The Preeminence of Christ:
LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU (Phil. 2:5)
1. For Christ to have preeminence in our lives, we need to have the MIND of Christ… His mind ruling, not ours.
2. Paul gives this command for a very practical and specific purpose: believers were fighting!
a. Phil.4:2 – they needed to have the same mind… the mind of Christ. Here was a case of believers butting heads over some unspecified matter. (The color of the curtains?)
b. Phil. 2:2 – evidently, there was some discord in the assembly…
• Paul shared his desire for them…
• Like-mindedness – which he defines in the following verses as the mind of Christ.
• The same love: love for Christ alone… which would affect their relationship to the members of His body. Perhaps their love for Christ had begun to wane… leaving their first love…
• Phil. 1:21 – Paul just shared his personal testimony… his heart for Christ… single-minded devotion to Christ.
• The things of earth had grown strangely dim to Paul… to him, life was about the resurrected, glorified Savior. He had a mind for Christ.
• Evidently, Paul was NOT seeing this same single-mindedness for Christ in some of the believers.
• The Philippians were NOT carnal believers. Paul praised them for the GOOD he had observed among them.
• Phil. 2:1 – “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies…”
» Wuest: The word “if” is the translation of a conditional particle referring to a fulfilled condition. One could translate “since,” or “in view of the fact.”
» The Philippians were encouraged in the Lord; comforted one another; had good fellowship in the Spirit; and had compassion.
» Paul had experienced their comfort, their care and their fellowship. They had sent him a love offering… he was fully aware of their love towards him.
» Now he wanted them to show the same kind of Christlike spirit towards one another.
» Yet there was one thing lacking – the mind of Christ!
» Their minds were occupied with themselves… vainglory… and things other than Christ…
c. There were some telltale signs that the mind of Christ was not preeminent in their thinking too:
• There was strife… (vs. 3) selfishness (vs. 4)
• Where there is pride, contention, strife, and selfishness, it is obvious that Christ does not have the preeminence in the lives of the believers Paul was addressing.
d. The problem: Christ was not preeminent; self was.
e. The answer: “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5)
• In vs. 2 Paul states his desire for them to be likeminded.
• People who are disputing, debating, arguing, fighting, and stirring up strife can resolve all of that if only they were LIKE minded.
• Paul’s answer: they could be like minded if their minds were all set upon ONE object: Christ Jesus!
3. Paul’s mind was set and settled on that ONE object: Christ.
a. Phil. 1:21 – for to me to live is Christ.
• Paul had ONE OBJECT in life: to magnify Christ (vs. 20)
• His life or health or ease was not of such great concern. What mattered was magnifying Christ.
b. Phil. 2:16-17 – Paul’s whole life was lived in the service of Christ… preaching the gospel… preaching Christ… holding forth the word of Christ…
• He saw his life as a drink offering poured out and offered to Christ…
• His entire life was directed by his single eye for Christ. Christ was his life.
• He looked forward to the day of Christ—standing before Him to receive a WELL DONE…
c. Phil. 3:8 – Paul was willing to sacrifice ALL for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Clearly that vision of Christ had so grasped his heart and mind that he was willing to surrender all for the knowledge of Christ. Christ had completely captured his mind and heart.
d. Phil. 3:13-14 – this one thing I do: striving towards Christ-likeness. His life was focused on Christ—and being like Him.
e. Phil. 3:15 – Paul’s desire for every believer is that we share his single-mindedness for Christ.
f. Phil. 4:11-13 – Paul’s mind was set on Christ.
• It mattered not so much whether he was well fed or hungry; in good health or poor; abounding or in need.
• Paul’s mind was on Christ… and hence, in whatever state he was in – he KNEW that Christ was all sufficient.
• He could do ALL THINGS… because he was single-mindedly focused on ONE THING… Christ the Lord.
g. Paul lived and demonstrated the power and JOY of a Christ centered life.
h. His MIND was on Christ… and he refused to allow anything else to capture his mind.
• Because his mind was captured by Christ, he THOUGHT like Christ. He had the MIND of Christ.
• This is what the Philippians (and us!) needed as well.
• The person who has a Christ centered life will demonstrate the mind of Christ.
4. What MIND did Paul want in the individual believers at Philippi?
a. He wanted them to have the same mind (mindset; attitude) that the eternal Son of God demonstrated in the incarnation.
b. Phil. 2:6 – Christ existed for an eternity in the past in the form of God. His outward glory and radiance were manifestations of His inward nature. Myriads of angels worshipped at His feet.
c. Phil. 2:6 – He thought it not robbery to be equal with God: He did not esteem it necessary to grasp on to this visible, outward manifestation of His internal divine essence. He was willing to “let go” of this outward expression of His glory.
d. Phil. 2:7 – He made Himself of no reputation: lit = He emptied Himself… and took on the outward form of a servant… and became a Man.
