The Mind of Christ -- Our Free Choice
Over the last few months, we have been exploring, not only what the functions of the Mind of Christ are, but also its role and purpose. Our pivotal Scripture has been Isaiah 11:1-2, which lists the operations and capabilities of the Holy Spirit giving us the Mind of Christ.
"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord."
Let's review briefly what we have learned so far about the Mind of Christ. In a born again believer, the Spirit of God is the power source (the energy source or the life source) that creates the Mind of Christ within us.
The Spirit of Wisdom is God's supernatural thoughts in total; the Spirit of Understanding is God's supernatural enlightenment of those thoughts; the Spirit of Counsel is God's personal instructions for our particular situations; and the Spirit of Strength is His supernatural ability to carry out those instructions in our lives.
Before we go on and explore the last two supernatural functions or capabilities of the Mind of Christ, I thought we might digress for a moment and examine what it means to have a "free choice."
As Christians, we have the free choice to follow what God has counseled us (His Spirit of Counsel) and trust His Spirit of Strength to perform that Will in our lives; or, we have the free choice to follow what we think, feel and desire (our own will), and perform it in our lives by our own strength.
Our free choice is the critical "crossroads" of our lives, because what we choose, moment by moment, determines whose "life" will be lived in our souls: either God's, if we make faith choices, or our own, if we make emotional choices.
I believe "born again" believers are the only ones who truly have a free choice. Now, surely nonbelievers have a choice to decide what they want to do, but none of them have the authority or the power to choose to go against what they naturally feel, think or want, because they don't have another power source (another spirit) within them to perform anything different than what they think, feel and want.
Christians, on the other hand, have God's authority and power to choose something different than what we naturally think and feel, because we do have another power source within us (the Spirit of God-a new power source) to perform something different in our lives.
So, we don't have to be carried on by the "tide of emotion" like a nonbeliever, because we have God's Spirit within us, not only enabling us to choose something different than what we think and feel, but also enabling us to perform something different in our lives than what we think and feel.
Romans 7:18 tells us "to will is present with [each of us]," but "how to perform that which is good" is not.
In other words, we all - believers and nonbelievers alike - can choose. We all can make faith choices or non-feeling choices, but only Christians have the supernatural power and ability within them (because of God's Spirit) to be able to carry out and perform those choices in their lives. The Greek word for this "free choice" decision is exousia, which means "it is permitted." In other words, we have the authority or the word of the person in charge, and we also have the power and the ability of the person in charge to make this kind of a choice.
Jesus says in John 10:17-18, "Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power (exousia) to lay it down, and I have power to take it again...."
If we are Christians, this means we have the authority and the Word of God, who is the Person in charge. We also have the ability and the Power of God, who again is the Person in charge.
God is the One who enables us and gives us the authority to override our own negative thoughts, feelings and desires, and to say, like Jesus did, "Not my will [my emotional desires], but Thine." (Matthew 26:39)
I call this kind of a choice, a contrary choice. It's a faith choice, or a non-feeling choice. It's a choice that is often contrary to how we naturally feel, what we think and what we desire, but nevertheless, is valid because of God's Word.
1 Corinthians 7:37 is one of the places that tells us we have "...authority over our own will...."
We are so programmed to "feel" everything we choose. And, when we don't feel our choices, we don't think they're genuine. However, in God's Kingdom, this does not have to be the case.
As Christians, we can be honest with God and say, "I don't like this person. I don't want to forgive him. I don't want to love him. He has hurt me too much."
But, then we can make a contrary choice (contrary to what we are feeling) and say, "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine" (Matthew 26:39). In other words, "I'll do what You want, regardless of how I feel."
Then we can know that God will honor our choice by changing our feelings (in His timing) and, by His Spirit perform His Will in our lives. In other words, God will make us genuine.
What's so incredible about "contrary choices" is that God does, in His timing and in His Way, not only change our negative thoughts and feelings to align with what we have chosen, but He also gives us the Love we need to go on as if nothing has happened.
