The Mind in Christ Jesus

Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5)

“In the form of God—the death of the cross.” No mind of angels or men can measure the distance that separated the form of God from the death of the cross. As being in the form of God, He dwelt “in the light which no man can approach unto; which no man has seen or can see;” while the death of the cross was the deepest degradation to which a man could descend. There was nothing above Him to which He could aspire, for all that was true of God was true of Him. He was “over all, God, blessed for ever,” and no one set Him in that place of supreme power and honour and glory; it was His because of who He was—the King eternal, immortal, invisible, God only wise”; “The Word was God.” Such He was as revealed to us in the Scriptures, and though His glory and what He is in His own Person is infinitely beyond the comprehension of even the greatest of men, for “no man knows the Son but the Father,” yet we may humbly contemplate what is written of Him and be impressed by the Holy Spirit, with His greatness whom we call Saviour, and be filled with constant wonder and worship at His condescension even to the death of the cross for our sakes. For our sakes He became poor.

Though He was so great and so far removed from us such was His mind that step by step He travelled that immeasurable distance for the glory of God and our salvation “He made Himself of no reputation.” He sought no honour for Himself. He “took upon Him the form of a servant;” and that not as a great angel, excelling in strength—but “was made in the likeness of men,” poor weak, frail men, utterly dependent upon God. “And being found in fashion as a man,” He did not seek a high place among men; but “He humbled Himself”, “for the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister”, to be among men as their servant. But lower even than that He went, for He “became obedient unto death,” though death had no claim upon Him, for He was the sinless man; and the death that He died was even the death of the cross, a felon’s death—a death upon which the curse of God and man rated, for “cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.” It was our death under the judgment of God that He died. He could not have gone lower.

And He is our pattern. “Let this mind;” says the apostle, “be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” How can that be? Such a mind is opposed to the very nature of men, all seek their own. We know it well; naturally we love our own way, and prefer disobedience to obedience; we grasp at what is higher than we; our ambition urges us to climb. Our pride—sinful pride—will not allow us to stoop and obey, it hates submission and rebels against the will of God, how then can this mind of humility and obedience which was in Christ Jesus be in us? Only as His life is in us.

The life of Christ was in Paul, and Christ was his pattern; he followed closely in the steps of his Lord in his sacrificial service. “Yea,” he said, “and if I be offered up on the sacrifice and service of your faith I joy and rejoice with you all.” But Paul was an Apostle and had seen the Lord, we say. Yes, but this same life and mind was in Timothy, for said Paul of him, “I have no man likeminded who will naturally care for your state, as a son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel.” Yes, we say again, but he was Paul’s constant companion and was so greatly attached to him that his whole life was influenced by him and took character from him. Yes, that was so, but the same life and mind was in Epaphroditus, and he was one of the Philippians, an ordinary man like ourselves, though Paul heaped honours upon him when he described him as “my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and he that ministered to my wants.” Six verses in our chapter are devoted to the perfect pattern, to the Lord’s humbling of Himself and His exaltation, and six verses are devoted to Epaphroditus and the way he answered to the pattern. And Epaphroditus was neither an Apostle not an apostle’s delegate, he was just a brother.

What made these men transcripts of Christ that they were a joy to one another and of so great help to their brethren? The life of Christ was in them, as it is in every Christian, but for that life to show itself as it did in them something more is needed. Consider the words “It is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.” That inward working of the power of God there must be, and as we consider that saying, another comes to the mind which is of great encouragement. “Being confident,” said Paul “of this very thing, that He that has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). But that inward working does not turn the life inward but outward; it makes Christ the supreme object of the life. This is clearly shown in chapter 3, where Paul tells us that he counted all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, for whom he had suffered the loss of all things, and still counted them but dung that he might win Christ. To him Christ was brighter and better than the brightest and best that earth could give.

“It is God which works in you.” We can always count upon that, but there is our responsibility in the matter. As the loom is subject to the weaver, and he is able to work into it the warp and weft and out of it the fine linen that he desires, so are we to be subject to God and “to work in harmony with, Him. Wherefore, my beloved,” said Paul, “as ye have always obeyed, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Self-will must be judged and checked that God’s will may be paramount in our lives. In this subjection to the will of God and glad obedience to Him, the mind of Christ will be active in us and so shall we do “God’s good pleasure.”

J. T. Mawson