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When you think about your mind, what comes to mind? What kind of mind do you have? What has shaped your mind? What controls your mind? Did you know that your mind finds its shape from outside influences? People, worldviews, culture, memories, and life circumstances form the content of your mind. And that which shapes your mind also manages it. Because we are not self-reliant, independent beings, we subject our minds to these external developers.
Only the Lord is independent and self-sufficient enough to transcend sublunary shaping influences. He is never under the control of anything more significant Himself because there is nothing more significant than Him. We are the dependent ones, which leaves us vulnerable to outside influences. But our vulnerabilities do not leave us without hope because Christ is the leveler that destroys strongholds and brings evil under His authority (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 John 4:4).
We do have a choice. We can determine what type of subordinate mind we want. There is the mind of Adam. There is the mind of Christ. Of course, there is the hybrid mind, which is a unique mixture of Adamic and Christocentric. When the new believer receives the mind of Christ, he continues to have a “former manner of life,” which I’m calling the hybrid mind. He hopes to put off that deceitful mind, renew it into something that acts like the mind of Christ.
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity (Ephesians 4:18-19).
The mind of Adam is totally depraved. Meaning, there is no nook or cranny of mental real estate that the deceitfulness of sin has not corrupted (Ephesians 4:22). Have you ever been inside a dark room? I’m talking about a completely dark room. No light exists. I have. In such a room, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. It reminds me of what the Lord explained to Moses when he was plaguing Egypt.
And the LORD said unto Moses, “Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt” (Exodus 10:21).
The dark mind is under a similar plague of felt hopelessness and helplessness.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [who did] nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility counted others more significant than Himself. He looked not only to His own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-5).
The antithetical alternative to the dark mind is the spiritual one (1 Corinthians 2:14). This mind has supplanted the mind of Adam with the mind of Christ. The last Adam defeats the first. One of the benefits of the takeover is a new mind that comes from a regenerative and transformative work (cf. John 3:7; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:23-24). The Lord is the new shaping influence (potter) of the jar of clay (Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7).
The regenerated soul subjects his mind to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Father God begins a long and drawn-out process of restorative work in those who have been re-born from above (Ephesians 2:10). This new work is progressive sanctification, a process that incrementally unfolds into a beautiful vessel that reflects the image of Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Because God’s work in us is progressive and incremental, His Spirit does not entirely rule the new, spiritual mind. The Christian’s life is a mixed bag of good and bad fruit.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (v. 22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-20 and 22-25).
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
The battle between good and evil continues to rage in our minds (Romans 7:21-25; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Every Christian struggles with Adamic baggage. When James talked about this, he called it double-mindedness—a Christian who wavers somewhere between light and darkness. One day you are up; the next day you are down. Like a leaf in the wind, tossed by its whims, two competing masters control the unstable person (Matthew 6:24).
You never know what you will get from them because you never know who is controlling their minds. Our goal is to be steadily morphing into the person of Christ. The word morph is not referring to an outward appearance of Christ but taking on the internal qualities of Christ. Becoming transformed into Christ is not—so much—a behavioral exercise as an inner change of the mind’s primary shaping influence.
Every Christian wants to relinquish his or her control center to the person and the work of Jesus Christ as illuminated, enabled, and empowered by the Spirit of God. The farther you go in this process, the more stable you will become. This kind of repositioning and restructuring of the mind is counter-intuitive to the independent, self-reliant spirit of the Adamic person.
The Christian’s goal is to move from Adam’s mind to the mind of Christ while maturing to where we are not living in both—the hybrid one. This aim is why we have the Bible. If the Bible is not changing our minds, we have not understood the primary purpose of the Bible, which is transformation. The Bible’s goal is not primarily to make us better theologians—those who study God but to help us apply our study of God into practical day-to-day living that spreads His fame while considering others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).
Suppose you have the mind of Christ (salvation), and you’re regularly leaning into His mind (sanctification). In that case, you will have a fantastic amount of Spirit-illuminated and empowered others-centered awareness. Jesus was regularly dissecting and discerning others so that He could figure out what kind of interests they had and how he could meet those interests biblically (John 2:24-25). His constant surveillance of the lives within His sphere of influence positioned Him to move them toward Christlikeness (John 11:14-15).
The word interests in Philippians 2:4 carries the idea of “fill in the blank.” It means you should know others so well that you can fill in any interest in that space—an interest that would serve them in becoming more like Christ. When your mind becomes so saturated with the interests of God and the interests of others, you will have the mind of Christ. The way you do this is to become a student of God and others.
You need others to have the mind of Christ. You need them for two reasons: (1) you need them so that you can serve them, and (2) you need them because you cannot have victory over your Adamic tendencies outside of the body of Christ. One of the deceptions of the Adamic worldview is to value isolation over community. When Adam sinned, his first action was to distance himself from God and His help. People who struggle the most are the most isolated from others.
If you want the mind of Christ to be your mental default, you must bury yourself in the lives of other people, and I’m not talking about your favorite social media outlet. You need a place to be Jesus to others, and the community will guard you against falling back into those Adamic tendencies.
Lord, work so deeply in my heart that I’m freed from the bondage of self-centeredness and given the disposition to look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others. —John Piper
Assess yourself to see what kind of mind you have. If you have not been born again, you have the mind of Adam. If you have been born twice, you have a combination of Adam’s mind and the mind of Christ. To determine how you rank on this hybrid scale, you need to analyze your unselfish versus selfish mind war. Here are a few questions that I hope will aid you as you think about your mind’s evolution. Perhaps you would find this exercise more beneficial if you discussed these things with a friend.
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