Love God, Live Life - 7 Principles for a Victorious Christian Life in a Busy World
Jesus identified Himself totally with man. He believed in the essential equality of all human beings, irrespective of race, family, position in life, etc. He came below all, that He might be the servant of all. It is only the one who gets beneath others who is able to lift them up.advancedemrsolutions.com/wp-content/map14.php
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And that is how Jesus came. The Holy Spirit transforms us through the renewal of our mind Romans It is in our thoughts that the seed of true Christ-like humility is sown. It is not by our actions or by our behaviour before others but rather by our thoughts when we are by ourselves that we can ascertain whether we are being transformed into Christlikeness in this area or not - our thoughts concerning ourselves and about how we compare with others. It is only when we are truly small in our own thoughts, that we can genuinely "regard others as more important than us" Philippians 2: Jesus always considered Himself as a man to be nothing before His Father.
Therefore the glory of the Father was manifested through Him in all its fullness. Because Jesus took this position of nothingness before the Father, He could joyfully submit to anything that the Father ordered for His life, and obey all the Father's commandments wholeheartedly. Total obedience to God is the unmistakable mark of genuine humility. There is no clearer test than this. For thirty years, Jesus submitted to an imperfect foster-father and mother - because this was His Father's will.
He knew far more than Joseph and Mary; and was sinless, unlike them. Yet He submitted to them. It is not easy for man to submit to those who are intellectually or spiritually inferior to him. But genuine humility has no problem here - for one who has truly seen himself as nothing in God's eyes, has no difficulty in submitting to anyone whom God appoints over him. Jesus chose a fairly unimpressive profession - that of a carpenter. And when He entered into His public ministry, He had no prefixes or suffixes to His name.
He was not 'Pastor Jesus. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. When the crowds once flocked after Him, wanting to make Him their king, He quietly slipped away from their midst John 6: He desired to be known only as 'the son of man. He never sought nor cared for the honour of men. He lived before His Father's face alone, and was quite content to go all through life ignored and despised by men.
The Father's approval alone mattered to Him. Whenever Jesus healed someone or did a miracle, He was keen that no one should know about the healing, for His miracles were acts of compassion done for needy individuals, and not publicity stunts. Even when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, He gave strict instructions that no one should be told about it Mark 5: Only after Jesus had left this earth, was the record of His life made public by His apostles.
When He took a basin of water and washed His disciples' feet, on the last night before He was crucified, it was typical of what had been true of His entire life. He had been a servant of all men. He was quick to note that the disciples' feet were dirty and was equally quick to pick up the basin and to do the needful, instead of waiting to see if someone else would do it.
That action was symbolic of a lifetime of service to others. Jesus did not wait to be asked to do something.
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He found out the need and did the needful. Jesus associated intimately with the lowest strata of society and moved among them as their equal. And yet, although He was sinless and perfect, He never made others feel awkward because of their imperfections. He had no patronizing air about Him when He moved around with His disciples. In fact, He moved so freely with them that they felt free to rebuke Him and even to give Him advice Matthew We see the humility of Jesus in His seeking for the fellowship of His disciples in prayer. Jesus was conscious of the utter weakness of the flesh that He had taken on.
That was why He sought their fellowship in prayer. It is because we are not honest enough to acknowledge our nothingness, that the manifestation of God's power through us is limited. Jesus has shown us the way of humility. It is to acknowledge the weakness of our flesh, and our nothingness as human beings. Because Jesus humbled Himself, therefore God exalted Him to the highest position in the universe Philippians 2: Those who go the farthest along the way of humility will sit with Jesus on His right and left hand in glory.
All through Jesus' life He kept going down. He came down from Heaven and kept going down, down, down all the way to the cross. Never once did He reverse this direction and seek to go up. There are only two spirits operating on the earth today. One, the spirit of Satan Lucifer urging people to go up - whether it be in the world or in Christendom. The other, the Spirit of Christ leading people to go down like their Master.
Like the corn of wheat, Jesus went down, and all His true disciples can be identified unmistakably by this characteristic. The humility of Jesus is seen in all its brilliance in His death. There never was a more unjust trial than the one Jesus went through. Yet, He submitted to injury, insult, injustice, humiliation and ridicule, in silence. He did not call down curses on His enemies. He neither threatened revenge nor called for angelic assistance. He gave up all His rights as the Son of God. The 'clenched fist' is an appropriate symbol of the human race - signifying both the desire to hold on to one's rights, powers and possessions, as well as the desire to fight back when attacked.
