0239 The Mind of Christ
Encounter Radio Outline #0239
Air date: 9/29/02
The Mind of Christ
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: Having dealt with the personal life of the Christian, the apostle now turns to the ecclesiastical life. Here we have an important exhortations on humility. On closer examination, we discover that, in the final analysis, humility is both an attitude of lowliness and a servitude of lovingness. This twofold quality of humility is both essential and effectual in the harmonizing of the relationships and responsibilities of church life.
I. Humility is the Divine Attitude of Lowliness (v. 3)
Paul has reminded us that one of the consequences of a yielded life is the renewal of the mind, and without question he is here speaking of the “mind of Christ,” as it is formed in us by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The apostle takes pains to define the true nature of humility. In a sentence, it is the right estimation of ourselves in the light of what God has done and will yet do in our individual lives.
Generally speaking, we as Christians, think either too much of ourselves or too little, and both estimates are bad for the church and for ourselves. On the other hand, there is a level which is both sane and sober because it represents the mind of Christ. Consider in more detail each of these levels:
A. There is the Level of Self-Exaltation (v. 3)
Self-exaltation is one form of pride to be found in the church of Jesus Christ. People who manifest this spirit and disposition are usually extroverts who strut around showing off their accomplishments and achievements. Such individuals are not only a menace to themselves, unjust to others, but are notorious for throwing the machinery of Christian life and work out of gear.
B. There is the Level of Self-Deprecation (v. 3)
The word “soberly” suggests “soundness of mind” or “sanity.” It is the very antithesis of the extremes to which people go. Those who are guilty of self-deprecation are usually introverts who neither honor God, encourage themselves, or bless others. Self-deprecation is often mistaken for humility, but it is an inverted form of pride. It may not be flamboyant or arrogant, but it is just as damaging to man and displeasing to God.
In the church, as in business, there are manifold operations, and so there must be diversities of ability. It follows, therefore, that there can be no room for self-exaltation or self-deprecation, but rather for sober and sane thinking. We come, then, to the third category:
C. There is the Level of Self-Abnegation (v. 3)
Freedom from sin means a termination of the former self, a domination of the lower self, and a liberation of the higher self (Rom. 6:6-7). The purpose of our baptism with Christ is that we should be delivered from sin in order to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The higher self is the real you and me, under the control of the indwelling Christ. The human personality is not obliterated, but humbly and gladly subjugated to the presence and power of the indwelling Lord. This in essence, is self-abnegation. When a person reaches this point he has the mind of Christ.
Now we cannot think of the mind of Christ without considering the classic passage on this subject in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:1-11).It is clear that humility is the expression of the mind of Christ, or the attitude of lowliness. Observe that this attitude of lowliness involves:
1. Death to Self-Centeredness (Phil. 2:1, 3-4)
Christians cannot be humble and self-centered at one and the same time. In other words, self-centeredness and self-abnegation are mutually exclusive. So in speaking of the mind of Christ Paul says that if we know anything of divine love we have to die to self-centeredness. Follow carefully the build-up of his argument. To know the divine motivation which leads to the death of the cross there must be a true conception, conviction, communion, and compassion of love.
2. Death to Self-Consciousness (Phil. 2:5)
For most of us, the problem of self-consciousness has to do with our reputation, occupation, and dedication. Our Lord died to self-conscious reputation by being identified with human poverty (Phil. 2: 5-7); He died to self-conscious occupation by being identified with human slavery (Phil. 2:7); and He died to self-conscious dedication by being identified with human tragedy (Phil. 2:8).
When we are prepared to die to self-centeredness and self-consciousness, then we have truly learned the nature of self-abnegation and the divine attitude of lowliness. It is also then that God rewards us by elevating us to share the resurrection life of Christ, because there is a vital relationship between humiliation and exaltation (Luke 14:11).
Conclusion: True sanity is the mind of Christ revealed in an attitude of lowliness. Self-examination and self-deprecation get us nowhere, but self-abnegation is the way of victory. This attitude of lowliness is the supreme secret of harmonious and happy relationships with other people. It is an attitude which cannot rise in pride, for it has been humbled to the death of the cross; it is an attitude which cannot remain in death because it has been raised in Christ; it is an attitude which reveals the mind of Christ because it manifests the outshining of a redeemed personality. A Christian who knows the mind of Christ cannot be incensed, injured, ignored or intimidated because his life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org