Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Thought Life of Christ

There’s tremendous potential in you as a believer. God has great purposes for you as a believer.

We know these great purposes. He wants us to be conformed to the image of his Son. That’s going to include not only our external activities, but surely it’s also going to include the transformation of our thought lives.

Made in the Image of God

The scripture tells us in Genesis 1 that we are made in the image of God. So the ability to think, to weigh, to consider, to dream and to plan — all these faculties are largely, if not completely, denied to animals. Animals are not made in the image of God, but men and women are. Commenting on those words “Let us make man in our own image”, one writer says, “It means that humans have the capacity to think God’s thoughts after him.” Of course, he’s speaking about man as he was originally in the Garden before he sinned. But man has the capacity to think God’s thoughts after him, and thus to respond to his love, and voluntarily and happily to carry out his will.

That’s God’s purpose for us, and that’s what we desire. Responding to his love and doing his will depend upon how we think; we only do things because we first think about them and plan to do them. But the problem again is — and this is the focus of my thoughts now — not the devil’s activity, not the influence of the world, but the struggle that we have with the flesh when it comes to the thought life.

Because man today is not as God made him, is he. The image of God in him is flawed. He has the knowledge of God conveyed to him by nature, by conscience, by history, and he’s responsible. But man degenerates until “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart” is “only evil continually”. That’s the way we go, naturally speaking, as those who do not know the Lord. “The natural man,” says the New Testament, “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.”

Learning to Think Differently

How do we learn to think differently? Well, the scripture speaks about the renewing of our minds, doesn’t it? Our minds are renewed. We present our bodies a living sacrifice and we prove the will of God. The renewing of our thinking is taking place. We have the Spirit who is from God. We have the mind of Christ. We may let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.

But even before the Lord Jesus came into this world, godly men in Old Testament times have given their thoughts high priority. I’m thinking of Job: he was a remarkable man. Scripture says he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of his sons, for he said, “It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” He was not concerned merely that they would have done things that might be easily recognized as evil; he was concerned that they should think no evil.” Proverbs 4:23 says you are to “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”

The Burnt Offering Speaks of Christ

Now, concerning this matter of filling our minds with holy thoughts, let’s remember the Lord for a minute together. Let’s think about him. We sometimes sing together, “We wonder at thy lowly mind, and fain would like thee be. And all our rest and pleasure find in learning, Lord, of thee.”

In the Old Testament, an appropriate burnt offering [intended by God to speak prophetically of the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary — Ed.] called for the head to be offered along with the fat and the inward parts, to ascend to God a sweet savor. Without stretching it, is it not telling us that there was something in that Holy Mind that was precious to God? It ascended from the altar. The sacrifice that was made was so acceptable because Christ’s thoughts were God’s thoughts, and that was precious to him. Christ not only did no sin, but he knew no sin; he was never in approving association with it.

And there was no sin in him. “Which of you convinces me of sin?” he was able to say. If “No man ever spoke like this man”, may I dare to go a little bit beyond that and say, “No man ever thought like this man.” His thought life was absolutely Godward and perfect. What delight he brought to the Father’s heart! Those are subjects to think about as we come together to remember the Lord, aren’t they. “This is my beloved Son in whom I find all my delight; I am well pleased.”

Bringing Pleasure to God

Can I bring pleasure to God like that? I don’t mean in the same degree. But can I in character bring the same sort of pleasure to God? I believe I can, and I believe you can. “Then they that feared the Lord,” said Malachi, “spoke often to one another and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and thought” — and thought — “upon his name.”

God can be pleased when I’m not preaching; when I’m not outwardly doing anything that others might take note of and say, “Isn’t that a spiritual activity!” I can please God in my own mind.

What deliverance has been effected by the work of Christ and by the gracious indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

— Colin Anderson, Holy Thinking in an Unholy World (2001)
[Transcribed and (lightly) edited by Tom.]

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