Jesus on the other hand, willingly opened His palms to receive the nails on the cross. His palms were always open, giving, giving and giving. Finally He gave up His own life as well. The disciple of Jesus who wants to manifest the divine nature must be willing to suffer injustice without complaining. The humility of Jesus did not permit Him to judge anyone. God alone is the Judge of all men; and any man who judges another thereby occupies the place that God alone is entitled to occupy.
As a man on earth, Jesus said, "I do not judge anyone" John 8: He committed all judgment to His Father. There too we see the beauty of His humility. Jesus willingly submitted to the humiliating death that His Father planned for Him. Beyond the human instruments that planned and executed His crucifixion, He could discern the Father's hand and He willingly drank the cup that "the Father gave" John This is the real Jesus of the Scriptures.
Unlike modern evangelists, He was not honoured as a celebrity or a film-star. On the contrary, He was despised and rejected by men; and the world of His day got rid of Him by nailing Him to a cross. The world today is no different; and the disciple is not above His Master.
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A Christianity that is popular and that attracts the honour of the world is a counterfeit of the true faith. The entire life of Jesus - from birth to death - demonstrated the fact that "that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God" Luke Humility was the main thing that Jesus asked His disciples to learn from Him. And that is what we must learn from Him too. God is Light and Love 1 John 1: He "dwells in unapproachable light" 1 Timothy 6: Because He is holy, He calls us also to be holy. But holiness, for a human being, can come only through temptation.
Adam was created innocent, without even the knowledge of good and evil. God wanted him to be holy; and for this, God allowed him to be tested. The tree of knowledge of good and evil had been created by God Himself and was not evil in itself. It existed in a world over which God pronounced the words, "Very good" Genesis 1: It was very good, because it afforded Adam the opportunity to be holy, by resisting temptation.
The Bible says, "Consider it all joy when you encounter various temptations" James 1: As we look at the holiness of Jesus, we do not look at that inherent holiness that He had as God, for that would be no example for us. We look at Him as one "made like His brethren in all things" and "tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning" Hebrews 2: Jesus is our Forerunner Hebrews 6: And so He says to us, "Follow Me" John And looking unto Him Who has run the race ahead of us, we too can run with endurance, without fainting or losing heart Hebrews Jesus endured every temptation that can ever come to any man.
He was tempted "in every point, as we are". This is clearly taught in Hebrews 4: And this is our encouragement. Jesus exercised no power that is not offered to us by God today. He met and overcame temptation, as a man, in the strength given to Him by His Father through the Holy Spirit. Satan has always told man that God's laws are burdensome and impossible to be obeyed.
Jesus came as a man and exposed that lie of Satan by His life of perfect obedience. If we had any temptation to overcome, or any command of God to obey, that Jesus did not face, then on that point we could have an excuse for sinning. And if Jesus had lived that perfect life, without the weakness of our flesh or with power unavailable to us, then His life could not be an example that we could follow, nor could it be an encouragement to us in the moments when we are tempted.
But Jesus demonstrated through His life as a man on earth, that the power God makes available to us is sufficient to meet the demands of His law that we see in His Word. The sinless life of Jesus is God's demonstration to the world that it is possible for man through the power of the Holy Spirit to have full victory over sin and to obey God joyfully.
Jesus faced all the enticements to sin that we face everyday, and was taken by His Father through every temptation that can ever come to any man. In all those situations, He denied Himself and mortified the desires of the flesh that tempted Him to sin. Thus He consistently "suffered in the flesh.
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Jesus demonstrated through His life of "obedience unto death" that it is a far lesser calamity to suffer anything that may befall than to disobey God in even one point. The essence of all sin is found in doing one's own will. And the essence of holiness in a human being is found in denying one's own will and in doing the will of God.
This is how Jesus lived. Jesus offered up His own human will as a perpetual sacrifice to His Father, even when it meant intense suffering. We are told that. Jesus had warned His three disciples in the garden of Gethsemane that since human flesh was weak, it was only through watching and praying that is through seeking help from God that temptation could be overcome Matthew He Himself prayed and only thus did He overcome. Jesus told His disciples just before going to Gethsemane that the day would soon come when they too would be able to do the works that He did, for the Father would give them the Holy Spirit to be their "Helper" John Jesus did not come to make us miracle-workers, but to make us holy.
His works were works of holiness, works of obedience to the Father and these are the works that He has promised that we shall be able to do as well. He did them all, as a Man filled with the Holy Spirit. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they too received the power to do the works of obedience that Jesus did. During Jesus' life on earth, they had received the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out demons Matthew For that, they had to wait until they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
The fullness of the Spirit is meant to enable us to do "the works that Jesus did," or in other words "the will of God" See John 4: The significance for us, of Jesus facing temptation and overcoming it lies in the fact that thereby He has opened for us a Way wherein we may follow Him.
