Were we not so familiar with the statement, we would find a comment that Paul made to the church at Corinth to be quite remarkable. Addressing his fellow believers there, Paul wrote matter-of-factly that “we have the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16b).
There is no hedging here, no qualification. “We have the mind of Christ,” Paul says, right here and now as our present possession. Paul anticipates the error of the gnostics before they have had the opportunity to form their perverse doctrines concerning secret knowledge that only a select few could know and understand. Some class of self-designated elite have no corner on the truth, nor is truth the exclusive right of those who have attained a certain level of maturity. Nor does truth belong to a select body of clergy. Nor does Paul suggest that some have “some of the mind” of Christ, while others have more, and still others all. One of the remarkable things about this statement is that the declaration is made to the church at Corinth, perhaps the most carnal, weak, and troubled church identified in the New Testament. Since Paul does not qualify his phrase, “the mind of Christ,” as “a part” or “a portion” and since he is addressing the Corinthian church as a whole without distinguishing among its smarter or more ignorant members, its wiser or more foolish members, its more mature or younger members, or even its godly or carnal members, and since we know from evidence all around us that knowledge of doctrine, understanding of the truth, and spiritual discernment vary widely among believers, how can Paul make this bald statement? The answer lies in what Paul means by the phrase, “the mind of Christ.”
The Word of God. The Word of God is the mind of God (Christ) revealed to man. It affords “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3a). God does not leave us to make sense of the world and our place in it on our own. He does not tease us with tidbits of information about salvation but leave out essentials, expecting us to figure the remainder out for ourselves. Praying to His Father, the Lord Jesus made a request—“Sanctify them [the disciples, and by extension other believers] in the truth”—and an observation—“Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Just prior to this prayer, the Lord had assured His disciples that “all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). That statement crystallizes the function of the Word of God, namely to reveal fully, specifically, and concretely all the mind of God as it pertains to our salvation and victorious living here. Who is God? What is He doing? Why am I here? What does He expect of me? How can I be sure that I’m going to heaven? What is my destiny? These questions need not trouble the believer. On these and a host of other questions, we have been given the mind of Christ, and therefore know what God thinks about these things. The Word of God is the repository of the inerrant, infallible, thoughts of God toward and about us. When we want to know what is right and wrong, good or sinful, profitable or worthless in God’s eyes, we need look no further than the pages of His Book. For we have in our hands “the mind of Christ” and can, as has been so often repeated, think God’s thoughts after Him.
The Spirit of God. It is tempting to leave the answer to the question posed above with just those words. But our text is in the middle of a passage dealing with the work of the Spirit, which suggests that Paul has in mind more than the Word of God with his remark regarding the mind of Christ. In one sense, it might be said that the Word of God provides the facts God wants us to know, and the Spirit provides the understanding of those facts. For we know that anyone who can read has access to those inspired facts, yet it cannot be said of most who can read the words that they have the mind of God because, as Paul explains, the “natural man does not accept” the truths of God “because they are spiritually appraised” (I Cor. 2:14). We can only truly be said to have the mind of Christ when we have been saved and indwelt by the Spirit of God, Who is given to us, among other things, to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13). Again speaking to His disciple, the Lord Jesus assured them that His Spirit would “teach . . . [them] all things” (John 14:26). John reiterates that truth in his first epistle: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (2:27).
To have the “mind of Christ,” then, entails having both the written Word of God and the presence of His indwelling Spirit, given to those whom God has saved. How many times, we all have wished to “pick the brains” of a departed loved one, a great scholar, a writer, or a scientist. Yet we cannot. But what we can do is know and understand the holy and perfect mind of God—not in its infinity, but to the degree that God is pleased to reveal Himself to us and for the purpose of living victorious lives here and glorifying Him throughout eternity. Are we availing ourselves of this inexpressible gift?
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