LET THIS MIND - Part 1
Paul, writing to the church in Philippi said this in Philippians 2:5-8: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Verse five in the Contemporary English Bible says: “and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought.” The Good News Bible says: “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:” Verses 5 & 6 in the Easy to Read Bible reads this way: “In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought. He was like God in every way, but he did not think that his being equal with God was something to use for his own benefit.”
This scripture is reminding us to always have the right attitude, referred to as the mind of Christ Jesus, the same attitude or mind that Jesus exemplified. Yet, we need to look at this in a little more detail to find out what the mind of Christ was and that we are being told to have. This attitude was not one that took advantage of others. Paul said that though Jesus was equal with God, He didn’t use His equality for His own benefit. Many would say that we are not equal with God and they are correct. However, Paul said that the creation is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God, (Rom. 8:14, 19; 2 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:5-6; Eph. 4:12-15; Phil. 2:15; Heb. 2:10-11; 12:7-8; John 17:21-23). These verses speak of our growing up into the fullness of Christ, becoming mature sons of God. Therefore, the verse in Philippians 2:5-6, which says we are to think the way Jesus thought, does apply to us. Paul says in Romans 12:3 that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but to think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. This means that we need to think of ourselves as God says we are, but not to consider ourselves more spiritual or better than others. Jesus never used His equality with God to put others down or belittle them. He never had an air of superiority over people. Jesus did rebuke the religious leaders at times, but Proverbs 27:5 says: “An open rebuke is better than secret love.” He taught, corrected theology and understanding, and lifted people up to a better understanding of the Father and the full character of the Kingdom of God. This is the first thing we must realize concerning the mind of Christ.
EQUAL WITH GOD
Paul said that Jesus “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” We could understand this as speaking of Jesus before He became a human while still with the Father. John 10:38 and 17:21 teaches us that He was equal or one with God before coming to earth as a baby. Yet, Paul is also saying that Jesus was still equal with God as He walked on this earth. He indicates this in the next verse where he says “but he made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (V. 7) He was equal with God but took upon Himself the form of a servant, coming in the likeness of man. This doesn’t mean He was all God and not human. Jesus was still one with the Father and yet He was one with mankind. The Book of Hebrews tells us He was tempted in every area of life just as we are yet without sin. (See Heb. 2:18; 3:9; 4:15; 5:8-9). Also consider that God cannot be tempted (James 1:13) so for Jesus to be tempted He had to be one with humanity.
John five has the story of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus tells the man to rise, take up his bed and walk. The Jews are upset because it is the Sabbath. Verse 16 &18 says: “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” (NKJ) The Jewish religious leaders understood that calling God His father made Him equal with God having the authority of God His Father. This is due to what has been called the Jewish “adoption” theory. (See Hebrews 12:5-11; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5; Heb. 2:11). A young man was considered a child until the day of “adoption” or the day when the father would declare him to be a son. At that time the father was indicating that he was turning his business over to the son and that whatever the son did was the same as if done by the father. This happened to Jesus when He was baptized. As He came up from the water the Holy Spirit settled like a dove upon Him and a voice spoke that declared “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat. 3:17 NKJ) Jesus was equal with God and yet was totally human. Jesus was equal with God and at His baptism He was recognized by God the Father as His beloved Son. This was in essence the “adoption” of Jesus releasing Him to do the work of the Father with all the authority of the Father. We are totally human yet God is looking for sons to come forth in the same image as revealed by Jesus to do the work of God, that which He had given to Adam, (Gen. 1:26 – 28). This doesn’t mean we will be God. It only means God will fill us with Himself to do the works of God like those Jesus did and even more, (John 14:12).
John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” Then verse 14 says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the Word of God made flesh; He became human. He didn’t use His equality with God for His own benefit, but Paul said He humbled Himself and became a servant.
HOW DID JESUS HUMBLE HIMSELF?
Jesus was born of a woman into human form. He came as a baby not as a king or lord. He was born into a poor family and grew up learning how to work and to live as human. He felt pain and earned callouses on His hands. He recognized the pain of loss when Joseph died. He experienced all the tests and trials of life as a human being. Today we would call Him a blue collar worker or possibly a laborer or maybe a small business owner after Joseph passed away. Jesus could have manifested Himself as a full grown man and just appeared in society. He had revealed Himself in society several times in the Old Testament. The Bible says that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 5:21-22 says that Enoch walked with God and was not because God took him. Job said he had heard of God but now saw him (Job 42:5). He was a friend of Abraham and appeared to him as a man in Genesis 12:7, 15; 17:1; 18:1. Exodus 24:9-11 says that Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders of Israel saw God and ate with Him. Deuteronomy 5:4 and Numbers 14:14 say that Israel saw God in the wilderness. He revealed Himself as the Captain of the Host to Joshua in chapter 5:13 and in Isaiah 6:1-5, Isaiah says he saw the Lord. Now some might argue that those were manifestations of God and not Jesus. Yet, Paul says Jesus was equal with God and John 1:1-14 teaches us that Jesus was the Word and was with God. Jesus wasn’t separated from God as a separate entity until His birth in Bethlehem. Each one of these examples shows a personal interaction between God and mankind. There are other examples but they tell the person, such as Daniel, to not bow down. Still, these examples reveal God and therefore Jesus manifesting Himself in some personal manner. In some cases it is either as a man such as with Abraham or simply as a voice. In the example of Israel’s leaders it says they saw God. Also with Joshua we know it was a theophany as Joshua bows down before Him and worships Him. All these examples simply show that Jesus could have revealed Himself as a full grown man even as a king, lord or a warrior instead of coming as a baby. Instead He humbled Himself by taking on “the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
It is also important to state that the characteristic of humility or meekness is not weakness. Jesus was not weak physically or spiritually. Being raised as a carpenter he had to have been physically strong. Being able to ask questions and confound the religious leaders at the age of 12 He had to be spiritually strong. Being able to wisely answer the questions and withstand the attacks against Him also reveals His personal and spiritual strength. Enduring the physical attacks at His trial and crucifixion shows us the physical strength. This helps us to realize that as we build the characteristic of humility within us it doesn’t mean we will become weak or unable to withstand the verbal attacks or facial scorn that may come.
