We so readily look upon our Lord as Saviour in the fundamental way that we are apt to forget He is much more than Saviour; He is Teacher as well. In the same way, we are familiar with the fact that all Christians have the Spirit of Christ, but not all Christians have the mind of Christ. We balk at this, because we do not care to go into the labour of forming His mind. We all have times of inspiration and ecstasy, but in these verses our Lord is not talking of times of ecstasy but of the deliberate set of the life all through.
God does His great sovereign works of grace in us, and He expects us to bring all the powers under our control into harmony with what He has done. It is an arduous and difficult task; it is not done easily, and remember, God does not do it for us. We have to transform into real thinking possession for ourselves all that the Spirit of God puts into our spirits. The last reach of spirituality is the thinking power, i.e., the power to express what moves our spirit.
The Depository Of Thought
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...” (6:19-21).
We have to lay up treasure for ourselves. It is not laid up for us, and we have to lay it up in heaven, not on earth. To begin with, we do lay up the treasure of Jesus Christ’s salvation on earth. We lay it up in our bodily lives, in our circumstances, and the curse spiritually is to lay up treasure in experience. Whatever we possess in the way of treasure on earth is liable to be consumed by moth and rust.
Our Lord’s counsel is to lay up treasure that never can be touched, and the place where it is laid up cannot be touched. “And made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 R.V.). No moth or rust in the heavenly places, no possibility of thieves breaking through there. When we lay up treasure on earth it may go at any moment, but when we learn to lay up treasure in heaven, nothing can touch it – “therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed ...” (Psalm 46:2) – it is perfectly secure.
Our Lord kept all His treasure of heart and mind and spirit in His oneness with the Father; He laid up treasure in heaven, not on earth. Our Lord never possessed anything for Himself (2 Corinthians 8:9). The temptation of Satan was to get Him to lay up things in the earthly treasury, viz., in His own body, and to draw from that source. “You are the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread; cast Yourself down and Your Father will send His angels to take care of you.”
Our Lord never drew power from Himself. He drew it always from without Himself, that is, from His Father. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (John 5:19). The one great interest in our Lord’s life was God, and He was never deflected from that centre by other considerations, not even by the devil himself, however subtly he came. “I and my Father are one.” It was a oneness not of union but of identity. It was impossible to distinguish between the Father and the Son, and the same is to be true of the saint and the Saviour: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22).
Examine your own experience as a saint and see where your treasure is. Is it in the Lord or in His blessings? In the degree that we possess anything for ourselves, we are separated from Jesus. So many of us are caught up in the show of things, not in the way of property and possessions but of blessings, and all our efforts to persuade ourselves that our treasure is in heaven is a sure sign that it is not.
If our treasure is in heaven, we do not need to persuade ourselves that it is; we prove it is by the way we deal with matters of earth. The religion of Jesus Christ is a religion of personal relationship to God and has nothing to do with possessions. A sense of possessions is sufficient to render us spiritually dense, because what we possess often possesses us.
Whenever our Lord spoke of “life,” He meant the kind of life He lived, and He says, “you have not (this) life in yourselves” (John 6:53 R.V.). Are we living the kind of life Jesus lived, with the skylights always open towards God, the windows of the ground floor open towards men, and the trap-door open towards sin and Satan and hell? Nothing was hidden from Jesus; all was faced with fearless courage because of His oneness with the Father.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The Bible term “heart” is best understood if we simply say “me.” It is the central citadel of a man’s personality. The heart is the altar of which the physical body is the outer court, and whatever is offered on the altar of the heart will tell ultimately through the extremities of the body. “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Where do we make our depository of thinking? What do we brood on most, the blessings of God or God Himself? Look back over your life as a saint and you will see how the weaning has gone on from the blessing to the Blesser, from sanctification to the Sanctifier. When we no longer seek God for His blessings, we have time to seek Him for Himself.
The Division Of Thinking
“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light...” (6:22-23 R.V.).
The eye records exactly what it looks at, and conscience may be called the eye of the soul. A “single eye” is essential to correct understanding spiritually. If the spirit is illumined by a conscience that has been rightly adjusted, then, says Jesus, the whole body is full of light because body, soul, and spirit are united in a single identity with Himself.
Beware of mistaking domination for identity. Identity is a oneness between two distinct persons in which neither person dominates, but the oneness dominates both. The only way this can be realised is along the line of our Lord’s own life. Jesus Christ’s first obedience was to the will of His Father, and our first obedience is to be to Him. The thing that detects where we live spiritually is the word “obey.” The natural heart of man hates the word, and that hatred is the essence of the disposition that will not let Jesus Christ rule. The characteristic of our Lord’s life was submission to His Father – not the crushing down of His own will to His Father’s, but the love-agreement of His will with His Father’s. “I am here for one thing only, to do Your will, and I delight to do it.”
When the Holy Spirit comes into us, the first thing He does is to make us men and women with a single motive, a “single eye” for the glory of God. The essential element in the life of a saint is simplicity – “your whole body shall be full of light.”
“But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness.” What is an evil eye? Thinking that springs from our own point of view. “Is your eye evil, because I am good?” (Matthew 20:15). Jesus says that if our eye is evil, we shall misjudge what He does. If our spirits are untouched by God’s Spirit, not illumined by God, the very light we have will become darkness. The disposition of the natural man, my claim to my right to myself, banks on things of which our Lord makes nothing, e.g., possessions, rights, self-realisation. If that disposition rules, it will cause the whole body to be full of darkness. Darkness in this connection is our own point of view; light is God’s point of view (1 John 1:7).
