For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:5-9, NASB)

God’s Love Is Unconditional Only To Those Who Are In Christ

Emerging Church pastor Rob Bell is well known for his “Love Wins” campaign but what people today often forget is that the Lord tells us — those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8). And in spite of those who are involved with Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), which to them is also called Spiritual Formation, this is because God does not already dwell within all men as so many believe — However, you [who are born again] are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9).

This is what the Holy Spirit was talking about when He said through Paul that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). You should know that the idea of being “born again” isn’t simply a catch phrase nor is it something which only has to do with a new mental attitude of following God “in the way of Jesus.” No, it is to literally be regenerated—i.e. recreated—inside — Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Can you see the “if” there in Romans 8:9 and 2 Corinthians 5:17; it’s a critically important condition, because if you’re not in Christ then you are still on the broad path, which Jesus Himself—the Creator—says ends in Hell. Here you need to come to grips with the fact that this is true no matter how many good things you are doing on a human level and which may even look wonderful to fellow human beings. And so now we come full circle in this short devotional teaching to — those who are in the flesh [not born again; not in Christ] cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

In his classic commentary on the Book of Romans Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse says of our text:

This passage, as practically all of the commentators hold, is part of a contrast between the unregenerate and the regenerate. Therefore…[it] means that the mind of the unsaved man is set on the flesh and the things of the flesh. As a result the unsaved man is in a state of hostility to God… The mind of the unsaved man will not submit to the law of God, and, much more important, it cannot be thus subject.
(Vol. 3, 37)

Spiritual Formation Is A Smokescreen For The Same Deceptions Of CSM

Men and women, what I have shown you from God’s inerrant and infallible Word—the Bible—is why we must continue sharing the Gospel as lovingly, gently, and patiently as we can to anyone who will listen because we as human beings can’t know for sure who is in Christ. But not to worry; even if the person you speak with happens to have been born again, and is now in Christ, they will certainly rejoice once again to hear the glorious message with which God saved them by His grace alone; through faith alone, in Christ alone.

But the tragic truth is that the Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which history reveals incontrovertibly flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicsm, has now been brought right into mainstream evangelical circles by the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church. It’s becoming such a rage that now even the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (SBC) openly encourages Southern Baptists in North Carolina to practice what is in reality Transcendental Meditation for Christians.

You also need to understand that those who practice this foolishness long enough to further anger the Lord end up receiving a delusion of a false sense of what they refer to as “the love of God,” and which eventually manifests itself with a quasi-universalism teaching that supposedly God already indwells all mankind. You’ll can see a good example of this e.g. in Who Is Henri Nouwen? And in the American Christian Church this kind of spurious Spiritual Formation has now created a postevangelicalism focused on the self (see—2 Timothy 3:2), which then largely leaves unregenerate people in their sin in favor of “unity” while they focus together trying to solve alleged “Global problems.”

But know this: In the end these ministers are actually following seducing spirits with their doctrines of demons, and further they are also lying to people just as Rob Bell does in telling them that God is no longer angry with them while they are still in that unregenerate state which our text refers to as the flesh. However, what I have just shared with you in this Apprising Ministries piece is the absolute Truth concerning how love wins; and it is definitely not in the flesh — Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)