Do you like the current condition of your mind? More importantly, would God like the state of your mind right now? What if it were possible to have a mind like Christ’s?
I was reading the book “The Mind of Christ” by T.W Hunt and I just want to share with you the list of adjectives from the New Testament that describes or implies what the Christian’s mind is to be like. As you read what the New Testament says about the mind, check your mind to see if these adjectives describe you.
The first description occurs in Romans 8:6: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (emphasis added).
Believers know that we are dead without Christ and have everlasting life in Him, but Jesus went further than saying we have mere existence: He said that He came so that we might have abundant life (John 10:10). We show this life (or death) constantly by the choices we make.
The mind that is alive chooses the spiritual rather than the fleshly. For example, take our thought life. The world sends a constant barrage of messages to us – politics, world, business, sex, sports, products, and others. God also is sending us messages , messages about His expressed will in the Bible for us, promptings about words to say or not to say, anger to control, or patience to extend.
Our minds are cluttered with information. They race from subject to subject. We can receive these various messages indiscriminately, we can reject some, and dwell on others. Many people choose to follow vacantly the current track of messages coming in, regardless of their source. On the other hand, we can reject some of them or even cut off their source (such as television).
Jesus chose to think about “His Father’s business.” Satan tried to entice Him to turn stones into bread in the wilderness temptation. In a moment of extreme physical weakness, exhausted and desperately hungry, Jesus made a choice. He said, “It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In His choice, He demonstrated that abundant spiritual life can overrule and dominate even when the flesh cries most desperately for satisfaction. Do you have this kind of spiritual life?
Romans 8:6 gives us another adjective to apply to the spiritual mind: “The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” The spiritual mind is peaceful. Paul had said in the previous verse, “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). Note again that we set our minds. Peace is a fruit, not an attainment. Our work is setting the mind; God’s work is the peace.
Sin separates us from God, the source of peace. The Bible tells us, “Your iniquities have made separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). He would have been the source of their peace.
Jesus had peace. His life was completely free from sin and the ravages of the world system. He promised rest to the weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28). We find rest by taking His yoke. Tell Him now that you are willing to take that yoke.
Second Corinthians 11:3 provides a third adjective that describes the mind: “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Paul is telling us that the mind of Christ is single-minded.
While we live in this world, one of our perplexing problems is becoming distracted, or, as Paul says, being “led astray.” Our minds dart off in hundreds of directions during the course of a day. Every student knows that the discipline of attention is an achievement; normally it comes with years of experience.
Jesus’ entire life is a flawless example of single-mindedness. When Peter tried to turn Him away from the cross, He rebuked Peter sternly (Matthew 16:23). When He “resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem” (that is, for the cross, Luke 9:51), He was single-minded. At the end of His life, He said that He had completed the work God gave Him to do (John 17:4). From beginning to end, nothing could deflect Him from God’s purposes. Are you like that?
Paul gives another description of the godly mind in Philippians 2:3; “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”. The mind is to be lowly. Believers cannot be humble unless they are lowly; humility follows lowliness of mind. Humility speaks of a relationship to others and to God; lowliness is a state of mind.
We can foster lowliness by concentrating on a genuine appreciation for the person of God. We start there. It gives us perspective. For years I have kept notebooks on the attributes of God and His names. I begin my quiet time every morning by meditating on the attributes of God. I never quite feel prepared to approach God in prayer for the immense work of His kingdom until I find myself in a state of reverence and awe before Him.
Those who met God in the Bible always first experienced genuine terror before Him. This is a godly fear, as opposed to carnal fear. In the Bible, those who met God did not need to convinced of the need for lowliness.
If we were to write a script for how the Son of God would appear, we would not have cast Him as a carpenter. Note whom He chose for friends – fishermen, tax collectors, common people. He submitted to a criminal’s death. He was lowly. Pray to have this quality in your life.
Paul speaks about the mind in Titus 1:15: “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” Here purity is described as the natural state of the Christian. Impurity is reached by corruption.
In our times, the “natural” spiritual state, or being filled with God’s Spirit and growing in Christ, is harder to maintain for several reasons. The first is the constant assault of information on our beleaguered senses. Tempters have always abounded, but they now have resources within our environment to take us into unprecedented realms of sin.
The impurity Christians battle today touches primarily two areas. The first is the lust for the forbidden, expressed as a preoccupation with anything unlawful – wrongful sex, horoscopes, soap operas, and other lusts – in short, the desire to express oneself outside the realm of normal Christian activity. The second is the lust for power, expressed either in lust for wealth or for position.
No one ever overcame either of these kinds of lusts without preparation. Purity demands that we know ahead of time what we will do when temptation comes. The ordinary Christian will probably not make a spiritual decision under the duress of temptation. If we understood the dread abyss that temptation itself is, we would cry, as Jesus told us to. “Lead us not into temptation. “ Satan knows how to introduce temptation into a moment of weakness.
Our safest course is to avoid temptation entirely, but our culture has made that difficult. Strength comes before, not during, temptation. Overcoming is a prior act. Know ahead of time which lusts are your greatest weaknesses. For some lusts you must be prepared to avert your eyes. Others may require that you quote appropriate Scripture. Have certain Scriptures memorized and ready. For other lusts you may go immediately to prayer. Are you prepared before temptation comes?
Sensitive and Responsive
When Jesus appeared to the disciple on the evening of the resurrection, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). When He chose the disciples he had recognized in them a quality that made them fit subjects for three and a half years of intensive training. The disciples did not always learn quickly but they were teachable. They at least wanted to learn. They were responsive.
The adjective responsive implies a spiritual sensitivity to God. This responsiveness is a sensitivity that recognizes the distinguishing fingerprint of God. The disciples were sensitive when they asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). In this petition, they were not merely envying the ability of Jesus to perform miracles (earlier He had given them authority to heal the sick and cast out demons). Jesus was intensely spiritual, and they wanted that quality of profound spirituality in their own lives.
This quality – responsiveness to God – is indispensable for progress in the spiritual life. We need for God’s Spirit to sensitize us to Himself. How can we cultivate that sensitivity? One way is to give God a chance by dwelling in His word. Specifically, what Jesus “opened their minds” to was Scripture. He wants us to understand His word, and we cannot understand it if we do not spend time meditating on it. Prayer also sensitizes the spirit. When the disciples wanted to imitate Him, it was His teaching on prayer that they requested.
Jesus was sensitive to His Father in the utmost degree. He said, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28). He claimed to see what the Father was doing, to hear what the Father was saying, and to do nothing independently of the Father. He devoted Himself to reflecting the mind of the Father, and His reflection was exact.
As the Father is to the Son, so Christ is to us. He imitated the Father; we imitate Christ. He saw the activity of the Father; we pay close attention to the known earthly activity of Jesus (and, for that matter, also to His present activity). He heard from the Father; we must hear from Him. The Father taught Him; He teaches us. He could do nothing independently of the Father; we cannot function independently of Him. He was very close to the Father; we must remain close to Him. Pray that God will make you more sensitive to Him.