Let This Mind Be In You
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” -Philippians 2:1-2
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
“The LORD was pleased for His righteousness’ sake to make the law great and glorious.”
Through Isaiah, God told us long in advance, before He came in the flesh, that He would magnify the law and not do away with it. He was going to make it honorable and not contemptible, as some have made it to be. The law is not solely physical, it’s not legalistic, it’s not contemptible, it’s not for the old people of the past; it is an honorable magnification of the mind and the nature of God. This is the mind of God, and this is His character. This is why God purposed to make it great and glorious, because He wants to share His mind with us, and He will, one day, share His mind with all people (Isaiah 2:3; 54:13). This is the mind of Christ, the mind that God intends for us to have. It is for this reason that He says through the apostle Paul,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”
What kind of mind is God referring to? A lawless or rebellious mind? Obviously not. Christ had a very abiding mind, a disciplined mind, a righteous mind, a holy mind. How do we know? First and foremost, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father, and this is a claim He wouldn’t make unless He was of the same mind, the same heart, and the same understanding as the Father. Jesus indicated this when He said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16). Elsewhere, He tells his listeners that He speaks those things which he hears from the Father, does only those things that have been taught to Him by the Father, and He always does what pleases the Father (John 8:26-29). All of these indicate that His mind and His will were in lockstep with the Father. This is the mind that Paul commands us to have in ourselves, a mind that is set on the things above (Colossians 3:1-2). Psalm 1 is a perfect description of this mind: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law He meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). This is what it means to love the Lord with all of our minds–to think continually upon His word, and to ask God in the words of David to “open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law… Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:18, 34). This was not only David’s prayer, but it was Paul’s prayer for the church. In like manner, he prays that,
“You (we) may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:9-10).
Sadly, many of the apostle Paul’s own brethren accused him of not worshipping according to the law and steering others away as well (Acts 18:13). Was this truly the case? Would a teacher of the Torah instruct us to have the same mind as Christ and not aim to have this mind in himself? What was Paul’s response to all of this? In Romans 7, Paul gladly proclaims, “I delight in the law according to the inward man,” and “with the mind I myself serve the law of God…” (7:22, 25). Paul, like David, proclaimed his delight in the law of God and even professes to serve the law of God in His mind. Elsewhere, Paul confirms this saying, “according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). Paul’s aim, like that of our Master, was to please the Father. This begins with knowing His mind, His heart, His will, and then striving to have this mind in ourselves. This is what pleases the Father–when we think His thoughts and grow in His understanding. On the other hand, it is difficult to please the Father when we are not filled with these things. Therefore, as His servants we must offer up our minds that they may undergo the transformation process, the process of allowing His Spirit–through reading, through study, through prayer, through meditation, and through obedience–to engrave His word in our minds. This has been the process since the beginning. In the Shema, for example, God’s people are instructed to take God’s word and,
“…teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7-8).
The Shema is the instruction, the prayer, that teaches our children, that teaches us, what it means to pursue the mind of Christ–how to nurture it, to grow it, and to make it our nature. It is not just reading and meditating, but the Shema reminds us that God’s word must become the substance of our conversations and our relationships. In binding His instructions to our hands and upon our foreheads, the word becomes the motivation for our work and the lens through which we see the world, see others, and see God. This is the process by which God is writing His word upon us and in us. The more it is inscribed on our minds and hearts, the more it becomes the lens through which we interact with creation and the standard by which we govern every facet of our lives–our households, our communities, and our cities, our nation. The Shema is a powerful reminder that God’s intention, from the beginning, was for His instructions to be written in our hearts and minds. Yes, His will has always been to write the mind of Christ in us, but human history has proven the apostle Paul right when he says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be…” (Romans 8:7). The issue has never been the words that God intends to inscribe in our hearts and minds; the issue has always been the carnal state of the human heart and mind. Paul confirms this when says, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good,” and that “the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:12, 14).
When we read the apostles words, we must understand, then, that Jesus came, not to abolish or destroy the law, nor did He come to rescue us from the law itself, but He came to release us from this bondage that came by transgressing His law. This is just the beginning. He also initiated the process of removing the heart of stone and renewing the carnal mind in order to make them fully receptive to His law. The giving of God’s Spirit is the continuation of this process until Christ returns to see it through to completion. All of this has been given to us and is being done in us by God for this very purpose: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts,” and “to cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments” (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27). In the end, when the process is completed, God tells us through the prophet Jeremiah that “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (31:34). Until then, we diligently continue–guided by His Spirit and His word–to encourage and teach one another toward this end:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”