September 28: The Battle for the Mind: The Pride of Being Like Jesus

2 Corinthians 10:3-5. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

The arguments that Paul was up against, the lofty opinions, the pretensions, were of the flesh not the Spirit. They were full of pride and haughtiness. They were the arguments of self-confidence and self-exaltation. He describes them as a fortress or stronghold that needs to be breached. A tower that needs to be pulled down. Why? Because this way of thinking is against the knowledge of God and disobedient to Christ.

What exactly are the arguments Paul is looking to destroy? Well, he doesn’t specifically say. But we know they are full of pride. We know they were arguments against Paul, his authority, and his gospel. They were arguments against the reality of Christ and his cross. In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul will say that his opponents preach a “different Jesus.” The fact that Paul says Jesus and not Christ is significant. It may be his way of saying that they follow the Jewish Jesus, but not the risen Christ. They’ve turned Jesus’ teachings into a new law to follow. Rather than relying on the CROSS as the source of life and grace.

These are the same old arguments that we fight against in our own minds still – the argument for a law based self-righteousness. A righteousness that is obtained by our good works. A sanctification that is achieved rather than received. What is more lofty than this? More prideful? This idea that we can earn God’s favor is against the knowledge of God and disobedient to Christ.

Any idea that removes the need for Christ must be destroyed. And this includes a lot of ideas about Jesus. How many times this week have you heard a Christian say that they are “trying to be like Jesus?” Or “trying to be a good Christian?”

But this is the pride of the flesh. It’s way too easy for us as Christians to let our minds be taken captive. But our union with Christ leaves no room for this kind of pride within our thinking. Turning Jesus into another form of law IS this lofty thinking that Paul is combating.

We default to law. We default to self-righteousness. And if we are Christians we default to making Jesus into that law for us. You say, “But aren’t we supposed to take every thought captive to obey Christ?”

Yes. But obeying Christ is NOT “be like Jesus.” Obeying Christ is trusting Christ. It is relying on his grace and his cross. Taking every thought captive to obey Christ is the same thing as living by faith in what Christ has done for me. It is dependence. Dependence upon his love and grace. Not dependence on our own self-righteousness as we try to be “good Christians,” or try to be “Christ-like.” Yes, Jesus commanded us to love and to abide. But first he promised to love us and abide in us. His commandments, therefore, are simply a call to dependent faith. Faith in his grace.

1 John 3:23. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

Is it really possible for us to live a pride filled Christ-less Christianity? I think so. When we make the Christian life more about our progress and less about our position we face this danger. When we make the aim of our faith to “be better” or “be more like Jesus” rather than about needing grace. We are placing our faith in a fleshly, lofty opinion, that is against the knowledge of God.  Any way of thinking that takes away from our faith in God’s grace must be destroyed. It must be taken captive and executed.

“To live is Christ” removes the need for this pride filled and fleshly thinking, this form of law, by making us perfectly righteous right now. While at the same time reminding us that we are also completely sinful right now. Therefore, the Christian life is not about the pride filled journey of getting better and better. It is about the never ending need for grace.

Are you fully relying on God’s grace today, or has your life been more about your behavior than his grace? How does union with Christ allow us to place our faith in a position and not in our own progress?

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