Because - This is given as a reason for what is said in Romans 8:6. In that verse the apostle had affirmed that to be carnally minded was death, but he had not stated why it was. He now explains it by saying that it is enmity against God, and thus involves a sinner in conflict with him, and exposes to his condemnation.
The carnal mind - This is the same expression as occurs in Romans 8:6 ̀ ́ ̀ ́ to phronēma tēs sarkos . It does not mean the mind itself, the intellect, or the will; it does not suppose that the mind or soul is physically depraved, or opposed to God; but it means that the minding of the things of the flesh, giving to them supreme attention, is hostility against God; and involves the sinner in a controversy with him, and hence, leads to death and woe. This passage should not be alleged in proof that the soul is physically depraved, but merely that where there is a supreme regard to the flesh there is hostility to God. It does not directly Proverbs the doctrine of universal depravity; but it proves only that where such attention exists to the corrupt desires of the soul, there is hostility to God. It is indeed implied that that supreme regard to the flesh exists everywhere by nature, but this is not expressly affirmed. For the object of the apostle here is not to teach the doctrine of depravity, but to show that where such depravity in fact exists, it involves the sinner in a fearful controversy with God.
Is enmity - Hostility; hatred. It means that such a regard to the flesh is in fact hostility to God, because it is opposed to his Law, and to his plan for purifying the soul; compare James 4:4; I John 2:15. The minding of the things of the flesh also leads to the hatred of God himself, because he is opposed to it, and has expressed his abhorrence of it.
Against God - Toward God; or in regard to him. It supposes hostility to him.
For it - The word "it" here refers to the minding of the things of the flesh. It does not mean that the soul itself is not subject to his Law, but that the minding of those things is hostile to his Law. The apostle does not express any opinion about the metaphysical ability of man, or discuss that question at all. The amount of his affirmation is simply, that the minding of the flesh, the supreme attention to its dictates and desires, is not and cannot be subject to the Law of God. They are wholly contradictory and irreconcilable, just as much as the love of falsehood is inconsistent with the laws of truth; as intemperance is inconsistent with the law of temperance; and as adultery is a violation of the seventh commandment. But whether the man himself might not obey the Law, whether he has, or has not, ability to do it, is a question which the apostle does not touch, and on which this passage should not be adduced. For whether the law of a particular sin is utterly irreconcilable with an opposite virtue, and whether the sinner is able to abandon that sin and pursue a different path, are very different inquiries.
Is not subject - It is not in subjection to the command of God. The minding of the flesh is opposed to that law, and thus shows that it is hostile to God.
Neither indeed can be - This is absolute and certain. It is impossible that it should be. There is the utmost inability in regard to it. The things are utterly irreconcilable. But the affirmation does not mean that the heart of the sinner might not be subject to God; or that his soul is so physically depraved that he cannot obey, or that he might not obey the law. On that, the apostle here expresses no opinion. That is not the subject of the discussion. It is simply that the supreme regard to the flesh, t the minding of that, is utterly irreconcilable with the Law of God. They are different things, and can never be made to harmonize; just as adultery cannot be chastity; falsehood cannot be truth; dishonesty cannot be honesty; hatred cannot be love. This passage, therefore, should not be adduced to Proverbs the doctrine of man' s inability to love God, for it does not refer to that, but it proves merely that a supreme regard to the things of the flesh is utterly inconsistent with the Law of God; can never be reconciled with it; and involves the sinner in hostility with his Creator.
(Calvinists have been loudly accused of "taking an unfair advantage of this language, for the support of their favorite doctrine of the utter impotency of the unregenerate man, in appreciating, much less conforming to the divine injunctions." It is alleged that phronēma tēs sarkos refers to the disposition of the mind, and is properly translated, "the minding of the flesh." Therefore, it is this disposition or affection, and not the mind itself, that is enmity against God. But the meaning of the passage is not affected by this change in the translation. For the apostle affirms that this minding of the flesh is the uniform and prevailing disposition of unregenerate people. "They that are after the flesh," that is, unregenerate people," do mind the things of the flesh." This is their character without exception. Now, if the natural mind be uniformly under the influence of this depraved disposition, is it not enmity to God. Thus, in point of fact, there is no difference between the received and the amended translation. To affirm that the mind itself is not hostile to God, and that its disposition alone is so, is little better than metaphysical trifling, and deserves no more regard than the plea which any wicked man might easily establish, by declaring that his disposition only, and not himself, was hostile to the laws of religion and morals. On the whole, it is not easy to conceive how the apostle could more forcibly have affirmed the enmity of the natural mind against God. He first describes unrenewed people by their character or bent, and then asserts that this bent is the very essence of enmity against God - enmity in the abstract.
To anyone ignorant of the subtleties of theological controversy, the doctrine of moral inability would seem a plain consequence from this view of the natural mind. "It is," says Mr Scott, on the passage "morally unable to do anything but revolt against the divine Law, and refuse obedience to it." We are told, however, that the passage under consideration affirms only, that unregenerate people, while they continue in that state, cannot please God, or yield obedience to his Law, and leaves untouched the other question. concerning the power of the carnal mind to throw off the disposition of enmity, and return to subjection. But if it be not expressly affirmed by the apostle here, that the carnal mind has not this power, it would seem at least to be a plain enough inference from his doctrine. For if the disposition of the unregenerate man be enmity against God: whence is the motive to arise that shall make him dislike that disposition, and throw it aside, and assume a better in its stead? From within it cannot come, because, according to the supposition, there is enmity only; and love cannot arise out of hatred. If it come from without, from the aids and influences of the Spirit, the question is ceded, and the dispute at an end.
A very common way of casting discredit on the view which Calvinists entertain of the doctrine of man' s inability, is to represent it as involving some natural or physical disqualification. Nothing can be more unfair. There is a wide difference between natural and moral inability. The one arises from "some defect or obstacle extrinsic to the will, either in the understanding, constitution of the body, or external objects:" the other from "the want of inclination, or the strength of a contrary inclination." Now the Scriptures no where assert, nor have rational Calvinists ever maintained, that there is any physical incapacity of this kind, apart from the corrupt bias and inclination of the will, on account of which, the natural man cannot be subject to the Law of God. But on the other hand, the Scriptures are full of evidence on the subject of moral inability. Even were we to abandon this passage, the general doctrine of revelation is, that unregenerate people are dead in trespasses and in sins; and the entire change that takes place in regeneration and sanctification, is uniformly ascribed not to the "man himself," but to the power of the Spirit of God. Not only is the change carried on and perfected, but begun by him.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Romans 8:7:
1 Corinthians 2:14
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