Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Having the Mind of Christ

“But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ,” 1st Corinthians 2:15-16.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1st Peter 4:1-2.

I was having a conversation with co-workers the other day when the strangest thing occurred. We were discussing a random topic having to do with the government, and their ability to regulate and prohibit our lifestyle, basically how Big Brother is encroaching into the lives of private citizens in the name of…whatever name they choose to call it at present. That is actually beside the point. I found myself marveling that when I was asked my opinion on the matter, what I thought about the particulars of the subject at hand, where I went for an answer. I did not turn to my learning, experience or feelings, but to God’s word, and what my Lord has spoken concerning related matters. Romans chapter 13, Titus 3:1, 1st Peter 2:13-17; 3:17, and Matthew 22:15-22 all deal with the concept of how a Christian should view government. In Acts 23:5 Paul reminds Christians that we are not to speak evil of a ruler of our people; a command which had been established since the giving of the Law, in Exodus 22:28.

I truly gained some insight just then as to what it meant to have the mind of Christ. Being conformed into the likeness of Christ, and thinking thoughts which accord with godliness is something alien to our fallen nature. But this is just how Jesus contended with the Devil when He wandered the wilderness fasting, just before His ministry began in earnest. Forty days and nights He fasted, alone and away from the watching world. The Devil tempted Him with several offers which might appeal to the flesh. I would even say that they were in fact the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not from the Father, but from the world, 1st John 2:16. Jesus countered each offer of fleshly ease and sin with a quote of Scripture.

He was not relying on the power of the flesh, our innate wisdom, intelligence, will power, or sense of right; but rather the written and immutable word of God. Matthew chapter 4 records this struggle, and each time Jesus speaks in response to the Devil, it is preceded with, “It is written…” From the mouth of our Lord comes one of the definitive verses of the Old Testament, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4. This is our sanction and our wisdom.

Conformity to the will of God is a practical result of walking in the Spirit, who alone knows the mind of God, and can equip Christians with the mind of Christ. In the New Testament this doctrine is referred to as sanctification. Our thinking should be radically altered to see things from a heavenly perspective, and not a temporal one. We should no longer obsess over what those without Christ obsess over, and have our mind set on earthly things, dominating all of our thoughts, with God somewhere on the periphery, if we even allow Him that. No, the carnal mind is enmity to God, and I have to believe that includes even carnal Christians. One cannot serve two masters, and if we are not being conformed into the image of Christ, from glory to glory, then we maintain and remain within the stagnant and hopeless mindset of the world, which bears fruit fit for death. This is not God’s will for us, brothers and sisters.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” Romans 8:5-8.

The Corinthian church suffered a plague of carnality, and many of their number were sickly and weak, or slept (aka died), 1st Corinthians 11:30. We are to reap the fruit of the Spirit, being branches grafted into Christ, who is the True Vine. It is He who grows the fruit, and we are but outlets that bear such fruit to His glory. The alternative is that converted, believing Christians never bear fruit of the Spirit, but are so entrenched in this current life with its risks and rewards, they only bring forth the works of the flesh. We suffer loss and our works are burned up. See 1st Corinthians 3:10-16 for details.

One of the arenas in this modern era where a Christian needs to have the mind of Christ is the debate regarding Creation verses Evolution. Too many Christians either run scared from this topic, or throw up their hands in surrender, or perhaps don’t even realize they have surrendered to the mentality of modernity which forbids a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11. The creation account, say evolutionists, is unrealistic and an amalgamation of myths from ancient history. I have a more revolutionary concept: what if Genesis’ account is accurate, and since ancient man knew the truth his various tales of the beginning of time and history spawned these myths, passed down and perverted from generation to generation, and culture to culture.

How else can someone reasonably explain why hundreds of cultures in unrelated regions all have tales bearing relation to things such as Eden, Adam, Eve and the serpent, Noah’s ark, and the Flood? Coincidental that tribes and peoples continents apart each have variations? No Evolutionist takes into account that a global flood occurred, and “prove” this with their dating methods, but their dating methods are reliable only if a global flood never inundated the earth! In essence, their dating methods hinge on this circular assumption (among other assumptions). Everyone seems to hear the word “Evolution” to the neglect of the word “Theory!” In fact, it is entirely unproven, and has NEVER been witnessed happening once in the natural order. Evolution is a religion, and its adherents must demonstrate faith in its ability to function in light of mounting evidence to the contrary.

Yet this type of thinking in science, as it invaded origins and Geology, permeated the church and gave us Theistic Evolution, the Day-Age Theory and the Gap Theory; all of them efforts by frightened men to make the “truth” of Evolution compatible with Scripture. Yet in the books of Moses God states that the earth, heaven, and everything in it, were created (not re-created) in six days, Genesis chapter 1, Exodus 20:11, 31:17. Jesus went to great pains to emphasize that Adam and Eve were made at the beginning of God’s creation, stating it quite precisely in Mark 10:6. In two parallel passages Jesus is quoted making reference to the world’s beginning. Matthew 24:21 states: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time…” Likewise, but in a slightly different vein, Mark 13:19 says: “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time…” What is the conclusion?

