For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8, ESV)
The goal of life is not to get what we want from God, but to be changed by God, and to be with Him. We all become like the things we behold. As we experience the change that comes from being in His presence, our selfish desires are changed and we begin to see things from an eternal perspective. This God – focused perspective is only given to those that embrace the reality of eternal life now. With eternity in our hearts we view all of life from a heavenly perspective. This heavenly perspective is focused on God’s glory and his Kingdom rule. Those that live according to this present evil age reject God’s ways.
The mind set on the flesh or earthly natural desires only (which are not always bad) produces spiritual death. Avoiding an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasure or worries of this world is only possible when we live in communion or fellowship with God. Apart from God’s gracious intervention in our lives, our minds will continually be set on the flesh (ourselves) and not on things above, and this mindset leaves us feeling hopeless. This death – like existence is ruled by anxiety, depression, and fear. We all battle against these ruling negative emotions. But the life of God (His unhindered presence) produces joy. And the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit produces a joy filled heart even in the mist of the pain of living.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
Having an eternal perspective is the result of embracing the Kingdom of God. Our view of heavenly and spiritual reality is somewhat cloudy from our current earthly perspective (1 Cor. 13:12). Our minds have to be informed about reality from the God breathed words of Scripture. We engage the truth of God through our prayerful meditation in the Word. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to internalize the truth. There is a danger in pursuing knowledge for intellectual purposes only. This ultimately leads to pride and deception. The true knowledge of God leads us to a place of humility, and to experience God Himself. By faith, we can gaze at the beauty of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Prideful people miss eternal realities and only seek God’s presence for their own self seeking gain. People whose main message is material prosperity have missed the point. God is seeking to wean us from the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. Material prosperity doesn’t bring peace to the soul.
If peace is your goal, God must be your focus. God is well aware of our need for temporal things. But Jesus teaches us to seek his Kingdom first, and those things will be taken care of. When we shift our attention to Kingdom living we are empowered by His Spirit to live in the fullness of his presence. This results in our spiritual eyes being opened (Eph.1:18), and our fear of the future will begin to fade.