The Mind of Christ

Philippians 2.

The occasion of this epistle was the gift sent to the apostle through Epaphroditus, and Paul takes hold of this exhibition of grace on their part to give it its value as done to him in the interests of Christ. It is a great point that any grace given to us should come out into activity, then the Lord can give us more. There may be a great deal of work with us, but very little bringing grace into activity. God delights to see Christ reproduced in us, and as the grace of Christ is in activity He gives more. "To him that hath shall be given."

But the moment there is the setting forth of Christ, there is sure to be opposition. The apostle speaks in the end of chapter 1 of the Philippians being in the same conflict which they had seen in him. Satan tried to stop the testimony to the Lord Jesus by leading the rulers of this world to put the apostle into bonds, and he was trying to mar the testimony of the Philippians by want of unity. He will do all he can to stop any expression of Christ in the saints. The moment there was testimony for Christ in the world in Abel's sacrifice, Satan tried to blot it out, and Cain killed his brother; but it was futile, "he being dead yet speaketh." So in Paul, Christ would be magnified in his body whether by life or by death, through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Now turning to the Philippians, all desired to serve Christ and had ministered to the apostle, but Satan was seeking to bring in diversity of thought and mind among them. To correct it the apostle says, If there be any encouragement in Christ, comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies. He directs their eyes to Christ, and away from one another. Fellowship is in the Spirit, there is no bond of union for us in the flesh. Nothing would tend to disunion more than looking at each other according to the flesh; we should be greatly discouraged in doing this, but there is encouragement in Christ. If I look at myself and see how little I am for Christ, and see, too, it is because the flesh is allowed, and if I look at my fellow-saints and see how feeble their steps are - what discouragement: but that will not do, we must have our eyes turned away to Christ, there is encouragement in Him, for there is such comfort of love in Him, such tenderness and compassion. There is always encouragement in looking to Christ. Then we can get near each other. The flesh in us is all unlovely and we cannot trust it. The springs of life are in Christ, and we have received of His Spirit; thus we can regard one another as Christ looks at us - in love. The Spirit of God by the apostle always seeks to keep us up to our privileges; he would have us in the reality of God's thoughts as to us, and not let us, through the flesh in some form, sink below our privilege. See how he insists with the Galatians on the privilege of sonship, and of being children of Jerusalem above; he will not let them turn back to Judaism and Jerusalem on earth. The Spirit of God must enforce in our souls God's own grace towards us, and as we drink in of the Spirit of Christ we understand what fellowship in the Spirit is, and there are bowels and mercies instead of fault-finding and disunion.

"Fulfil ye my joy," says the apostle. It is as if he had said: "You have cheered me by the grace manifested in you through your fellowship with me in the gospel, and you will fill up my joy if Christ so gets His place in your hearts, that you are all of one accord, of one mind." But he wants this to be brought about by the mind of Christ being in them. Look for a moment at verse 13, where we have the willing and the doing of God's good pleasure. In a certain way the Philippians had clone, they had communicated with him; but along with this he had evidently heard that there was not one mind, "the willing" was consequently defective. The mind here is not the thinking faculty, but how I think. The mind of Christ in us is that we learn to think according to Christ's thoughts. Now Christ's thoughts and deeds were in perfect harmony according to God's will and pleasure. We get two actions of Christ here; one was, that when subsisting in the form of God, He emptied Himself, or made Himself of no reputation, and took the form of a servant; but was it not Christ's mind thus to do God's pleasure? It was His great thought in eternal counsel. He came to do; it was so written in the volume of the book of eternal counsel; but His mind, the thought of His heart, was thus declared, He came to do God's will. There are many things we might feel it right to do, and we do them, but perhaps we do not think according to what we do. The great thing with us is the renewing of our mind, so that we are brought to think as Christ thinks. It is not only to do the right thing, but to do it like Christ would have us do it, as those who think according to His pleasure. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." The spring of our actions is in Him. In Psalm 32 the Lord says, "I will instruct thee. … I will counsel thee, Mine eye upon thee." (Margin.) Man has mind and intelligence; a horse or mule may be made to go in a certain line, but they have no intelligence as to their master's mind; but God has given man a mind to obey intelligently, and in the Christian the mind is renewed and brought under the constraining power of love. So we have in Romans 12, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God," and all this is "intelligent service." The mind of Christ was to be here for God's pleasure: "I come to do Thy will." God's will is His pleasure, as we read, "the good pleasure of His will." What He commands us is the delight of His own blessed holy nature. The time is coming when God's will will be done on earth as in heaven; all will be filled by Christ, and all will be according to God's pleasure.

The second great action of Christ which comes before us in this chapter is that when He was found here in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In every step which the Lord Jesus took down to the cross, He was the Object of God's pleasure. In life He could say, "I do always those things which please Him," and in death, "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life." At the beginning of His ministry, heaven opened to Him, and the Father's voice said, "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased"; and at the close of His service in Israel on the Mount of Transfiguration, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." The Spirit of God has recorded this good pleasure of God in Christ that we might have the true sense of God's pleasure, that our souls might be brought under the obligation of love, and so have our thoughts in accord with the thought of Christ.

The apostle wanted the Philippians to give up their own thoughts and mind, and to have only one mind, and that the mind of Christ. When Christ stepped down into the world He had created He took the place of a servant. We might have thought that He would take the highest place in His own creation, but He took the form of a servant, and became in the likeness of men; He did not come in Godhead glory, but as a man. And He did not take an exalted place among men, but being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. There was the mind of Christ. Are we in the mind of Christ?

We have a reference to this obedience of Christ in verse 13, "as ye have always obeyed." Subjection to Christ is an immense point, because we come under the constraining power of love. Then the apostle exhorts them on that ground to work out their own salvation. When we know Christ as Lord we can do this. We cannot be under two masters, and Satan cannot lord it over us by means of the flesh and the world if the Lord has His place in our hearts. Salvation is realized as we are in the hand of Christ. Perhaps we were being overwhelmed by the things of the flesh and the world, and our cry was, "Lord, save me." It was not that we doubted the efficacy of His work, but we did not know His hand yet, that His outstretched hand draws to Himself. Thus we have in John 10, "By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." Can I be overwhelmed in the company of Christ? Then we realize the power of His hand. "Working out your own salvation" is bringing it into effect; that is, that being drawn to Christ out from the influence of the world, we are for God's pleasure. When near to Christ we have His mind, as those who are in association with Him. We are in a new circle where the rule of love constrains, and God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Thus, too, we bear the characteristics of the children of God, and Christ is expressed in us. It has been often said, it is not how much we do, but the quality of the service, and that can only be right as the mind of Christ is in us. It is far more that we should express Christ in what we do, than be attempting to serve much apart from being in His mind. May the Lord keep us in the blessed circle of the divine constraint of love. T. H. Reynolds.