“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5, KJV 1900)
In 1746, Jonathan Edwards wrote a treatise titled, “Religious Affections.” In it, he presents a truth that when a person is a true believer, one that has experienced the Spirit’s work of regeneration, there will be a change in his affections. His former affections were worldly and with the work of regeneration, his nature changes and his affections become holy.
From nature we can see this illustration. Animals act according to their nature. Rabbits are herbivores, meaning that they eat plants. It is in their nature to do so. It would be highly unusual to do otherwise. A lion, on the other hand, is by nature a carnivore, meaning that they will eat meat. Again, it would be highly unusual for a lion to eat plants. Each does according to its nature.
It is the same with people. The unsaved, unregenerate person will by nature do things to please the flesh. Their affections or desires fall in line with their nature. The true believer is one who has by the regenerative work of the Spirit been given a new divine nature. He thus will seek after the things in accordance with this new nature. The true believer’s affections or desires will fall in line with the new divine nature. He will have “Holy Affections.”
This is the point of this section of Romans. The true believer’s entire manner of life is different from that of the unbeliever. It is quite common for one who has been saved to hear comments like this. “You have really changed.” Outsiders will see, not the heart, but the things the believer’s affections of the heart manifest. Remember that Jesus stated, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45, KJV 1900)
Paul affirms this truth. Believers will act differently than unbelievers, not through outward constraints, but through inward desires, because true believers have “Holy Affections.”