Do Believers Have the Mind of Christ?
Due to the fathomless deepness of the subject in which I am going to present, I asked our heavenly father to show me the way to the truth. Our father I pray that you will guide and direct me for everything you want me to write on this subject so that many people may be blessed by your words. I also pray that you touch the heart of anyone who reads this message so that he will come to the knowledge of the truth. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
About 16 years ago, one of my friends recommended a book to read entitled "THE MIND OF CHRIST'. I was so excited to read the book to the end. The book gave many verses of information of how to imitate the mind of Christ ,and because I was new with this subject , and the Author was using biblical words, so, I decided to follow his teaching. The Author said in his book, "since Christ is divine, we humans cannot be like Him in all ways. We cannot imitate His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Infinity, Immutability, and the attributes peculiar to divinity. On the other hand, in the limitation of His incarnation He did demonstrate special qualities that we also have in our new nature. We can grow in these qualities: Mercy, Love, Long-Suffering, and even Holiness and Grace. We have to look to those humanly manifested qualities that He expects us to imitate. They are indeed also divine attributes but they constitutes that part of God's nature that He invested in redeemed humanity. "
My journey started with the purpose of imitating Christ in accordance with the teaching of the Author. To start with, first, I evaluated my current mental state to see where I stand.
1. Am I wanting to get even or praying for enemies?
2. Am I jealous or envious or rejoicing in the success of others in Christ?
3. Am I bitter towards others or generous toward them?
4. Am I lusting for position or power or humbled toward others?
5. Am I hating of someone or loving my enemies?
6. Am I prideful in my position in life or humble before God?
7.Am I looking down on others or reverencing God's work in others?
8. Am I self seeking or seeking the kingdom?
9. Am I unthankful to God or always thankful to God?
10.Am I tendentious to lie or telling the truth?
These examples where taken from the outline of how to evaluate your current mental state given by the Author. The Author gave 34 examples of how to evaluate current mental state, and I used all of them to evaluate my current mental state. The first time I evaluated my current mental state was not even a passing grade; but I continued evaluating my current mental state while I was learning from the Author, and I only found out that my mental state varies ; sometimes it was passing grade and sometimes not; sometimes it was satisfactory grades and sometimes not.
The Author continuous giving verses regarding THE MIND OF CHRIST. (Rom.8:6) says''- For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Here the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. In (2 Cor.11:3) tells us that the mind of Christ is singled-minded. (Phil.2:3) tells us that the mind is to be lowly. In (Titus 1:15) - mind is to be pure. (Luke 24:45) says- mind must be sensitive and responsive. By using all these verses in order to have the mind of Christ, our mind must be alive, peaceful, single-minded, lowly, pure and responsive. These are a partial picture of the mind of Christ.
These are three principles that govern the three actions that God has commanded us to take with our mind.
1.The will principle- (1Cor.3:2) says- " Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Paul is stating a principle- the will principle. We must set our mind. The will is that part of our mind over which we have control. The will enables us to obey in spite of feeling. Often we cannot control our emotions, but we always control over the will.
2. The river principle- (Rom.12:2) says-" -----Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The Christian actually lives in a constant state of renewal ! After we give our will to God, we must continue this process. Our growth is like the flow of a river. Jesus said, " He who believes in me , as the scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living waters " (John 7:38). The body grows by producing new cells. That newness is a sign of life. Failure to produce newness is a sign of death. A constant renewing is also to characterize the spiritual life. Newness is the way of progress; We are moving from one glory to other (2 Cor.3:18).
3. The readiness principle- " Gird your minds for action" (1 Pet.1:13)- meaning- prepare your mind for action. Jesus remained alert, or ready , as various groups tried to trap Him with trick question in (Luke 20:20-40)". Our mind are to remain prepared for action. These three principles are also a partial picture of the mind of Christ.
In (James 3:17) says-" But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy". These eight virtues are a partial picture of the mind of Christ. Then in Galatian (5:22-23) we have the fruit of the spirit- Love, Joy, Peace. Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Faith, Meekness and temperance. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is also a partial picture of the mind of Christ.
The Author continued to encourage the reader to imitate Christ, the righteous servant. From Jesus parables, we understand the qualities that emphasized as essential to servant hood . Those qualities are watchfulness, obedience, initiative, hard work, shrewdness, and going beyond duty. If we are imitating to be like Christ, or wanting to have the mind of Christ, I will say that all these things are rules and regulations to obey, in order to have the mind of Christ. I believe, this is what the Author was suggesting to have the mind of Christ, by giving us rules and regulations to obey. So far, he already gave us at least 67 rules and regulations and more are coming on the way.
In the beginning, my imitation to Christ was exciting because I really wanted to have the mind of Christ. I even tried so hard and prayed that I could have the mind of Christ. But the more I tried to imitate Christ, the more things were getting harder. The more I tried hard the more I became discouraged, because I have to remember many rules and regulations; and I spend more time remembering them .