The Way that Jesus has opened, is called, "the new and living way" in Hebrews This is the place into which Jesus has opened the way for us to follow Him, so that we may partake of His holiness. He is the Forerunner Who has entered through the veil of the flesh, first of all Hebrews 6: We are to run the race now, looking at His example Hebrews We don't have to rend the veil, for that has already been rent by our Lord, once and for all.
But we do have to follow Him along that way of the rent veil - the way of the cross, the way of death to the flesh and its lusts. It was through death to the flesh that the glory of God's holiness was seen in the life of Jesus. And there is no other way for us. If we bear this "dying of Jesus" in our body, then and then alone will that pure and holy "life of Jesus be manifested in our body" 2 Corinthians 4: The Holy Spirit in us will lead us, as He led Jesus, always along the way of the cross. And this is the way along which we shall be able to increasingly partake of His holiness.
It was thus with Jesus Himself, and it will be thus for all who follow along the same way. Jesus came to make us partakers of the divine nature, so that the same life that was in Him might be in us too. God has not promised to make us sinlessly perfect on this earth. We are to press on to perfection. But we can live in victory over conscious sin. We have seen that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. Some of our strongest temptations are those which come to attack our thought-life.
So too it must have been with Jesus. Yet He never sinned. We can overcome in our thought-life too. Jesus' speech was pure. No filthy word ever escaped His lips, and no idle word either. He always spoke the truth. There was no deceit in His mouth. No one could ever engage Jesus in a conversation about how to make more and more money beyond one's needs. He was just not interested in such matters. His mind was set on things above and not on things on earth. No doubt, He used material things, but He did not love them, nor was He attached to any of them. The holiness of Jesus was inward.
It was not an external piety manifested in food, dress or association. He was no ascetic or hermit. He lived in the midst of the workaday world, wearing the clothes that others of His social level wore, and eating and drinking normally Luke 7: Yet He was never self-indulgent in the matter of food, for He would discipline Himself not to use His miraculous powers to turn stones into bread, even after forty days of fasting. He associated not just with religious people, but even with the worst types of sinners, and remained spotless.
His holiness was essentially inward. It was not only sin that Jesus avoided. He also gave up many legitimate pleasures that were unprofitable, or that could not be indulged in without sacrificing some part of the Father's business which He had come to complete. Jesus' holiness came out of a life of meditation on the Word of God. He knew the Word thoroughly by the age of 12, because of laborious mental toil in meditating upon the Scriptures, seeking for the light of the Spirit upon the Word. He knew more than the learned doctors of theology, because He sought for the revelation of the Spirit.
Jesus did not go to a Bible-school. No true prophet in the Bible ever came out of a Bible-school. Let us remember that! Jesus studied the Word and then obeyed it. He spoke with authority, and His preaching ran counter to the popular traditions of His day proclaimed by the scholars and doctors of the law.
He exposed the hypocrisy and worldliness of the Pharisees, and told them that they were hell-bound, despite their doctrinal fundamentalism Matthew At the same time He exposed the doctrinal errors and the wrong interpretations of Scripture that the Sadducees held Matthew Jesus never sought popularity in His preaching. He would gladly accept torture and agony rather than yield one iota of truth. He did not believe in "peace and unity at any cost. The holiness of Jesus was also seen in His zeal for the purity of God's house John 2: When He entered the temple and saw men making money in the name of religion, righteous anger burned in Him and He drove them out with a whip.
The Bible commands us to be angry without sinning Ephesians 4: He was never once angry where it concerned His own person. Such anger would have been sin. But where it concerned the purity of God's house, it was different. There, to refrain from anger would have been sin. He used the whip that day, unconcerned about whether people would misunderstand Him and think that He had lost control of Himself and given in to the flesh. He did not live before the face of men in any case.
He had come to bring a sword Matthew It cut, wounded and hurt. And thus the Father's glory was manifested. Jesus' life was the most beautiful, the most orderly, the most peaceful and the happiest life that this world has ever seen. This was because of His total obedience to God's Word. Consider the order there is in the physical universe. The stars and planets move about in the heavens in such perfect order, that we can set our time accurately to the millionth of a second, by them. Such is their dependability that astronomers can calculate the position of any star or planet for any date in the future.
