Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

How Can Christ’s Crucified Life Become Our Pattern?

Christians often speak of living a life like the one Jesus lived on this earth. But how can we live such a life? Philippians 2 describes the pattern of Christ’s crucified life:

How Christ's crucified life becomes our indwelling pattern

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped,
7 But emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men;
8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of a cross.

Reading these words, we may be touched with Paul’s exhorting word and agree that this kind of life must be the pattern for our Christian life.

But if we are honest with ourselves we will have to confess that living such a crucified life is a human impossibility.

Who can live such a life? Only the Lord Jesus Himself.

Then what can we do? What is the secret?

How can Christ’s crucified life become the pattern for our Christian life?

First, we need to let the mind which was in Christ Jesus be in us (Phil. 2:5)

To let Christ’s mind be in us is not for us to try to imitate Christ’s pattern.  That will never work.

However, “this mind,” is actually Christ Himself. We need to allow Christ’s living mind to fill our mind, to allow His thinking to become our thinking.

This is similar to Paul’s word in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you.”  Nothing inanimate can “dwell” in us. But Christ’s word can dwell in us because it is personified. As Christ’s living word can “dwell” in us, so His mind, His thinking can become our own.

We just need to open to let Christ’s living mind be in us:

“Lord Jesus, thank you for revealing Your self-emptying mind as the pattern for my Christian life. Lord, I open to to You so that You may infuse me with Your mind. Make my mind a duplication of Your own.”

We need to know Christ’s crucified life as the pattern (vv. 5-9)

Second, we need to be deeply impressed with the pattern of Christ’s crucified life to the extent that it is infused into us. To be infused with the pattern we need to receive His word by means of prayer, that is, to pray-read the word (Eph. 6:17-18). In this way the essence of the pattern is imparted into us.

Each of Christ’s steps of emptying is a nourishing element of the pattern:

  1. First, Christ emptied Himself of the outward form of God (vv. 6-7). Although He never gave up the inward reality of His deity (Col. 2:9), He didn’t grasp the outward form of God, but willingly laid it aside.
  2. The Lord became in the likeness of men. He took on the outward appearance of humanity (v. 7).
  3. Christ humbled Himself becoming obedient unto death—the death of the cross (v. 8).
  4. Our Lord became the representation of submission to authority, learning obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8).  We need to see that the Lord, who was submissive throughout His entire life, has given us His life of submission. Our usefulness to God depends on willingness to cooperate with this life.
  5. Christ humbled Himself to the uttermost, but God exalted Him to the highest position and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name  (v. 9).

We need to experience Christ as our indwelling pattern of the crucified life (vv. 3-8)

Our urgent need today is to experience this Christ as our pattern. He is not merely an outward or objective pattern for us to imitate. He is our inward, subjective and experiential pattern.

Christ first set up His life as the perfect pattern.  Then He went to the cross not only to redeem us but to pass through death and enter into His resurrection. Now, in His resurrection, He is the life-giving Spirit to indwell us, His believers (1 Cor. 15:45).

The One who set up the pattern is now living within us (Gal. 2:20) to reproduce in us the crucified life that He pioneered while living on this earth! This is why, after presenting Christ as the pattern, Paul goes on a few verses later to say:

For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

We have Christ’s crucified life not only as the pattern but as the crucified life within us.

Now we need to live that same self-emptying and self-humbling life that Jesus lived not by our own efforts but by His indwelling Spirit as our bountiful supply.  This was how the suffering apostle was able to live Christ even in imprisonment and under the threat of death. He said,

For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:19)

By the Spirit of Jesus Christ, we can be as humble as Jesus was, and we can esteem others more highly than ourselves. By His Spirit within us, we can reject all our murmurings and reasonings and serve others as He did.

Whatever we are doing we simply need to contact Him as the indwelling pattern in our spirit. Paul’s final word reveals this key for our experience,

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.  (2 Tim. 4:22)

If you have enjoyed this article, please take a moment to confirm with a brief comment.

References and Further Reading

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

10 Replies

  1. David Carr

    Jesus left the privileges of divine glory, humbling himself to come into a sinful world, living for others, and then dying in humiliation on a cross. This demands that we acknowledge and honour Him for who He is by patterning our life after His. Also note Philippians 3:10-11 where Paul is making it his aim to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death, in order to attain to the resurrection from the dead. He goes on to say he hasn’t arrived at this yet but presses on to lay hold of what he was laid hold of by Christ. Then in 3:17 he urges the brethren to follow his example and observe those who walk “according to the pattern they have in us.”

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. It is wonderful that the pattern of Christ’s crucified life can be reproduced in us as we enjoy the bountiful of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19). By such a supply, Paul lived Christ (v. 21). As such not only is Christ our pattern, but even the apostle who lived Christ is a pattern to us (1 Tim. 1:16). May we follow Paul in living and walking according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4) so that Christ’s crucified life is reproduced in us. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Excellent Reading! I pray that our Heavenly Father Blesses you. I believe your post was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Keep it coming – Thanks!

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. May the Lord gain a group of His people that truly cooperate with His crucified life in them, that allow Him to live out His life in such a way that He is expressed and magnified so the world around knows how real He is. May the Lord also richly supply you with the bountiful supply of His Spirit through His word. Thanks for taking the time to confirm with a comment.

  3. Gary Leamer

    Amen Lord we just open to allow You to renew us in the spirit of our minds. Lord dispense Yourself freshly, daily, even moment -by- moment. Have Your way in us that we can walk in You!

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. We need to cooperate with the Lord by contacting Him in our spirit every day. In this way He has the freedom to spread from our spirit into our mind, renewing us in the spirit of our mind. In this way the Lord can make home in our heart (Eph. 3:17). Yes, Lord dispense Yourself freshly into us moment by moment so that we can live and walk in You!

  4. The Word of Christ is living, as stated in Colossians 3:16 and above. He, the living Word of God, wants to dwell in us. The only requirement: “Let the Word…” May we all learn to “let the word.”

    1. Tom Smith

      So true. As we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, Christ operates in us so that we may live because of Him. He energizes us inwardly to live the life that is a reproduction His crucified life, a life that expresses God and fulfills His purpose. Thanks for sharing a comment.

  5. Natalia Dover-Blair

    Hi Tom

    I always enjoy your messages. I shared it with a co-worker and we’ll meet for coffee in a few minutes to go over what we enjoyed.

    Thank you.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you re enjoying the blog. Then the focus is on our experience and enjoyment of the truth in God’s word, it’s great to have someone to share with in fellowship. It really helps with the assimilation of God’s word which results in more spiritual growth. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.