The Mind of Christ
Text: Philippians 2: 1-11
Proposition: God prepares us to overcome sin that the body would be and act as one in Christ with the mind of Christ.
Our sin nature can blind us to the battle that goes on for our minds. In James 1:14,15 it says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Sin can seem invisible to us but be certain that if it goes unchecked it will show up and usually in a way that we didn’t expect. It’s like the story of the man whose wife was particularly good at knitting. They had lunch in a Chinese restaurant in China Town in Toronto. When his wife saw the hand-written menu she was so impressed with the calligraphy she tucked the menu into her purse. Some months later out came the result, a stunning white sweater with the Chinese symbols hand-stitched down the front in a brilliant red. She received all kinds of compliments until they met a distinguished Chinese physician, who asked where she got the symbols and if she knew what they meant. Pointing at the writing, he read, "This is a cheap dish, but good."
The church is especially vulnerable to sin since it’s enemy the great deceiver is intent on slandering it and crippling it. Turn with me to Philippians 2:1-11.
I. Since Jesus Has Entered Into Your Life, Be Of the Same Mind.
Look again at Philippians 2:1… “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ…”. The word “if” in Greek has a much stronger sense to it than it does in the English. In English ‘IF’ means that it may or may not happen, but the word in the Greek is better translated, “SINCE”. In other words it’s a definite consequence of a previous action. “Since there is the certain encouragement in Christ”, is what Paul is saying, ‘you can overcome the challenge to your faith.’.
Well let’s ask the obvious question, ‘Why does Paul feel he needs to especially encourage this group of people with the call to be like minded and to diligently preserve the unity of the body?’ What’s going on in either his life or theirs that might threaten their lives and their faith? I mean verse 1 does begin with the word ‘therefore’, he’s pointing back to something that could be potentially destructive if not handled right. So when you take a quick look at the previous chapter Paul is in prison in Rome and from his point of view this is a good thing. He’s able to reach people he could never have reached, the church is growing because of the struggle. Paul even says in verse 29, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake”. That phrase, ‘to you’ is a reference to the Philippian church. Something was turning up the heat in Philippi. Take a quick historical look at Phillipi. It was a geographical gateway, the mountains pushed close to the sea and this city was situated right at that bottleneck. The ruins of today indicate a strong Roman presence indicating it was a colony of Rome. There was an active worship of Artemis the female deity. Artemis was considered to be the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery When you remember that this early church had a number of women in it, perhaps even the majority of the church, it would have been difficult for them to reject Artemis. Lydia, perhaps also the slave girl healed of demons, Euodia and Syntyche referred to in 4:2,3 tell us there were key women in this church.
So have a look at verse 1 again as Paul exhorts the people of this church in their next steps of faith. Four things are listed in verse 1:
1: Consolation in Christ; 2: Comfort of love; 3: Fellowship of the Spirit; 4: Affection and Mercy. Then do you also see four things listed in the second verse 1: Being like minded; 2: Having the same love; 3: Being of one accord; 4: Intent on one mind? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit had Paul lay out the last four as the intended response to the first four? If that is the case then the response to having the consolation of Christ would be being like minded. The response having the comfort of love would be having the same love. The response to having the fellowship of the Spirit would be being of one accord. The response to having the affection and mercy of God would be being intent on one mind. If that correlation is Paul’s thought and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration then the first four describe the actions of God towards them and the last four describe their response to that. The like mindedness, having the same love, the one accord, the intent of having one mind is also not just a reference to each other as people in the church it also describes a like mindedness with Christ.
That this is the case is seen more clearly when you read verses 3 and 4 and see the emphasis of interpersonal unity and like mindedness Paul exhorts them to and then in verse 5 he says this is also the mind of Christ. In fact it’s the mind of Christ that sets the direction for our like mindedness.
II. Consider the Glory of the Father in the Humbling of Christ.
Look at verses 5 to 7 for a minute. The first thing that strikes me is that this is the description of the mind of a man and at the same time the mind of God. It emphasizes the humanity and deity of Christ and shows the tension in that. Look at verse 6, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God…”. Don’t let that word ‘form’ throw you. It typically refers to a visual likeness but in this case, since God the Father is spirit, it refers to His nature. Perhaps the dynamic equivalence of the NIV helps us here. Listen to how it puts it, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage”. So when I say consider the glory of the Father in the humbling of Christ it is not the Father humbling the Son but the Son humbling Himself when He had all the power of deity at His command, He chooses to yield that in a way that exalts the Father. You could even say that from a human standpoint Jesus made no claims to His reputation. He didn’t protest His innocence or proclaim His miracles or present His teachings as that which established a very powerful Messianic reputation. It was just like Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” There was an intention in Christ to serve a purpose higher than His own human existence. There was an intention in Christ to serve others as He served the Father, in fact these two purposes were welded together as one. The silence of Christ, the way He laid down His right to the reputation of being God and the reputation of being the Messiah were for the singular purpose of not hindering the Father’s purposes of the redemption of mankind. That surrendering of rights that are legitimately yours in order that God would be glorified are partly what it means to be of the same mind as Christ. It’s what Paul is exhorting the church to consider and then do. So look at verse 8, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” There is a different definition of humility here than what we are typically used to. Verse 8 is defining humility, the humility of Christ which we are to be like minded in, as an action that is directed by an obedience to the will of the Father where I yield myself even to the point of death.
Let’s look at one last thing in this passage, the name of Jesus. Verse 9 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,”. The name of Jesus is used here in a much broader sense than just what people called Him. The name of Jesus, it stands for His rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command and deeds. You could almost say that the name of Jesus is also the mind of Christ. The awareness of Jesus of Who He is as the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer represents His interests, His pleasure, His command and is reflected in all He did and will do. It is at this sense of His name that every knee will bow, in heaven, earth and under the earth. Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and the great result of that collective confession that echoes through the ages of mankind’s existence will join with that same confession of Jesus as Lord by the angelic hosts. Together these two great confessions of Christs name will point to the glory of God the Father.
To have the mind of Christ is to be led by the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the name of Jesus in this way. His rank as first place in all creation, His authority over all heaven and earth, His interests in establishing the kingdom of God, His pleasure in setting people free from sin and death, His command to repent of sin and believe in Him, to go into all the world and make disciples, His deeds that declare His deity, all these glorify God the Father. If, or since, there is a will of God for your life, it is that you too would glorify the Father by having the mind of Christ.