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Of One Spirit and Mind in Christ

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, Philippians 1:27 (ESV)

Societies today are confounded by division on virtually every issue. The church, meant to be a unified and righteous role model is also divided, at times even on basic doctrine upon which the Word is perfectly clear. Many in the church have fallen into the same deceptions as the rest of society because they look to man for guidance and not to the perfection of God’s heart. Scripture tells us plainly, however, that we are to be of one spirit and have been given a sound mind for a purpose; to glorify God through unity of spirit, sound reasoning, and speech to defend our faith before men.

Mar 12:30   God desires us to love him with our minds
Act 26:25    We are to speak truthfully and rationally
Rom 7:25    We serve God with our minds
1 Cor 2:16   We have the mind of Christ
Phi 1:27       Believers are to stand firm for their faith with one mind
Phi 2:2,5      We are to have the same mind and love as Jesus
1 Pet 3:8      We are to be unified in mind and humility

Sadly, today’s church is not unified as the Word instructs. Disunity in the mind of the body of believers is evidenced in the endorsement and empowerment of sinful liftestyles (Rom 1), teachers and prophets who prioritize lucrative platforms over truth, and believers who soak in the hatred and division sowed into their hearts by the Church of Social Media (my label). Too many believers have fallen into the deception of double mindedness, thinking they are true believers but believing and living lives ruled by deception.

This condition of the church is not a new phenomenon
We aren’t the first to experience this dilemma. As is so often the case, Paul’s writings to ancient believers reveals unambiguous instruction today. In Romans 12, he gets right to the point.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, by which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you my discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV, emphasis mine)

I also like the phrasing from the J.B. Phillips New Testament translation: “… let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” The point in both versions is that submitting our mind to God, including its reasoning and conclusions, is part of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices acceptable to God. As Paul tells us, our living sacrifice must be acceptable to God, and only he can define what is and what is not acceptable in his eyes. We may have rationalized our corruption to our own satisfaction, but our opinion doesn’t really matter here, does it?

Our responsibility for the renewal of our mind
Continuing in verse three, Paul tells us that we are to “think with sober judgment.” From what does sober judgment come? It comes from “testing,” “discerning,” and discovering “what is good and perfect.” (v2) And what do these yield in turn? Paul tells us in the last section of the chapter: love, honor, a fervent spirit, hope, patience, constant prayer, looking after our neighbor, hospitality, caring for all men, living in peace without avenging, and overcoming evil with good.

Some may say that this emphasis on the mind and its reasoning is misguided, that we are to be led by the Spirit in all things. I agree that our relationship with the Spirit is key, but hard questions remain: Then why don’t we agree or live as the Word instructs? Is the Spirit divided? Is the Word of God unclear? No, they are not. Our division from each other and separation from truth do, in fact, result from our lack of oneness in the Spirit (cause, 1 Cor. 6:17), leading to spoiled fruit (effect, Galatians 5:19-21), which matures into misapplication of our God-given intellect and reasoning in relationship with our world (impact). As 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 and 3:19 tell us, man’s wisdom and ideology are doomed to pass away, God’s wisdom is mature, powerful, and eternal. The key to healing our minds is only found in healing our relationship with the Spirit.

There is hope still
As we see throughout Paul’s writings, he made it a point to reason with people, appealing to their intellect and the truth that was in them to stir their spirit to question, test, and approve what was right. He makes the same appeal to us today, and we can take encouragement from an unexpected source. Daniel 4:34 tells us that even Nebuchadnezzar’s reason returned to him, glorifying God and edifying himself:

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 

When we are willing, God is ready
Are we willing to be humbled from our pride? Are we willing to turn from evil and deception to bow before the King of heaven in confession, repentance, and humility with hearts that are broken and contrite? This is the way of all overcomers no matter the affliction, addiction, or sin, and it must be the way for believers and churches today who have adopted man’s deception and ways.

The question before us is: Are we willing to be humbled, to overcome, and to be restored?

Shalom

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