Bible Study Notes:


Spiritual Weapons: # 15
Suffering & Humility: The Mind of Christ, Part 2


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
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When we don't take on the attitude or mind of Christ, we are UNarmed, defenseless against conflict, suffering and persecution. Then we will REACT to the situation through shock, offense, vengeance, wrath, bitterness and doubting. But if we are ARMED to expect suffering, we will receive it with rejoicing, knowing all of the good character traits that it is developing in us.

 

Jesus we declare you Lord of all and desire to know you better. Holy Spirit of grace teach us about the mind of Christ, what it is and how we can receive and utilitize it in our Christian battles. In Jesus Name AMEN

Last week we talked about "The Good News About Bad News!" - the purpose of suffering in the Christian life. We found that suffering perfects our faith and helps us to maturity. We learned that suffering is not a sign of failure or lack of God's love, but a gift given to help us grow.

We also found that suffering is an outcome of the Christian life because we have an enemy who seeks to use suffering to destroy us. And we looked at the life of Christ, who is our example, and saw that He actually learned obedience through the things He suffered. Then we began to talk about ARMING ourselves with Weapon #15 The Mind of Christ.

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, ARM YOURSELVES also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

"Arm" here is hoplizo {hop-lid'-zo} meaning to arm, furnish with arms, to provide, to furnish one's self with a thing (as with arms) and metaphorically to take on the same mind. Recall that "hoplon" means weapon.

"Attitude" is ennoia {en'-noy-ah} meaning the act of thinking, consideration, meditation, a thought, notion, conception, mind, understanding, will, manner of feeling, and thinking.

If we arm ourselves with the attitude, mind, understanding, manner of thinking and feeling that Jesus had, we will be victorious over the enemy of our souls.

Another attribute of suffering is that it cleanses us from sin and makes us be done with it. We learn the consequences of following our lusts - which eventually leads to suffering of some kind or another - and no longer live for them, but seek to live for the will of God.

When we don't take on the attitude or mind of Christ, we are UNarmed, defenseless against conflict, suffering and persecution. Then we will REACT to the situation through shock, offense, vengeance, wrath, bitterness and doubting.

But if we are ARMED to expect suffering, we will receive it with rejoicing, knowing all of the good character traits that it is developing in us. That brings us up to date from last week.

Besides suffering, there are several other components that the Holy Spirit has testified as being part of the mind of Christ. They are humility, sacrificial love, acceptance, submission to the Father's will, unlimited intellect, and power, dominion over sin and authority over the devil. We'll look at each one in depth.

First of all, let's look at the attitude of humility. What is humility anyway? Is it being a doormat and letting everyone "wipe their feet on you". Is it being a "spineless jellyfish"? Is it quivering in terror, being "meek and mild" to the point of thinking of yourself as a lowly worm?

Phil Ware in the www.goshen.net devotion for 1/26/98 says this about humility: "Humble yourselves. That sounds obscene. At least to the culture of self-promotion and "get ahead at all cost" and "don't look back, the competition is gaining on you" it sounds obscene."

That certain seems to be true, doesn't it? How many TV shows or movies have you seen where the hero/heroine was truly humble, not seeking to be in the limelight, but humbling fulfilling what God has called them to do without complaint?

Phil continues: "Humility is a forgotten virtue. Often confused with weakness or timidity, humility is about knowing our proper place in the world without flaunting it. Only God can exalt in a permanent way, so the key is to know our place before him and let him put us in the place he chooses to honor him."

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Here we see humility contrasted with selfish ambition and vain conceit. What is wrong with being ambitious? Isn't that part of what our culture says you should be? The key here is SELFISH ambition - putting the achievement of goals and ambitions about anything and everything else.

Selfish ambition in the Greek is eritheia {er-ith-i'-ah} translated strife, contention or contentious in the KJV, which literally means: electioneering or intriguing for office. In the NT, it was seeking glory, being biased or prejudiced for or against another group, irritable, a desire to put one's self forward.

It involves taking "sides" and a fretful spirit which will do anything in its power to get what it wants. This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means. Paul urges us to earnestly be one in the mind of Christ not putting self forward or being selfish.

James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. James 3:14 also speaks against having selfishness or self-promoting in your heart.

Vain conceit or vainglory is kenodoxia {ken-od-ox-ee'-ah} meaning vain glory, groundless self esteem, empty pride, glorying without reason, conceited, eager for empty glory, or a vain opinion, error .