• Emptied Himself = kenosis =
• Christ emptied Himself of His outward manifestation of His divine glory when He became a Man.
• He emptied Himself of His RIGHT to exercise His divine powers when He became a Man…
• It was a self renunciation… a refusal to use what He had for His own advantage… for personal gain…
• He still possessed all of His divine powers and attributes, but chose not to exercise them… and He did so for us!
• He still possessed all of His divine essence and glory, but chose not to manifest it outwardly.
• This was an emptying of SELF. (made Himself of no reputation).
• There was not a trace of self exaltation in this. Christ had been exalted in glory… and He willingly chose to leave behind that outward display of exalted glory … and He humbled Himself for us.
• There was nothing of self interest or self-will in the incarnation… in Christ becoming a Man to die the awful death of the cross. That was an act of pure selflessness.
• This was the unselfish mind of LOVE… that seeks nothing of its own… but seeks the good of others.
5. Vs.10 – Christ demonstrated this selfless spirit even unto the death of the cross.
a. This attitude of utter selflessness that knows no limits… is what Paul is talking about when he says, “Let this mind (attitude) be in you.”
b. If we want to manifest Christ in our lives… to manifest the mind, heart, and compassion of Christ… then we need this attitude: the kind of selflessness demonstrated in the kenosis experience…
• When He left the outward show of His glory behind…
• When He willingly laid aside His rights…
• When He humbled Himself to become a servant of men…
• When He put OUR spiritual well being ahead of His own comfort and ease.
c. “Let this mind be in you” is a command. Hence, obeying it is an act of our will.
• Will we CHOOSE to manifest this Christlike, supernatural attitude of selflessness… or will we choose to manifest the much more natural attitude of selfishness?
• In Philippi, the strife and pride indicated to Paul that SELF was reigning. Christ was pushed aside.
• Paul’s answer: the believers need to push self aside… by manifesting the holy and humble attitude of Christ.
d. This command is in essence quite the same as the others we have looked at.
• If Christ is to have the preeminence in our lives, we need to STOP allowing self-serving motives to control our thinking, our hearts, our attitudes, and hence our behavior… and START allowing the selfless attitude of Christ to take over.
• Only THEN can we say that Christ has preeminence in our lives… when we have the mind of Christ.
• The mind of self or the mind of the flesh will ALWAYS take the position of preeminence…
• That is unless we keep our old man on the cross… by faith…reckon self to be dead…so that we no longer are enslaved to that selfish nature… so that the new nature that exalts Christ can rule and reign!
• And oh how practical! If we want to get rid of the strife and vainglory in our lives… if we want to learn to stop butting heads with people we love… then here is one awesome lesson: Consider Christ’s kenosis experience.
6. Timothy demonstrated the mind of Christ. (Phil. 2:19-21)
a. Vs. 19 – Paul was prepared to send Timothy to Philippi for their edification and encouragement in the Lord.
• This was an example of the mind of Christ on Paul’s part.
• We know how much Paul loved Timothy… and at this time… to send him to minister to others was an act of pure, selfless love on Paul’s part.
• Paul was not concerned about his own condition, but was concerned about THEIR comfort and their state.
b. Vs. 20 – Paul could trust Timothy to care for them… because Timothy was likeminded (like – souled) with Paul on this essential matter: the mind of Christ… selfless, humble, love.
c. Vs. 21 – Timothy was different from most men.
• Most men are self seeking, and do not seek after the things of Christ…
• But Timothy was the exception to that rule.
• This is quite an indictment on believers… but Paul probably meant of all the people that were near him in Rome, only Timothy was of such a mind… an attitude.
7. Are you willing to empty yourself of self? Are you willing to put aside your so-called rights… be willing to esteem others better… willing to demonstrate a genuine lowliness of mind?
a. This is what occurs when Christ has the preeminence.
b. And even if we differ on the details – we can still be of one accord… likeminded… because we have the mind of Christ.
c. Christ has preeminence in our lives when we demonstrate a humble, selfless, servant’s attitude of love… esteeming others better than yourself.
d. So let this mind be in you!
e. A Christ centered life is characterized by the mind of Christ.