The product of building a character of humility is the blessing of God. James 4:6 says: “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Then in verse 10 James says: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” As we grow in humility, putting on the mind of Christ, we receive more grace and God begins to lift us up. We don’t need to build ourselves up God will do this as we walk in humility, the mind of Christ. Peter echoes this in 1 Peter 5:6 where he says: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Here we see that God will exalt you, but not necessarily in our time schedule. He knows how and when to lift us up and to bring us before others to reveal more of His character and nature and to speak His Word or to bring healing to others.
The mind of Christ Jesus is one of humility, yet where did He learn humility? Hebrews 4:15 says: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus experienced tests and trials just as we do but was able to overcome the temptation to sin. He understood the difference between what was right and wrong and chose to do what was right. The tests and trials of life for us are not there to destroy us but to bring us into humility and into our destiny before God just as it did Jesus.
Philippians 2:5 starts out by saying “Let”, which is a “primary particle, properly assigning a reason, used in argument, explanation or intensification.” (Strong’s Concordance). This word means that it is available for us now and always. It also means that we make the choice as to whether we will use what is available to us at any given moment or not. It means something is available, being offered, close at hand. If I were to try to move something that was heavy I could try it by myself. If someone were close by they might ask if they could help. When they ask, they make themselves available. This means it is now my choice whether I will “let” them help me or if I will endeavor to do it on my own. Paul says we are to “let” the mind of Christ be in us. We have a choice to use what is available or to try to do things on our own. The mind of Christ is available to us at all times and we can let it have reign in our lives or we can do our own thing. When we endeavor to do things on our own we often fail, especially in matters of the Spirit. So, other than the attitude of humility, what is the mind of Christ?
JESUS LEARNED TO WAIT
Waiting isn’t always easy. In today’s fast paced society sometimes it seems that waiting is not only difficult it is counterproductive. We seem to always need something, a decision, a product, something right now. Jesus learned how to wait and so must we. God is never late but He doesn’t always move at our schedule or when we feel we need that “something.” When the religious leaders brought the woman caught in adultery and asked Jesus about it He simply knelt down and began writing in the earth. There have been many different things that could be and has been said about this, but all I want to state is Jesus didn’t answer right away. He waited! Now I am sure that what He was writing had a very important part of His answer but the fact still remains He didn’t speak right away. Too often we think we need to come up with an answer right away to a problem or situation and that is not always true. Sometimes we simply need to wait until we have heard from the Holy Spirit.
When did Jesus learn to wait? Could it be after His time in Jerusalem at the age of 12? The family was there fulfilling their religious duties and they all left leaving Jesus behind. After traveling for one day Joseph and Mary realized Jesus wasn’t with them and they returned a day’s travel. Then they searched for Him for three more days before finding Him in the temple. When Mary confronted Him, He answered, didn’t you know I would be about My Father’s business? Many have looked at this as saying didn’t you know I would be in the temple? And this is true. Yet, does this answer reveal something else as well? This answer may refer to His desire to do what God had called Him too. The Bible goes on to say that He returned home and was submitted to His earthly parents until the day He was baptized by John. For the next 18 years Jesus had to wait. It is also interesting to note that in John two, Jesus is at the wedding in Canaan. He had started teaching as He already had a few disciples. Then when they ran out of wine Mary came to Him and He answered by saying His time was not yet. Mary didn’t argue with Him she simply turned and told the servants to do whatever He told them. This appears to be a release of the full ministry of Jesus as it says: “this beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” (Verse 11) When He was 12, Mary basically tells Him to wait to enter into the Father’s business. Now at the wedding she tells Him it is time to be about His Father’s business. We all need others to not only help us to hear from God but to be instruments of God to release us into the calling of God for our lives.
