CHRIST LEFT US AN EXAMPLE

1 Peter 2:21 – For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

As Peter states, “we are to follow in His steps.” What steps did the Lord leave us and how is it possible for us to walk as He did? He committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22). We start out with a major problem, even after the regeneration of the Spirit of God; we have a sin nature which must be put to death. In Romans 6 he deals with the problem and answers the question of how it is possible to walk as He walked. There was no “deceit” in His mouth. I certainly would like it said of me, there is no deceit in my mouth. What is deceit? “That which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

The Christian life is a process. It begins with the mindset, “our old self is being crucified with Christ” (Romans 6:6). This is why we are no longer “slaves to sin.” The work of salvation has been done in our spirit, but we must form a mindset in our soul of considering ourselves dead to sin. “Consider yourself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Christ suffered for us and we join His sufferings, by choosing “death to self.”

The Scriptures use the word “sanctification,” which speaks of being separated to God. Our flesh is weak and hinders us from serving Christ. Before we gave our life to Christ, we were slaves to sin. Christ set us free from that master called sin. We now have a new master, called righteousness. “Now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19). This is the new mind which Christ wants each believer to possess; I am dead to sin in Christ, no longer a slave to sin. I am alive unto righteousness, to serve righteousness. All of this is made possible through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are now to ask the Holy Spirit daily for His life to sustain us in our entire decision-making process.

“Now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Jesus freed us from sin’s domain. We must not only believe, but apply Christ’s life in our daily walk. Salvation was secured in Christ, but the application is our responsibility. Assurance of our position in Christ is rooted in His work of redemption, but confidence to walk as He walked comes through obedience to the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads to “sanctification” with the final outcome of “eternal life.”

“While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23-25). I find myself returning again. How about you? I know of none who have obtained sinless perfection, but I know many who confess day by day their weakness and ask for Christ’s power to help in pleasing the Lord. 

Father, I thank You for the Shepherd and Guardian of my soul. I need Your daily help for me to walk in Christ’s example. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit so I might die to sin and live to righteousness.

THE WITNESS OF WORKS

John 5:36 – The testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John.

Most would agree that John the Baptist had a powerful testimony of God’s power used to introduce the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus declares that His testimony is greater than John’s. Jesus’ greater testimony came through the works which the Father gave Him to accomplish. The greatest of the works is found in the cross. Before the cross, Jesus revealed the Father’s work in His ministry to God’s covenant people, Israel.

One of the first works took place in a Synagogue as a man manifested demons. Jesus cast out the demon by rebuking him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him” (Mark 1:25). The demon had said to Jesus, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?” Jesus would not receive the testimony of the demon, but the work spoke for itself. The people were all amazed and debated among themselves, saying “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Verse 26).

Another work was the healing of a paralytic through forgiveness of his sins. “Jesus seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5). Of course, this made the religious leaders angry because they counted it as blasphemy, thinking in their hearts, “Who can forgive sins but God?”

Finally, Jesus raised the dead. Lazarus had been dead four days, when Jesus prayed saying, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me. When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth’” (John 11:41-42).

The Father also equipped His people through the power of the Holy Spirit to do the “works of God.” God has called us to good works. This is why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are made available to believers. The Father has not commissioned us to go and proclaim the good news without also supplying what is needed to accomplish the task. As believers, we have authority and power in Jesus’ name to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and demonstrate the power of the kingdom of God.

Jesus was given the full measure of power to do the works of His heavenly Father. Each believer is authorized to move in the portion of power the Father chooses to give. The works of God usually need to be developed in a believer’s life. Don’t be disappointed the first time you pray for someone to be healed and they’re not healed. Just keep praying for the sick and trust God.

Father, I ask to be used by You to minister Your love to others. I pray for the works of God to be manifested in my life. I pray that Your works through me would witness to others of Your greatness and help lead them to a relationship with You.

THE WITNESS OF JOHN

John 5:36 – He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

It cannot be emphasized too greatly how important John the Baptist was to the introduction of Jesus and His kingdom reign. John was the prophetic bridge from the Old to the New Covenant. The last verses of the Old Testament recorded in the book of Malachi spoke of John when it said, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

These verses reveal the heart of our heavenly Father. Elijah was the premier prophet of the Old Covenant. He represents the total prophetic revelation of the Old Covenant. John came in the spirit of Elijah. We know these scriptures speak of the time of Jesus’ first coming because Jesus calls John Elijah. Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands” (Matthew 17:11-12).

Prophets are anointed to be lamps to God’s people. John was that lamp, lighting the way for Jesus to enter His ministry. In those days, a lamp was fueled by oil which caused the wick to burn. As John “burned” for Jesus, those hearing him rejoiced for a time. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we too are called to burn for Jesus and to point to the “Lamb of God” who takes the world’s sin away. John’s light revealed Jesus. The light of the Holy Spirit in us reveals Jesus to a dark world as well. People rejoice in that light until they find out what is required to have the light in them. Many reject God’s love because, in order to receive what God has done in Christ, they are required to give up their life and receive His. This is why Jesus said “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

For the one who receives the testimony of John, they become “greater than John.” “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). Wow! We are greater than John! How can this be? The greatness of the least in the kingdom of God comes through being joined to Christ in the power of His resurrection and His indwelling Holy Spirit. John was part of the last covenant which looked forward to Christ’s first advent. We are those who are part of the “new” who live in the present reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are waiting for His glorious return, when at His appearing we will be joined with all those who have gone before us.

