The Mind of Christ

Read Paul’s exhortation to a new life:

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 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. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 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 4:17-24).

Paul associates the old and the new self with the mind. We are to put off the old and put on the new mind. These are high expectations but he does not leave us without guidance. He says we are to be like God in true righteousness and holiness and that happens by putting off, by being made new in the spirit (attitudes) of the mind.

Peter agrees with Paul,

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God”  (1 Peter 4:1,2).

We are to have a transformed mind,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, 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 may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”  (Romans 12:1,2).

It is not a reforming or a modifying of the mind, but a compete renewing. A new mind comes with new living. We are to have the same mind (attitude) as Christ.

What mind are we to put on? 

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  . . . “  (Philippians 2:1-5).

We are to have the same mind – the same thinking process – as Christ! But how is this to happen, how do we have the mind of Christ? This is a mind controlled by the Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, n order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you  (Romans 8:1-11).

Our minds are controlled either by the flesh or by the Spirit. The exchanged, transformed, Spirit controlled mind is the Mind of Christ. Paul writes “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: . . .” (Philippians 2: 5 KJV).

But what is the mind of Christ? Isaiah gives an insight into the mind of Christ,

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him [Jesus], the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord”  (Isaiah 11:1,2).

Isaiah 11:1,2 is a description of the mind of Christ!

  • The Spirit of the Lord is the Supernatural Power Source that creates God’s thoughts in the heart and then it is his Holy Spirit that produces those thoughts as godly actions in the life.

  • The Spirit of Wisdom is all of God’s Supernatural Thoughts themselves.

  • The Spirit of Understanding is God’s Personal Illumination of those thoughts.

  • The Spirit of Counsel is God’s Personal Instructions for Godly choices.

  • The Spirit of Might (Power) is God’s Supernatural Ability to perform those thoughts in the life.

  • The Spirit of Knowledge is Experiencing God’s Life (His thoughts) in place of the natural life.

  • The Fear of the LORD is Walking in God’s Love and Truth, fleeing from anything that would quench the Spirit.

What if we had that mind? Would it be hard to experience true holy living, if we had all that? The gospel Good News is that we do have the mind of Christ.

 “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ”  (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).

Paul does not say we will have, not we may eventually have, not we might have if we hold our nose just right, not some may have but we have, here and now. If we belong to Christ then we have the Spirit of Christ, the Mind of Christ. All of it – we cannot get to first base in holy living unless we have all of it!

Look at Isaiah 11:1,2 with new eyes,

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him [Jesus], the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

The divine seven-fold process of thinking (called the Mind of Christ) begins with the Spirit of the Lord (at our core being), who desires to impart to us, not only all of God’s supernatural thoughts (His Wisdom); but also Understanding of those thoughts; Counsel as to which of those thoughts are appropriate for our own situation; supernatural Might (Power) to implement those thoughts in our lives; personal experiential Knowledge of seeing those thoughts manifested in our life actions; and lastly, the ability to walk in the Fear of the Lord (and not fear of man), by fleeing anything that would quench His Spirit in us.

This is really good news!

But how does one put all of the above into practice? Is it real or just theory? 2 Corinthians 10:1-5 helps us with the practical application of all this. Here it is in the New International Version,

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you - I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ..

How many thoughts do we take captive? Every thought! Our thoughts are crucial because our thoughts stir up our emotions; our emotions then influence our desires and our desires are what produce our actions.  This is why it’s so very important to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Recall Paul’s appeal in Romans 12:1,2 to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We no longer have an obligation to our sinful nature to live according to it. Sin is not inevitable and that is fantastic Good News!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. [Romans 6:1-14).

That sounds like bad news. Paul actually does seem to mean what he says about living a holy life – and I don’t like what I see in me.

But God has given us the Mind of Christ – it really is the best Good News you could ever hear. We engage the Mind of Christ one thought at a time – we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.


Len Cornwell graduated from Mountain View Academy in 1965, and received a B.S. in Aeronautical Maintenance in 1971.  He received an M.B.A. in 1991 from Portland State University.  He retired from his position as Coordinator for Safety, Emergency Response Planning, and Security at a large wastewater treatment plant in 2012.  He currently lives in Ryderwood, WA.