We have all read that passage in 1 Corinthians 2:16: “For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” I wonder however, how many of us really understand what it means? Let’s start by looking at this passage a little more closely. The word translated as mind in both places is nous, it means:
1 the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining. 1a the intellectual faculty, the understanding. 1b reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil. 1c the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially. 2 a particular mode of thinking and judging, i.e. thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires.
To put it in other words; when we have the mind of Christ, we judge, perceive, and consider as He does. Our feelings, purposes, and desires are in sync with His. In short, we have the thought life of Christ. But there is a little more to it than that. The word used for know is ginosko “ to know absolutely, as in intimately. This word is the one used in Matthew 1:26: “…And knew her not till she had brought forth…” It’s not enough to have the knowledge of Him, if we are to have the mind of Christ, we need to know Him in an intimate way.
So then, we obtain the mind of Christ through intimacy with Him, or rather, we receive a greater portion of His mind through that intimacy, for we receive His mind when we first accept Him as Lord and He comes to dwell in us. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23) When we believe in Christ (The Anointed One) He gives us His glory and comes to dwell in us, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, so we then have dwelling within us the fullness of the wisdom of the Godhead. It only remains for us to access this wisdom.
How do we access this? It’s simple, much simpler that we make it out to be. As we walk out our lives in obedience to Him, and seek intimacy with our Lord, like Esther, all we need to do is ask. That’s right, just ask, it’s that simple! James put it this way: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8) If we want wisdom (the mind of Christ) all we need to do is ask in faith, confident that the Father will grant it according to His good will, and that He would never give us a serpent or a stone. (Luke 11:11) “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Lets back up a little bit and take another look at James 1:5-8.“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” When we ask, we are to ask in faith, confident that we will receive what we ask, not wavering between faith and fear. Further, the word translated as ask is aiteo: to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. Obviously, this word goes beyond just asking the Father, but rather craving and desiring wisdom to the point that nothing less will satisfy us. This is no place for one whom is double-minded, lukewarm about receiving wisdom. In reality, that is what it means to be double minded. Both the Greek and Hebrew words carry the sense of ambivalence, and half-heartedness. In fact, if we look at Psalm 119:113: I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law. The word used here for double-minded is ceeph [say-afe/] meaning: ambivalent, divided, half-hearted. To put it another way, lukewarm. Revelation 3:15-16 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” To better understand this picture, let’s take a closer look at Laodicia. Historically Laodicia was a place known for it’s springs, many of which are present today. There were hot, cold and lukewarm springs. The cold springs were refreshing and healthy, and the hot ones restoring and healing, while the lukewarm ones were none of these things and in some cases distinctly unhealthy, making you want to vomit the water out.
We do however have more to do than just ask for the wisdom of God, we must then walk it out according to His Word. Ephesians 4:17-24 (NKJV) “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” I can not emphasize how important it is for us to really grasp this passage. It is not enough to just say a prayer, and then continue on in the same old way, we are called to put off the old man and put on a new man who is created according to God in rightiousness and holiness. But can we do this? How do we put on Christ? While it may sound hard, in reality, the hard part is done when we receive Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NKJV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…” When we receive Christ the old man passes away, truly we are born again as a new creation. All that remains for us is to choose to walk according to that new creation. Incidently, new here means new, actually it means beyond new, the Greek word kianos means fresh, new, but carries the meaning of something that is a new kind, unprecidented and unheard of.
But it is not enough just to look at what it means to have the mind of Christ, we need to look what at the results are. If we are to seek and have the mind of Christ, what does that look like? What can we expect to see in one who does have the mind of Christ? How will it manifest itself? Lets start by looking at something Jesus said: “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:35-40) The word mind here is Dianoia: 1 the mind as a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring. 2 understanding. 3 mind, i.e. spirit, way of thinking and feeling. 4 thoughts, either good or bad. The meaning is clearly the seat of understanding, just what we would call the mind. We can conclude then that one aspect of the mind of Christ is that it knows how to love, both God and their fellow man with God’s love.
What else does it mean to have the Mind of Christ? Let’s look at another scripture, Philippians 2:1-7: 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. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. The word mind in this passage is phroneo, it has a range of meaning, including: 1 to have understanding, be wise. 2 to feel, to think. 3 to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for. It carries with it the ideas of humility, modesty, care and unity. If we have the mind of Christ the we will care for one another, walking in true humility, looking to one another’s interests, with each esteeming and honoring the other as greater than ourselves.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NKJV) Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Paul tells Timothy that God has given him a spirit of love, power and a sound (literally saved mind, a mind of moderation and self-control because the Holy Spirit controls it). We also see Paul instructing Timothy to “stir up the gift.” Literally he tells Timothy to “kindle afresh” or “keep in full flame” the gift which Paul has “laid on, imposed or imparted” upon him through the laying on of Paul’s hands. The hand symbolically represents might, activity or power. If we have the mind of Christ, we will walk boldly in His (agape) love, kingdom power and authority, not wavering but walking with our gifts fully aflame, not in our desires but controlled and disciplined by His desires.