Father, I thank You for what You have done in Christ. I pray for the oil of the Holy Spirit to fill my life so I might burn like John, filled with light that points to Your great love in Christ.

WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES

John 5:39 – You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.

John 5 mentions four witnesses regarding Jesus. They are: the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of the Scriptures. Jesus declares, He can do nothing on His own initiative and if He alone testifies about Himself, His testimony is not true (John 5:30-31).

What Jesus says about Himself is also true for every believer. As a believer, I can do nothing on my own initiative. One of the great challenges of the Christian walk is learning to live out of the life of the Spirit as opposed to drawing from our natural life. Many believers initiate good works, the problem being “they initiate them.” The works which Jesus performed came from the Holy Spirit, not Jesus’ own ideas of how to serve His Father. The witness of Jesus came from other sources. Jesus knew who He was, but He let other sources testify concerning Him.

The witness of John pointed toward Jesus and away from John. The witness of works demonstrated God’s power through Jesus’ life. The witness of the Father is that He sent His only Begotten Son. He spoke many times, through many individuals, and in many different ways concerning the coming of Jesus. The witness of Scripture is in the miraculous way the Law and the Prophets testified of Christ.

The fallacy of the religious leaders was they thought life was contained in the Scriptures. They did not recognize the One of whom the Scriptures spoke. To receive life is not a matter of conversation, but action. The action required in this case was to believe Jesus. Believe not only His words, but His works.

After Pentecost, the witness of all that Jesus did was witnessed in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Eternal life is obtained through the Spirit. As we believe the witness of others pointing to Jesus, as we believe the work of Jesus in the cross, as we believe the Father’s declaration that He sent His only Begotten Son, and as we believe the Scriptures.

As we receive Christ, His life is firmly rooted in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then we become part of the witness. The transformation of our life, the witness of our faith through how we now live and share with words, God’s love becomes a conduit of God’s grace.

Father, thank You for the witness You have given of Your will revealed in Christ. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to draw me to Christ and the life You made possible through faith in Jesus, the Christ, my Savior, and my Lord. Use me to testify of Your Son that others also may know His life.

STRIVING ACCORDING TO HIS POWER

Colossians 1:29 – For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:29 that he was laboring and striving (fighting) according to the Lord’s power which was at work in him. There is a work to be accomplished (labor) and a fight to be fought (striving). The labor is comparable to the one at work in the field preparing for the day of harvest. This includes plowing, sowing, watering and reaping. It is a full time job. There is also warfare, which is “striving” to attain the victory over the enemies of the gospel who want to hinder and destroy the harvest. Our victory is rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ and manifested in the believer by the Holy Spirit.

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). The Gospel calls believers to a certain kind of conduct. It is in our conduct that we reflect the control of Christ in our life through the power of the Holy Spirit. What do people say about our life? Are we convicted of being a Christian or would many be surprised to hear that we are trusting Christ? Paul lists four areas of the believers “striving.”

Conduct yourself in a way that reveals the gospel
Standing firm in one spirit (a unified body)
Having one mind as the body of Christ in your location
Striving together (you do not go into battle alone)
Paul pulls these four areas together around “the faith of the gospel.” As believers, we must contend for the faith. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives’” (Hebrews 12:4-6).

As believers, we must resist sin. For some it has cost them their lives. That is not so with us yet. In the battle, we strive to please the Lord. At times, it is necessary for the Lord to discipline us because we are “sons,” whom He is developing into mature men and women of God.

Father, I ask for Your help as I labor, striving according to Your power, which mightily works within me. Help me to stand firm in one spirit. Help me to have one mind in Your body. Join me in the battle with other faithful believers. Cause me to be strong and faithful when corrected by You.

THE MEASURE OF CHRIST

Ephesians 1:15-16 – Having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.

Others should hear about our faith because we have a testimony established among people who see the results of Christ’s life in us. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to produce Christ in us. Remember, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul understood he had been made a minister to the church. He saw it as a “stewardship from God.” He also understood this stewardship as a benefit to those who belonged to Christ. Paul felt an urgency to fully carry out the preaching of the word of God. He knew he carried the mystery of God in his being, a mystery that had been hidden to past generations. That mystery was now being revealed to Christ’s church. The mystery was the riches of God’s glory among the Gentiles, which is “Christ in you.”

This is the faith Paul says he heard of in the Ephesian believers. Their faith in Christ produced a love for all the saints. The glory of God is rooted in the love of God. Glory is not simply a cloud like Israel experienced on the mountain. It is the all-encompassing “Love of God.” God intends for His love to be manifested through His creation man. It was manifested in Christ and spreading in His church as these Gentile believers began to demonstrate God’s love among themselves and to others.

The love of God causes us to proclaim Christ to every man. Paul’s calling caused him to admonish and teach every man with all wisdom so he could present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28). This was Paul’s purpose in his labor for God. The bottom line for Paul was to be used by the Lord to bring every man to the “measure of Christ.” The measure of Christ is to love as he loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).

Father, I pray that the measure of Christ be revealed in my life. I thank You that Christ is in me as the hope of glory. I pray for faith and love to increase in my life as demonstration of Your presence. Grant me influence that will lead others to desire relationship with You.