We deal much too lightly with sin; we deal with sin only in its gross actual form and rarely deal with it in its possessing form. “Howbeit, I had not known sin, except through the law: for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7 R.V.). This inheritance of covetousness is the very essence of sin, and the only thing that can touch it is the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is an aspect of sin that is not familiar to us. We must never lay the flattering unction to our souls that because we are not covetous of money or worldly possessions, we are not covetous of anything. Whatever we possess for ourselves is of the nature of sin. The fuss and distress of owning anything is the last remnant of the disposition of sin; whatever we own as Christians apart from Jesus Christ is a chance for the devil.
The Decisions Of The Thinker
“No man can serve two masters... You cannot serve God and mammon” (6:24).
Have we allowed these inexorable decisions of our Lord to have their powerful way in our thinking? The line of detachment runs all through our Lord’s teaching: You cannot be good and bad at the same time; you cannot serve God and make your own out of the service. You cannot make “honesty is the best policy” a motive, because immediately you do, you cease to be honest.
There is to be only one consideration, a right relationship with God, and we must see that that relationship is never dimmed. Never compromise with the spirit of mammon. It is easy to associate mammon only with sordid things; mammon is the system of civilised life that organises itself without any consideration of God (Luke 16:15).
To be detached from our possessions is the greatest evidence that we are beginning to form the mind of Christ. If it is possible to conceive being caused sore distress through the withdrawal of any particular form of blessing, it is a sure sign that we are still trying to serve two masters.
For instance, can we say, not with our lips but with our whole souls, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren” (Romans 9:3)? Have we for one second got hold of the spirit that was in Paul when he said that, the very spirit of Jesus? Neither fear of hell nor hope of heaven has anything to do with our personal relationship to Jesus Christ. It is a life hid with Christ in God, stripped of all possessions saving the knowledge of Him. The great lodestar of the life is Jesus Himself, not anything He does for us.
This kind of thinking is impossible until we are spiritual, and when we become spiritual we realise how completely our thinking has been reconstructed. Watch God’s method of teaching us to think along the lines that He has taken our spirits by His grace. In the initial stages, we learn that we cannot serve two masters by recognising the disposition that Paul calls “the carnal mind,” and we are only too passionately grateful to come to the place where we know that that disposition is identified with the death of Jesus (Romans 6:6).
No wonder Paul says “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” He does not say it is “at enmity;” it is enmity against God. The carnal mind is the brother of the devil; he is all right until you bring him in contact with Jesus, but immediately you do, he is a chip off the old block. He hates with an intense vehemence everything to do with Jesus Christ and His Spirit. “My right to myself” is the carnal mind in essence, and we need a clear thinking view of what it means to be delivered from this disposition. It means that just as our personality used to exhibit a ruling disposition identical with the prince of this world, so the same personality can now exhibit an identity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sanctification means that and nothing less. Sanctification is not once for all but once for always. Sanctification is an instantaneous, continuous work of grace. If we think of sanctification as an experience once for all, there is an element of finality about it. We begin the hop, skip, and jump testimony. “Bless God, I am saved and sanctified,” and from that second we begin to get “scantified.” Sanctification means we have the glorious opportunity of proving daily, hourly, momentarily, this identity with Jesus Christ, and the life bears an unmistakable likeness to Him.
The religion of Jesus Christ makes a man united; we are never meant to develop one part of our being at the cost of another part. When we are united with Jesus, He garrisons every part, “and the wicked one touches him not.”
Another way by which we learn that we cannot serve two masters is by putting away the aim of successful service forever. When the seventy returned with joy, our Lord said, in effect, “Don’t rejoice that the devils are subject unto you, that is My authority through you; but rejoice that you are rightly related to Me” (Luke 10:20). It is sadly true that, after an experience of sanctification, many do try and serve two masters. They go into the joy of successful service, and slowly the eye becomes fixed on the sanctified “show business” instead of on Jesus Himself.
The only illustrations our Lord used of service were those of the vine (John 15:l) and the rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). It is inconceivable to think of the vine delighting in its own grapes; all that the vine is conscious of is the gardener’s pruning knife. All that the one out of whom rivers of living water are flowing is conscious of is belief in Jesus and maintaining a right relationship to Him. Are we bringing forth fruit? We certainly are if we are identified with the Lord – luscious bunches of grapes for the Gardener to do what He likes with. Pay attention to the Source, believe in Jesus, and God will look after the outflow.
God grant we may let the Holy Ghost work out His passion for souls through us. We do not have to imitate Jesus by having a passion for souls like His but to let the Holy Ghost so identify us with Jesus that His mind is expressed through us as He expressed the mind of God.
Do we recognise Jesus Christ as our Teacher, or are we being led by vague spiritual impulses of our own? We have to learn to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ and never be intellectually insubordinate. The teaching of Jesus Christ fits every point of a saint’s life, but it fits no point of the life of a natural man. If we apply these statements – “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and “Take no thought for your life...” – to the life of a natural man, they are open to ridicule.
We reverse God’s order when we put Jesus as a Teacher first instead of Saviour, but when we are rightly related to God on the basis of the Atonement and begin to put Jesus Christ’s teaching into practice, the marvel of marvels is we find it can be worked out.
If we as saints are strenuously seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, His “in-the-rightness,” all the time, we shall find not only the Divine un-reason of things but the Divine reason of things working out beyond all our calculations. “And all these things shall be added unto you...” “For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.”
Never allow anything to fuss your relationship to Jesus Christ – neither Christian work, nor Christian blessing, nor Christian anything. Jesus Christ first, second, and third. God Himself, by the great indwelling power of the Spirit within, will meet the strenuous effort on your part, and slowly and surely you will form the mind of Christ and become one with Him as He was one with the Father. The practical test is, “Is Jesus Christ being manifested in my bodily life?”
Oswald Chambers (1915)