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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 26, 2013

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

Matthew Henry said,

A carnal soul is a dead soul, dead as a soul can be. [Also] it is enmity to God, and this is worse than the former. The former speaks the carnal sinner as a dead man, which is bad; but this [v. 7] speaks [of] him [as] a devil of a man. It is not only an enemy, but enmity itself. It is not only the alienation of the soul from God, but the opposition of the soul against God; it rebels against his authority, thwarts his design, opposes his interest, spits in his face, spurns at his bowels [rejects His love]. Can there be a greater enmity?...Those that are in a carnal unregenerate state, under the reigning power of sin, cannot do things that please God (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, vol. 6, page 335).

“A carnal soul is a dead soul, dead as a soul can be.” “It is not only an enemy, but enmity itself.” This is the description of an unconverted man or woman, “in a carnal unregenerate state, under the reigning power of sin.”

“The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

The Geneva Bible of 1599 translates “carnal” as “flesh” – and says, “By the flesh he meaneth a man not regenerate,” a man in an unconverted, lost condition. And Spurgeon said,

The old translators rendered the passage thus: “The mind of the flesh is enmity against God,” that is to say, the natural mind, that soul which we inherit from our fathers, that which is born within us…The fleshly mind, [spoken of in the original Greek text as] the phronema sarkos…has gone astray from God and becomes enmity against him… Observe how strongly the Apostle expresses it. “The carnal mind,” he says, “is ENMITY against God.” He uses a noun [a name], not an adjective [or description]. He does not say it is opposed to God merely, but it is the positive enmity. It is not black, but blackness; it is not at enmity, but enmity itself; it is not corrupt, but corruption; it is not rebellious, it is rebellion; it is not wicked, it is wickedness itself…it is not at enmity, it is actual enmity (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1981 reprint, volume I, p. 150).

“The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7), is opposed to God.

The key word is “enmity.” The Greek word is “echthra” – “hostility,” “opposition” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Number 2190). The NIV and NASV both translate “echthra” as “hostile,” but both of these new translations mistranslate it as “is hostile.” That is wrong. The correct way would be to translate it,

“The carnal mind is hostility against God” (Romans 8:7),

as Rienecker points out (F. Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, p. 365). R. C. H. Lenski, a Lutheran commentator faithful to Luther, also said,

[The] whole thought [of a lost person], Paul says, is [echthra], which means personal animosity…dislike, and opposition directed against God (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961 reprint, page 506).

“The carnal mind is enmity [hostility, animosity, dislike, opposition] against God” (Romans 8:7).

From this text we can draw several points that are of great importance, and which can be used to show lost sinners why they will not yield to Christ; why they refuse Christ, and prefer to remain unconverted,

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

I. First, enmity against God is universal.

I know that the average person doesn’t believe that today. We have been influenced by twentieth century psychology. We think that some people are “good” and others are “bad.” I once asked a young man why he thought his brother was converted but he wasn’t. He said that his brother had “a good heart.” That’s modern “pop” psychology.

But, you see, that isn’t in the Bible. The Bible teaches that the whole human race went wrong in Adam. The Bible teaches that

“All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
       (Romans 3:23).

The Bible says,

“There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

The Bible says,

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

That is why it is true of everyone that,

“We hid as it were our faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3),


“There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).


“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

Dr. Gill said,

This enmity is universal, ‘tis in all men in unregeneracy, either direct or indirect, hidden or more open…’tis natural and deeply rooted in the mind, and irreconcilable without the power and grace of God (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume II, p. 483).

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”
      (Romans 8:7).

II. Second, enmity against God is manifested in different ways.

The Bible says,

“God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

That means people have different ways of expressing their opposition to God. The prophet Isaiah said,

“We have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Hostility toward God takes many forms in the human race, and it is universal.

Sometimes this enmity is manifested by outward rebellion. There are people in this world who hate Jesus Christ. There are people who do terrible things to Christians, in many parts of the world, thus showing outwardly their dislike and hostility toward Christ. A Chinese man once drove me out of his grocery store, trying to hit me on the head with a broom, because I came to pick up his child for church. I can laugh about that now, but it was very frightening at the time. The Pharisees plotted to kill Christ and the Gentiles tried to stone Paul to death. Sometimes man’s enmity toward God is shown by outward rebellion like this.

At other times men show their opposition to God by cold indifference. This is the exact opposite of outward rebellion – but it comes from the same source. The boy who sits through one sermon after the other, with no thought about his soul, is just as opposed to Christ as a Muslim who murders a Christian. The cold inner sluggishness of his heart reveals that he is just another enemy of God, no different from the multitudes of the city.

The great example of cold indifference was the governor, Pontius Pilate. He did not rail against Christ. He did not take a stand against Him. He just washed his hands and walked away – cool and aloof. But by his indifference he showed his inward hostility,

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”
       (Romans 8:7).