What is the secret of such perfect order? They obey the will of God exactly, revolving in the orbits laid out for them and at the pace set for them by their Creator. Wherever there is obedience to God, there is perfection and beauty. And wherever there is disobedience to God, there is chaos and ugliness. Even the stars are a mute testimony to the fact that God's commands are the best for us, and that His commands are not burdensome.
Jesus' life bore witness to the fact that godliness alone of all things is profitable both in this life and in the next 1 Timothy 4: No man can be more happy, more peaceful or more content than a godly man. God heard His prayers, because of His godly fear Hebrews 5: Heaven was always open over Jesus, because, He lived in the fear of God. Jesus' prayers were heard, not automatically because He was the Son of God, but because of His godly fear Hebrews 5: He was anointed with the joy and the authority of the Holy Spirit - "the oil of gladness" - not automatically because of His being God's Son, but because He loved righteousness and hated sin Hebrews 1: God can commit Himself only to a man who is morally pure.
This is the secret of spiritual authority. The religious world of Jesus' day, however, did not share God's view of the holiness of Jesus. Jesus' holiness provoked their hatred, because He pointed out their sin fearlessly John 7: And so Jesus suffered hostility, rejection, hatred, criticism, excommunication by Jewish religious leaders and finally death itself - all because He preached holiness. They would not have crucified Him if He had merely lived a holy life.
But He denounced their hypocrisy and exposed their sin through His preaching. Therefore they were determined to silence Him. The 'Christian' religious world of today is just the same; and the disciple is not above his Master. Walking in holiness will not bring us the acclaim of lukewarm Christendom. If any man will follow the Lord, let him sit down first and count the cost, and then let him "go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach" Hebrews We have seen that God is both Light and Love.
Light and Love are inseparable. True holiness is full of love and true love is perfectly pure. They are distinguished here only for purposes of our own understanding. If one claims to have holiness but does not manifest divine love, then what he has is not genuine holiness but Pharisaical 'righteousness. The Pharisees had a 'righteousness' that was starchy and dry. They were like bony skeletons - hard and repulsive. They had some truth, but all warped and out of proportion.
Jesus had all the truth. He stood for every jot and tittle of the law of God more than the Pharisees did. But He was not just bones. The bones were covered over with flesh, as God intended human beings to be - the Light was enveloped by Love. He spoke the truth, but He spoke it in love Ephesians 4: It is not that He just acts lovingly.
The glory of God as seen in Jesus, manifests this clearly. Jesus did not just perform acts of love. He went about "doing good" Acts But that was because the love of God flooded His whole being. Love has its origin, like holiness and humility, in our inner man. It is from the innermost being of the Spirit-filled man that the rivers of life flow John 7: Our thoughts and attitudes even if never expressed give an odour to our words and actions and to our personality.
And others can easily detect this odour. Words and acts of love count for nothing, if our thoughts and attitudes to others remain selfish and critical. God desires "truth in the innermost being" Psalms Jesus placed a high value on all human beings and therefore respected all men.
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It is easy to respect the godly and the cultured and the intelligent. We can even think that we have attained to great heights when we love all our fellow-believers in Christ. But the glory of God was seen in Jesus' love for all men. Jesus never despised anyone for his poverty, ignorance, ugliness or lack of culture. He specifically stated that the whole world and all that it contained was not as valuable as one human soul Mark 8: That was how He valued men.
And so He delighted in all men. He saw men deceived and bound by Satan; and He longed to set them free. So great was this longing born of love, that He was willing to pay the ultimate price to free men from sin's grip over their lives. And because He was willing to die for men to save them from their sins, He earned the right to preach against sin forcefully. We have no right to preach against sin, if either we have not judged that sin in our own flesh and overcome, or if we are unwilling to die if need be to save others from the sin that we preach against.
This is what it means to "speak the truth in love" Ephesians 4: It is the warmth of love in the words that we speak that produces fruit for the glory of God in others. Although there is plenty of light at the North and South Poles, nothing grows there, because of the lack of warmth. Jesus saw clearly the relative value of people and material things.
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He knew that people had been made to be loved, and things to be used. Due to the perverting influence of sin, that order has been reversed in the world, and things are loved and people used for one's own ends. Jesus saw that people were far more important than things. He loved men so greatly that He identified completely with them, and made them feel wanted. He shared their burdens and had words of kindness for the downtrodden, and words of encouragement for those defeated in life's battles. Never would He consider any human being as worthless.
They may be crude or coarse, but they were still people who needed to be redeemed. Things, on the other hand, mattered nothing at all to Him. Material things have no value at all unless they are used for the benefit of others. One can imagine that if a neighbour's child walked into Jesus' carpenter-shop and broke something expensive, it would not have disturbed Jesus in any way, because the child was far more valuable and important than the thing broken.
