… God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned …
But we have the mind of Christ. (verses 10-14, 16)
This is a passage that encourages us to press into the fullness of life in the Lord.
Depending what section of the church we happen to come from, we likely have a tendency to focus on either Word or Spirit. Some emphasize the objective biblical word that informs right-minded theology. Others emphasize the more subjective realm of spiritual experience leaning into the immediacy of the Spirit’s presence.
Why do we so often opt for one over the other? This passage embraces both.
Paul has been talking about the power and wisdom of the gospel, perceived as foolishness by the world. Now he tells us why. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God” (verse 14). The glory of the gospel was previously “secret wisdom,” a plan of salvation established by God but hidden “before time began” (verse 7). No one understood it – indeed no one could. But now, things are different, because “God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (verse 10).
The wonder of the cross, which is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, can only be embraced as the Spirit himself gives understanding. Similarly, Jesus said during his ministry: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). It’s beyond human capacity to connect with the things of the Lord, unless the Lord himself intervenes.
So, when the light goes on and we understand the goodness of salvation and the powerful efficacy of the cross, we are experiencing the Spirit at work. He is allowing us to think his thoughts after him. Good theology is a spiritual experience.
But Paul realizes there is more to it than simply intellectual impact. He’s just told us that when he preached the gospel he didn’t rely on wise and persuasive words but rather on “a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4). So now, as he speaks of believers knowing the mind of God by the Spirit who has been given, it’s a fulsome experience he has in mind – relational, intimate, revelatory. He compares it to a person’s own interior thought-life, known only to their own spirit, unless in fact they choose to open the door and communicate it to another. For us, Paul says, God has opened the door – better yet, he has given us his very Spirit who knows his thoughts. All of them.
What a gift! To understand salvation. To be able to receive it fully. But more: to enter into the very mind of our Lord himself. “We have the mind of Christ” (verse 16).
This is a passage that calls us to press in. It opens the door to a lifetime of growing intimacy. As CS Lewis would say, “Come further up, come further in!”
Almighty God, thank you for this gift. I stand amazed at your gracious invitation – to know your mind. Thank you for pulling back the veil, revealing salvation. I submit myself further to your Spirit’s presence. Holy Spirit, open my ears, enliven my eyes, and attune my thinking to your own. May it all be to Jesus’ glory. Amen.
Reflect: Take another hymn and meditate on it throughout the day: May the mind of Christ, my Saviour, Live in me from day to day, By his love and power controlling All I do and say.