Parkdale Grace Fellowship
Sunday AM, March 2, 2008
1 Corinthians 2:15-16
We Have the Mind of Christ
I will begin by looking at verse 16 and then we will come back to verse 15. This is a quotation from Isaiah 40:13 to support the assertion of verse 15 that the unbeliever cannot rightly judge the spiritual man or woman of God. It is a repeat of the same argument we already looked at last week in verse 11 so we will not go over that again. But verse 16 makes some very powerful new statements if we look carefully at what is being said here.
The natural man cannot know the mind of the Lord, (meaning the mysteries and the deep spiritual truths of God that are hidden to the unbeliever). But in contrast not only can the believer receive revelation of the great mind of God; not only can we come to understand some of the deep spiritual truths of God’s wisdom through God’s enabling . . . the Bible teaches us in verse 16 an even greater truth: the believer possesses the mind of Christ. What on earth does that mean?
When a person repents of their sin and turns to Jesus in faith, trusting Him to forgive their sin and to save them from the penalty of sin, then in that moment of time a miracle takes place inside the repentant sinner. Their sin and the sin nature is removed and the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of them.
Now it is important to understand who this Holy Spirit is who takes up residence inside our hearts. He is not just a force or an influence upon our lives, the Holy Spirit is a supernatural being, a person who comes into us and literally lives inside of us. The Holy Spirit is God. He is the same person who lived inside the body of Jesus and who animated and empowered the life of Jesus. The Holy Spirit and Jesus are one. Therefore He is sometimes referred to as the Spirit of Christ. Therefore when the Holy Spirit lives inside of us we can accurately say that Jesus lives inside our heart.
Colossians 2:10 in the Amplified Bible says, “. . . And having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit]”. In John 14, just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus made this promise to His followers, “The Spirit of truth . . . dwells with you and will be in you (vs. 17) . . . If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (vs. 23) “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (vs. 20) So as believers we have God in all His fullness living inside of us. (Eph. 3:19) This truth is subtly expressed in the wording of 1 Corinthians 2:16. Notice that the quotation from Isaiah 40:13 refers to the mind of the LORD (all caps) meaning Yahweh, or Jehovah, the God of Israel, the creator of the universe. But then in the same context, contrasting the unbeliever who has not known the mind of the LORD, we have the believer who not only can know His mind but also has His mind. Only now the mind of the LORD, Yahweh, is described as the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is synonymous with the mind of the LORD.
Now if the Spirit of Jesus (or the life of Jesus or the person of Jesus) lives inside of us then His mind is also inside of us. He didn’t check His mind out at the door of your heart but He brought it in with Him. Therefore we have the mind of Christ in us.
So no natural man can comprehend the wisdom or the mysteries of God. The unbeliever is severely handicapped when it comes to knowledge and wisdom. We cannot know the things of God or the mind of God. But when that unbeliever puts their faith in Christ and receives Christ into their spirit, then they also receive the mind of Christ and everything else that belongs to God becomes available to us.(See Ephesians 1:15-19) The believer now has available to him the mind of Christ, and should be depending on and living out of that resource. If we do not we are carnal. This gives fuller insight into the scope of Galatians 2:20, “. . . It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me . . .” We need to realize just who lives in us.
When teaching or witnessing to others I can trust on the mind of Christ for insight and for words. When praying I can pray with the mind of Christ. When faced with a difficult decision that requires great wisdom I can trust in the mind of Christ in me to make the best decision. (James 1:5) God doesn’t give us wisdom as an independent gift; He gives us Jesus who is our wisdom. When struggling with impure thoughts I can choose to let this mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5) When struggling with doubt, despair or discouragement I can trust the Lord to replace my thoughts with His thoughts.
God doesn’t send us words from a distance as a text message or email to our minds; He doesn’t send us thoughts as a gift apart from Himself. Instead He gives us Jesus. As we trust Jesus our mind is connected to His mind and we experience His thoughts. In reality we receive only one gift from God and that gift is Jesus. As a child of God we do not receive any gift from God independent of Jesus. God gives us the person of Jesus and as we appropriate Jesus as our life, by trusting Him, we find all of our needs met in Christ, by Christ.
Look at Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Human parents give their children gifts but the heavenly Father does much more than that, He gives His children one supreme gift, the Holy Spirit and in giving us the Holy Spirit He gave us everything we would ever need, He gave us Himself, His very life. In Jesus we have everything we need for life and godliness. In Jesus we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3) In Jesus we have salvation and righteousness; in Jesus we have joy and strength and wisdom and knowledge and love and acceptance and hope and life.
Paul is making a contrast here between the spiritual man and the natural or unspiritual man. The natural man cannot know the things of God because the things of God are spiritual and the natural man lacks the capacity to deal with spiritual matters. But the spiritual man has been given the capacity to understand and deal with spiritual things. To be spiritual is to have the Spirit of God and to be letting that Spirit influence you. (A person can be born again and have the Spirit of God living in them, but not be spiritual. That is what the Bible calls a carnal Christian, which is a third category of person in addition to the natural man and the spiritual man. If they are a Christian but not yielded to the Holy Spirit, letting Him have control of them, then they are carnal and not spiritual.) We will look at the carnal life in chapter three.