This is a compound word from kenos {ken-os'} meaning empty, vain, devoid of truth, of places, vessels, etc. which contain nothing, of men empty handed without a gift.

Metaphorically it means destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as his supreme possession, yet is without the fruits of faith. It refers to efforts, labors and acts, which result in nothing, and are vain, fruitless, without effect, vain of no purpose.

And from doxa {dox'-ah} meaning (in the NT) a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory. Doxa also refers to the magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, and majesty, which should belong to God alone.

So someone who is walking in vain conceit wants the praise and honor and glory whether they deserve it or earn it or not. They want the "high place" and are never willing to take a place lower than they esteem themselves worthy of.

What exactly is humility then? Humility here in the Greek is tapeinophrosune {tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay} meaning to have a humble opinion of one's self , a deep sense of one's (moral) littleness, modesty, humility, and lowliness of mind.

This is a compound word of two other Greek words. One is tapeinos {tap-i-nos'} literally meaning not rising far from the ground, and metaphorically as a condition, lowly, of low degree, brought low with grief, depressed, lowly in spirit, humble, and in a BAD sense, deporting one's self abjectly, deferring servilely to others.

The second word in this compound is phren {frane} probably from phrao (to rein in or curb) literally meaning the midriff or diaphragm, the parts of the heart, and metaphorically the mind, or the faculty of perceiving and judging.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Notice here that Paul does not say here to think of yourself as NOTHING. Too many have taught that we are "lowly worms, worthless, utterly depraved, void of any value". If this were true, why would Christ have died for us? Or why would God bother with us at all?

No Paul says to THINK of yourselves, yes, to consider yourself worthy of God's grace because God considers us worthy and has given us all the measure of faith. But don't think of yourselves MORE HIGHLY than you ought to. Be sober in your judgements of who you are in God's kingdom.

There are two extremes here. One is to think of your self TOO LOW - that is decrepit, useless, worthless, inferior, degraded, etc. The other extreme is to think of yourself TOO HIGHLY - that is you are conceited, boastful, puffed up and proud. Humility is taking the middle road and seeing yourself as who you are where God has placed you.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

In fact we are to wrap ourselves in humility, along with compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. We are dearly beloved and chosen of God, so our worth is beyond our imagining. But we should never let this high regard from God cause us to be proud, boastful, uncaring, impatience and rude.

Paul connected humility with weeping: Acts 20:19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

Saul was not by nature a humble man. He took it upon himself to be judge and jury over the new believers and Christ, and did all he could to persecute the church. He had a very high opinion of himself, boast that he was a "Pharisee of the Pharisees", blameless according to the law. He was self-righteous, ambitious and proud.

But one day Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and his life was totally changed. The haughty Saul became the humble Paul, who was now willing to give his life for the very church he had been persecuting. That humility came at a price - it was hard for Paul, and indeed for any of us, to get rid of pride and vain conceit. It took many trials and weeping before Paul could say:

Philippians 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put NO confidence in the flesh--

There's a lot of emphasis on self-confidence in our world today, but the amazing thing is when we forgo placing confidence in SELF, and place our confidence in the Lord, then we truly know our self-worth.

True self-worth doesn't come from our performance, for we often fail to succeed at life. It doesn't come from our "looks", because some of us don't have any, and we all will grow old and lose them. It doesn't come from our education, because the more we know, the more we know that we DON'T know.

What truly shows us what we are worth is the price that Jesus was willing to pay for us: His own life. So I think it's a waste of time to promote self-confidence in people - because they will have to take a leap of faith away FROM that to receive their true self-worth from the Lord.

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

If you have a problem with humility, if pride has been your companion for so long you don't know how to walk away, God can and will give you the grace to overcome it. Paul had to learn this through many tears and trials.

Humility begins with a decision, "God I WILL submit to you". As you will yourself to submit to God, and to the godly leadership He has placed you under, you will develop that humble, submissive spirit that is of great worth in God's sight.

However, if you are proud and rebellious, God will OPPOSE all you do. What a frightening thought! Isn't life hard enough without God coming against you? I not only want God to be on MY side, I want to be on HIS side and please HIM with a humble, obedient heart.

 

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned! And put it into practice.

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Original lesson 1/29/99
Revised: May 02, 2001