THE MIND OF CHRIST
Mr. J. Kemp
October 8th, 1967
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2. 5-7.
“Let this mind be in you” is the apostolic exhortation to these Philippian Christians. It was necessary in those daysÂ—it is no less necessary in these days. Now, what is the mind that was in Christ Jesus? What is intended here? Why, it was the mind of Christ in His humbling Himself, in His self-abasement. His coming down to the lowest depths of need to redeem poor sinners that are lost in destruction. This was the mind of Christ. It is revealed sometimes as the spirit of Christ, the spirit of love, pity and kindness and forgiveness and so on. That is quite right in its place, but that is not exactly the mind of Christ. The word ‘mind’ signifies the attitude, not merely what is spoken, but the attitude, the posture, the action taken by the person who has that mind. We can see in every day life what effect a person’s mind has upon his actions and doings. But I do not want to dwell on that.
Well now, the Apostle brings before us in these words this exhortation. But I want to look a little, first of all, to what I think is the background of this subject. What is the need for this exhortation? Why should we be exhorted to have the mind of Christ in this way?
Let me take you back to the chapter we have read. (Gen. 3). What a solemn chapter it is, is it not? Do we really believe it and know something of what that chapter is in our own experience? Oh! it is a solemn thing to be a sinner before God, is it not? When the enemy tempted our first mother Eve he assailed her with two particular temptations. The first was to unbelief. “Hath God said?” He questioned God’s word that He had spoken and, having questioned whether God had said it, he contradicts it. ‘No’ he says, ‘What you think God said to you shall not take place’ ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ He tempted her to unbelief and made her sin, and that has come down through all the human race till nowÂ—unbelief, questioning what God has spoken, denying what God has said. Oh! what a sad, solemn state we are in when we are all brought in guilty, as we all are by nature, under that sin of universal unbelief. And the other sin was pride. He tells our mother Eve that if she eats of that tree in defiance of God’s commandment that they shall be as gods knowing good and evil, something superior to what God had made them. In a moment pride entered into the heart of Eve, and from that moment downward the whole human race have been guilty of pride. There is no exception, my friends.
From the highest to the lowest, from the eldest to the youngest, whether rich or poor, whatever the nationality, whatever social position in life, all are guilty of this sin of pride. It is in our hearts; it makes itself manifest in many ways,
Now these two major sins of unbelief and pride stand in the way of a sinner’s salvation. Unless he is brought to believe what God has said, unless he is brought to be humbled before God, even as dust and ashes, he cannot be saved. He must be delivered from his unbelief; he must be saved from his pride by being humbled before God.
But I want to note, particularly now, this one great sin of pride. As I have already said, it is universal in the human race, and it includes you and me, my dear friends. We are not exempt from it. There are many forms that pride takes. It is a serpentine sin. It is crafty. It creeps in unawares, makes itself manifest in many ways, and, as we look around us this morning, we see and realise there is what the Apostle John calls in his First Epistle 2nd chapter, ‘the pride of life.’ The pride of position in life, the pride of certain fancies of prosperity that might be given us, the pride of the home, the pride of the business; in every way does this pride operate. You cannot find a man or a woman that God blesses temporally with the things of this life but what there is some pride creeping in and a proud appearance perhaps, but there is one great thing I must mention, and it will not be very pleasing to us, perhaps, but it is very solemnly true, the pride of raiment, the pride of clothing. Oh! what a universal manifestation we have of this. We can see it everywhere, not only in what is called society, but down to the lowest person in the land. And you and I are not free from it, are we? Search your conscience this morning. Ask yourself the question “Am I ever proud of the raiment I put on, the clothes I wear?” I remember when I was quite a child having to learn a child’s hymn :Â—
“How proud we are, how fond to show
Our garments rich and new”
it began. I am quite sure I was a proud boy then if I had on a new suit, and I do not wish to disguise the fact I have been proud ever since over this. It is such a sad state to be in, to be continually priding ourselves upon our dress, upon our raiment, and to be left to all that rubbish, not content with ordinary things. Surely, this is the pride of life. Let us go back to the 3rd Genesis. God made our first parents innocent. They had no need of clothes. They were not ashamed. And so, as sin entered into their hearts, they felt the shame, the need of raiment, and they tried to hide themselves by sewing fig leaves together. The art of clothing is the oldest thing in the world. It began in the Garden of Eden. They were not very competent at it, though. It was not satisfactory. But what took place? A wonderful thing to my mind. “The Lord God made them coats of skins and clothed them.” What, the God they had sinned against? The God that had commanded them and they had disobeyed His command? Did He take such pity upon them, such