If we can just be willing to make the right choices, God will do the rest. So, we are not responsible to change our own negative thoughts and feelings. There is no way we can do that. We are only responsible to put in charge the Person who can change our feelings, and that's God. And we do that by being willing to make contrary choices and by renewing our minds.
God, then, is the One who will align our feelings with our choices and make us genuine.
An Example: Mother-in-Law Troubles
A perfect example: Many years ago, I received a letter from a dear friend of mine, explaining a very difficult situation she'd had with her mother-in-law.
She said that if she hadn't known how to make "contrary choices," she could have easily "ended up in the pits."
In the letter she wrote:
"My mother-in-law had come for a two-and-a-half week visit at Christmas time. During this time, the Lord had allowed a number of pressure points to surface in our relationship, which can so easily occur, especially during the busy holiday season. The enemy continually sought to divide us.
I had been planning to give my husband a special surprise gift for his 50th birthday coming up shortly after the holidays. In order to give him this gift, I needed to trust the Lord for two things: childcare for one week for my seven-year-old daughter and $700 which I did not have. Within one day, the Lord provided the child- care.
The day before Christmas, my mother-in-law asked what I was going to do for my husband's birthday. When I told her about the surprise, she volunteered to pay for half of it.
My first response was to decline her generous offer, knowing that she was on a limited income, but since she was insistent, I believed it was the Lord's way of answering my prayer. I was still a bit uneasy about it, however.
Later that same day, my mother-in-law came to me and said, "Well, when are you going to tell him about his birthday gift?" Now, I had it all planned in my mind how I was going to surprise my husband on his actual birthday.
When I told her this, she became very hurt, letting me know that since she was the one who was going to pay for half of it, she should be able to tell her son now, since she would not be here on his birthday.
"Self" screamed inside, "It's not fair! I planned this surprise! I didn't want her money anyway!" But I knew deep within my spirit, however, that I was to do as she wished.
I relinquished my desires to God and asked Him to give me the grace I needed to genuinely give her permission to do as she wanted.
It was so exciting - God not only gave me His Words to tell her this, but He also changed my feelings, softened my voice, and filled me with His Love for her.
I knew God was in this because it was no longer important to me to have "my way."
What became preeminent was, "Will I choose to be and do what God wants?"
Well, she did tell my husband, and she did spoil my surprise, but God did deliver me.
He took away my hurt and disappointment, and replaced them with His Love in my heart. We ended up having a great birthday week."
So, God has all the Love, Wisdom and Power we need. The choice, however, to be a cleansed vessel through which He can pour these things, is always ours.
Spirit of Knowledge and Fear of the Lord
Notice that the first four operations of the Mind of Christ in us (the Spirit of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel and Strength) are "supernatural" gifts that we receive when we are born again. These are capabilities that are always available to us, providing our hearts are cleansed.
But, there is something very unique and special about the last two functions of the Mind of Christ in us, the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord.
These two capabilities are our own responsibility to achieve daily.
We must not only make faith choices to do God's Will, but we must also make faith choices to lay our lives down, moment by moment so that God's Will can be performed through us. These two things are necessary to experience the last two functions of the Mind of Christ.
See, it's easy to choose God's Will while in the prayer closet, but it's quite another thing to come out and lay our lives down, so that His Will can be performed through them. This often involves a "death to self."
For example: It's relatively easy for the wife of an alcoholic to choose in her prayer closet to obey God and love her husband. However, it's something totally different to lay her life down and genuinely love her husband wisely, when he comes home drunk and intolerable.
2 Corinthians 4:11-12 is appropriate here. "For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
"Death to self" is exactly what these last two functions of the Mind of Christ require. Some Christians, I believe, go their entire lives and never truly experience intimate Knowledge of God or walk in the Fear of Him, because they're just not willing to relinquish and submit everything (their will and their life) to God.
This, to me, is what Philippians 2:12 is talking about when it says, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling...."
Having intimate knowledge of God and walking in the Fear of Him is our own responsibility to "work out," moment by moment.
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