He loved people, not things. Things were to be used to help people. The Holy Spirit renews our mind so that we might "see things as it were from God's point of view" Colossians 1: To love a person is to see him as God sees him - with compassion. God rejoices over His people with singing Zephaniah 3: So too will it be with all whose minds are renewed to look at people from God's point of view.
The thoughts that Jesus thought of other people were always and consistently thoughts of love - never thoughts of criticism for their awkwardness or their crudeness. People were therefore able to detect the sweet fragrance of His spirit, "and the common people heard Him gladly" Mark This is the love that God floods our heart with when we are filled with the Holy Spirit Romans 5: Jesus was constantly moved with compassion towards the sick, the needy, the hungry and the shepherdless.
He made their misery His, and thus was able to comfort them. We can comfort the misery of others only in the measure in which we have identified ourselves with it. Jesus was sensitive to the unspoken needs of others, because He used His imagination to put Himself in their situations and thus was able to understand their problems.
He was greatly grieved once, when He saw men so hardhearted that they did not have any compassion for a needy man Mark 3: In His relationships with men, Jesus constantly died to Himself. He was never offended by anything that anyone did or said to Him. Nor was He ever offended by the failure of others to do something for Him, for He never expected anything from others.
He did not come to be served but to serve. Because He bore the cross daily, Jesus was never irritated with anyone, however crude or stupid he might be. The slowness of others never got on His nerves, nor did untidiness, disorderliness and carelessness in others, ever make Him impatient. The perfect man can easily bear with imperfect people.
Only imperfect people find the imperfection of others to be intolerable! Patience is one of the greatest manifestations of our love for others. Jesus never belittled others or passed remarks or jokes about them that hurt them. He never made any subtle wounding statements. He never discussed the shortcomings of His disciples behind their backs.
It is truly amazing that in three years, He never exposed Judas before the other eleven disciples - for even at the last supper, the eleven could not guess who was going to betray their Master. Jesus used His tongue to encourage and admonish others, thereby making His tongue an instrument of life in God's Hand. He used His tongue to speak soothing words to the weary Isaiah How greatly encouraged the Roman centurion and the Syrophoenician woman must have felt when they heard Jesus praise them for their faith, publicly Matthew 8: The sinful woman who was praised for her love Luke 7: How strengthened Peter must have been through Jesus' assurance that He would pray for him Luke Just a few words, but what strength and encouragement they conveyed.
Many others must have heard words from Jesus' lips that lifted their weary spirits, for it says in Isaiah The righteousness of Jesus was not one that gave Him a gloomy appearance. He was anointed with the oil of gladness Hebrews 1: He had such overflowing joy on the eve of His crucifixion, that He could say to His apostles, " He went everywhere spreading that joy to joyless, dreary souls. He was gentle with all men, never breaking a battered reed or quenching a dimly burning wick, Matthew He saw the good points in weak, sinful people and hoped for the best in everyone.
He was the sort of person one longed to be with, for He was understanding, kind and gentle.
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Only the proud and those with secret sin avoided Him. The love of Jesus was not sentimental. It sought the highest good of others. And so He did not hesitate to give a word of admonition where He saw that there was need for such a word. He rebuked Peter for trying to turn Him away from the cross - and that too with such strong words as, "Get behind Me, Satan" Matthew He rebuked James and John for seeking places of honour and for wanting to take revenge on the Samaritans Matthew And He rebuked His disciples seven times for their unbelief. Jesus was never afraid of speaking the truth, even if it hurt others, for His heart was filled with love for them.
He was not concerned whether His reputation for kindness would be lost by speaking strong words. He loved others more than Himself and so He was willing to sacrifice His reputation in order to help them. Therefore He spoke the truth firmly, lest men be ruined eternally. The eternal welfare of men mattered far more to Him than their opinions of Him.
Peter described the ministry of Jesus as "going about doing good" Acts Truly, this summed up His life. He was not just a good preacher, nor was He just interested in winning souls. He loved the total man, and did good wherever He went, both to the bodies and the souls of men. His enemies, taunting Him, called Him, "a friend of tax-collectors and sinners" Luke 7: It is not natural for man to go around doing good and befriending the outcasts of society. Even when this is done, it is often done with self-centred motives. But Jesus' love for the outcasts and friendless was selfless and pure.