care of them actually to clothe them that they might be rendered respectable and decent? He did. What do we see in that? Not only that God pitied their state but that He has made it known that it is His will that all human beings should be properly and decently clothed. God did it for them. And I know what some will say, “You have been singing that hymn that this was figurative to set forth God’s robe of righteousness.” Yes, I quite agree with that, but it is not my point this morning. I am speaking of the thing naturally. God clothed our first parents. Now, all that goes beyond that which is required by men, women and children in regard to clothing is a matter of vanity and pride. Do you agree? Do you believe what I am saying this morning? I am sure it is. And we are reminded by the Lord in the Gospel according to Matthew “Take no thought for your raiment what ye shall put on” that is, no undue anxiety, no undue care. Yet, you see, we are so guilty. I know there are what they call the changing fashions, and one cannot escape altogether from those changes, I know, but it becomes us, my friends, if we are Christians, to regard our clothing with moderation and to be properly, decently clothed. There is a close line between self-respect and pride. We need to watch it carefully. What I want to bring out is this. If we had never sinned, we should not need clothing. Our clothing, therefore, is a testimony against us. It tells us we are sinners. It tells us we needed God to provide a clothing for us. What is there to be proud of? Proud of that which testifies against us? Proud of that that says continually, “You are a sinner, therefore you must wear clothing.” You see, how we need the Gospel don’t we? We must all plead guilty, more or less, here. I plead guilty, and so must you all here who are conscious of pride. You dare not deny you have been proud of your appearance in regard to the clothes you wear. Well, that is a point then we need to guard against, pray against and seek to do that which is right and proper in the sight of God.*
But I come now to something else, that is, religious pride. How much pride there is in religion! I speak, first, of denominational pride. A denomination is a company of people, Christian people, professedly, who are joined together in unity, believing certain doctrines, certain truths of Scripture. Well, that is quite proper and right. I am not disputing that. But then there is a tendency, you know, for a denomination who has its beliefs and is united, so to speak, in those beliefs, to look upon other denominations as being altogether out of the secret, as having no right to the name of Christians. I believe denominational pride is a great evil today. You remember the case of the Jews who were God’s chosen nation and were so proud of it that they said “We are the people of God. All outside our little pale are dogs, unclean creatures. They are not fit to be in our company.” You read your Bible and you will see that that is true. Even among the disciples there was this same feeling. On one occasion they said, “Master,
we saw one casting out devils in Thy Name; and we forbad him.” Why? “Because he followeth not with us.” Christ said “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9.49, 50). And when I come to Paul, that wonderful great-hearted Apostle what do I find? He is in prison. He is being persecuted for his ministry of the Gospel. He hears of men preaching, some preaching in goodwill, some with illwill. Some added affliction to his bonds. Does Paul say “I did not answer them. They have no part or lot in things that are right?” No. He says, “I rejoice in this, in whatever way Christ is preached I therein do rejoice and will rejoice.” Have we got that spirit today think you? But you say “Are you not condoning error?” No. I believe it is right to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, but I want to remember a verse in our hymn:Â—
“But keep me. Lord from party zeal,
That seeks its own and not THY praise;
This spirit I would never feel,
Or when I do, would own it base.” (Kelly)
May the Lord keep us from denominational pride. May we remember in many other denominations with whose doctrines and teachings we do not agree there are those hidden ones, those godly people amongst them. Perhaps you will say, as I have said, “How can they stop there today with all this sad apostasy, this departure to Rome?” But there are signs, I am glad to say, of those who are separating from them, those who are termed Evangelicals. We may not agree with them in everything they believe or they with us, but it is good to see a stand made in this present day by those who can no longer conscientiously remain where there is error, where there is apostasy.
So there is religious pride, denominational pride. But let us come nearer home, friends, and there is pride in regard to a church or churches. There may be pride in the members of a church because one belongs to a kind of inner circle, a little part in the denomination. They have a place in the church, a name in the church book, and they have also a voice in the church order or church business and a vote and so on. There may be pride there, and there is sometimes, and there is pride in offices in the church sometimesÂ—those who bear office. Pride, is the cause of much contention in the church. I know of causes today where deacons of churches have been the cause of division within those churches, and if we remember Solomon’s word “Only by pride cometh contention” we know what the cause is.
