Friday, August 30, 2013

We have the Mind of Christ

Today is the final day in our 34th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures* today are:  Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2.

Today, I want to encourage you.  If your readings in Isaiah have been difficult for you to get through, you're not alone.  I've been struggling with them, too.  If you find that they're hard to understand, and that you need to read with with a Bible in one hand and a commentary in the other--me too!  Though the poetry of Isaiah can be in one moment beautiful and in the next moment horrifying, the substance of his words can be perplexing.  But don't worry--wisdom and learning and understanding are ours, because through the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ living in us.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul tells the Christians in this troublesome church that they have at their disposal the very mind of Christ.  They don't have to solve their problems on their own or figure things out by themselves.  The mind of Christ is with them.  And by that, I don't believe that Paul means "we inherit the philosophies of Jesus to guide us."  Paul denies that his wisdom comes from human philosophy, saying: speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

No--there's something much more mystical at work here.  We actually have the mind of Christ.  What does it take to truly take hold of this divine mind?  You must be progressing toward maturity.  This wisdom is only for those who press in to God, seeking Him with their whole hearts.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory (vv. 6-7). 

When you're having trouble understanding the things you're reading in the Bible, there are two ways you can approach things:  You can read the commentaries, use Greek and Hebrew helps, look into the history and the context and the literary forms of the Bible so that you can learn its message from every perspective (and you should do these things).  But the second way of approaching divine learning is often missed by scholars and theologians.  You can pray about it.  You can meditate on God's Word.  You can live it, even when you don't understand it.  And soon, when you've been practicing the Word of God rather than trying to dissect it, the mind of Christ will awaken within you and shed light on your darkness.

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (vv. 10-13).

When it comes to understanding God's Word, one of our problems is that we approach it from the world's viewpoint.  We tackle touch questions by looking at the Bible through the lens of the world's teachings.  But the Bible says that the spirit of the world does not reveal the truth to us.  Rather, the Spirit who is from God teaches us all things.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.  “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ (vv. 14-16).

When we operate though the mind of Christ, rather than living by the mind that the world wants to place in us, we discern the wisdom of God, and understand His Word through spiritual means.  Comprehending those deep things in the Bible can only happen when we approach them with the mind of Christ.  Yes, you should study to show yourself approved by God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).  But you should also pray God's Word, and meditate on God's word, and live God's word.  This is the way to have the mind of Christ dwelling in you.  

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Rom 8:11).

So, there's a cycle that happens here.  Prayer, meditation, and living God's Word opens you up to the mind of Christ.  Then, the mind of Christ dwelling in your heart opens you up to eternal life--a quality of living that focuses on the eternal rather than on the temporal, on the things of God instead of the things of the world.  And this is eternal life--that we know, really know, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent (John 11:3).

*Quoted scriptures are from the ESV.

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