Dwelling in the Mind of Christ

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

Newspapers constantly draw our attention to the existence of evil in this world.  Christians are very concerned with getting rid of all the evil in the world, and are eagerly looking forward to the time when it shall no longer exist.  Where does it originate?  Where does it exist?  In others?  In ourselves? 

Many do not realize that the casting down of God’s kingdom by humanity is the root cause of all the evil.  The thinking that flows out of the natural carnal mind is in the death realm, and death is the last enemy that will be abolished.  (1 Cor. 15:26)  Death (not hell) is the penalty for sin.   Death is separation from God!  It is the carnal mind that separates us from God.   It is interesting to note that people are very concerned about physical death, while they seem to be oblivious of the fact that the real death is the absence of the life that is in Christ! 

The scriptures teach us that there are two opposing forces - the natural and the spiritual.  The natural is in the seen realm, and the spiritual is in the unseen realm.  The natural man is in Adam and the spiritual man is in Christ. Adam ends in Christ, for there is no dust, death or impurity in Christ.  Our new birth takes us out of the Adam man and puts us into the Christ Man. The new creation man is not a renovation of the old Adam man; he is a spiritual creation and therefore cannot be seen.  However, the old mind does not want to be dethroned.  Since it has no understanding of the spiritual realm, it always wars against the new mind.  Sometimes it is even hard for us to believe that we have a new mind. 

According to 1 Cor. 15:47-49 both men, Adam and Christ, are images of God.  Adam bore an earthy image of God, for his mind was linked with creation - the mind of the flesh.   Christ bears a heavenly image, for He is the express image of God. He is the truth!  Only through Jesus (the truth) can we know error and the various images, rules and concepts that error produces. Jesus received the anointing without measure, and this anointing brought Him out of the law and into the mind of God. 

We cannot dwell in the mind of Christ if we haven’t got it or if we don’t know that we have it. We have to know that it is ours before we can reside in it.  As long as we think that our natural mind is able to be converted and do the will of God, we will function in deception.  There is only one true mind, and that is the mind of God!  Christ functioned in the mind of God for He never did His own will.  Only Jesus Christ can take us out of the natural realm. Our new birth takes us out of the old humanity (Adam) and places us into the new humanity (Christ).  This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ!   In Christ we proclaim the new man! In Christ we are a new spiritual creation and we receive His mind, and there is no condemnation, for there is no condemnation in Him!   In our union with Him and by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, our new understanding of Him brings us into the faith that proclaims that these wonderful attributes are ours in Christ - and that they are for now!  

The mind of Christ is not like the natural mind.  The natural mind operates in depravity and deception.  It is very legalistic, unforgiving, judgmental of others, and filled with excuses for itself.  It only knows the love and kindness that feeds and honors self.  It is filled with pride, for self is its god.  Those who are proud of their knowledge will operate in their own understanding of God and in their own interpretation of the Bible, so they will not see the difference between the Old and the New Covenant.   Our natural mind and feelings make it difficult for us to understand God’s ways and to hear what the mind of the Spirit is saying. The mind of Christ is operative in the rule of the Spirit.  Jesus was not under the rule of the natural mind (the god of this world and the Law), for He was under the rule of the Spirit.  This rule brought Him into agreement with the mind of the Spirit and the mind of God.  The Holy Spirit brings us a true image of God.  The old is ushered out by the new understanding of God that is brought to us by the Spirit of truth.  This is the way redemption works.  As we function in obedience to the mind of the Spirit, we too will function in agreement with the mind of God!

The new spiritual man lives in the heavenly realm.  Living in the heavenly realm means living under the direction of the mind of Christ!    The new creation man is completely new and has the mind of Christ!  To help us understand this better, let’s look at the life of a caterpillar.  Before the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly, it has the mind of a caterpillar.  It never entertains the possibility of flying; it is completely earthbound. It has no understanding of a richer, higher life.  After it is transformed into a butterfly, it has a new mind.  It can now fly and live in a new realm.  Similarly, we receive a new mind when we are born again, and we can live and move in the heavenly realm.  Our old mind kept us earthbound.  The earthly realm is made of dust, and the serpent feeds on dust and infiltrates that mind with lies and deception.  The mind of Christ does not contain any dust; it is higher, pure and undefiled!  The serpent is earthbound, and therefore cannot infiltrate that mind.  We need to live out of Christ’s mind!  To do that, we have to leave our old thinking and receive Christ’s thinking. This is our ascension into Christ!