When we do this we may encounter opposition. In fact, we can count on it. Jesus himself met with opposition from all corners. Even His own family thought He was crazy. “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’” (Mark 3:21) Indeed, our very words and deeds as we walk in obedience to His mind will at times cause us to be labeled as fools, or worse. “1Corinthians 2:14; But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” To the natural mind the things that flow from the mind of Christ will often seem foolish, even offensive because they can only be understood as the Holy Spirit gives understanding. The very Gospel itself will seem foolish unless the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts to reveal it. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
God clearly has chosen to do things in a way that is contrary to man’s expectations and ways of thinking. He could have done things in the expected way just as easily, but He chose not to. The Jews expected a sign, a conquering Messiah who would come in glory and establish His throne on the earth. Instead, God chose to come as the Son of Man, a servant to redeem our sins, in order that He might conquer death and hell. This was prophesied, but because it was “hidden” and could only be seen by those that are lead of the Spirit, many missed it. Jesus could have assumed that conqueror role at any time had He chose to, but He did not because He knew that the shedding of His blood was necessary if we were to be freed to step into our true destiny as sons and daughters of God. The blood of sheep and goats could only provide temporary and imperfect atonement for our sins, only the perfect, innocent blood of the Son of God could pay the ultimate price required for perfect atonement. Hebrews 9:11-14; But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Jesus came as the Sacrifice Lamb and became the Great High Priest that we might be washed clean and deemed worthy to be adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God, to be counted as kings and priests able to come boldly before the throne of God. This could have been received by all of Israel, but because it did not come in the way they expected it, they missed their opportunity. The time will come soon that they will proclaim “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,” and then they WILL see Messiah come in the clouds to rule and reign in glory. But because He did not come the way they expected that first time, they will have missed over 2000 years of His reign. We need to remember this for the Lord does not always come and move in the way we might expect. Let us be open and humble, willing to receive Him as He chooses to come, and in those He chooses to use.
That is the other lesson from that passage in 1Corinthians. God often does not choose the “logical” person or way to accomplish something. Instead he usually chooses the least likely, or least qualified. He takes the foolish and makes them wise, the weak to make strong, The base and despised to become precious and that which seems as nothing to become treasured. That is not the way the world works or sees and all too often that is true of the church as well. We need the wisdom of God to rightly discern what is of God and what is not. For if we try to judge with our natural eyes we will usually judge wrong.
What else can we learn about God’s wisdom? Let’s turn to James 3:13-17 and see what he has to say: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” We can see right away that wisdom is meek. As the Amplified version puts this passage: “…Let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom.” Meekness (humility) is then an attribute of wisdom. Note, meekness is not weakness, rather it can only exist in the presence of power. As Vine’s states: “…It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ because he had the infinite resources of God at His command. Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all….” We can also see this in the following verse. It does not envy, is not self-seeking, does not boast nor lie. Meekness then can be said to be power controlled.
What else can we learn about wisdom and the mind of God from James 3? “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” Hmmm, sounds a little like the gifts of the Spirit to me. Lets take a look a couple more scriptures. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Ephesians 5:9 “…(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)….” Do you see the connection? Wisdom comes from a Spirit controlled life. In fact I will go so far as to say that Wisdom IS Holy Spirit. Can I back that up scripturally? I’m glad you asked. Isaiah 11 is Messianic prophecy. Verses two and three state this: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears….” We can also see this in Ephesians 1:17-18, one of Paul’s apostolic prayers: “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened….” When we walk in obedience to the Spirit, we are lead and moved by the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding. Our wisdom comes from and is activated by Holy Spirit.
If we desire the mind of Christ, and to walk in wisdom, we must live a “Spirit driven” life. That is, we must allow ourselves to be led by and controlled by Holy Spirit, allowing Him to direct our lives, our thoughts and our words. It is only to the extent that we do this that we can reflect Jesus in our lives and we are only able to do this to the extent we become intimate with Him, meditating upon the Word, worshiping our Lord and seeking His presence.
Ephesians 1:15-21 “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”