And then we might come right home, and there is pride in the pulpit. Oh yes. And I am not leaving myself outÂ—I know what it is. I have felt it more than once. A man may go into the pulpit feeling most unfit to preach the Gospel, feeling in himself to be such a poor sinner, how can he talk to other sinners? He is very humble then, and it may be on a special occasion he is helped. The Spirit is pleased graciously to anoint him. He is lifted out of himself and above himself and when he sits down, when he has
closed his sermon, he is for a moment abased, humbled by the sense of the wonderful condescension and goodness of God. But you wait a little while. There comes a whisper perhaps, very quickly, “You have preached a good sermon this morning you know.” It reminds me of the anecdote of a person who met the minister going down from the pulpit and said “You have preached a good sermon this morning.” “Ah!” he said “the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.” Quite true. We know something of these whisperings in our naughty hearts and minds and the devil’s insinuations and so on. And, however humbled one may be at times, pride creeps in quickly.
And there is pride in the prayer meeting. I do not mind where you go or what you speak of in regard to this religious pride.
And what about you hearers? Supposing some of you have what we call a good hearing time (whatever that may meanÂ—it means different to some people than it does to others). What I mean by a good hearing time is when the Word enters the heart, or when perhaps the Gospel of Christ is made very precious, when the soul is favoured to feel the love of God shed abroad in the heart, when it is favoured to realise its interest in the blood of Calvary, the Cross, oh it is a good time is it not?Â—a time not to be forgotten. And what is the effect of that? I am sure of this, my friends, such a hearing time will not of itself puff a person up with pride. It will humble them, lay them low at the feet of Jesus, ‘Why me, Why me, Lord? Why should I be so blessed?’ Yes, that is true. But, wait a little. Supposing a day or two passes. You begin to talk about itÂ—tell one and another about this wonderful time you had. You will lose the sweetness of it, I am sure, by constant repetition. And, not only that, but pride will come in as the hymn says:
“Spiritual pride will soon creep in
And turn the very grace to sin.”
Yes, pride is in all the things we do in our hearing, in our prayers and praises and in our speaking, and we have to say “Lord, keep me from pride. Save me from it.” I think one of our hymns says:Â—
“Pray and it will prompt you still”.
Oh, we can get into a state when we want humility, as though we were self-confident. We can be proud of our humility in that case.
But I will not continue on this strainÂ—not a very pleasing thought to some of us is it? But it is true and I am here to tell the truth. Pride then is a sad and solemn evil.
No wonder the Apostle exhorts here to humility. Christ Himself on more than one occasion repeated these words ‘He that exalteth himself shall be abased; he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ And the Apostle himself knew what it was to be humbled, even he who had had a wonderful time of blessing. He had been to the third heaven, seen unutterable things, ‘Lest I should be exalted above measure, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me”. He needed to be humbled. He knew it himself, and he knew the need there was in
the churches in those days for this humility. In later days he refers to Lydia, the Philippian jailor, those women who helped the Apostles, he was calling attention to the most wonderful and perfect examples of humility that have ever been known. That is, the mind of Christ, the attitude of Christ, the posture of Christ, that which He did in that ‘He humbled Himself.’