ARMED WITH THIS MIND (I Peter 4:1-2)
1. As Christians, we ought to be armed with that same mind… that same attitude. (I Pet. 4:1-2)
a. Arm yourself: this verb speaks of a soldier putting on his weapons and armor for battle.
b. We are to be armed with the same mind as Christ had: unswerving allegiance to doing God’s will—regardless of the personal cost.
c. Christ is our example of an attitude of being willing to suffer for righteousness sake. (I Pet. 3:17-18) He suffered for well doing.
d. Whether we are living in a day of persecution or a day of relative ease, we are ALWAYS to walk about with this same mind: an attitude of being willing to suffer for righteousness sake… willing to do God’s will… willing to submit to Christ’s yoke…
e. Peter states that if we’re willing to be identified with Christ in His sufferings by faith, then we too will experience victory over sin—he hath ceased from sin!
f. The believer who is identified with Christ in His sufferings… (the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death) – will experience the power of the resurrection in his life! (Phil. 3:10)
2. This is the believer who has CEASED from sin.
a. Ceased: perfect passive…
• He has been released from sin and stands released…
• When a man is saved, God breaks the power of sin… and we are no longer slaves to sin.
• He that is dead is freed from sin…
• This is not sinless perfection… but a victorious life.
b. The victory is linked to our identification with Christ… by being armed with His mind… that attitude of being willing to suffer for righteousness sake…
• Heb. 13:12-13 – Willing to go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach!
• When this attitude reigns, we cease from sinning.
• The believer who is thus identified with Christ in His sufferings IS the believer who has ceased from sin.
c. The context here indicates that the “sin” would be the sin of compromise… refusing to suffer for righteousness sake…
• The believer would not be suffering persecution if he was still sinning… if he were still going to their drunken parties… (vs. 3)
• The world only causes believers to suffer when they are walking in OBEDIENCE… hence, they are not sinning.
• If we are unwilling to identify with Christ on the cross—[we died with Him]—then we will never experience victory OVER sin. We will never experience the power of the resurrection in our lives.
d. The cross speaks of a BREAK with our old life of sin. He that is dead is freed from sin! (Rom. 6:7)
e. This is an attitude of selflessness… even to the death of the cross. This is the mind of Christ… and we are to be ARMED with it daily. How incredibly powerful is this attitude!
f. Maintaining that attitude is our responsibility. We are to take that position of mind/heart/attitude… and WALK that way… moment by moment… day by day…
3. I Peter 4:2 – this believer is no longer living in order to satisfy his own selfish lusts… but rather he is living to the will of God.
a. This is a death to self-will… and alive unto God’s will.
b. The contrast here is between living for lusts and living for the will of God… the desires of self or the will of God.
c. This is the believer who is willing to submit to Christ’s yoke… absolute surrender of his will to the will of God… regardless of the cost… knowing that His yoke is easy.
BRINGING INTO CAPTIVITY EVERY THOUGHT… (II Cor. 10:5)
1. Paul is not speaking of his own thought life or the thought life of any of the believers in Corinth.
a. He is fighting the good fight of THE Faith.
b. He was not talking about the battle going on in his own mind… or bringing his own thoughts into captivity—or the thoughts of the Corinthian believers…
c. Rather it was a conflict between the TRUTH he was preaching and the ERROR the enemy was sending into the newly formed churches.
2. Paul was entering into gentile territory – spiritual darkness…
a. He was fighting not against the Hittites or Amalekites, but against spiritual wickedness in high places…
b. He was fighting against the doctrines of demons… demons who appear as angels of light to deceive…
c. He was engaged in real spiritual warfare… Satan who blinds the minds of those who believe not.
3. Therefore, he could not war after the flesh. (vs. 3)
a. He would not use carnal weapons…
b. He wasn’t fighting a battle with carnal weapons: swords or spears.
c. Nor was he fighting a battle with human weapons such as human wisdom, human intelligence, human powers of persuasion, or human talent or showmanship.
d. The Judaizers tried to LURE Paul into such a battle – pitting their philosophy against his gospel… pitting their human accomplishments against his… pitting their letters of recommendation against his… matching their oratory skills against his…
e. Paul would not engage in a mere human battle with carnal weapons.
