Q: What does “We have the mind of Christ” mean (1Cor 2:16)?
A: In the previous verses, the apostle Paul declares the inability of the fallen, natural man to discern the wisdom of God in Christ. The crucifixion of the Lord of glory is the ultimate expression of that boastful blindness. In the first part of verse 16, he draws on the witness of Isaiah 40:3 in confirmation: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct Him?” This quotation challenges us to realize that all true knowledge and wisdom is ultimately of God, and that no one has ever given Him understanding or taught Him nor could any man penetrate and comprehend the unsearchable wisdom and knowledge of God. It follows that if God takes us into His counsel and reveals to us His thoughts, we are mightily blessed. It is not for us to glory in ourselves, but to rejoice that He has made known to us His thoughts. The Lord Jesus spoke of the Spirit’s work following His return to the Father. “He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine. Therefore I said that He shall take of Mine and shall show it unto you”(John 16:14-15).
The Son is the Revealer of the Father, the Treasurer of the Infinite, and the indwelling Holy Spirit brings us into the possession of this communication. One of the glories of the gospel is that, not only is the love and grace of God manifested to us, but by the divine indwelling, it is manifested in us. In contrast to the natural man, “he that is spiritual discerns all things” (v15), and the wonderful declaration, “But we have the mind of Christ” is the explanation. This, first of all, indicates His relation to Deity because it is parallel to “the mind of the LORD.” It also reveals our union and fellowship in Christ with God, having His Spirit that we might both understand His mind and “think God’s thoughts after Him.” We should have the same attitude of meekness and humility arising from His self-sacrificing love, and we should share in His purpose to glorify God and redeem fallen man. It is also living in the reality of Christ as the focus and foundation of all God’s purposes for life, today and for the ages to come, as revealed in the Scriptures. This forms the framework in which our minds as believers are intended to function and flourish.
Do we really think like Christ? Sadly, many times we are thinking carnally, like men (1Cor 3:1-4), governed by selfish pride, fleshly lusts, or worldly wisdom, and not like Christ. How grieving it must be to the gracious Spirit, Who is leading us to Christlikeness! This is the burden seen in 1 Corinthians. Repeatedly, the apostle challenges them to rethink their attitudes and behavior, climaxing in chapter 13 where love is presented as the more excellent way – the true mind of Christ.
Q: Is 1 Corinthians 5 an exhaustive list of sins requiring excommunication or a sample?
A: The main focus of the chapter is an extreme case of fornication, involving an incestuous relationship which was being tolerated, rather than judged, by the assembly. The apostle calls upon the assembly to gather together “in the Name of the Lord Jesus” to excommunicate him as a “wicked person” from among them (vv4, 13). This raises an important question to consider. Why is there such a range of required response, whether looked at personally or collectively?
There are failures which may simply be confessed personally to God, and forgiveness and cleansing is promised (1John 1:9). There are also trespasses against a fellow believer which may be confronted and settled privately, and only in the case of persistent refusal to listen or repent, is there the potential for assembly discipline to be invoked (Matt18:15-20). There are also many exhortations to graciously forbear and forgive one another, even as we have been forgiven (Eph 4:2, 31-32; Col 3:13). There are other disorders/sins which are to be publicly rebuked in the assembly, so that others also may fear (2Thes 3:11-15; 1Tim 5:20).
However, in this passage, “a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (vv9-11) belong to a level of evil that requires that the person or persons involved be put away from the local assembly fellowship. Are there other sins also requiring excommunication? Yes. Included in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are “adulterers, homosexuals, lesbians, thieves.” Murderers would also be included. It is clear that, when proven, all of these sins require excommunication from the assembly. Why? The answer relates to the true nature of an assembly. It is collectively “house of God” in character (1Tim 3:15), “temple of God” (1Cor 3:16), with the Lord Himself in the midst. His Name must not be associated with gross wickedness, nor His presence made complicit with evil. The first concern therefore is to honor the holiness of His presence, and the authority and dignity of His Name (v4). The second concern expressed is for the effect upon the assembly. “A little leaven … .(vv6-8).” Unjudged sin influences others.
Because of the extreme example in the chapter, some have suggested that one act of fornication need not be judged so severely, but could be personally confessed, or confessed to the elders. However, that is truly a slippery slope. What if it becomes known? How does it not create the issues raised already, of defiling the sanctuary of God and influencing others toward carelessness about evil? While we often emphasize that discipline is always in view of restoration, it is important to see the priorities of concern given here. Thankfully, there is grace extended, and love to be confirmed, where there is repentance (2Cor 2:5-11).
In summary, while not exhaustive, we need to be careful about adding to such a list, or of including other sins within these categories.