Learning From Jesus
LEARNING FROM JESUS (By Daren Schroeder)
The following material is in a form that would be conducive to personal Bible study or a Bible study class. Please feel free to print the material out to use in a Bible class setting.
The thoughts for these lessons spawned from a consideration of what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:21: "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his steps." Since we are called to live like He lived, why not learn from Him? There is great power for living the Christian live to be found in considering the steps of Jesus.
Lesson 1 - Integrity
Integrity seems almost like a lost art today. So many people are willing to compromise their convictions when money or fame is at stake. Yet God intends Christians to be people of genuine character and conviction. This study will help us understand the integrity of Jesus and help us seek for greater integrity in our lives.
THE INTEGRITY OF JESUS
One great example of integrity in the life of Jesus is actually what led to the end of His life. At His trial He was questioned by the high priest, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Mt. 26:63) His simple and honest response that led to charges of blasphemy was, “You have said so” (verse 64). He could have viewed this question as an opportunity for escape, but integrity would not allow it. If He would have compromised the truth here, we would yet be in our sin!
Even more impressive is the control that Jesus demonstrated through the whole proceeding. Verse 67 of the same chapter says, “Then they spat in His face and struck him.” Previously, one of his own, Judas Iscariot, gave him a kiss of mockery identifying Him as the One called Jesus so that He could be arrested. As He hung on the cross “those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads” (Mt. 27:39-43). “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (verse 44). Yet in all of this, and so much more that Jesus went through, the Bible says, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might live to righteousness” (1 Pt. 2:22-24).
Jesus also showed great integrity when He was tempted by Satan. Before the temptation Jesus had fasted for forty days. Obviously, He was hungry and weak, but He still resisted the temptation to turn the stone into bread (Mt. 4:3-4). Likewise, He was victorious over the temptation of throwing Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, as well as the temptation of worshiping the devil in order to obtain all the kingdoms of the world (Mt. 4:5-7). The first two of the temptations may seem very innocent to us. What would be wrong with Jesus turning stone into bread? What would be wrong with Him leaping from the temple and the angels catching Him? The answer is, “They lacked integrity!” Jesus was a man of principle. Sometimes we say that about ourselves to justify our stubbornness, but the way Jesus was a man of principle (stubborn) was often to His detriment. Jesus did not do things for show. He came not to glorify Satan, but to glorify His Father and do His work (Jn. 4:34; 6:38; 17:4). He performed miracles for the primary purpose of proving that He was the Son of God (Jn. 20:30-31).
Much of the integrity of Jesus, though, is seen in what He did not do. Never did he steal. He never lied or intentionally deceived anyone. Jesus never took advantage of anyone. He never compromised His morality. He demonstrated that it was never right to do wrong! Never!
How was Jesus able to endure such tremendous persecution without retaliating? How was He able to control His tongue? How did He overcome the temptation of the devil? The answer is that He was much more concerned about doing His Father’s Will and providing a way for mankind to be saved, than He was with defending His rights, His feelings, or His image. As was already stated, He was not concerned about His own Will, but His Father’s Will who sent Him. Christ allowed neither circumstances nor enemies to dictate His integrity.
THE TEACHING OF JESUS ON INTEGRITY
Perhaps one of the greatest passages in the Bible related to integrity is found in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “Let what you say be simply, ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Mt. 5:37). Jesus says in a sense, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” We should not have to say things like, “I promise”; “I mean it this time”; or, “this is really the truth.” Every word that proceeds from our mouth should be truth! The apostle Paul tells us to “speak the truth” with others (Eph. 4:25). If we make a promise, it should be kept. If we tell someone that we will do something for them, we should do it. If we tell someone that we will pay them back, we have an obligation. This is letting our “yes” mean “yes.” Anything otherwise, as some versions say in Matthew 5:37, “is from the evil one.”
OUR INTEGRITY MUST BE STEADFAST
There is simply no occasion where the lack of integrity is good or justifiable. Integrity most of the time, is no integrity at all. People frequently make excuses for their lack of integrity, but this does not diminish their responsibility, nor their accountability to God. Poverty does not give an individual a license to steal (Prov. 30:9). Fear does not give freedom to lie (see Abraham in Gen. 12:10-20; 20). Anger, even when we are provoked, does not provide authority to curse or hurt someone (James 1:19; Lk. 6:27-28).
In fact, trials in our lives show the depth or lack of depth of our integrity. Do we use trials to excuse our behavior, language and attitudes? Trials can and should make us grow stronger (see James 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5). Not only are trials an opportunity to grow, but also an opportunity to be blessed by God (1 Pt. 3:14). Peter says in 1 Peter 4:14: “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (see also verses 12, 15-16). What an honor it is for mortal man to have the opportunity to glorify the Eternal God of heaven!
It must be understood that the true level of an individual’s integrity is only known by God. Man can do things that merely appear to be genuine. Jesus, who knew their hearts, accused the Pharisees and Saduccees of this exact sin on several occassions (Mt. 23; cf Mt. 6:1-8; 16-18; Lk. 18:9-14). Man can flatter his fellow man with ulterior motives. He can offer excuses which are not all together true. However, we should forget about what our friends, family and co-workers think… how would God grade us on our level of integrity?
HOW CAN WE BE MORE LIKE JESUS IN OUR INTEGRITY?
