Emptying Ourselves of Ourselves

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The Mind of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 2:16 it says, “But we have the mind of Christ.” And who are “we”? We are the church, the body of Christ, those sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints. We are those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And we are those who are walking no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, by the grace of God, in his strength and power.

When we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, we are reborn of the Spirit of God, not physically, but spiritually. Our old self is crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we will no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness. And the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, and so God is within us, and so we have the mind of Christ because Christ lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we know everything that God is thinking. But it does mean that we should be in tune with the thinking of Christ/God about sin, righteousness, holiness, salvation, eternal life, honesty, integrity, obedience, submission, and repentance, etc. And it means that we should be living in accord with the mind of Christ in obedience to him in following him in his ways wherever he leads us in doing whatever it is he commands us to do (within the boundaries of his perfect will).

[Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17; Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26]

Taking on the Form of a Servant

So, this mind that we are to have we already have in Christ Jesus. We just have to appropriate it to our thinking and to our actions. We just have to put on Christ and his righteousness and obey the Lord and do what he says to do, and think his thoughts, and set our minds on things above and not on things on the earth. For we won’t even be aware of the mind of Christ if we are filling our minds with all the junk this world is offering us. We need to be filling our minds with the things of God and then obeying the Lord.

Now, obviously none of us are God. We are not perfect in body and mind. We are not without sin like Jesus was. So we can’t really identify with Jesus leaving his heavenly kingdom and coming to earth and taking on human flesh and being willing to suffer like we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted. And we will never be fully God and fully human without sin being treated with hate and being persecuted in exactly the same way in which Jesus was persecuted.

So, how can we have this same mind as Christ did when he willingly left heaven to take on human flesh and then to die for our sins? I think it has to do with us denying self and humbling ourselves and being willing to be thought of in ways that we are not, that we don’t deserve, and being willing to suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness and holiness, and for the sake of the gospel. It has to do with emptying ourselves of ourselves so that we can be pure vessels for the Master’s use so that God can do his work in and through us for his glory.

And it means giving up our own ambitions and our dreams of who we wanted to be and what we saw ourselves doing or becoming in order to be who God wants us to be, doing the things he has for us to do, even if those things result in us being treated like Jesus was treated, and even if everyone we know deserts us and turns against us and fights against us, even to the death for our faith and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel. For this is our calling to be like Jesus.

For God did not create us and save us from our sins so that we would live for ourselves, doing whatever it is we want to do with our lives, serving our own ambitions. When we believe in Jesus Christ it means total surrender. God now owns us and he is our Master and we now live to serve him with our lives, not the other way around. And so we, as well, willingly lay down our lives to see other humans be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 26:18).

[Rom 1:6-7; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-29; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 1:9; 1 Co 3:17; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Gal 5:13-21; Eph 1:3-4; Eph 2:10,21; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:5-9,24; 2 Pet 1:3; Tit 2:11-14; Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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