Like Apostle Paul, we must have the mind of Christ so that Christ can instruct us, He can teach us if we have His mind. Apostle Paul is the perfect example, he has the mind of Christ, it follows therefore that Apostle Paul received the instruction from Christ. He was able to preach and follow the teachings of Christ because he got the mind of the Lord. What is the reason why the mind is the one mentioned in the verse if we want to be instructed by Christ?
Do you know the primary reason why we are being taught to have the mind of Christ? In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we are taught: “For who has known the Lord's mind, that He may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
What is the function of the mind?
The Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, states that the mind is the “seat of reflective consciousness, comprising the faculties of perception and understanding, and those of feeling, judging, and determining”.
What is the function of the mind? The mind is the centre of human behaviour. The mind is the seat of our consciousness, how we perceive and understand everything, how we feel, how we judge, how we determine the realities around us. The central focus of a person’s everything comes from the mind. Thus, it is very important that we have the mind of Christ in order for us to receive His instruction.
We should be on the same wave length with Christ and His disciples who have His mind so that we can understand His instruction. If we do not allow our mind to be governed purely by the mind of Christ, there will be conflict within ourselves.
How does the conflict within ourselves come about?
In Romans 8:3-11 [LB/NIV], this is explained to us: “We are not saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we cannot and do not keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. [God] sent His own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and [Christ] destroyed sin’s control over us by giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. But you are not like that. You are controlled by your new nature if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ living in him, he is not a Christian at all.) Yet, even though Christ lives within you, your body will die because of sin; but your spirit will live, for Christ has pardoned it. And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, He will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you.”
Can you see the contradiction? This is us weak humans, sometimes our mind is controlled by the flesh, sometimes our mind is controlled by the Spirit. Thus, there are times we commit mistakes and errors. What is important is to know that our mind should be controlled or governed by the Spirit, our mind should have the mind of Christ so that we can repent immediately and mend our ways and thus be on the right track again, that is, to live in accordance with the Spirit of God.
What is the bad consequence if our mind is governed by the old self, that is, living according to the flesh, living under the control of our old sinful selves? The answer is clear, the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God, that mind cannot follow the commandments of God. The mind of the old self is set on what the flesh desires, bent on following their old evil desires. Those who let themselves be controlled by their worldly desires live only to please themselves; their mind is not governed by Christ, hence, cannot please God.
What is it that we must remember always? Remember that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ living in him, he is not a Christian at all. Therefore, a true Christian is not only known by name but by the Spirit of Christ living in him. His new personality— new nature, his new self is now living according to the Spirit of God through Christ.
The mind of the new self is set on what the Spirit desires. The moment we are controlled by our new self in Christ we have the Spirit of God living in us. So now we can obey God’s laws because we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.
The mind governed by the Spirit of God is the mind governed by Christ because the Father and the Son are one. If we really want life and peace we must choose to have the mind of Christ. When we made the choice to have the mind of Christ, there will be no contradiction within ourselves, we will be at perfect peace.
The mind of Christ can be seen in the different events of His life as depicted in the New Testament. As we have learned that the mind is the centre of human behaviour, it follows that if we want to have the mind of Christ, we must have the following traits of our Saviour which He has shown in the various accounts of His life: Christ is faithful, prayerful, wise, virtuous, humble, obedient, patient, charitable, giving and forgiving. Those are the characteristics of our Lord. Christ Jesus manifested those characteristics because Christ is living in the Spirit of God. Christ always follow the will of the Father.
If we choose to live in the Spirit of God, we will have the mind of Christ and the result for us will be the manifestation of those characteristics in our lives. Now, we will study how Christ has shown His forgiving attitude.
The majority of us, if we are honest with ourselves will admit that we are confused about the term forgiveness. The meaning of forgiveness is the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven. The synonyms of the word forgiveness are pardon, absolution, remission, indulgence, understanding, tolerance, clemency, mercy, pity, leniency, reprieve, amnesty, acquittal; those are the formal terms. In informal term, forgiveness means, letting off.
From the various meanings of forgiveness, we can understand that there are two parties involve, the one who will forgive and the one who will be forgiven. The one who will be understanding and the one who will be understood. At the centre of the act of forgiveness is the conflict between the parties involved, what went wrong, what damage was done, what harm was committed, what was violated, what was destroyed.
These must be clear to us so that we can really be forgiving like our Lord Jesus Christ. What is the instruction of Christ if there are conflict or misunderstanding among His followers? How many times should we forgive our brothers and sisters? In Matthew 18:21-22 it is recorded: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!”
The answer of the Lord is very clear, we have to forgive endlessly. It means our mindset should be on a forgiving mode always, our mind should be tuned in to being understanding, to being lenient, to being merciful towards those who hurt us. How can we have a forgiving mindset? We must be able to analyse clearly what is the problem, what is the wrong committed against us? Why are we hurting? What makes us angry? When we have a clear understanding of the wrong committed against us, we can now think clearly, we can put ourselves in the shoes of the person who hurt us.
If you are on the wrong, if you are the one who make a mistake and you ask for forgiveness, what will you feel if you are not forgiven? If we can feel how God has forgiven us of the many sins we have committed, we can be on a forgiving mode always. Feeling loved and feeling that you are forgiven will help us to be forgiving also.
But you might say, I can forgive only those who ask forgiveness from me. Your thought is like of Apostle Peter, he is asking how many times he will forgive, because the brother who hurt him is asking for forgiveness from him.
