In 2 Cor. 11:3, the apostle Paul says that he doesn’t want our minds to be “destroyed” from the simplicity of Christ.
You have to be careful about making too much of Greek definitions, but in 2 Cor. 11:3, I think the Greek is important.
“Simplicity” is haplotes, which primarily means “single.” In fact, even Wikipedia, in its entry on haplotypes or haploid genotypes, mentions that the word means “onefold, single, simple.”
We are to be one-minded for Christ.
What Is the Simplicity of Christ?
So what’s the point?
There’s a verse that I believe illustrates the concept well:
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3)
We may have lots of ideas about how to grow in Christ, but there’s only one.Â We grow by the Spirit. We walk by the Spirit. Our mind is to be set on one thing–the Spirit of Christ.
What about keeping the Sabbath? Nope. Circumcision? Nope. How about self-control? Prayer? Bible study?
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Everything that is good is a fruit of the Spirit. You’ll notice that the passage about the fruit of the Spirit ends with “against these kind of things there is no law” (Gal. 5:23, my paraphrase). That list of the fruit of the Spirit is not exhaustive.
What’s the Practical Application of the Simplicity of Christ
The practical application is that you can’t do this on your own. You can’t follow Christ on your own.
You don’t know what to do. You can’t study enough to know how to behave in this life.
You can only walk in the Spirit.
This is the singleness of Christ, and it works.
If you walk by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16-18.
What About All That Important Stuff You Talk About on This Blog?
I like to talk about unity on this blog. Jesus definitely said it was important (Jn. 17:20-23).
I like to talk about the fact that we need each other to grow. In fact, I’m prone to saying Jesus and the Bible aren’t enough. The Bible says we grow as each of us does our part and as we speak the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:11-16). On the negative side, it says we’re in danger of deception and hardening of the heart if we don’t exhort one another (Heb. 3:13).
How does all that relate?
Our unity is a unity of the Spirit. We are simply to maintain it (Eph. 4:3).
If you walk by the Spirit, you will do all those things, because all those things are a product of love, and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
All those other things are descriptions of what should be happening if you’re walking by the Spirit. If you want to do those things, you should walk by the Spirit, obtaining Christ’s guidance and Christ’s grace by doing so.
Ours Is NOT a Religion of Rules and Principles
Our religion is a spiritual one. It is powerful because it is spiritual.
The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and love is the fulfillment of the Law.
Yes, true religion is to take care of the widows and the orphans. But which ones?
I like to think of a “doorstep ministry.” Whom has Christ put on your doorstep? If you are walking by the Spirit, and the love of God is filling your heart, then compassion will fill your heart–as it did Christ’s–and you will meet the need of those on your doorstep.
Look at the judgment of Christ in Matt. 25:31-46. Jesus tells the goats in that prophecy that he was hungry and they didn’t feed him. They knew he was hungry, and they didn’t meet his need.
In James 2:15-16, James tells us that we can’t just hope and pray for the needs of our brothers and sisters. We have to meet them. Which ones? The ones you can talk to. The ones on your doorstep. 1 Jn. 3:17 says that we don’t have the love of God if we close off our feelings of mercy. To whom is it addressed? To those who “see their brother in need.”
Ministries like that tug at our heart. Don’t “shut up” those feelings of mercy.
You don’t have to live your life thinking about how you’re going to minister to the whole world. In fact, that can be a distraction.
Walk by the Spirit, and you won’t need a law. You will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. You will have the love of God in your heart, and you will show compassion when those needs fall on your doorstep.
And if God knows you’re there, a child of his because you are led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14), he’ll drop those needs on your doorstep. God knows where to go for help, and he is well able to send people to you for help.
Your job is to walk by the Spirit and in this way make sure there’s a godly heart of compassion waiting for those in need.
The Simplicity of Christ
This is the simplicity, or single-mindedness, of Christ.
You don’t have time to figure out how to save the world. In fact, it’s not very smart to do so. God’s already figured it out.
He just needs tools.
Walk by the Spirit, and you’ll be one of those tools.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by your (supposedly righteous) self?
Sorry, I took some liberties with the translation there. I think, though, that’s exactly what he meant.