After a year or so I gave up with my struggle, but I continued seeking God's kingdom (Matt.6:33). I learned that I have to abide in Christ because away from Him I can do nothing (John15:4-7). I have to love Jesus and obey His command (John 14:23). I have to be a slave to obedience, which lead to righteousness in Christ (Rom.6:16). Christ is my Master and I am His slave; I am the clay, and God is the potter. All I have to do is to follow Christ without any complain. In (John 10:27) Jesus says- My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. In the bible we find several verses that Christ asked His disciples to follow Him. Examples: (Matt.4:19, 8-22,9-9,6-24,19-21), (John 1-43 and more ). Jesus said in (John 12-26)- "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servants also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me". Here, it is crystal clear that Jesus our Lord commands His servants to follow Him wherever He is. He wants us to walk with Him wherever He goes. He never commanded us to imitate Him, because He knows that no one can imitate Him. Christ is the only one whoever live on earth perfect and sinless. (Rom.3:23) says- " For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". (Rom.3:10) says- " Ask it is written: there no one righteous. Not even one". So, I asked this question to my self. How can a person, who is not perfect and cannot be perfect by his own effort, imitate Christ who is perfect and sinless? It is impossible. I learned this the hard way.
There are two separate verses in the bible that tells about the mind of Christ (Phil.2:5) and (1 Cor. 2:16). (Phi. 2:5) using K.J.V. says - " Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"- meaning- your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ. Then in N.I.V. translation (Phil. 2:5-7) says-" your attitude should the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped , but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death- even death on the cross". When Jesus left heaven's glory, He came down and down to this earth, all the way we are. We cannot conceive of what a big step it was from heaven's glory all the way down to this earth. Absolutely, it is beyond human comprehension to understand what our Lord really did for us. In this verses there are two things that characterized the mind of Christ-HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE. He humbled himself and became obedient even unto death. HUMIITY AND OBEDIENCE are also partial picture of the mind of Christ and no one can imitate them. They can only be imparted to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
(1Cor.2:9-16) says- " However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him- but God has revealed it to us by His spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows that thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one know the thoughts of God except the spirit of God. We have not receive the spirit of the world but the spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely, given us. -----The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST." Here, Paul was saying that no one knows the thoughts of God except the spirit of God. And they, (Paul and the disciples) , have received the spirit who is from God, that they may understand what God has freely given them (V.12). That is why Paul said "but we have the mind of Christ" (V.16), because they had received the holy spirit of God. Again, I say that we can only have the mind of Christ through the power of the holy spirit.
So far, all I have is head knowledge- knowledge of how to have the mind of Christ. But head knowledge alone is not enough if I cannot apply this knowledge to work, because there are so many factors involved. Then I realized that the life we possess has one basic demand- to walk according to God's will. If we are not walking according to God's will we are grieving the holy spirit, and by grieving the holy spirit we cannot be filled with the holy spirit, and without the power of the holy spirit in us, we cannot have the mind of Christ. By this time, the load I was carrying was too heavy to bare. So I cried out to God asking for His mercy, to show me His will for my life. Then I also realized that all the rules and regulations that the Author has given us, in his book, are also partial picture of Gods will for us, and partial picture of the mind of Christ. Jesus said in (John 16:15)-" All that belongs to the father is mine".
One day, I went to a Christian book store where I incidentally found a small booklet entitled " Seeking God's will " by Watchman Nee. Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of 17 and began writing in the same year. In 1952 he was imprisoned by the communist government. He remained in prison until his death in 1972 His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world. I would like to quote his statement about "Seeking Gods will".
"The life we possess has one basic demand- to walk according to God's will. The more we obey God's will, the happier we become within. The more we deny our own will, the straighter our pathway will be before God. If we walk according to our own will, as we once did, we will not feel happy. Instead, we will suffer. After we are saved the more we walk according to our own will, the more suffering and the less joy we will have. But the more we walk according to the new life and the more we obey God's will, the more peace and joy we will have. This is a wonderful change". After reading this booklet, I found out that God's will is made known only to those who are determined to obey His will. " If any one chooses to do God's will, he will find out-------" (John 7:17).
The small booklet inspired me to seek the will of God for my life. I knew very well that when a person is born again, (1) He is regenerated or renewed (Titus 3:5); (2) He is indwelt, sealed, and anointed by the holy spirit ( 2 Cor. 1: 21-22); and he is baptized by the holy spirit ( Act.1:5), (Rom. 6:1-4), ( Col. 2:12). All these happen once only , and at the same time. Also a born again Christian is filled with the holy spirit during conversion (Act. 2:4). This filling of the holy spirit will also happen many times in the life of a believer after conversion, defending on his walk with God. And to be filled with the holy spirit is also God's will for every believer. Also a believer must be sanctified; he must love his brother; he must be obedient to God, he must submit himself to God; he must thank God for all circumstances. These are all Gods' will for us. If we walk according to His will we will rejoice, otherwise we will suffer.
(1 Pet. 3:17) says- " it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil". If we suffer for Christ 's sake, we can rejoice in that; but if we are suffering because we have played the fool, because we have gotten into trouble and into sin, then that is a different story altogether.
(Rom. 5:3-5)says-" not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering; because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the holy spirit whom he has given us". Here we see that even in suffering we can rejoice if we are walking in Gods' will.
