October 2: A Great Mystery

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7

There is much of deep mystery in revelation. God, considered both in Himself and in His operations, is a mystery stretching far beyond the most sublime power of finite reason. “Can you by searching find out God? can you find out the Almighty unto perfection?” and of His operations may we not exclaim with the inspired penman, “Lo! these are parts of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him!”

Christ, too, is the great “mystery of godliness.” Whether His complex person is regarded—the union of the Divine and human natures in one—or whether we look at His work—His obedience and death constituting a full atonement to Divine justice in behalf of the sins of His people—it must be acknowledged a depth too profound for human thought adequately to fathom.

What can poor finite reason accomplish here? What beams can its feeble, flickering light cast upon this world of mystery? And if ever it stands forth invested in its own native impotence, it is when it sits in judgment upon the doctrines and facts of revelation, discarding or retaining such only as are intelligible to its dwarfish capacity. “Which things,” says the apostle, “the angels desire to look into.” Mark his expressions!

He represented not these celestial beings of purity and intellect as scaling the heights and diving into the depths of redemption’s mystery, but “which things the angels desire”—scarcely dare—but “desire to look into.” And yet for a fallen and unrenewed mind to sit in judgment upon God’s truth can only be exceeded in its temerity by the depravity which prompts it.

If the truth of God, in its doctrines and facts, is a mystery incomprehensible to unrenewed reason, what shall we say of the truth as experienced in the heart? If reason cannot understand the vast framework of truth, how can it comprehend the secret power by which it operates? The very fact, that to be understood it must be experienced, accounts for the difficulty. The transforming operation of the Holy Spirit upon the mind—giving it a new bias, new inclinations, turning its darkness into light, and kindling its enmity into love; the life of God in the soul, creating the man anew in Christ Jesus—that life which is hidden, ever productive of a holy life that is seen—its hopes and its fears, its defeats and its triumphs—the causes which operate to deaden it, and the spiritual nourishment by which it is supported—all, all is incomprehensible to human reason. Truly “the world knows us not.”

The cause of this incapacity of reason, in its natural state, to comprehend spiritual and experimental truth is its corruption and perversion by sin. Sin has impaired our mental faculties—enslaved, clouded, and debased our reason. We open God’s word, and it declares that since the fall the nature of man has been corrupt, and his reason blind; his understanding darkened, and his heart, the seat of his affections, polluted: “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

The natural man, while in that state, so far from being able to explore the wide domain of spiritual truth, hates and flees from it when proposed to his consideration, “receiving not the things of the Spirit of God, they being foolishness unto him.” This being the state of man, God’s word consequently declares it necessary that, before spiritual truth can be understood, he should be “transformed by the renewing of his mind;” that he should be restored to that sound mind, and enlightened understanding, and spiritual discernment, with which his nature was endowed when it came originally from the hand of God; in a word, that he should be born again, created anew in Christ Jesus; that old things should pass away, and that all things should become new.

Then, and then only, will he be able to understand the “truth of God in a mystery.”

March 8: The Mind Of Christ

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.

What is it to have “the mind that was in Christ”? We answer, it is to be ever aiming after the highest perfection of holiness. It is to have the eye of faith perpetually on Jesus as our model, studying Him closely as our great example, seeking conformity to Him in all things. It is to be regulated in all our conduct by His humble spirit.

First, with regard to others, to choose the low place, to acknowledge God in, and to glorify Him for, the grace, gifts, and usefulness bestowed on other saints, and to exemplify in our social communion the self-denying, expansive benevolence of the Gospel, which enjoins the duty of not seeking paramountly our own interests, but to sacrifice all self-gratification, and even honor and advantage, if, by so doing, we may promote the happiness and welfare of others; thus it is to live, not for ourselves, but for God and our fellow men; for “no man lives to himself, and no man dies to himself;” in the spirit of Him, who, on the eve of returning to His glory, took a towel and girded Himself, and washed His disciples’ feet, it is to serve the saints in the most lowly acts and offices.

Second, it is to exemplify, with regard to ourselves, the same humble spirit which He breathed. It is to be little in our own eyes, to cherish a humble estimate of our gifts, attainments, usefulness, and station- to be meek, gentle, and submissive under rebuke and correction- to “seek not great things for ourselves,”- to court not human praise, watching our hearts with perpetual vigilance and jealousy, lest we thirst for the honor which comes from man, and not “the honor that comes from God only.” It is to contribute to the necessities of saints without begrudging, to give to Christ’s cause without ostentation, to do good in secret- to seek, in all our works of zeal, and benevolence, and charity, to hide ourselves, that self may be perpetually mortified- in a word, it is to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to be poor in spirit, lowly in mind, to walk humbly with God, and to live to, and labor for, and aim after, the glory of God in all things.

This is to have the “mind which was also in Christ Jesus.”

 

March 3: The Heavenward Mind

“If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:1-2

To win heaven, the mind must become heavenly; and to be heavenly, it must habituate itself to heavenly things and heavenly pursuits. It is a law of our mental constitution, that the mind assimilates in its tone and habits of thought with the subject which most engrosses its study. Hence it is that we sometimes become men of one idea.

Now the contemplation of divine and spiritual themes has a powerful tendency to spiritualize and sanctify the mind. It seems impossible to breathe a heavenly atmosphere, and not be heavenly; to study holy things, and not be holy; to admire the image of Christ, and not resemble Christ; to have frequent communion with Jesus upon the throne, and not catch some stray beam of His glory. And apart from Christ nothing is really pleasant and satisfying to the heavenly mind. Without Him, what a dreary, lonesome wilderness would this be! But with Christ in the heart, and the heart resting in Christ- He in the center of our souls, and our affections and desires centering on Him- the desert loses its solitude and its desolateness.

To have the eye resting on Jesus- all our heart-springs in Him- the spirit in frequent excursions where He dwells in light and glory- to lean upon Him and converse with Him as though He were actually walking by our side, sitting at our table, associating with us in our callings- this, this is heavenly-mindedness. Such is the counter-attraction to the “things on the earth,”- the secularizing pursuits, the low-thoughted cares, the carnal enjoyments- which we so deeply need. And this powerful counteracting influence which we possess is a realization of our resurrection with Christ, and His enthronement in glory.