III. Third, enmity against God can only be overcome
by the grace of God in Christ.

Man is so totally depraved in Adam, by the Fall, that he is left in a miserable, hostile condition toward God, utterly depraved, cut off from all communion with God, with his heart in complete opposition to his Maker. Furthermore, man in this sinful condition, has no desire, nor any ability to contribute anything at all to his salvation. Dr. Lenski said,

By his own thought-product the fleshly-minded [unconverted] man cuts himself off from life and peace because all his thought (and thus all his acts) is enmity [opposition] toward God, the one fount of life and peace. How can anything but death be left [for him]? By means of his enmity [his hostility] he who is fleshly minded [chooses] death [for] himself (R. C. H. Lenski, ibid., p. 506).

The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 says,

From this original corruption [imparted from Adam in the Fall] we are utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil (The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapel Library, n.d., p. 11).

What is this but a strong statement of our text, given by our Baptist forefathers in 1689?

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”
       (Romans 8:7).

That London Baptist confession says that an unconverted man is “utterly indisposed, disabled and opposite to all good, and wholly inclined toward all evil” (ibid.). With these words our Baptist forefathers explained our text,

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”
      (Romans 8:7).

How can a lost soul escape from such a miserable and deadly condition of opposition and hostility toward God? Only by the intervention of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

But how does grace intervene and change the status of a sinner who is against God in the very depths of his heart? Luther gave a good description of how the grace of God can convert a soul that is by nature hostile to God. Regarding what goes on in the soul at conversion, Luther said,

It is necessary, if you would be converted, that you become [troubled], that is, that you have an alarmed and trembling conscience. Then, after this condition has been created, you must grasp the consolation that comes not from any work of your own but from the work of God. He sent His Son Jesus into this world in order to proclaim to terrified sinners the mercy of God. This is the way of conversion. All other ways are false ways (Martin Luther, Th.D., What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1994 reprint, Number 1014, page 343).

I for one completely agree with Luther,

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”
      (Romans 8:7),

there is no other way for a rebellious sinner to be changed into a real Christian. We must go through the conversion spoken of by Luther. “All other ways are false ways.” I agree with Luther heartily on this point. There is no other way for a lost person, hostile to God, to be saved except through such a radical conversion to Christ Jesus, who said,

“Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Therefore I will break Luther’s explanation of conversion down into several subpoints.

1.  Luther’s statement is based on the fact that the lost sinner has lived his life with no thought of God, in any real way. God has not been in his thoughts, even while he is in church. He has had no real experience of God.

2.  But, now, the grace of God comes to him and [troubles] him concerning his lost condition. He was just going on from one day to the other. But now he sees eternity! He sees damnation! He sees his own death! He sees himself standing before a fiery God at the Last Judgment. He fears God. This feeling can only be produced by God’s grace.

3.  He sees that he has offended God, that he has neglected God, that he does not love God, that he has shoved God out of his mind and life.

4.  He sees that he cannot do any good thing to make up for his sin. He realizes that nothing he says, and nothing he learns, can make up for the sin he has committed, because Bible study and prayer cannot remove sin. Only Jesus can do that.

5.  At long last, when all other dodges and tricks have failed, he may finally turn to Jesus – because all else has failed. Note that hostile sinners will not turn to Jesus unless they are compelled to do so by God’s Spirit. No one will truly come to Jesus unless he has been compelled to do so by God. Dr. Cagan said, “I wrestled through sleepless nights for many months after God became real to me. I can only describe this period of my life as two years of mental agony. I was pulled one way and then the other during this time of…inner struggle…But I continued to fight inwardly against Jesus. I didn’t want [Jesus] because I felt that He was higher and greater than me. I was too proud to [come to] Him (C. L. Cagan, Ph.D., From Darwin to Design, Whitaker House, 2006, pp. 41, 19).

Dr. Cagan’s rebellious heart had to be broken up by the law, and he had to be converted by Jesus, the Son of God. Now that song Mr. Griffith sang perfectly describes what Dr. Cagan felt. Sing it again, Mr. Griffith.

Not what these hands have done
    Can save this guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh hath borne
    Can make my spirit whole.

Not what I feel or do
    Can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears
    Can bear my awful load. 

Thy work alone, O Christ,
    Can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,
    Can give me peace within. 
(“Not What These Hands Have Done” by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889).

No one but Jesus can save a lost sinner from the judgment of Almighty God. I plead with you to come to Jesus and be saved!

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Romans 8:5-9.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Not What These Hands Have Done” (by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889).




by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

I.   First, enmity against God is universal, Romans 3:23, 10;
Ecclesiastes 9:3; Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 53:3; Romans 3:11.

II.  Second, enmity against God is manifested in different ways,
Ecclesiastes 7:29; Isaiah 53:6.

III. Third, enmity against God can only be overcome by the grace of
God in Christ, Romans 8:7; Matthew 18:3.