But how about those who do not ask for forgiveness? How about those who do not admit that they did something wrong, how about those who break our trust yet do not acknowledge the sins and violations they have committed? If this is the case, let us follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ. What did He teach? In Luke 23:34b-38, 34a, has the answer, “And they cast lots, dividing His clothes among themselves. Now the people stood by, watching; but even the rulers ridiculed and sneered at Him, saying, “He saved others from death; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ—the Messiah, the Anointed of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him and cruelly offering Him sour wine, and sarcastically saying, “If you are really the King of the Jews, save Yourself from death!” Now there was also an inscription above Him: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” [AMP]
What did you notice? The rulers who are ridiculing our Lord, the Jews who are watching while He is bleeding to death, the soldiers who are mocking Him and offering Him sour wine, the people sneering at Him while He is dying on the cross, all of them did not ask for forgiveness, but what is the action of our Lord, He prayed to God and He said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. That is the true essence of forgiveness.
When we can pray to God to forgive those who hurt us even if they are not asking for forgiveness, it means we entrust everything to God; when we pardon and wait patiently for God’s justice, that is true forgiveness.
What benefit it will give us when we forgive those who ridiculed and maligned us? It is good for our physical and emotional health. We will be healed of our pains. It is good for our soul and spiritual growth. We will no longer be under the control of anger and resentment. We will not be hurt anymore. We will be at peace. We will feel pity for those people.
The Lord Christ Jesus made it clearer to us. In Matthew 5:44, He says: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
What can we do if we have acquired the forgiving mind of Christ? We can love our enemies, meaning we can seek the best for our enemies. What is the best or higher good for our enemies? The best for them is to come to repentance, this is the thing that we must pray for those who persecute us, that they may come to repentance. There should be no ill feelings on our part, that is the meaning of seeking unselfishly the best or higher good for our enemies.
Does it mean to say we will associate ourselves with those who are harming us, those who are mistreating us, those who are fooling and exploiting us, those who are clearly manipulating and doing wicked things? What is the instruction of the Bible regarding this? Ephesians 5:11-12 has the answer: “Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character; for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret.”
The answer is very clear, never participate in worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, therefore, even if we pray for them and wish the best for them that they may come to repentance, we are commanded not to associate with them.
Remember forgiving does not necessarily mean we will allow the person who harm us to enter again into our lives.
You might also say: I am not participating with their evil activities but I just want to remain in the group for social reason, that sounds good, but the implication is bad because you become an accomplish of their activities which are worthless and unproductive works of darkness.
Remember the instruction for us does not stop on not participating with their wicked deeds, but the next instruction for us is we have to expose them. How are we going to expose them? We have to expose them with the right motivation, with our integrity intact and we must possess godly character, we must do our expose in the spirit of love.
What is the reason given by our Lord Jesus Christ why we must love our enemies, why we must love those who are harming us? The Lord gives the answer in Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may show yourselves to be the children of your Father who is in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous—those who are morally upright and the unrighteous—the unrepentant, those who oppose Him.”
Why did Christ teach us to love our enemies, to love those who are harming us? Because doing this command will show to the world that we are the true children of our Father in Heaven, this act of showing love to our enemies prove that we love and respect God because as clearly pointed out by Christ, God makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous and on those who oppose Him—God gives His material blessings on the good and the wicked. Out of respect and love for God, we must show love to our enemies.
We need to define clearly who are our enemies. Before we can answer who are our enemies, let us define first who are our friends. Who are our true friends my dear brothers and sisters? Our answer should be: God, Christ, and Holy Spirit are our true friends. Now, if God, Christ, and Holy Spirit are our friends, who are then our enemies? The answer is very clear also: those who are opposed to God, those who are against Christ, and those who grieved the Holy Spirit are our enemies.
If someone is opposed to God, one is against the teachings of Christ, and grieved the Holy Spirit, then he is our enemy. And the command for us is to love our enemy because even if he is opposed to God, he is still a creation of God who is given material blessings in this life. But you might say, but I am feeling angry brother, whenever I remember the atrocities and wrongdoings my enemy has done, I feel angry. What is the counsel for us when we feel angry? Ephesians 4:26 has the answer: “Be angry but do not sin. Do not let your anger cause you shame, nor allow it to last until the sun goes down.”
The Scriptures is clear, we can feel anger—we can be angry, it is normal for a person to be angry but the advice is also clear, do not let our anger cause us to shame, do not let our anger produce bitterness, do not let our anger cause us to plot on getting revenge, what must we do so that our anger will not cause us to sin? The advice is very clear, do not let our anger last for more than a day, if we got angry in the morning, before we sleep, our anger should have died down.
And we can do that if we have acquired the forgiving mindset, forgive anyone who has hurt us even if he is not asking for forgiveness. In the privacy of our mind, forgive the person who is hurting us, pray to God and ask Him to forgive that person.
At first, it will be very hard, but with constant practice, we will acquire the forgiving attitude of our Saviour. What is important my dear brothers and sisters is we are convinced that we must have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ will make us loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving. We cannot have the mind of Christ on our own because without Christ in our lives we can do nothing.
We must be thankful to God for giving to us His grace. One of the greatest gifts we’ve got is: We have the mind of Christ. In Christ we can choose our thoughts and think things over. In other words, we don’t have to just act on whatever comes into our mind. This is a life-changing revelation for us because as Proverbs 23:7 says, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
It is just like saying: Where the mind goes, the man follows. When we truly have the mind of Christ we can be forgiving. We can live in humility. We can be humble before God by obeying His commandments. Thus, we can live a good life—a life of peace with God, peace with ourselves, peace with our fellowmen. We can have great relationships, real joy and the ability to become what God has created us to be. We can live and become like the Lord Christ Jesus.