Have you ever noticed that we can read the scriptures time and again, and they don’t become important to us until the Spirit suddenly makes them come alive?  Let’s look at the following verses, and let them become alive in us.   “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet himself is appraised by no one.” (1 Cor. 2:12-15) (Emphasis ours) I wonder how many of us are ignorant of the things God has given us.  We cannot use the things we have been given if we don’t know that we have them. Therefore it is important that we learn to know what God has given us.  Without this knowledge we will not know who we are in Christ, nor will we know the power that is available to us in Christ!  (Eph. 1:19; 3:20)

Paul wrote, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”   (Romans 8:5-8) 

Since our natural, carnal mind is in death, it lacks the ability to understand spiritual words.  In fact it actually opposes the Spirit. As long as we function in the natural mind we are anti Christ.  To quit opposing Christ, we have to stop operating in the natural man, and lay down our own thoughts and ideas, for in the natural we are anti Christ.   Without a new resident receptive agency to receive the things of God, it is impossible for us to receive the things of the Spirit of God, because the natural mind is unable to understand them. 

Our new humanity becomes evident when truth displaces the error of the old humanity.  Religious leaders are always encouraging people to live morally, and to be more loving and kind, etc., thinking that in doing this, they are promoting the gospel.  They do not realize that this only supports the deception that the old man can become good. That idea is anti Christ!  Christ delivers us from our wrong ideas. 

The good news is that God has given believers the Holy Spirit to lead them into truth!  God wants us to know the things He has given us!  These things are in the unseen realm, and therefore have to be revealed to us and received by faith.  If they were in the seen realm we could know them without the help of the Holy Spirit.  We may try to explain spiritual realities to those who are earthly-minded, but our efforts will be fruitless because the earthly-minded cannot hear the Spirit.  We need the Holy Spirit to bring us into truth, and allow Him to teach us spiritual things.  Without His teaching we will bring spiritual realities into the carnal realm of death.  The Holy Spirit brings us truth so we may receive a new understanding of life and what it really is!  We need to learn who God is, who Christ is, and who we are in Him!

Our new birth and baptism in the Holy Spirit bring us a spiritual realization.  The new creation that we are in Christ gives us His mind.  In 1 Cor. 2:16 it says that we have the mind of Christ. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  (Emphasis ours) It may be hard for us to believe that we have the mind of Christ, but since God says we do, it is true!  

Why do we need the mind of Christ?  We need it so we can appropriate spiritual realities and dwell in them.  Without His mind we are unable to receive and understand spiritual realities.  So let’s look at some of the unseen spiritual things He has given us.

The new creation that we are in Christ is a spiritual creation, and therefore cannot be seen.  Though our outward appearance remains the same, we are a new spiritual creation in Christ.   This includes a new mind!  Since Christ is life and truth, we know that His mind did not receive any lies and deception that the devil tried to give Him.  The truth always revealed the lies that were meant to lure Him into sin, and His trust in the Father’s love and perfect plan for Him kept Him from falling into the traps laid out for Him by the evil one.  He only did what the Father showed Him to do!  He did not yield to the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, or the lust of the eyes.  He would not receive anything that did not come from the Father.  He humbled Himself to the point of being willing to be mocked and tortured by evil men!  Obedience was more important to Him than all the suffering this world could inflict on Him!  He recognized His need of the Holy Spirit to teach Him and to strengthen Him.  His own will was submitted to the desire of His Father, so He always lived in agreement with the Father! 

What a wonderful mind Christ has, and the scriptures tell us that we have received His mind!  Since we have received His mind, why don’t we see the same results?  In Romans 12:2 we read that our mind needs to be renewed.  This brings about a transformation, and we are no longer conformed to this world and its thinking.  This can only take place if we are willing to receive truth. Truth is higher than human wisdom, yet how we cling to human learning, reasoning and philosophies!  In order to receive truth we have to leave our comfortable pew, much of our childhood teaching, our fascination with self, our customs, our traditions, and our desire for honor and our acceptance by others!  Our willingness to accept truth depends upon how much we love truth!  (2 Thess. 2:10) 

In Jude 3 we are exhorted to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” This faith is the faith that is authored by Jesus Christ, for He “is the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2)   Any faith that has not been authored by Christ is a defection and departure from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. Our faith needs to be rooted and grounded in Christ.  Only that faith is the faith that is in Christ Jesus!  His faith causes us to grow in faith.  Faith that is rooted in doctrines, creeds, traditions, rituals, self and positive thinking does not bring spiritual growth.  We need to forsake that faith, and contend for the faith that is in Christ.   This brings us into a walk that has its source in the mind of Christ, and we begin to understand the things of the Spirit. 