“What may be known of God is manifest in [men], for God has shown it to them…so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (this passage can clearly explain various Flood and Creation myths which partially mimic the Bible). By professing to be wise they became fools…who exchanged the truth of God for THE lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever,” Romans 1:19-22,25.

To have the mind of Christ is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven; who knows the mind of God and reveals the thoughts of God, so we may be renewed and conformed to viewing things God’s way. When God said that creation was a literal six days, and (by implication) nothing outside of God Himself existed before this act of creation, then we believe Him. Genesis 1-11 is not a myth, but a true history of the universe’s and man’s beginning. What is truly more outrageous logically? That an omnipotent God (in scientific terms, the First Cause) created the heavens and the earth, or that chance plus time plus matter (wherever it happened to come from…?) created the universe. And then lifeless, unintelligent chemicals, over course of vast stretches of time happened to create the genetic information needed for our DNA and cells to begin functioning...?

So the universe spawned itself, in effect playing the role of “god”, a purposeless tumble of atoms and chance, filled with intelligent, thinking, feeling human beings looking for purpose in a world bereft of it. Purpose, in this train of thought, is a cruel illusion. Come Christians, our God has deigned to give us His word so we are not blown about by every wind of doctrine through the trickery of men, Ephesians 4:14.

To have the mind of Christ, which only the born again believer possesses, means to be conformed to God’s Lordship over our lives. As Christ was utterly subservient to the Father during His ministry, so too should we submit to Christ our lives in any service He empowers us to perform.

There is a wonderful passage in Isaiah which states: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord,” 54:17. It is a wonderful promise of absolute protection for all those who come under the mighty wings of Jehovah. In the book of Acts, chapter 12, we read about two of the servants of the Lord, Peter and James. They are arrested by Herod, and while Peter is thrown in prison and later released by an angel from Heaven, James is killed by the sword. What became of Isaiah’s promise?

Indeed, the sword of the man who killed James served only to send him speeding home; his work on this earth apparently finished. A Christian’s life is not their own, they have been bought with a price, and should be willing to lay down their life, if their Father calls on them to do so, because God does only what is right for our good and His glory. Is it evil to be called home as James was, to be martyred for one’s faith? Christ offered the crown of life as a reward for Christians so persecuted, Revelation 2:10. We view this life as something we are owed, that we should live until we are quite old, and live very happy and without troubles or pain. But God’s perspective is different. He did not create this world and us in it to be enjoyed divorced from Him, while we indulge in the passions and pleasures that condemned our first parents. When someone dies saved, should they die at ninety or nine, should we pity them? They have entered into glory, and behold the face of their Savior. The thief on the cross died horribly, yet he was saved at the last.

Barabbas, the murderer Christ was exchanged for, lived possibly many years after Jesus was crucified. But if he died unsaved, he went to Hell and awaits eternal judgment, despite how long he lived and how happy he was in his carnal ways. Who then, from an eternal perspective, should be pitied? Did the cross that killed the thief prosper against him, or was it the vehicle God used at the last to open this man’s eyes to his need for salvation, and the One who alone could provide it? This man overcame by his faith; Barabbas likely went on to suffer the rich man’s fate as recorded in Luke chapter 16. The Holy Spirit reveals clearly that the cross that killed the thief, like the sword which took James’ life, did not prosper, but were only tools in the hands of evil men, which God used to call His servants home. This world was unworthy of them, Hebrews 11:38. God is not the author of evil, but He can use man’s evil intentions for His glory, and our good.

Which perspective on life do you have, brethren? One can produce the fruit of the Spirit, the other produces carnal works that will be burnt up. We shall at the last stand before God justified due to our position in Christ, but lacking any reward because our life lived after salvation was entirely self-centered. To have the mind of Christ, to be used of God, we must be God-centered. A lack of self-esteem or self-confidence is NOT what our church lacks today. We lack sanctification. We lack the desire to walk in the Spirit, to bear the fruit of the Spirit, to practice discernment and testing the spirits; in short we lack a love for God that should touch and color everything we do on this earth.

If we loved our God, we would obey these commands, because they are not a burden to obey, John 14:15; 1st John 5:3. Jesus said the first and great commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, Matthew 22:37-38. So much carnality would suffer death within the professing church if this command were actively heeded, and we acted daily what we profess on Sundays (or however often we profess it). Obey that form of doctrine that has been handed down to you, and seek in the word of God and prayer to know the will of God, so the Holy Spirit may conform you, and you may begin to exercise the mind of Christ. We have been exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:3) which includes the whole of the Bible; it’s history, geography, science, miracles, redemption, the reality of angels and demons, etc. It is entire, inspired, inerrant, all we need for life and godliness, 2nd Peter 1:3. The possession and retention of this doctrine makes a man fit and equipped for service, 2nd Timothy 3:16-17.

But what good is the equipment, so to speak, if we never us it? The Bible is the sword of the Spirit! Suffer no secular tide to overflow the eternal word of God, because when it ebbs (and it will), all believers will stand on that rock of refuge, “It is written…”

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"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

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All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.