4. Therefore, Paul did not want to use carnal weapons in such warfare! (vs. 4)
a. Carnal weapons are useless in a spiritual conflict.
b. His weapons were mighty through God!
c. His weapons were not very impressive to the carnal man – prayer; reliance upon God; faith; humility; truth; righteousness; the Scriptures.
d. But they were mighty through God—God stands behind every one of the weapons He gives for this conflict…
5. These weapons were able to produce real spiritual results (vs. 4b-5)
a. Pulling down the strongholds of the enemy (vs. 4b) – false doctrines that captivate ignorant minds…
b. Casting down imaginations – human reasoning – philosophies – (vs. 5)
c. Casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – namely, anything that exalts itself against the truth of God’s word is obviously based in human pride.
d. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (5c)
6. The three steps of the apostle’s spiritual warfare are: (1) It casts down and demolishes that which is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings its captives into obedience to Christ.
• The underlying point behind Paul’s argument here has to do with the POWER of the weapons God has given us in the spiritual conflict: such as PRAYER, FAITH, the SPIRIT, and the TRUTH.
• To the world, relying on such things is FOOLISH… but in reality, it is the power of God unto salvation and sanctification!
• His underlying point is that TRUTH is mighty through God – is able to cut through error… false doctrines… worldly wisdom… and human reasoning. It can cast down and knock down erroneous thinking…
• Truth is also able to captivate minds and hearts and bring them into submission and obedience to Christ.
• Now, if God’s Word can do that to those who oppose the gospel – it can do the same in OUR lives!
1. Pulling Down Strongholds (vs. 4c)
a. It is used metaphorically of the strong points of an argument; in which someone trusts; like a fortress they hide behind for safety.
b. Our adversary, the devil has many strongholds…
• Various philosophies… ways of thinking… various false doctrines that are close to the truth, the thinking of the world; religion; etc… but they are all wrong…
c. Even though we are saved, our minds can still be motivated by the fleshly nature… and manifest the mind of the flesh.
• When that is the case, our minds and thoughts are going to be just like that of an unbeliever – because our flesh does NOT improve!
• If we walk in the flesh, we will THINK like the world.
d. Yet, if we keep our minds and hearts saturated in the Word – TRUTH will cast down such strongholds!
• Truth exposes wrong thinking; wrong concepts; wrong philosophies; wrong doctrine…
e. Just as the preaching of the gospel can break down the walls of resistance… pull down the fortresses of human thinking that men hide behind… it can do the same in OUR MINDS too.
• Truth can expose OUR wrong thinking… renew OUR minds… pull down any strongholds that we have been hiding behind… using as an excuse…
• The Word of God is powerful—it pulls down those strongholds and exposes what we are… we stand naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
• The Bible is not just a book. It is a spiritual book that is used in a powerful way by the Holy Spirit of God. HE uses His Word to convict our hearts… point out where our thinking is off base…
f. Truth will PULL DOWN such strongholds: (pull down = tear down; demolish; destroy utterly…)
• That kind of thinking is not to be tolerated at all in the Christian.
• Don’t even TOY with such thoughts. Allow God’s Word to pull them down… destroy…
2. Casting down Imagination… (vs. 5a)
a. Imagination = (logismous) – [calculation; argument; reasoning; consideration; conclusion; etc.]
b. Refers to the reasonings of the flesh… which is a CARNAL weapon!
c. Even though saved, human reasoning can control our thought processes… if we are not filled with the Spirit.
d. If we are not careful, human reasoning will infect our daily thought life too.
• The devil wants to control the way you think. If he can capture you mind… he has YOU!
• He will give you 1001 excuses why its OK for you to disobey what the Bible plainly says… or what the Spirit leads you to do…
• He will enable your mind to come up with all kinds of ways to rationalize your way around simple obedience.
• Imaginations… reasoning that is of the world and the flesh and is not of God is to be CAST DOWN.
• It cannot be tolerated in the Christian life.
e. Does your imagination… your human reasoning run away with you at times?
• It will if we let it! It will take us FAR away from God if we let it.
• Rationalizing will lead you to believe that you are better off going to the beach on Sunday instead of church; better off keeping your offerings to yourself than throwing it away to the church; better off sleeping a little later than getting up early just to read the Bible; better off caving in to your unsaved relatives wishes, rather than obeying God and rocking the boat; better off letting your kids decide for themselves if they want to go to church rather than forcing them; better off not speaking up for Christ at work rather than risk being ridiculed.
• We can rationalize our way around anything… rationalize ourselves far away from God… far away from obedience… far away from where we ought to be spiritually… and according to the wisdom of the world – it will just FEEL RIGHT doing it!