We cannot manifest the nature of Christ by cultural refinement, but only by dying to that which is natural, and receiving that which is divine from the Holy Spirit. The love of Jesus enabled Him to serve His disciples joyfully, and to do dirty jobs for them - like washing their feet. This was not done to impress them with His humility, but was the natural outflow of His love for them. Human goodness and love invariably have some ulterior motive, such as seeking honour or some other selfish reason.
It is corrupt at its source. It is divine love alone that is uncorrupted. Jesus did not do good with any thought of personal gain. His goodness was a manifestation of the nature of His Father Who "gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust too" Matthew 5: God's nature is to do good and to give and give and give. That is as natural to Him as it is for the sun to shine. This was the glory manifested in the life of Jesus.
He constantly did good, served others, helped others and gave whatever He could to others. The words in John They had seen that Jesus used money for two purposes alone: To buy what was needed AND to give to the poor. Jesus had taught His disciples that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" Acts Jesus wept and prayed for those to whom He preached.
He wept over Jerusalem, when they would not receive the Word of God. He had wept for the hypocrites in the temple, before going in to use the whip to drive them out Luke Only he who weeps is qualified to use the whip. No man on earth ever had a more important job to fulfil than Jesus. No man ever packed more useful labour into 3 years of public ministry. Truly, He must have been busy day and night. Yet wonder of wonders, He never appointed a secretary to regulate the access of people to Him!
When His disciples tried to act as secretaries for Him, He rebuked them Mark He made Himself freely accessible to all people at all times, though He had a miracle-ministry far exceeding any man's which fact alone would have made many people make demands on His time. His relatives thought that He was out of His mind to allow such a situation where He would even ignore eating, in order to have time to minister to people in need Mark 3: People knew that Jesus was freely approachable.
That was why Nicodemus felt free to visit Jesus late at night, after Jesus had finished a busy day of preaching. Nicodemus knew full well that he would be most welcome. Jesus gave that impression to people - that they were welcome to come to Him for help, day or night. The sick were brought to Him one day after sunset - a great number of them - and Jesus laid His hands on everyone of them Luke 4: That must have taken Him many hours. But He did not try to shorten the process by praying a mass prayer for them. He was interested in each one of them and wanted to give them individual attention.
The fact that He was going to thereby miss His dinner and many hours of His sleep did not matter to Him. Jesus did not consider His time His own. He gave Himself to people wholly. He was willing to be inconvenienced, and He was never upset when inconvenienced, or when people intruded into His privacy. The mighty supernatural gifts of the Spirit that were manifested through Him blessed the people, because the power of God in Him was insulated with God's love and compassion. Miracles without love and compassion can bring spiritual death, like an uninsulated electric wire.
The love and concern of Jesus extended to His relatives according to the flesh, too. He did not have that warped idea of "the Lord's work" that the Pharisees had, who encouraged people who had gone into "full-time ministry" to disregard their needy parents, because they had to "love God more than their parents" Mark 7: On the cross, as Jesus was dying, He was thoughtful enough to make provision for His mother's future John Jesus lived so utterly for God and for others that, even when dying, He found time to lead a thief to salvation. Hanging there on the cross, He was unmindful of His own sufferings and of the jeering and hatred of others, and was more concerned that those who crucified Him should have their sin forgiven Luke Jesus always overcame evil with good.
The floods of the hatred of others could not quench the flaming fire of His love Song 8: This is the love that He gives us by His Spirit whereby we can love one another even as He loved us John Thus we too shall manifest the divine nature. In the last three chapters, we have seen the way Jesus lived on earth - in humility, holiness and love.
The danger now is to think that we can imitate Jesus in these areas and thus become like Him. The glory of God is to be manifested through us, not through an imitation of Jesus, but through our partaking of the divine nature. Many non-Christians in the history of the world, who have had an admiration for Jesus, have tried to imitate His humility, purity and love, and have done a fairly good job of it.
But it is like the painted fire, that gives no warmth. Imitation diamonds can look so much like the real gems, that only an expert can detect the difference. But they are only pieces of glass, worthless in comparison. And man is an expert at imitation - even in the realm of imitating Jesus. There is only one way, and that is by allowing the Holy Spirit to use the Word to expose and separate the soulish from the spiritual in our lives Hebrews 4: If we do not distinguish between the soulish and the spiritual we can be utterly deceived and not even know that we are deceived.
What believers need to understand most of all in our day, is how the power of their mind, emotions and will can hinder the working of the Holy Spirit. Where we do not distinguish between soulish and spiritual activity, not only is there the possibility of our being deceived by our own hearts, but also by evil spirits, who counterfeit the work of God. Most believers are totally ignorant about the difference between soulish and spiritual activity, because they have not developed in their spiritual lives to the point where further progress becomes dependent on differentiating between the soulish and the spiritual.
