Do Christians Really have the Mind of Christ?
by Rod Jackson
All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.
Do Christians really have the mind of Christ? When the apostle Peter was writing about how Paul's letters are scripture. Peter wrote -
"just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15b-16
So we can see that sometimes Paul writes things that are hard to understand. Keeping that in mind I would like to look at a scripture that, I think, falls into this "hard to understand" category.
"For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we [Christians] have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16
Here the apostle Paul writes that the Christians at Corinth have "the mind of Christ". What does this mean? Does it mean that every thought they have is now correct? Or does it mean something different?
The Corinthian church is infamous for having many spiritual problems. In fact in the verses after writing about them having the "mind of Christ", Paul writes -
"And I [Paul], brethren, could not speak to you [Corinthian Christians] as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
So straight after telling them they have the mind of Christ, we see that he then tells them how they are thinking like the world... It should then be clear, that any arguments that following the following are incorrect -
I think X about topic Y
I have the mind of Christ
Therefore Christ thinks X about topic Y
(for any X and Y)
This form of argument clearly cannot be derived from the expression of Christians having the "mind of Christ". As they are not always thinking Jesus' thoughts. Earlier in 1 Corinthians Paul wrote about the difference between God's wisdom and the world's wisdom.
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us [Christians] who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18
"For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1 Corinthians 1:21
Here we see that God's wisdom is in believing in Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross. So having the mind of Christ starts with salvation. But we have already seen that someone who is saved is not always thinking correctly about all subjects. God's mind is infinite and our mind is finite. Salvation occurs once in someone's life, but discipleship continues for our whole life. After all Paul writes -
"Therefore I [Paul] urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2
Here we see that Paul teaches that a Christian's mind must be transformed. It is a process that we are talking about. This process starts with the cross of Christ, where we start to gain the mind of Christ.
Let us consider an example. The minister of the church I attend preached on James 5 one Sunday night. Reading out this passage -
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you." James 5:1
he stated that how this bit makes him feel uncomfortable (shifting from foot to foot). Why is that? It is, I believe, because as a fallen individual it is difficult to accept God's justice. Because we are fallen we do not see sin as wicked and evil a God does (yet we should, because we should have the mind of Christ). Similarly in my own life, I can look at the book of Revelation. In it, after describing the wickedness of Babylon, the book of Revelation talks about the judgement of God that will come on Babylon the great harlot. Then we read -
"After these things I [John] heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, `Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.' And a second time they said, `Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.' " Revelation 19:1-3
The heavenly hosts, that is, the perfect ones in heaven who are good. Praise God for hell! This, in the past, has seemed unusual to me. Because I am fallen, I do not view God's justice correctly. If I did I could praise God for hell! These are difficult words. And while I have "been transformed" to the point where passages like the above do not bother me or "seem strange". I am not at the point where I can honestly praise God for eternal torment. Yet at the same time, knowing that God is right, good, holy and just and His punishment cannot be wrong, bad or evil. Also I should keep in mind that it is logically impossible for me to deserve to exist. Rather like Job, who "suffered horribly" (in human terms) and could still say -
"He [Job] said, `Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God." Job 1:21-22
Therefore we should not be like the seven day adventists who diminish God's justice. They do this by claiming that hell is not eternal torment but merely destruction/annihilation.
So we can see that to have the mind of Christ is not that Christians are perfect in their thoughts or that they have an infinite mind. But a process of thinking more spiritually about things. Seeing events in this life in their correct perspective. From a heavenly view.
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