That which is of Christ comes from above.  It comes from the Spirit – not from the natural realm.  Christ did not receive the praise of men, or the accusations of the devil, nor did He have a sin-consciousness.  You may say, “Of course He didn’t because He never sinned, but we have sinned.” Yes, we have sinned, but the good news is that we have been forgiven!  We have been made a new spiritual creation in Christ!  Since Christ is now our righteousness, should we still have a sin-consciousness?  Should we still consider ourselves to be sinners when our new birth has taken us out of the man who brought sin into the world, and put us into the second Man, the One in whom there is no sin?!!  Since there is no condemnation in Christ, why should we have a sin-consciousness?  

We are told to have the same attitude in ourselves that was in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5)  Christ’s humility is astounding!  Our natural mind tells us that humility is evidenced by being very pious, serious, belittling ourselves, and having an outward show of humility.  The Spirit teaches us differently.  Christ’s humility was evidenced by His love and willingness to forgive, as well as by His obedience!  Because of His obedience to the Father’s will, He was willing to be dishonored, rejected, beaten, tortured and crucified!  This requires humility!  He had the power to come down from the cross, but He only did what the Father showed Him to do!  This requires humility!  This is the attitude we receive when we dwell in the mind of Christ! 

James warns us against being double-minded, that is, having two minds, and accepting the advice from the mind that gives us the most desirable message for the moment. (James 1:8)  Having two minds necessitates choice, produces disobedience, and results in instability.  Our natural mind keeps warring against our spiritual mind, and always side-steps the will of God in Christ.  It is anti Christ; it is against the anointing! It violently opposes obedience, but disguises itself as an angel of light by suggesting something that looks good or better, and could serve as a substitute for the Spirit’s teaching.  I have often experienced this, and I am sorry to say that in my learning journey I often succumbed to the substitute.  You may have had the same experience. 

Differences and divisions among believers occur when some believers do not function in the mind of Christ.  New denominations are formed when someone receives a revelation, and a camp is formed around that revelation.  Instead of incorporating the revelation and moving on in Christ, a new denomination is formed.  No wonder Paul wrote, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (I Cor. 1:10)  We can only have the same mind when we all hear the Spirit and receive His teaching.  He gives us God’s true judgment.  Natural man cannot hear the Spirit; therefore he is not to judge anyone.  Believers are to judge with the judgment that is in the mind of Christ.  This judgment is not a judgment that brings condemnation, for Jesus said that He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him should be saved.  (John 3:17)  It is a judgment of truth, and this judgment reveals the lie so that the lie can be discarded!

Dwelling in the mind of Christ brings us into the obedience that God’s kingdom government requires.  The dictates of the law of sin and death no longer rule us; instead, we are ruled by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus!  We receive the grace and truth that is in Christ.  As we receive His love and humility, the pride and legalism of our natural mind will not be able to thwart our willingness to forgive those who have wronged or slighted us.  The selfhood that dominated our actions when we were in Adam has to crumble and disappear when we are ruled by Christ’s mind!   Since Christ’s mind only desires to do the Father’s will, our own will can no longer govern us. Dwelling in the mind of Christ changes our desires and our behavior! 

God has designed everything so beautifully!  He has given us the Holy Spirit, and His anointing teaches us spiritual realities.  It is He who searches our hearts, not to condemn us, but to eradicate the lies that have been our truth.  “And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  (Rom. 8:27)  Unwillingness to leave our lies will keep us from functioning in the mind of Christ.  Dwelling in the mind of Christ brings us into submission to the Spirit’s teaching and into agreement with Him!  This is the will of God in Christ, for it changes us into His image!  This is the high calling that is ours In Christ!  Praise His wonderful name! 

Return to the Insights into Living Articles Index