We have the mind of Christ [1 Corinthians 2:16].
Throughout Scripture, Christ followers are encouraged to have or to put on the mind of Christ.
But what does that mean?
Jesus alluded to this when He said, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher” [Matthew 10:25]. If we are His followers, we should imitate Him. This includes His mannerisms, characteristics, priorities, actions, teachings, habits, and mindset.
Salvation brings supernatural regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is the inward change and process of becoming like Christ. Yet, I am also instructed to outwardly “put off” and “put on” [e.g., Ephesians 4]. My outer progress should align with the inner working of the Holy Spirit. He convicts, speaks truth, and glorifies God within us [John 16:8-15]. Subsequently, I agree, submit, and align myself with Him. So, having the mind of Christ involves personal choice.
To get a better picture of the mindset of Christ, let’s look at how Jesus exhibited it and some elements we can incorporate to become more like Him.
Let (allow; promote) this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and…humbled Himself and became obedient to the…death of the cross [Philippians 2:5-8, parenthesis added].
Jesus didn’t come to establish a reputation, build a platform, or be served [Mark 10:45]. Being the Creator of all things, He lovingly stooped into humanity to sacrifice Himself for us. Consider the indignity of that! Down from the eternal, boundless heavenlies, He came to earth to be constricted by time, space, and matter. In all instances, He served others humbly, being obedient to His eternal mission.
God hates pride [Proverbs 6:16-19]. Pride contributed to Lucifer’s fall from heaven [Isaiah 14:12-15]. Paul warns against even “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” [2 Corinthians 10:5-6]. The mind of Christ brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Removing pride may seem easy enough. And yet, I may inadvertently exhibit pride through knowledge of Scripture, ministry effort, or even service to others. Sometimes even confidence may seem like arrogance. It’s a slippery slope against which I must constantly be on guard. As a follower of Christ, I consistently monitor my motives in all decisions, arguments, agendas, choices, interactions, and activities. Being obedient to Him is to allow the Holy Spirit complete access to correct and realign anything competing with Christ’s example of humble service.
Victory Over Sin
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 [1 Peter 4:1-2].
Although Jesus lived a life of sinless perfection, I cannot achieve that until Heaven. But Scripture gives a wealth of instruction and encouragement against a sinful lifestyle and mindset. 1 Peter 4:1-2 discourages a life of the “flesh” while encouraging the pursuit of the “will of God.” 1 John 2:15-17 warns against loving the world and its “things” as opposed to doing the will of the Father.
Peter says to “arm” myself with the mind of Christ. This means applying the mental weapons necessary to remain intentional with the purposes of God. The more intense my focus on God and His purposes for me, the less likely I’ll be distracted by the “sins of the flesh” or the “lusts of men.” In essence, I stop habitually practicing and justifying sin.
Upon salvation, God clothes me in His righteousness [Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. Anything unrighteous is sin [1 John 5:17]. Although God declares me righteous in Christ, anything I do or think outside that righteousness is sin. Here again, I must forsake anything conflicting with or distracting from God’s righteous purpose for me. To have the mind of Christ, I equip myself with His mindset (values, priorities, perspectives, etc.).
When Jesus told His disciples about His upcoming sufferings, crucifixion, and ascension, Peter scolded Him for even thinking such things. In response, Jesus rebuked Peter: “You are not mindful (setting your mind on) of the things of God, but the things of men” [Mark 8:33, parenthesis added].
As one of Jesus’ closest friends, I suspect Peter had good intentions. Yet, even best intentions may run counter to God’s purposes. Having a Godly mindset may involve correcting anyone who questions or disagrees with the vision God has given me. This doesn’t mean I ignore their feedback because “iron sharpens iron” [Proverbs 27:17]. But I must be so attuned with God’s will and purpose that even best intentions do not distract or dissuade me. As Jesus set His face firmly toward Jerusalem, I deliberately and purposefully resolve to fulfill what God has entrusted to me.
Love is the distinctive characteristic of a Christ follower [John 13:35]. The mind of Christ is filled with compassion for people. Jesus loves people [John 3:16]. He sacrificed His life as an act of love for us [John 15:13]. He doesn’t want anyone to spend eternity apart from Him [2 Peter 3:9].
If I am to put on the mind of Christ, I must love as He loves. Not merely tolerate people, but love them. My ministry, service, or charitable acts must arise from a heart overflowing with love. God is love [1 John 4:7-8]. As a part of His family, love must be in my DNA. His divine love flows through my veins. Without love, I do not bear the family resemblance. Only through love can He minister through me to a hurting, lost world.
(Please also see “What Does it Mean to Have the Mind of Christ? Part 2”)