A 9 th -standard student may not know the difference between differential calculus and integral calculus and probably considers them both to be the same , because he has not advanced far enough in his study of mathematics, to the point where further progress is dependent on distinguishing between these two forms of calculus. If you are content with being considered upright and kind and gentle and compassionate by man, then you will not go beyond being a 'soulish' Christian, and beyond a mere imitation of Jesus. This corresponds to the threefold division of man's being, mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5: When we are ruled by the desires of the body, we are carnal.
But we can overcome those desires and yet be only soulish - ruled by the desires of the mind and the emotions. The spiritual man is the one who is ruled by the Holy Spirit and whose soul and body are under the Spirit's control. Although the soulish man may not necessarily be "hostile towards God" as the carnal man is Romans 8: Even the distinction between soul and spirit when presented to him will appear as foolishness and unnecessary splitting of hairs, because he is soulish and is content with being soulish, for he has a good testimony before men.
He who seeks the honour of men can never advance beyond being soulish. In these days of large-scale deception in the Christian church, with multitudes of voices and manifestations, all claiming to be from God, it is essential, as never before, that we distinguish between soulish and spiritual activity, if we are to keep ourselves from the wiles of the evil one. We who have been delivered from the headship of the first Adam and transferred to the headship of Christ the last Adam , need to understand what it means to cease living from the soul and to live in the Spirit. It is not enough that the carnal element of our flesh be rendered inactive.
The soulish element, though less ugly, is just as dangerous to spiritual growth, and must be dealt with too. We must seek to be saved increasingly each day, not only from the power of sin but also from the restless activity of our souls. Soulish people will never be able to understand why Jesus spoke as He did on certain occasions.
Once, when He was in the midst of a crowd and was told that His relatives wanted to meet Him, Jesus pointed to His disciples and said that they were His closest relatives Matthew His relatives and others must have considered that to be a hard and inconsiderate statement. But Jesus did not desire to have any soulish attachment to His relatives. His disciples too could not have understood why Jesus had to be so hard in His rebuke of Peter, when He said to him, "Get behind me, Satan.
Soulish people can never make such statements, for they are always wondering what others will think of them. We may have overcome the sins of the flesh. But the question that comes to us now is whether we are going to live by the resources of our human, soulish life, in seeking to be like Jesus, or by the power of the divine life.
Soulishness is a hindrance to spiritual growth. When Peter tried to turn Jesus away from the cross, he was doing so with intense human love for Christ.
But Jesus identified it with the voice of the Devil. He said to Peter, "You are minding what partakes not of the nature of God spiritual but of men soulish " Matthew The soulish Christian is one whose way of thinking is still governed by the 'life of Adam. When God made man, He made him spirit, soul and body 1 Thessalonians 5: Man was made to be the temple of God. And when God gave Moses the pattern of the tabernacle, the same threefold division was seen in it - for it symbolised man as the dwelling-place of God. The tabernacle had three parts. One part was open - the outer court - and this corresponded to man's body, which can be seen.
The other two parts - the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place - were covered; and these corresponded to the invisible part of man - soul and spirit respectively. The presence of God was in the Most Holy Place. From there He talked with man. In regeneration, it is our spirit that the Holy Spirit makes alive, making us one spirit with the Lord 1 Corinthians 6: God's intention in this is that through His Holy Spirit He might now rule over our redeemed soul and body.
If we see this and submit to God in this His purpose for us, we can become spiritual men. Man's soul consists of his mind thinking faculty , his emotions feeling faculty and his will deciding faculty. As the material world can be touched only with the body, so too the spiritual world can be contacted only through the spirit.
If we do not distinguish between soul and spirit, we can be deceived by the counterfeits of Satan in the soulish realm that masquerade as the work of the Holy Spirit. With our soul by itself, we cannot know God. A clever mind has no advantage over a dull mind when it comes to knowing God, for the capacity of a man's soul gives him no advantage when it comes to what has to be received in his spirit.
The spirit and soul are totally different. So, to try to know God through one's soul is as foolish as trying to see through one's ear! Consider how we study the Scriptures. We use our body eyes and our soul mind when we read God's Word. But our spirit can still be dark as midnight, if the Holy Spirit does not grant revelation on the meaning of the Word. Bible-knowledge only proves that you have a good mind - a powerful soul.
