Romans 8:7

"..the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be". NKJV [not subject/ouch hypotassetai].

The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God as:

A. The carnal mind is disobedient to the law of God which does apply to it.

Romans 14:17

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".

B. The carnal mind is not part of the kingdom of God and so the law of God does not apply to it, "nor indeed can be" applied to it.

My attempt at an illustration: Someone in the UK who criminally did not subject themselves to UK tax law would not pay UK tax for a different reason than someone living in another country who was not required/subject to paying UK tax.

By focussing on "ouch hypotassetai" I think this question has a different emphasis from:

"What significance does 'God's law' have in Romans 8:7, if any, with regards to those who set their minds, on the things of the Spirit?"

4 Answers 4


Romans 8:7 (KJV 1900)

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

ὑποτάσσω - not subject means "not submissive to" -- e.g. rebelling against God.

BDAG entry:

ὑποτάσσω 1 aor. ὑπέταξα. Pass.: 2 fut. ὑποταγήσομαι; 2 aor. ὑπετάγην; perf. ὑποτέταγμαι (Aristot., Polyb.+) ① to cause to be in a submissive relationship, to subject, to subordinate ⓐ act., abs. Ro 8:20b; 1 Cl 2:1b. τινά bring someone to subjection (Herodian 7, 2, 9) IPol 2:1. τινί τινα or τι someone or someth. to someone (Epict. 4, 12, 12 of God ὑπ. τί τινι; cp. Da 11:39 Theod.; TestJud 21:2; ApcSed 6:2; SibOr Fgm. 3, 12; Ar. [Milne 76, 49]; Menander Eph.: 783 Fgm. 1, 119 Jac. [in Jos., C. Ap. 1, 119]; Just., A I, 49, 7, A II 5, 2.—Cp. ὑπέταξεν ἑαυτοῦ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοὺς Πάρθους Hippol., Ref. 9, 16, 4) 1 Cor 15:27c, 28c; Phil 3:21; Hb 2:5, 8b; Dg 10:2; Hm 12, 4, 2; AcPl Ha 8, 15. In the same sense ὑπ. τι ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας τινός 1 Cor 15:27a; Eph 1:22; also ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν τινος Hb 2:8a (Ps 8:7). ὑποτάσσειν ἑαυτόν τινι subject oneself to someone (Plut., Mor. 142e to the husband; Simplicius In Epict. p. 33 Düb. to transcendent powers) Hs 9, 22, 3. ⓑ pass. α. become subject τινί to a pers. or a state of being (Iren. 5, 5, 2 [Harv. II 332, 11]) Ro 8:20a; 1 Cor 15:28a; Hb 2:8c; 1 Pt 3:22; Dg 7:2; Pol 2:1. Abs. (Diod S 1, 55, 10; Aristobulus in Eus., PE 8, 10, 10 [=p. 140 Holladay] πάνθʼ ὑποτέτακται; Just., D. 85, 2 νικᾶται καὶ ὑποτάσσεται [Ath. 18, 2]; Iren. 1, 13, 4 [Harv. I 120, 7]) 1 Cor 15:27b. β. subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey abs. (Jos., Bell. 4, 175) Ro 13:5; 1 Cor 14:34 (cp. δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις Gal 5:13); 1 Cl 2:1a; 57:2. Of submission involving recognition of an ordered structure, w. dat. of the entity to whom/which appropriate respect is shown (Palaeph. 38 p. 56, 15; 57, 2): toward a husband (s. Ps.-Callisth. 1, 22, 4 πρέπον ἐστὶ τὴν γυναῖκα τῷ ἀνδρὶ ὑποτάσσεσθαι, s. 1a above; cp. SEG 26, 1717, 26 [III/IV A.D.] in a love charm) Eph 5:22 v.l.; Col 3:18; Tit 2:5; 1 Pt 3:1 (on an alleged impv. sense s. Schwyzer II 407), 5; parents Lk 2:51; masters Tit 2:9; 1 Pt 2:18; B 19:7; D 4:11; secular authorities (1 Ch 29:24; Theoph. Ant. 1, 11 [p. 82, 14]) Ro 13:1 (CMorrison, The Powers That Be—Ro 13:1–13, diss. Basel ’56; EBarnikol, TU 77, ’61, 65–133 [non-Pauline]); Tit 3:1; 1 Pt 2:13; 1 Cl 61:1; church officials 1 Cl 1:3; 57:1; IEph 2:2; IMg 2; 13:2; ITr 2:1f; 13:2; IPol 6:1; Pol 5:3; νεώτεροι ὑποτάγητε πρεσβυτέροις 1 Pt 5:5. To God (Epict. 3, 24, 65 τ. θεῷ ὑποτεταγμένος; 4, 12, 11; Ps 61:2; 2 Macc 9:12) 1 Cor 15:28b; Hb 12:9; Js 4:7; 1 Cl 20:1; IEph 5:3; to Christ Eph 5:24. To the will of God, the law, etc. Ro 8:7; 10:3; 1 Cl 34:5; Hm 12, 5, 1; τῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ τῇ ἀγαθῇ 12, 2, 5.—Of submission in the sense of voluntary yielding in love 1 Cor 16:16; Eph 5:21; 1 Pt 5:5b v.l.; 1 Cl 38:1.—The evil spirits must be subject to the disciples whom Jesus sends out Lk 10:17, 20. Likew. the prophetic spirits must be subject to the prophets in whom they dwell 1 Cor 14:32.—HMerklein, Studien zu Jesus und Paulus (WUNT 105) ’98, 405–37.

