“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16, ESV)
In 1974, while pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I had to pass a required course in Nuclear Physics. It was highly theoretical and one of the things we had to do was memorize the derivation of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The professor in the lecture hall proceeded to use four blackboards that stretched from one wall to the other in rushing through this in one hour. He even ran out of space and was erasing with one hand while writing with the other. Even if we could memorize this derivation, we still needed to understand it. Needless to say, I was over my head. Unfortunately, I failed the course and had to retake it to squeak by with a passing grade.
Now, imagine that I had the mind of Albert Einstein. I would not have failed the course the first time, but would have aced it. In fact, I would have known the course materials better than the instructor. The point is this. Similarly, if we would have the mind of Christ, we would be able to perfectly discern the voice of the Lord from all the other distracting voices that come in our thoughts. Our ability to know and follow the voice of the Lord would be a natural thing.
Yet, herein lies the problem. While we believers have the mind of Christ, we are still constantly growing in the same. Thus, as we grow in Christ, our minds are increasingly developed so that we will respond in accordance with the will of God. However, the question is this. How does the believer grow in this ability?
Transitioning from Natural to Spiritual
When we look at the context of the verse in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see that Paul makes a contrast between the natural person and the spiritual person. The natural person is the person without the Spirit, the unsaved person. On the contrary, the spiritual person has heard and responded to the calling of the Lord by saving faith. Simultaneous with saving faith, this person experienced the indwelling manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Paul affirmed this truth in his writing to the Romans. “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.” (Romans 8:9, ESV)
It is the Holy Spirit who has and continues to enable the saved person to hear and respond to the voice of the Lord. Paul indicated this in the verses that proceeded verse 16.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 2:11, ESV)
“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.” (1 Corinthians 2:14–15, ESV)
Yet, while the spiritual person has a capacity to understand the truth that God has given, there is still a progression that occurs in the life of a believer. Paul continued in addressing the church at Corinth.
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.” (1 Corinthians 3:1–3, ESV)
The believers in Corinth had not progressed in the faith. They were acting as infants in the faith and thus were not able to advance to the deeper truths from God. Paul wrote that there was one huge reason for this. They were driven by the flesh and not the Spirit. They needed to mature from this fleshly state to one being driven by the Spirit. Paul’s use of the metaphor of infants in Christ illustrates clearly this problem that new believers and those who have not progressed in the faith have.
The ability to understand and apply spiritual truth to life is what having the mind of Christ is all about. Moreover, just as a newborn baby grows in the capacity to understand things and make decisions, newborn believers should be growing in their ability to understand the things of God and apply them to life. However, many professing believers seem to have become stunted in their growth. Thus, every believer must work at developing the mind of Christ.