Your spirit can still be blind. God hides His truth from the clever and the intelligent, and reveals them to the humble Matthew The blindness of the theologians of Jesus day is the clearest proof of this 1 Corinthians 2: Our emotions also are a part of the soul. God cannot be felt by the emotions. Emotional exuberance is not spirituality, but merely the excitement of the soul. It can exist side by side with the deepest sin in an individual, even as intellectual sharpness can co-exist with sin.
The prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel were highly emotional, shouting and raving and dancing 1 Kings Such expressions can be found in highly emotional Christian meetings too, but they have nothing to do with true spirituality. Judas Iscariot was probably the cleverest of the disciples, but his soul-powers did not help him to know the truth of God. The scholars in Jerusalem also could not understand what Simon Peter, with his lack of education, understood by Divine revelation Matthew We cannot know God by the power of the soul.
The soulish Christian is the one who attempts to do so. The soulish Christian can appear to be humble, but he is always conscious of his humility. True humility is unconscious of itself. The soulish Christian has to make an effort to appear humble, whereas true humility is always spontaneous and effortless, for it flows from within. The soulish Christian can also appear to have a zeal for righteousness. He can take the whip and chase people out of the church, and even thunder away against sin, imagining himself to be a prophet. But he seeks the honour of men for his actions.
He always has one eye on the opinions of men. There can also be a more subtle variety of soulishness, where a man may say, "I don't care what anyone thinks about me. The soulish Christian can appear to have great compassion too. But it will always be human and unwise. For example, a soulish Christian may, in seeking to be loving, send regular material aid to a needy man, who may actually be a prodigal son, being disciplined by God. Such help will actually be a hindrance to that man's turning to God.
The soulish Christian however will get a satisfaction, imagining that he is serving God, not realising that he is actually fulfilling the Devil's purposes by his 'acts of love. The above are just a few examples among many possibilities. But it should suffice to show us the desperate need of distinguishing between soulish and spiritual activity.
Soulish fruit can look like the fruit of the Spirit, and many have been deceived. We can be deceived ourselves. Plastic oranges and bananas have fooled many people sitting at a dining table. But they are only decorative and have no nutritive value. So too with soulish imitation of the virtues of Christ. All that has been said thus far does not mean that our soul is of no use.
God Himself created the soul of man, and He has appointed a function for it. We do need to use our mind and our emotions, but true spirituality begins with our humbling ourselves under God's mighty hand, and yielding our will which is the door to our spirit to God utterly. It is outside this door of our will, that Jesus stands and knocks for entrance Revelation 3: When we are willing to say as Jesus did in the days of His flesh, "Not my will, but Thine be done," only then can we live as Jesus lived. Then God can rule our spirit.
And our soul will become the servant of the Spirit of God. And then our body too will be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. Only such a man can be called 'a spiritual man' or 'a Spirit-filled man'. Conversion, being baptised in the Spirit and the exercise of spiritual gifts do not make a man spiritual, as is amply evidenced by the example of the Corinthian Christians.
They exercised all the gifts of the Spirit, yet they were in bondage to the sins of the flesh, and gloried in their intellectual knowledge and their emotional raptures. They were not spiritual. We have seen that in the tabernacle, the presence of God was in the Most Holy Place. It was this that cut off the glory of God from shining through into the Holy Place. This veil symbolised the flesh Hebrews It is as the flesh is crucified the veil rent that God's glory shines through into our whole personality our soul.
If we faithfully walk along the new and living way through the flesh that Jesus has inaugurated for us, then the life of God will shine through our personality and will be manifested through us more and more. It is thus that the Holy Spirit transforms us from one degree of glory to another 2 Corinthians 3: We have seen that Jesus never did His own will. In other words, He never lived by the guidance of His mind or His emotions. He lived in the Spirit, and His human soul was subservient to the Holy Spirit.
Thus the glory of God shone through Him, unhindered in all its fullness. The Bible teaches that all our life and labour will be tested by fire, in the day that Jesus returns to earth 1 Corinthians 3: The test of fire will determine whether our work was soulish or spiritual. We are exhorted to build with gold, silver and jewels that can survive the fire, and not with wood, hay and straw that will be reduced to ashes.
Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study , daily devotions , marriage , parenting , movie reviews , music, news, and more. Inspiration is subjective, as different people will find different things to be inspiring. However, Christians can unite around one inspirational source—God himself. God is the basis for all of our inspiration because He is the basis for everything good and everything worth imitating.
Here, are 30 quotes from a variety of influential Christians that inspire us and point us back to Christ. Enjoy these many different thoughts on the Christian life. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world. You are a child of the Almighty God. To him, death is loss. To him, death is gain. I have my moments of deep discouragement.