The carnal mind is an enemy of God because it does not submit to God, nor can it submit to God. It is impossible for the mind to submit to God. It always tries to exalt itself above God, to look down upon and judge God, it always tries to be God.

This is because of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Only God should be the one to classify something as good and something else as evil, and we should only mimic his classification, rather than deciding for ourselves, according to our own mind. When another mind tries to declare something as good and something else as evil, that mind thinks that it is God and will inevitably be an enemy of God as it struggles for sovereignty with him.

Genesis 3:22 (KJV 1900)

22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

This is the exact same crime of Satan, who also wanted to exalt himself. Satan, also, is in enmity with God, and cannot be reconciled to him, because he is constantly trying to rebel against God. The exact same process is at work in the carnal mind. This is why Christ calls people "sons of the snake" or "brood of vipers" and alternately calls the devil our father.

The mind of Christ, on the other hand, "judges no man" and is only a vessel for the Father's judgments and pronouncements.

John 8.15-16 KJV

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

Christ's mind is submissive to the Father's judgments. It is subject to the Father.


The key here is that the carnal mind not only does not obey to the Law of God, but can not obey. Why? Because the Law of God, as revealed by His Incarnate Hypostasis - the Lord Jesus Christ - is the Law of the Holy Life-Giving Spirit (Romans 8:2), and the Law of the Spirit is the Law of Freedom for "where is the Spirit of God there is Freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17). Now, how can a heart that is stuck to a sinful desire, that is to say, is carnal, be subjected to the Law of Freedom in Spirit? Impossible! Why? Because being stuck to a sinful desire, or desires, as a condition of having a fallen nature, that is not in the process of transfiguration through Spirit into a "new creature" (2 Cor. 5-17), accounts for the impossibility of such a salvific obedience.

If I stick my heart to vulgar pornography, then how can my heart be obedient to and develop into a logic of true and beautiful romantic infatuation a la, say, Romeo and Juliet? Impossible. Just for a tangible simile. Or if making money becomes my breathing, how can I understand the logic of life of holy ascetics who gave up their possessions to breathe Christ and His Spirit in glory of the Father? Impossible.


We have just seen in the previous chapters of Romans the failures of the flesh to keep the law. The law enhances sinfulness and shines the light on why man in the flesh is unable to keep the law. Indwelling sin.

The mind on the flesh is never at rest because it is constantly seeking to establish its own righteousness and does not submit to God's gift of His righteousness.

For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. Romans 10:3

This seems to me to be a good example of the mind or disposition of the flesh. It's focus is always on itself and is in prison and a slave to sin.

Sin was condemned in Christ's flesh and Jesus overcame the law of sin and death which is the mindset of the carnal, natural mind.

It is only by being in Christ and having his new life in you with His mindset that is always subject to the will of God.


The carnal(sinful) mind does not subject itself to the law and it is impossible. Because it is sinful by its fallen nature the flesh lusts against the Spirit,“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17, KJVPCE). We are against God and thus against His law. Not able to fulfill the law and the law works wrath. It reveals our sins, because if we loved God so much and obeyed it so well then why should we die or fear death ? But we are death by our trespasses and sins, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Romans 5:12-14, KJVPCE) This is how we are born, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalms 51:5, KJVPCE) So there you have it. We are born enemies of God and all that is of God, “For if, when we were enemies, [...]” (Romans 5:10, KJVPCE). And maybe we are deceiving ourselves with a thin veneer of outward appearance of religion and righteousness. The law exposes us and God knows our heart and intentions. And He said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalms 14:1-3, KJVPCE)

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