Note Paul’s assumption: we share in a common life, in a common good together. When we act out of selfish ambition or conceit, when we fail to act with humility (thinking we possess the whole truth), when we think we can act as if our actions and words don’t matter – we fail to serve the common good, the “interest of others.”
And what Paul says in this passage is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The English translation here is a little misleading, for what Paul is really saying in Greek goes something like this, or sounds like the following. It should sound more like since we have encouragement in Christ (and we have); since we have consolation, since we share in the life of the Spirit; and since there is compassion and sympathy in Jesus – we can receive joy! We can share in unity.
After all, God gives us the grace to be changed to live in this particular way! Not as some ideal, but as the “real” body of Christ, sharing the light of Christ!
Therefore, if we understand what Paul is saying, by practice and by attitude, we can really resist, and not succumb to, the “spiritual forces of wickedness.” Indeed, as Christians, we know that these “forces” are preventable! After all, they have been defeated. There is a more excellent way, and it is the way of Christ, of love and righteousness (I Cor. 12:59)!
As John Wesley and so many others have taught us, God’s grace, working on the human heart, can prevent us from such behavior. After all, once God’s grace moves in us, we can truly confess and realize our need to be changed.
How may we walk as Jesus walked in humility? How may we have the mind that was in Christ Jesus?
How may we allow God’s grace to change us to be more like Christ?
Pastor Andy Kinsey