Armed for the Fight
The apostle Peter admonished the early disciples, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Pet. 4:1). Apparently, he believed there was a spiritual war going on! He was right, of course, for we have a spiritual adversary, the devil, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Consider, first of all, that this battle begins in the mind, and it is there we must be prepared to defeat him so he progresses no further. But what does it mean to be armed with the mind of Christ, and how will this enable us to defeat our spiritual adversary?
It is A Mind of Humility. Jesus revealed His heart [His mind] to us when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). In that sense, I must have the mind of Christ if I am to be properly armed for the fight against our spiritual enemies. Jesus not only revealed this by His words, but also by His life and example, showing the disciples the pattern of humility in washing their feet and then commanding, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). This mind of humility restrained Jesus when being persecuted and tortured, in that “when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten” (1 Pet. 2:21-23), leaving us an example to follow. It was this mind of humility that enabled Him to leave behind the glories of being God in heaven, and came “in the likeness of men…and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
How Do We Achieve Victory? The spiritual battle will be won by having this mind in us because it will, first of all, eliminate pride — something God does not tolerate. The elimination of pride will make it less likely we will seek to please self through sinful behavior, less likely to treat others with contempt, and less likely we will not be alert to the temptations that come our way. As the wise writer said, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
But the elimination of pride will also bring peace in our lives and with those we know and interact with. Again, the wise writer tells us the danger of pride: “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10), and, “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife” (Prov. 28:25). It is the proud heart that insists on its way, while ignoring and demeaning others, and strife will always be the result. A humble mind will help us to see that giving way to others when it doesn’t matter will bring peace.
It Is A Mind of Purity. The mind of Jesus was one of complete purity, free from the pollutions of this world, both physically and spiritually. To do that He had — and we must have — a spiritual mind. Paul pointed out that the natural [fleshly-minded] man cannot understand the things of the Spirit because he is not thinking in spiritual terms, and then concluded, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:13-16). That mind was one that faced life as we do and He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15), answering every temptation with Scripture (Matt. 4:3-10). Paul reminds us, “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5).
How Do We Achieve Victory? It is probably news to no one that those whose minds are set on this world are often trying to destroy the influence and/or reputation of those whose minds are set on the heavenly and spiritual things. The thinking is, if they can denigrate that way of life enough, or if they can impugn the character of the godly as hypocritical, then whatever is said by the spiritually-minded will be discounted and they may live the worldly life without shame or condemnation. The worldly will constantly be looking for a fault, a weakness, and something with which they may accuse. It is for this reason Peter admonished the early disciples, “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:11, 12). If we are living as we should, then “when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Pet. 3:16). The criticism will be silenced by our pure behavior, but this must begin with a pure mind!
It Is A Mind of Unity. While it may sound like a strange means of achieving and assuring victory in our spiritual battles, this is one thing we tend to overlook, but which can contribute a great deal to our spiritual successes. You see, the mind of unity is the mind of Christ because in His prayer to the Father, it is shown to be an important desire He had, praying, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me…that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me” (John 17:20-23).
This is something He obviously wanted to be taught to all disciples when He sent the apostles out and commanded they make disciples, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (cf. Matt. 28:20). Since He instituted these “one” things (Eph. 4:4-6), it is evident that He desires unity among professing believers, especially since He established offices within the church that we might “all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13). The fact that Paul had taught the same thing “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17) shows that was his aim, also.
How Do We Achieve Victory? Again, it may seem odd that this is something that will allow us to achieve spiritual victories, but let us be reminded that none of us is in this fight alone, and we are far outnumbered as it is! The first thing we must note in this is that when professing believers are truly united as Christ desired, we will “with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5, 6). Without that unity, we cannot ever hope to stand against our spiritual enemies, for as Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24, 25). United, we will stand against our spiritual enemies, but divided we will fall. Fighting alone is when we are most likely to be defeated.
Remember that for faithful disciples, through Christ — that is, by having His mind — we “can do all things” (Phil. 4:13). With the mind of Christ — humble, pure, and united with fellow believers — we can face our battles with an honest expectation of victory. With the mind of Christ, He gives us the strength of mind to be able to do what is necessary.
Paul also reminds us “God…leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14). Past triumphs and those of the future had come and will come through Christ, because that is where the power and the assurance of victory is found. Through Jesus, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35-39). We are more than conquerors!
Are you armed?