Let the Mind of Christ Be in You

This is from the sixth chapter of New Life in Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:5–13
Let the Mind of Christ Be in You

The apostle Paul said:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 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. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:5–13)

Jesus said:

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

Though He was God in the flesh, Jesus did nothing unless He saw God the Father do it first (John 5:19, 30; 8:28–29). He did not teach anything unless God the Father taught Him first, and He did not say anything until God the Father authorized Him to say it (John 7:16–18; 8:28–29, 38; 12:49–50; 14:10). He did not use His own judgment, nor did He seek to do what He Himself wanted, but He depended on the judgment of God, and He did God’s will (John 5:30; 6:38). Everything Jesus did while He was on this earth was because He knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Father wanted Him to do it (John 8:29). In fact, He did not even come to earth on His own authority, but He came because God the Father sent Him (John 7:28–29; 8:42).

Jesus knew God’s will intimately, and therefore was able to perform it in real-time, because God spoke to Him from within His heart. Jesus told His disciples:

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:10–11)

From within His heart, God the Father taught Him (John 8:28–29), led Him (John 12:49–50), and revealed His works to Him (John 5:20). God the Father went with Jesus everywhere (John 8:16, 29; 14:10, 11; 16:32). And we may say, based in particular on the insights Jesus gave us in John 14:10 (i.e., His phrase, “the Father who dwells in Me does the works”), that from within His heart, God the Father worked in Jesus “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

It was Jesus’ mission to carry out His Father’s will. He humbled Himself before God the Father and did only those things that were well pleasing in His sight. Though He was God in the flesh, He refused to do anything on His own, but He looked to God the Father who lived in His heart to tell Him what to say, when to say it, where to go, and when to go there.

And we should let this mind be in us (Phil. 2:5–16). We should humble ourselves before God. We should not speak a word unless we first hear it from God and get His permission say it. We should not do anything or go anywhere unless we are certain ahead of time that God wants us to do it.

The Bible says that without trusting God it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). It also says that everything we do that is not a result of trusting Him is sin (Rom. 14:23). Therefore, in all things, we should first seek the counsel of God. Then, we should walk as He commands us. This pattern was given to the prophets (Deut. 18:22), it was practiced by the apostles (2 Cor. 4:13), it was modeled by the Lord Himself (see above), and it is commended to us (Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:15–17). If we want to live fruitful Christian lives, then we must trust God and do what He says.

Jesus Himself said it would be this way for us. In the last few minutes of His earthly ministry, sandwiched between explicit teaching about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s ministry after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus told His disciples:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The placement of the metaphor of the vine and branches between explicit teachings about the Holy Spirit is not coincidental. The metaphor is a picture of the Holy Spirit’s role in teaching us all things and guiding us into all truth. It reminds us that God the Father and God the Son live in us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit is our lifeline to God.

Accordingly, Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). As branches are connected to the life-sustaining roots through the vine, so too are we connected into God through the lifeline of the Holy Spirit.

He, the Holy Spirit, loves us. He teaches us. He guides us. He lights our paths. He shows us things to come. He reveals the Father’s will to us. He convicts us of sin. He corrects us when we go wrong. He comforts us with the forgiveness of Christ. He gives us confidence that all things are right between Him and us. And He affirms that we are in fact the very offspring of God. These life-sustaining things come to us through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian, supplying all the sustenance needed for a person who lives in a suit of flesh to live a life that is well pleasing to God. What He teaches us is complete in its scope, is true in fact, and is trustworthy as a guide to life (1 John 2:26–27). The Holy Spirit is God, and He is working in us “both to will and to do according to His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). And in the metaphor of the vine and branches, Jesus tells us that the secret to living fruitful lives—lives that bring glory to God—is that we should “abide” in Him:

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:6–8)

If we feed on what the Holy Spirit communicates to us, hold it close to our hearts, coddle it, chew on it, digest it, and act on it, then we will remain connected to Him (i.e., we will “abide” in Him). Then, what He feeds us will do us good, and we will produce fruit. But if we are disconnected from Him and refuse to listen to what He tells us, or if we hear Him and don’t act on what He says, then we will not be fruitful. This is why Jesus said that without Him we could do nothing.

And in the words, “so you will be my disciples” (John 15:8), Jesus gives us a hint that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, that we will be following His example. He had previously told His disciples He could do nothing of Himself:

  • Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
  • I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)
  • When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:28–29)

And in the metaphor of the vine and branches, He says that without Him we can do nothing. This is no coincidence. The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit, and He is our lifeline to the Godhead. Without Him, we can do nothing. If we want to be His followers, we must follow Him. And following Him means we must look to His Spirit who lives in us for guidance in everything, just as He looked to the Spirit of God who lived in Him for guidance in everything. To punctuate that point, he concluded the metaphor:

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9–11)

We tend to look at these verses (and others like them) through a legalistic framework. When we do, we tend to define commandments to be synonymous with law. And if we make this mistake, then we tend to interpret the sayings of Jesus in John 15:9–11 as urging us to be obedient to the demands of Scripture. And consequently, we will tend to view His statement, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,” in John 15:10 as meaning that in order to experience His love we must obey the law.

But John 15:10 is not a legalistic verse. And obedience to the law is not a pre-requisite for experiencing God’s love. And the commandments Jesus is talking about are not synonymous with the demands of law. Instead, the commandments of which He speaks are the words that proceed out of God’s mouth into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The Holy Spirit’s words completely and thoroughly communicate and accentuate the love that God has for us. We are to abide in that love and carry out the things He tells us to do. And if we do what He tells us to do, and if we think what He tells us to think, and if we teach what He tells us to teach, then we are walking in the light that He shines on our paths. And then we are walking in His love. And then our lives will bring glory to God. And then we will have His joy. And then our joy will be full. This is how Jesus lived every moment of His life on earth, and it is how we should live our lives too.

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