After learning God's will for the believers, I asked God to tell His will for my life so that I can rejoice evermore. I prayed fervently asking specific will for me. I wanted to know the criterion or indicator of His will for me. I wanted to gauge my walk everyday if it is according to His will. Now, I confided with Him that I know where I should walk. I submitted my life to Him.
One day, God directed me to (1 Thes.( 5:16 -18) and it says, "Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing, In everything give thanks: For this is the will of God in Christ concerning you". These are three (3) commandments that are included in the twenty two (22) commandments for Christians in (1 Thes. 5). These (3) commandments go together. "Rejoice" does not mean to be happy. This is not the happy hour He is talking about. This is a joy in the Lord as Paul wrote to the Philippians. "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice " ( Phil.4:4). Pray without ceasing has to do with the attitude of prayer. I do not think this means that one is to stay on his knees all the time. But it means to pray regularly and to be constantly in the attitude of prayer. In everything give thanks means give thanks in all circumstances not just once a year but all the time.
By this time, I learned that the will of God for me are (1) Rejoice always (2) Pray without ceasing (3) In everything give thanks. These are the criteria I have to remember always when I am walking according to God's will.
To pray without ceasing was no problem to me because I knew the only way to communicate with God is through prayer. In the beginning , I decided to be sure that I rejoice always, and that was my first criterion in order to know that my walk was according to God's will; and I also thank God for that. When sometimes, I did not rejoice because of sin, then I prayed on my knees and confessed my sin; and I would stay on my knees until I rejoice again. Then I thank God for that . I always remember that my responsibility is to confess and God's responsibility is to forgive. To rejoice always became my first criterion in order to know that I was walking in God's will. But sometimes I was compelled to stay on my knees for a long time when the burden was so heavy. So, I asked God to tell me how can I apply these criteria of His will for me more effectively. Then God made me realized who God is and who I am.
God revealed Himself to us from Genesis to Revelation. God is our creator ( Gen.1:1) ; God knows our heart (Ps. 139:23); God is our salvation (Isa. 12:2) ; God loves us (Rom. 5:8) ; God gave us eternal life (Rom. 6:2); God is our supplier (Phil.4:19); God is righteous in judgment ( Rom. 2:5), (Rev.19:2). And because God created everything, therefore He owns everything including me; and I am nothing away from Him. My only hope of survival is to depend on Him, to submit my entire life to Him.
In time, when I matured in my walk with the Lord, He made me realize that I have nothing and He has everything. Finally, in everything give thanks became my first criterion in order to know that I am walking according to God's will, because God made me know that I cannot really thank Him in everything without being filled with the holy spirit, without being sanctified, without loving my brothers, without living in the light, without living in fellowship with Christ, without being obedient , without trusting God, without fervent prayer, without being joyful without peace. Therefore, whenever I am walking according to God 's will, I am also being filled with the holy spirit , and through the power of the holy spirit I can have the mind of Christ.
I believe no Christians can have the mind of Christ all their life. Some Christians can have the mind of Christ when they become spiritual-meaning- whenever they are filled with the holy spirit. And filling with the holy spirit is not permanent. It is suspended whenever we walk according to our own will and not according to God's will, because when we do that, we grieve the holy spirit, and the filling of the holy spirit will not make manifest until we confess our sin. That is why Christians who pursue holiness confess their sin whenever it occurs, because they could not hold it, their conscience bothers them.
EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST WHEN THEY BECOME SPIRITUAL
(1) After Pentecost , all Apostles and some Disciples who wrote the gospels and epistles, the book of acts and the book of revelation that comprises the whole new testament book have the mind of Christ, because they are all filled with the holy spirit and the holy spirit directed them to write the new testament book of the bible.
(2) During the time of Nero, the Emperor of Rome, all the saints that were persecuted have the mind of Christ, because the were filled with the holy spirit; and He sustained them to persevere not to renounce their faith , instead they sung joyfully while they were burned into fire, and some were fed into the lions den.
(3) Saint Augustine of Hippo has the mind of Christ when he was filled with the holy spirit writing a book about the sovereignty of God.
4) William Tyndale has the mind of Christ when he was filled with the holy spirit translating the original bible into English, and he never renounced his faith even to the death of burning fire.
(5) Martin Luther has the mind of Christ when he was filled with the holy spirit rebelling against the Roman Catholic Church, and began the Protestant reformation by nailing his 95 thesis of contention to the Wittenberg church door.
(6) There were other people, during the reformation, who have the mind of Christ when they were filled with the holy spirit, and walking according to God's will-like John Bunyan, Wycliffe, John Calvin, John Knox, and others.
(7) In our generation there are also people who have the mind of Christ when they are filled with the holy spirit, and walking according to Gods' will.
Obedient Christians who know the truth and who have the mind of Christ through the power of the holy spirit does not mean that they are perfect and know everything. They are not perfect and will not be perfect and will not know everything as long as they live. They are continually and consistently pursuing holiness by continual repentance all their life whenever sin blocks their way to holiness. It is a process of sanctification. It is a total surrender of a slave to the master. It is a way of life that God totally approves.
Written by Osmundo S. Sabado
Edited by Orman L. Sabado