I would firstly like to acknowledge the writings of Puritan author Thomas Goodwin. Much of what I’ve attempted to do in this article is to create a good summary in my own words and expand on the various aspects I think would be useful.
The mind of Christ is a subject worthy of our utmost attention if we desire to live lives of humility and holiness. If we understand the workings and dealings – the thought patterns and organization – the way the system is geared, we’ll find it much easier to check our sinful actions, amend our corrupt speech, and maintain a better frame of mind. The best way this can be done is by contrasting the mind of Christ with the mind of man. In this contrast we see the greatest of difference – the infinite distance in multiple dimensions. I personally find it helpful to imagine a glass of water on a table next to a glass of water that’s just been tipped over.
Firstly, like the water that’s been tipped over, the mind of man is scattered.
Our thoughts run wild at every spare moment we give them. It’s so difficult to collect them and put them aside or apply them to something useful. So often it can be like herding sheep who have all wandered off and gotten lost in various places. How often do we find our thoughts zooming from one end of the earth to the other. We hear some news about China, and our thoughts are there. We here something about Iran, and our thoughts are there. It really is amazing how God has created our minds to be so quick and nimble, but in a sinful state they chase after anything and in any direction.
Moreover, how difficult it is, and how much effort we exert just to spend some time in prayer or Bible reading or in church listening to a sermon without being distracted. Oftentimes we flicker in and out, only giving God a half-prayer or taking in half the preaching. Our eyes skim over the words of scripture but we aren’t able to take in the meaning. And what kinds of things are we distracted by anyway? Most of the time it’s useless chatter. If someone were to write down all the thoughts you have during prayer on a piece of paper, wouldn’t it be completely incoherent? I always think it’d be like the static on a TV without a clear picture or like the scrawling graffiti on a bathroom wall. It’d be a jumbled mess. Furthermore, our thoughts are so scattered they aren’t necessarily joined to each other. The glass of water that’s been knocked over doesn’t leave a neat puddle, but also many drops scattered all over the table, the chair, and the floor. Our thoughts scatter to and fro like ants on a mound after it’s been hit with a stick. There’s so much scurrying and movement and very seldom is any of it useful. Even when we’re asleep, our minds come alive feeding us with peculiar scenes of peculiar people in peculiar settings. Very little of it makes any sense.
The mind of Christ is not like this. The mind of Christ is never scattered. Even when he is being tortured and crucified, his speech shows us that his mind is still completely present, even when he is taking on the wrath of God! This is a mystery of mysteries; that someone could be so collected and focused when being crushed in every way possible. The angels in heaven also posses a perfect mind clear of distraction. At all times their thoughts are consumed with love and obedience to God as was Christ’s thoughts. It should be taken into consideration that our God is so deserving of perfection that if one of these beings was distracted from the worship of God – just for a split second, he would immediately be consumed by shadow and become a demon.
Secondly, like the water that’s been tipped over, the mind of man is shallow.
It’s amazing how much stuff we chase after. The list is endless; brands, art, games, music, sports, novels, business, home, travel, tech, politics, and so much more. People get restless and throw themselves at these things – going into debt to get all these temporary things that can’t satisfy. The mindlessness driving all this is incredible. People line up for days just so they can be one of the first people to own the new thing. But how sad is it, that people don’t line up to inherit eternal life! The mind of man isn’t concerned with the deep things, his mind is on the world and all its temporary pleasures. Oftentimes a person’s thoughts will spread thin over multiple areas. They’ll be reading a book, and working their way through a TV series, and getting to know that new girl, and going to the gym, learning how to cook, writing an article, and planning the next holiday. At other times a person’s thoughts will charge and stampede towards one thing and fixate on that one thing for weeks, months, years, decades, knowing all the in’s and out’s of this or that particular subject but having no concept of eternity with which to compare it to, and so it remains a vanity – a chasing after the wind. Many professing Christians can be like this former kind. They love wearing the cross. They love their Christian concerts. They love their motivational sermons. But when you take all of these things away, how many of them can honestly say they love Christ?
Not only is the mind of man shallow in regards to material things, it is also shallow in regards to non-material things. The mind of man loves to be flattered – loves to be complimented – and loves to think itself spiritual. There is a lot of false Christianity in the world at this time where particular persons promote themselves as being great spiritual leaders, but the glory they receive isn’t given to God. It’s shallow glory; all in vain. There is no remorse for sin, no humility, and no thanksgiving for the abundance of God’s grace. It never ceases to frighten me to think what kind of judgement awaits these false Christians. Though they cry out ‘Lord Lord’ they will not enter in.
Thirdly, like the water that’s been tipped over, the mind of man runs off the edge and downward.
By this I mean the more depraved nature of man’s thoughts – the rooms of his mind which he has converted into a brothel where he enacts his sexual fantasies, and the room for cruelty where he tortures and tramples his enemies in all kinds of invented scenarios. It’s the darkest place in the mind – the place we all keep locked away but it’s definitely there. And like spilled water that always seeks out the lowest place; running off the table onto the floor and between the cracks in the floorboards, the mind of man does the same thing, encouraging the downward movement of conversation, trying to bring out the worst of those around him so they can talk more freely about that which is shameful. What happens online is almost the perfect example of this. Here you’ll find all kinds of filth.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize the mind of Christ was never like this. His mind was always caught up in the heavenly realms, living in obedience to the Father and bringing glory to his name. He always saw people perfectly. He always saw women and children with purity and was even able to forgive those who were crucifying him.
Lastly, like the water that’s been tipped over, the mind of man is open to manipulation.
If you stir some water in a glass with your finger, the water will retain its shape and go back to the position it was beforehand. But for water that’s been spilled on the table, it can be spread around and led in various directions. In a similar way, the devil can lead the mind this way and that with the lashings of temptations, fears, and despairs. When Jesus was on the earth, he was tempted in every way as we are, but because he had a perfect mind, the temptations had no effect. There was no internal battle like there is with us as Romans 7 describes. The mind of Christ was completely under control and completely able to repel any attack.
Hopefully by now you’re not feeling too depressed at the infinite distance between the mind of man and the mind of Christ. I find it confronting to think about this subject in this much detail. It really helps me to understand how corrupt we really are and how much of an influence sin has over our lives. But there is hope. We do not despair. The mind of man might be merciless and spiteful, but the mind of Christ is infinite in love and mercy. For every bad and scattered thought we have, he has a million more thoughts of kindness towards us. His thoughts of kindness extend from eternity past to eternity future. His abounding love for us helpless humans is so overwhelming, so overpowering, it drives him to the cross and take on the wrath of God on our behalf. All our fallen thoughts fall on him and he is crushed. And it’s because of this, we worship God with every thought we’re able to take captive and send off in its right direction.