeks what the Spirit of God desires and leads to life and peace.


Patrick Morley was a real estate developer in Orlando.

He described his conversion experience as a two‑step process.


Morley's first venture into the Christian faith was to accept Christ intellectually.

He simply added Jesus to his already existing philosophy of life.

He described himself as a materialist and a moralist.

His goal in life was to get rich, but he also wanted to be an ethical and a moral person.

Morley's first attempt to become a Christian was to simply add Jesus to his philosophy of life.

Soon, however, he became aware that his life was still not satisfying.

Something was missing from his life, though it was some time before he was able to understand what that something was.

What he discoveblack was missing was that one does not add Jesus to one's life.

Conversion is the act of surrendering the whole of one's life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

When Patrick Morley surrendeblack his life to Jesus Christ, it was profound. Things changed.

Instead of just knowing Christ at a distance,

Christ became the most important thing in his life.

There grew in him a hunger to know Christ and to live for Him and to worship Him and to serve Him.


This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that the mind controlled by the Spirit desires what the Spirit of God desires and leads to life and peace.


John Nash is said to have a beautiful mind because

his mind is so powerful that he can conceive brilliant mathematical solutions

and also control a mental illness that for most people is a crippling experience.


No one wants to take anything away from Mr. Nash or his amazing mental abilities,

But the scriptures say that a truly beautiful mind is a mind that is controlled by the Spirit of God.


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