In Numbers 13, Caleb and Joshua along with ten others spied out the land of Canaan. When they brought their report Caleb and Joshua said they were able to go and take the land. They had faith to accomplish what God said they could have. Yet, because the people believed the other ten spies, weeping and complaining, they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. This means that Caleb and Joshua had to wander for 40 years as well. They had faith to go in and accomplish what God said, to receive their inheritance. Yet, because the rest of Israel wasn’t ready Caleb and Joshua had to learn to wait to receive what they knew they could have. To go into Canaan land before time would have meant their death as they wouldn’t have the whole body with them.
How many of us have been anxiously wanting to fulfill our destiny in God and have stepped out too soon? The mind of Christ is one that has learned to wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit and the confirmation of God through others before stepping out to accomplish things, especially things of the Spirit. Let us balance that by indicating that sometimes we wait too long and that isn’t good either. We need to learn how to wait and how to hear from the Holy Spirit and then to respond appropriately at the right time.
The timing of God is vital to the fulfilling of our ministry including our daily ministry. There are times when Jesus healed them all as they came to Him. There are other times when Jesus only healed a few. Consider John five when Jesus was at the Pool of Bethesda. There were a number of people there but Jesus only went to the one man. Also in John nine Jesus healed the man born blind. They may have passed this man many times and never said anything or brought healing to him. However, something stirred the curiosity of the disciples and they asked Jesus about him. Also, consider Peter and John as they were going to the temple to pray in Acts three when they brought healing to the man at the gate. They possibly had passed by this man many times but suddenly they turned and looked at him and brought healing to the man. Why didn’t they do this before? Is it possible that it wasn’t the timing of God? Paul says we are to be led by the Spirit in our daily activities. It takes the Holy Spirit to bring us into the presence of God so we can hear and see what He is doing and then to enable us to do that which God is doing.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
Matthew 14:23 says that Jesus went up into a mountain to pray and when evening came He was there alone. Look at the fact that He prayed alone. So often the only time people pray today is when they are with others such as during a church service and we certainly should pray at that time. Yet, Jesus spent time alone with God on a daily basis and we need to learn to do the same.
Luke 6:12 says that Jesus continued all night in prayer. Notice that He was willing and able to pray all night. How often do we begin to pray and after saying what we want, we stop and go about our business or go to sleep. Jesus spent time with the Father and was willing to spend the entire night if necessary to speak, but more importantly, to listen to what the Father had to say. I like to think that Jesus was having such a great conversation that He didn’t want it to quit. He had learned to wait before the Father and to listen – not just speak what was on His heart. If we don’t receive an answer right away too often we simply make a decision and do what we think is best. Now that may actually be the Holy Spirit and we need to learn when it is Him and when it is our being impetuous. If we know we have heard from God than we can go forth with confidence knowing God will back up our actions and statements. Jesus never doubted whether the Father was going to heal the person or bring revelation to others from what He spoke.
Luke 9:28 says that Jesus took Peter, John and James up on a mountain to pray. This is when He was transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Verse 31 says: Moses and Elijah “appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses and Elijah are talking to Him and He is listening! He knew He was about to be crucified as He had already spoken of His death and resurrection to the disciples, so what are they really speaking about? Could it be they were actually explaining how the law and prophets had indicated all that would happen? Were they explaining how the law and the prophets had not only declared what would happen, but what it would ultimately mean to creation? After His resurrection, while on the road to Emmaus Jesus was explaining the scriptures to the two disciples He was walking with. Did Jesus relate to these men what Moses and Elijah had declared? After the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the disciples had a whole new understanding of the Scriptures. Did this begin with what the men on the road to Emmaus shared and then continue to be revealed as they studied the Word, prayed and listened to the Holy Spirit? We don’t know. What we do know is that Jesus learned to listen to His parents, listen to His Heavenly Father and listen to others that had important things to say to Him. That gives us the understanding that we must also learn to listen. We need to listen more than speak when in prayer. We need to listen to those in authority over us and we need to listen when others have things to say to us. We don’t know if what they might say will change our lives and give us important information necessary for the future.
There is another important Scripture concerning Jesus in prayer. In Matthew 26:36 Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He tells the disciples to sit while He goes and prays. He then takes Peter, James and John with Him and goes a little further. He tells them He is “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (NKJ) He then goes a little further and begins to pray alone. While facing His greatest trial He goes to a place where He can pray alone, yet where others, those he trusts, are close by. Those He has trained and developed are there to help Him in His time of need. As we know they fall asleep and He prays alone. We need to be able to trust others to assist us in our times of need. However, when they fail us we need to do as Jesus did. Jesus didn’t forsake them, neither should we forsake our friends and ministry partners when they don’t measure up to the challenge or fulfill the need we ask of them. They must answer to God for their actions or lack thereof, not to us. As Jesus prayed alone so must we realize that ultimately it is up to our personal prayer life, that union with God, that God desires and that He answers. This time with the Father brought Jesus to the place where He was able to endure what was before Him. It is our personal time with God that will enable us to endure what lies before us. It isn’t the number of friends or helpers we have close to us, though their presence may encourage and help us. It is our connection with our Heavenly Father that matters and that gives us the strength to endure to the end.
In part two we will begin to look at how this affects us and enables us to become what God has created us to be. We will also take a closer look at what the mind of Christ Jesus actually is and how we are to “let” it be in us.
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