3. We too as believers have so called “high thoughts” (proud thoughts)… which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God! (vs. 5b)
a. We sometimes think ourselves smarter than God…
b. We get taken in by the world of science falsely so called – and swallow the world’s view of the origin of the universe…
c. We think OUR way of rearing children is superior to the archaic method spelled out in the Bible…
d. We think OUR concept of husband/wife relationships is superior to the old fashioned, culturally biased, male dominated, view of Paul!
e. We think that WE can lead holy lives on our own – with submitting to the Spirit of God – we can forsake the assembly of ourselves and it won’t affect us… we can skip reading the Word and still be strong… we don’t need to pray with the saints… we can rely on our own strength to get through life…
f. We don’t really need to be coming to the throne of grace daily for grace to help in time of need. We can stand on our own—and while we may need assistance from God time to time… we can handle life on our own…
g. We don’t like God’s view: the cross—that means that we are completely powerless to live the Christian life! Our hearts are desperately wicked and deceive us when the flesh is in control! Without Christ, we can do nothing!
h. We have proud, arrogant, high thoughts that reject all that… somehow; we think that we are an exception to the rule. We can handle it.
i. Let’s face it – we think this way at times – although we don’t like to admit it…
j. It is human pride, self-will, and arrogance. They are like walls that separate us from God, truth, and spiritual victory! They must be cast down!
4. Proud thoughts exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
a. If our minds are proud… then Christ does NOT have the preeminence in our thinking.
b. Herein lies the battle being waged in our minds: will we allow our proud thoughts to be seated in the throne… exalted… preeminent… OR will Christ have preeminence in our minds?
c. It is one or the other.
d. Vs. 5 – Proud thoughts are to be CAST DOWN… destroyed (verb form of the noun “the pulling down of” in vs. 4)
• Vs. 5 – casting down = present participle…
• This is an ongoing battle… continuous action…
• Such thoughts pop up in our minds like pop ups on our computers… out of the clear blue sky!
• Each one is to be cast down…
• Each proud thought that says, “I WILL”… needs to be cast down… one by one… day by day… moment by moment… till glory.
5. Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (vs. 5c)
a. The obedience of Christ is a new “prison.” (in the illustration used)
• The minds of the unsaved had been held up in a stronghold (prison fortress) of the devil.
• But the power of the gospel pulled down those strongholds… led the prisoners in that fortress out (the truth shall make you free!)… and now they are free… saved… regenerated!
• Truth has now captured that regenerated mind… and made it subservient to a new master—to Christ and His Word!
b. Freedom from the devil’s stronghold does not mean we are free to do and think whatever we want. It means we are free to SERVE Christ.
c. Paul’s point in II Cor. 10:5 is that God’s spiritual weapons are able to set our minds free from the strongholds of the devil… from darkness… AND bring it into a NEW CAPTIVITY… captivity to a new master – to Christ and His Word!
d. These spiritual weapons (faith; prayer; truth) are able to bring every one of our thoughts into obedience to God and His Word!
e. As long as we are yielded to God – our mind will be obedient to Him!
f. Our mind is one of those members that needs to be yielded to God. (Rom.6:13)
• The end result? Our mind will become an instrument of righteousness…
• When yielded to the flesh… our old nature… our mind is an instrument of evil thoughts.
• The promise? (vs.14) Sin SHALL NOT have dominion over you… or your mind –
• We CAN have a mind that is obedient… that is under control… that is subservient to Christ… victorious…
• God has given us spiritual weapons – which if used – result in VICTORY! (grace; faith; truth; prayer)
• Is Christ LORD of your thought life? Do we MIND things above? Do we have a single EYE for Him?
• Or, are we DOUBLE minded? The double minded man is unstable in all his ways!
6. Our thought life can and must be brought into the captivity of a new master… from one stronghold to another.
a. You want victory over your thought life?
b. Victory is obtained not by gritting our teeth and TRYING with all OUR might to think good thoughts and to get rid of the evil thoughts.
c. It is NOT a matter of self discipline. (That leads to self righteousness!)
d. Victory is ours by faith in and allegiance to the New Master – Christ!
e. Yield to God and be filled with the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is self control… even over our mind.
f. Victory over our mind comes through a RELATIONSHIP to a new master…
• Total surrender to His will… the yoke… the altar… the cross… bringing every thought into CAPTIVITY…
• Don’t expect the Lord to produce a holy thought life… to give you control over your mind IF deep in our heart we are unwilling to submit to Him, not fully surrendered!
• You can’t have a self controlled, holy, pure thought life… no matter how much we may want one… IF we are harboring SIN in our heart… and if we are unwilling to YIELD our all to Him…
• Pure hearts and pure minds go together. The answer is to surrender to this new master…
• You want a better thought life? Work on your RELATIONSHIP to Jesus Christ!
» True knowledge makes men humble. Where there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting [Bengel].