Just a few moments upon the text itself. I have taken a long time I know, but I felt it was so necessary to bring before you this great sin of pride. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” We have there in the first part of my text the greatness, the majesty, the glory of the Son of God. He was in the form of God. That does not mean a mere formal thing either. He was really and truly God. God Himself, God with God. The Eternal Son of God with the Father as the Apostle in the Hebrews speaks of Him “Who being the brightness of His Father’s glory and the express image of His Person” (Heb. 1, 3); in all the attributes of Jehovah the Father’s glory shone forth in and by and through the Son of God. In that He was equal with the Father, believed He was equal. He was equal, as much equal with the Father in every attribute of the Divine nature, nothing wantingÂ—an equality between them which was to the glory of Both of Them from all eternity. Who can rightly speak of this? It is so great; it is so mighty, so wonderful, the Being of God, the glory of God, the Equal nature of Father and Son, the equality of attributes in Each Other. What the Father was, the Son was. What the Son had, the Father had. So “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but He made Himself of no reputation.” I know He became of no reputation among men, but this does not signify to my mind that “He made Himself of no reputation.” That is. He abased Himself, He stepped down, so to speak, from the throne of glory. He came down to a lower condition, and He did not for a moment empty Himself, as some say of His Godhead. Not for a moment, but He laid aside the visible outward signs of His glorious Being. He laid aside His royal robes. He did what our Sovereign the Queen might do. When she is on the throne, on a Royal State occasion, she wears her royal robes, but when she goes about the country on semi-State occasions she does not wear her crown or her jewels nor the royal robes. She leaves them behind. She lays them aside. That is not quite the full example I want to mark here, because she is still recognised as Queen on these particular occasions, though not the crowned Queen, but when she goes out incognito, if she should go out amongst the people she might not be known to be the Queen,Â—they would not recognise. That is just what the Lord did. He laid aside the outward, visible manifestations of His glorious Godhead and He veiled Himself. That is the best word. He veiled Himself. He wore that which covered or kept secret the indwelling Godhead which He had. We know how John says “We beheld His glory”. Yes, there were just moments, just occasions, when the veil was drawn aside a little, and they
beheld His glory, “The glory as of the Only Begotten Son of God” but mark this, friends. He abased Himself, He took a step down from the throne to ‘no reputation,’ and then what did He do? ‘He took upon Him the form of a Servant.’ A servant. The word in the original signifies a slave. When you read the word “servant” in the Scriptures it has this original meaning, a slave. One who is bound to a master, bound to his master’s will. Can we say reverently, that the Lord of Life and Glory became a Bondslave? The word means that, anyway. Did He come down so low, not only to be a Servant, but a Slave? To have no will of His Own, only that His will was in union with His Father. He came to do the Father’s will. He came to do the Father’s workÂ—came to speak the Father’s words. He was a Servant, therefore. How many cases we have in the Prophet Isaiah, “Behold My Servant Whom I uphold” and so on “Behold My Slave” it might be rendered. Yes, the Lord humbled Himself didn’t He? Came down to that condition to be a menial Servant. “I am among you as He that serveth” He said to His disciples. Blessed humiliation! Glorious humility! Oh! behold the Sovereign Lord of All, the Maker of the Universe, coming down so low as to be a Servant, a Slave, and He humbled Himself still further, in that, in becoming a Servant, He took upon Him humanity. “He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on him the seed of Abraham.” (Heb. 2.16). I want to look at that, but I am afraid I must not stay to dwell upon it. If you read 2nd Hebrews you will see this wonderful fact set before you. God made man. He set him over the works of His hands, put all things under his feet. Our first father Adam was lord over creation, that is, he was made so by God. It was committed to him. The Lord brought the animals to him to see what he would name them. Whatever Adam said the name was that became the name, and it was only by sin that he lost that dominion, that universal dominion. When Adam was innocent there was no evil, no hatred between him and any creature but after the fall there were many of the creatures that were at enmity against the human race. There are today. I know man has tamed a good many but you cannot escape the fact there are those creatures in the sea and on the land which are at enmity against mankind. The lion, the tiger, the bear and so on, if not tamed, would soon devour. Well, we see man’s fallen nature. “He was made a little lower than the angels” we read “a little lower.” The angels are immortal. They can never die. They are above man in that sense. Man was created a mortal being. Perhaps you will say to me “Did you not hear read just now about the possibility of man living for ever?” Yes, I did, but I can assure you of this one thing that it was possible for man to die because it was possible for sin to come. God did not make our first parents immortal in that sense. They were, as it were, immortal as sinless for a time, but because of sin they became mortal. They were made lower than the angels. Then I come to Christ. The very same thing is spoken of here. Here we have Him made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. He took upon
Him our nature, our mortality, and it was possible for Him to die because He was made lower than the angels, just for a little while, He condescended to take that position. He that was greater than the angels themselves became in that sense inferior to them all in order that He might manifest His mind. His purpose. His will in order to save His dear people from their humiliation by sin, and to bring them also presently to that state that they themselves should be above the angels.
This sermon was preached on the morning of October 8th, 1967 proceeding the sermon printed on page 97.
* A good and salutary warning in these days of the disgusting and immoral ‘ mini’ fashions. Ed.