In 1 Corinthians 2:16, the Apostle Paul says, “‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’” But we have the mind of Christ.”
On the surface, this seems like a really strange verse, doesn’t it? What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? How can we have our own mind AND the mind of Christ?
Is this kind of like the fruit of the Spirit, where we’re supposed to actively put on the mind of Christ? Or is the mind of Christ more passive? How do we even receive it in the first place?
In order to understand this profound reality we need to look at the surrounding verses.
The Mind of the World Versus The Mind of Christ
In the previous 15 verses, Paul tells the Corinthians about how he proclaimed the message of the gospel to them.
This gospel message was VERY different from what the Corinthians were used to hearing.
They were used to hearing lofty speech and grand oratory. The “super apostles” (who were no apostles at all) who had invaded the Corinthian church were all about delivering big speeches full of worldly wisdom. The super apostles spoke in spectacle.
They spoke in ways that would appeal to the senses of the Corinthians. They were all flourish and flowing speech and, “Hip hop, hooray!” If smoke machines and lasers had existed back then, the super apostles probably would’ve used them.
The gospel, on the other hand, is not a message of worldly wisdom. In fact, it’s a “foolish” and “stupid” message in the eyes of the world. It’s the message of salvation through a crucified king, which, on the surface, doesn’t make any sense.
In verses 1-2, Paul says, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Paul didn’t come come on the scene with a flash and a bang, dropping pearly, worldly wisdom. He didn’t speak with the kind lofty speech that would gather a rowdy, cheering crowd.
Rather, Paul decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Paul didn’t deliver motivational speeches that would help the Corinthians live their best lives now. Instead, he preached nothing but Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection.
He preached a “foolish” message.
This gospel message makes ZERO sense to the world. This is why Paul says in verses 7-8:
“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
It’s also why he says in verse 14, “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.”
In our natural state, apart from God’s intervention, we simply cannot understand the things of God. The gospel seems like foolishness to us. It comes across as a message of garbled nonsense.
Now, all this should raise one enormous question: why do we believe in and treasure the crucified and risen Christ when the rest of the world despises him?
Think about that for a moment. Why do you love Jesus while many of your neighbors and coworkers don’t? What makes you any different from them?
The difference is that you have the mind of Christ.
We Have The Mind of Christ
Here’s the profound, staggering truth that we need to understand: if we love Jesus and delight in his death and resurrection, it’s because God has given us the mind of Christ.
In verse 12, Paul says, “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.”
Did you catch that? We have received the Spirit who is from God so that we might understand the things freely given to us from God.
In other words, God put his Spirit in us so that we might understand and delight in the gospel. We were dead in our transgressions and sins. We were blind and hopelessly lost. The gospel seemed like insanity to us before we had the mind of Christ.
But God didn’t leave us dead in our sins. He made us alive in Christ and gave us eyes to see the beauty of his Son. Jesus himself, the living Son of God, now dwells in us, and we truly do have the mind of Christ.
The gospel, which once seemed so foolish to us now seems beautiful. The things that once seemed foolish now seem glorious. The death of Christ on the cross, which once seemed like insanity, is now clearly seen as our only hope of salvation.
It’s an absolutely incredible thing, isn’t it?
We didn’t create this glorious internal change. God did it. He was the one who put his Spirit in us and caused us to come alive spiritually. He is the one who has given us the mind of Christ.
A Grateful, Prayerful, Humble Response
How should we respond to the truth that God has given us the mind of Christ?
It seems to me that two responses are appropriate.
First, we should be incredibly, overwhelmingly, staggeringly grateful. There was a time when we didn’t have the mind of Christ and the gospel seemed like stupidity to us. If God hadn’t intervened, we never would’ve believed in Christ. If God hadn’t looked upon us with great mercy and pity, we never would have had spiritual life.
But because he is rich in mercy and love, God saved us from our sins and made us alive together with Christ. He breathed spiritual life into our dead souls and actually came to dwell in us. He united us so closely to Jesus Christ that Paul could say we have the mind of Christ himself.
It’s truly and utterly glorious.
The second way we should respond is by praying for those who don’t yet know Christ. We should intercede for our friends and family and coworkers who don’t yet know Christ. We should pray that God would do for them what he did for us. That he would put his Spirit in them and make them alive spiritually. That he would give them the mind of Christ.
Finally, we should respond with deep humility. We did absolutely nothing to deserve or earn or achieve our salvation. God did everything. He was the one who put his Spirit in us and caused us to believe in Christ. We didn’t go looking for him. Rather, he drew us to himself.
The only appropriate response to having the mind of Christ is a deep, reverent, thankful humility.