When we hear “Christlikeness”, do we think “too much to ask”? When we consider the challenge of knowing the mind of Christ, our first response is that this is a difficult task – maybe too difficult, out of reach, more than we should hope for. After all, Jesus Christ is God, completely perfect, without sin, sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Father. He is our Redeemer, victorious over sin, risen from the dead, awaiting the day that all knees will bow before Him.
We are bound by our earthiness, as Paul says, in these “earthly tents” (2 Corinthians 5:1ff). We struggle with sin being all around us, often responding to the challenges of life with a mortal, earth-bound point of view. How in this world can we expect to have the mind of Christ in the midst of such circumstances?? Is this too much to ask of us?
Christ told us we are to be “salt and light” in this world (Matt. 5:13-16). The issue becomes one of how “salty” and “full of light” we are. We must not yield to the pressure of our world, but instead allow our mind to be transformed , renewed in Christ’s likeness. As Christians, we often agree that we should “be like Christ” – but how deeply do we believe that? how strongly are committed to it?
Left to ourselves, there would be no way to acquire the mind of Christ. But God has committed Himself to our success! His Holy Spirit indwells each of us specifically to accomplish this great task. It is not too much to ask, and we should be asking Him every moment of every day to do this great work in us!
Christ in Abundance
In simple terms: yes. Without personal faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, we stand condemned. However, the Grace of God certainly has the same primary position of affect and effect — we are obligated to the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, “for by grace have you been saved through faith.” This question leads to a fair amount of debate among Bible-believing Christians today, seeking to balance the sovereignty of God with the free will of man. James actually expands this truth by commenting that “faith without works is dead.” The fact of these verses, however, is unavoidable: both are involved. Let’s be careful to recognize the points at which we are not able to force the infinite truths of God into our finite minds.
- Faith — the acknowledgement by man of God, Who He says He is, what He says He has done to reconcile our relationship with Him, and how He provides for our possessing that reconciliation — based on His revelation to us in Christ and His Word.
- Grace — the unilateral work of God to express and accomplish His Holiness, Justice and Lovingkindness on our behalf — based on His sovereignty, finally and fully expressed in Jesus Christ on the Cross.
One of the most exciting ways in which we see the grace of God in the work of salvation is expressed by Christ in John 10:10, that He has come that we might have life (our eternal walk in Christ) and that we might have it more abundantly (our walk in Christ today). Our faith in Christ is manifested by our faithfulness to Christ – and that’s “abundant living”!
2. Does “abundant living” happen automatically by being a Christian?
An “abundant” life is gained by being impacted with an understanding of Who Christ is and a pursuit of being like Him. Romans 12:1-2 helps with this: rather than letting the world “press” us into its mold, our mind should constantly be being renewed . The result is that we are transformed — from what? our world-based self-centered behavior — to what? a behavior that is heaven-based and Christ-centered. Then consider Galatians 5:22-23, referred to as the “fruits of the Spirit” but also called the “portrait of Christ”. In John 16, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will reveal and teach us more about Christ – that “fruit” develops in each of us by expressing the character qualities we learn from Jesus Christ as He lived in the world.
Bible Study Journal
Look up other verses that talk about the transformation that occurs as we grow in Christ. Make some notes in your journal about how this needs to fit in your life.
- Rom. 12:1-2
- 2 Corinthians 3:18
- Philippians 3:21.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
- 1 John 3:2
Note that Rom. 12 and 2 Cor. 3 use the same original Greek word which transliterates into our English “metamorphosis” (think caterpillar to butterfly). Also note that 1 Jn. 3 refers to when Jesus raptures the Church and we are transformed to be like Him in a complete and eternal sense.
The Mind of Christ
Philippians 2 teaches us about the mind of Christ. The Renewing process is God’s work of moving from a world-bound mindset to one that emulates Christ. Rom. 12:2 tells us it is a “transforming” process (by the way, never finished until we are with Christ, 1 John 3:2).
According to John 16:13-14, the Holy Spirit is indwelling us specifically so that He can teach us and reveal Christ (through the Word of God). Galatians 5:22 gives a marvelous portrait of Christ by listing the Fruit of the Spirit, results of the transforming work He works in us. As you reflect on the Fruit, you can easily see where the “renewal” process needs to go in your life!
“Without biblical meditation, we fall into the trap of religiosity, of going through the motions of religion without really dealing with our lives. What God has called us to is not simply overt conformity to a set of moral rules, standards, and actions of service. Instead, He has called us to a heart relationship with Him through Jesus Christ through the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. This means change in our lives from the inside out, changes in our values, sources of trust, in our purposes for living, and in the way we handle life.”– J. Hampton Keathley (bible.org)
The Christian life is a spiritual reality, it is based on faith in the One True God. However, rational thinking is a key element in the way we live Christlike lives – we choose to live like Christ. First Corinthians 2:6-16 helps us to understand why.
- We speak a wisdom not of this age. The picture depicts Paul preaching to the “wise” people of Corinth. But Paul wants us to understand how we apply the knowledge we have from God in a Christlike manner.
- The wisdom of the age — How does this age’s wisdom compare with the wisdom of God? Today’s wisdom is worse than short-term, it requires immediacy. It also requires total accommodation of self and exclusion of God.
- The wisdom of God — By comparison, we have received God’s Spirit, we have recognized our need of God’s provision, we have turned to Him for solutions. As a result, the Holy Spirit guides and teaches so that we gain spiritual understanding.
How Do We Show the Mind of Christ?
1. Two basics…
- Know God — become acquainted with Him personally, become His child, become friend
- Think God’s thoughts — grow deep roots, plumb the depths of His wisdom, express His mind in the midst of every day’s experiences
2. Living the Mind of Christ
- Think Biblically
- Think Honestly
- Think Consistently
- Live with a forgiving heart
- Live with a serving spirit
- Live with a discipling mind
A Challenge from 1 Peter
You might recall the bracelets that became so popular with the “WWJD” movement in the 90’s. The phrase “what would Jesus do” is actually a quote from a book by Charles Sheldon in 1897 titled “In His Steps”. That title takes its cue from 1 Pet. 2:21
Peter’s first epistle is a strong focus on living a life of godliness and Christlikeness. Perhaps the theme is best summed up in 1 Pet. 2:9-10, where he states that we are chosen by God to be a royal priesthood, a holy people for God’s precious possession.
- 1:13 — “…prepare you minds for action…” We have a mission from God and our minds must be prepared, sober, fixed.
- 2:9-10 — a royal priesthood
- 2:21 —”in His steps”
- 3:8, 15 — Live in harmony and kindness, but then be prepared (in your mind) to give a defense for your faith.
- 4:1 — Arm yourselves with purpose; be mindful that when you speak, it is the utterances of God
May the Mind of Christ my Savior (Hymn)
May the mind of Christ my Savior, live in me from day to day;
by His love and power controlling all I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour;
so that all may see I triumph only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father rule my life in everything,
that I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing, this is victory.
May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me, as I seek the lost to win;
and may they forget the channel, seeing only Him.
Bible Study Journal
For further study…
1. Focus on the Bible’s teaching about the mind of God using the passages mentioned above.
2. Think about ways you could develop habits that would help your thinking to be more Christlike.
3. As an exercise, memorize Philippians 2:5 and Romans 12:1-2.