But one who is spiritual, is a believer whose life is yielded to God’s control, such a person can judge all things. This means, they have been given the potential to discern all things or they can accurately appraise or understand all things. How? By the enabling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God knows all things. He is omniscient, meaning He is all-knowing. And this all-knowing Spirit of God lives inside of all believers.
Therefore, because this all-knowing being lives inside the believer, we have the potential by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, to rightly understand and appraise all things, if we let Him lead us. It is all about letting the Lord have control of your life. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;” In Luke 21:15 Jesus said to His followers, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.” James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
In contrast look at what the Bible says about the worldly wisdom of the unbeliever: Psalm 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” In Isa. 47:10, “Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you”. In Jeremiah 4:22, “[They] are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jer. 8:9 says, “Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” Romans 1:22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” 1 Corinthians 1:19-20 “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise . . . Has not god made foolish the wisdom of this world? . . . (vs. 25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
No matter how wise or learned he/she may be, no one without the Spirit of God can give accurate judgment, assessment or appraisal of many natural things, let alone spiritual things. (Look at the outcome of man’s wisdom without acknowledging God: Theory of evolution, population control through abortion, no fault divorce, homosexual marriage, educate criminals rather than punish the crime, there are no absolutes, do whatever feels good to you, children instinctively will solve their own problems and make the right choices they don’t need to be taught, we can control the climate by adjusting our behavior, etc.) Therefore without any spiritual capacity the natural man cannot give an accurate appraisal or judgment of a spiritual man because he is utterly incapable of comprehending spiritual things. The ways of a spiritual person will seem like foolishness to the unbeliever.
On the other hand, God has given ability to those who are spiritual to rightly understand and appraise all things. This wisdom from God is not limited to spiritual matters. God gives wisdom for all areas of life to those who trust in Him for guidance. Look for example at the wisdom God gave to Joseph to manage the entire economy and food supply of Egypt, so that the nation prospered in a time of drought. (Gen.41) Or look for example at the wisdom God gave to Solomon, wisdom for all matters of life, agriculture and government with a wisdom that excelled that of any others. (1 Kings 4) Consider also the wisdom God gave to Daniel so that throughout his political career he was always ranked as the chief of all the administrative wise men and of all the advisers to the kings of both the Babylonian and Persian empires. (Daniel 2, 4, 6) Look at the wisdom concerning the weather and wisdom concerning sailing a ship that God gave to Paul, who was not a sailor, when they were caught in a storm at sea. (Acts 27)
This contrast between the inability of the unbeliever to rightly discern truth and the God given ability of the spiritual man to discern all things really is the basis for Paul’s criticism in chapter six of believers going to court to have unbelievers pass judgment on their case.
1 Cor. 6:1-7 “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another . . .”
Therefore, it is utter foolishness for a believer to go to a secular psychologist for counseling. Seek out council from a spiritual brother or sister. (A carnal Christian can give just as foolish counsel as a natural man because they are both depending on their own natural understanding rather than being led by the Holy Spirit). It is foolish to go to a secular lawyer or secular courts to resolve issues you may have with another believer. Seek out a spiritual mediator. The same thing applies to seeking financial advice or counsel regarding your business or a career. Seek the advice of a spiritual woman or man who has experience in those fields. This does not mean we should not consult a secular medical doctor for physical needs in our body, or a secular mechanic for repairs to a car. But when seeking guidance or direction for my life and my relationships (i.e., anything impacting the spiritual, the psychological, the moral or the social aspects of life or anything that influences our values or priorities) we should always seek help from a believer who is far more qualified than an unbeliever.
It needs to be made clear however that 1 Corinthians 2:15 does not teach that there is any category of spiritual man who is above the law or above reproach or who cannot be held accountable for their actions. Verse 15 is not saying that there are those who are so spiritual that their words or actions can never be judged or challenged by other believers. There are no untouchables in any church. Down through church history there have often been those who arrogantly and foolishly considered themselves to be so spiritual that they were never to be questioned or challenged in anything they said or did. And they used this verse to back up their position. Such an interpretation of this passage is a serious misuse of scripture, usually by those who are most in need of correction.
Contrary to the false idea that those who are spiritual are beyond correction we have the example of this entire epistle of First Corinthians in which Paul spends much time giving rebuke and correction to those who considered themselves to be spiritual. Also remember that at one point Paul had to correct the apostle Peter, who many people also foolishly believe was infallible. In Galatians 2:11 Paul said, “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed”. Further down verse 14 says that he was “not straightforward about the truth of the gospel”. There is no one but Christ Himself who is infallible, never subject to error and never in need of correction.
Neither is this verse saying that a spiritual man is above the law. It simply says that the natural man will never understand the spiritual man and therefore never be in a position to pass right or just judgment on spiritual matters. But when a Christian is not acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit the Bible authorizes the natural man to pass judgment. (See Romans 13:1-5)
Conclude with a variety of practical implications and applications of these truths, particularly verse 16 regarding the resource available to us through the indwelling mind of Christ when we are faced with the need for great wisdom in life circumstances.