(1) First, we need to continue to learn, study, and meditate on Jesus, our perfect example. If we want to be like Him, we certainly must know Him and make a conscious daily effort to be like Him in our character.
(2) Just as Christ had the spiritual interest of man in the forefront of His mind, so must we! Instead of being concerned about our image and what others might think or say, we need to be chiefly concerned about leading others to God (2 Cor. 5:18-20) and glorifying Him in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 3:21). We must remember that integrity always promotes the cause of Christ. Dishonesty always hurts it.
(3) We must be convinced that any form of dishonesty is a sin against our holy God (1 Pt. 1:16) that can cause us to be lost (Rev. 21:8). God hates “a lying tongue” (Prov. 6.16). Opposed to dishonesty and corruption, in heaven there will be nothing that defiles (Rev. 21:27). When we compromise integrity we are making Satan our Father because He is the Father of lies (Jn. 8:44).
(4) On the positive side, when we live lives of integrity, we posses attributes of those who will be found in heaven (2 Pt. 1:5-11). What a motivation!
Many people compromise their integrity because they think it is in their best interest. They are wrong! It hurts them; it hurts their relationships; and it hurts the Lord’s church.
How does your integrity compare to the integrity of Jesus? Are we so honest that no amount of money would cause us to cheat, steal, lie, deceive, or be immoral? May our love for truth and our love for advancing the cause of God always lead us live lives of integrity!
1. How can we know how God would live if He were living on the earth? Give one passage to support this.
2. List two examples that show us the great integrity of Jesus.
3. What was always in the forefront of the mind of Jesus? List a passage that indicates this:
4. What passage indicates that our yes should simply mean yes?
5. The scribes and Pharisees were often guilty of what sin?
6. What is one of the six things that God hates that pertains to this lesson?
1. Why would it have been wrong for Jesus to turn the stone into bread?
2. How did Jesus keep Himself sinless?
3. How can we overcome temptation?
4. How can trials in our lives be good?
5. What are some examples of how we demonstrate integrity through what we do not do?
6. In what way do I need to increase my own integrity?
Lesson 2 - Humility
“If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” (John 13:14)
Imagine living in the splendors of heaven and walking the streets of gold. Imagine enjoying the perfect environment where there exists no hunger, no thirst, and no pain. Surpassing it all, imagine living in the very presence of God! Now try to imagine giving that up and forsaking that which was rightfully yours to instead live in a cruel world. Try to imagine doing it for sinners, for people who would turn against you, despise you and even crucify you. Try to imagine humbly serving these people.
This, of course, is exactly what Jesus did. We cannot completely understand the depth of sacrifice and humility that Jesus demonstrated since we have never been to heaven, nor died on a cross, but it serves as a powerful example for us as we try to understand what the Christian life is all about. Before looking at some practical applications, we will notice three points pertaining to the humility of Jesus: (1) He left heaven; (2) He became a servant; and (3) He died for sinners. (Read Phil. 2:5-11.)
JESUS LEFT HEAVEN
The Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus was and is God, and that He had been eternally with God in heaven. Heaven was the eternal home of Christ. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This, of course, refers to Christ. The apostle Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). Exactly according to God's eternal plan (Eph. 1:3-7), Jesus chose to leave heaven (Jn. 10:17) in order to make salvation possible to lost humanity (Mt. 1:21).
In leaving heaven Jesus “made himself nothing” (Phil. 2:7). He had a reputation, but being born of a woman, Jesus went from His glorified body in heaven beside the throne of God to corruptible earthly body in an environment full of pain and suffering (Jn. 19:28; 11:35). At times the Son of God did not even have a place to lay his head (Lk. 9:58).
JESUS CAME TO SERVE
It would have been remarkable if Jesus came from heaven to merely sit on a throne to be praised and worshipped all day long every day. He would have been deserving of that! The forsaking of heaven alone would have been a tremendous sacrifice! However, that is not what He came to do. Christ came not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28).
It is interesting that Jesus became a mere carpenter (Mk. 6:3) as was His earthly father. In His day this would have been even more difficult labor than it is today. From the throne of God to a manual laborer… a man with a hammer! What humility!
Maybe the greatest example we have of the humility and servanthood of Jesus is when He washed the disciples feet in John 13. It was not one of the disciples, but the Son of God who began washing the feet of the disciples. More than likely Jesus washed the feet of Judas who would soon betray Him on this occasion! (see Mt. 26:47-50). Of course, Jesus knew this was about to happen. In fact it was immediately after washing the disciples’ feet that Jesus predicted His betrayal by Judas (verses 18-26). What humility!
JESUS CAME TO DIE
In a very real way Jesus was born to die! Without the sacrifice of Christ, humanity would be forever separated from God. In a broad sense Jesus died as “a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). More specifically, He “gave Himself for her”, the church (Eph. 5:25). And in a personal way, Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us” (Titus 2:14). Instead of coming to earth to sit on a glorious throne like many Jews had in mind, Christ came to suffer the cruel and shameful death of the cross (Deut. 21:22; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2) and to do it for sinners like us! (Romans 5:8-9).
HUMILITY IS A STATE OF MIND
“Have this mind in yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). What mind? The mind or way of thinking that led Jesus to give up heaven for a time, serve man while on this earth, and then die a cruel death for sinners. To live like Christ lived we have to think like He thought!
Humility always goes back to the way we think. Proverbs 23:7 says, “or as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). It is impossible to think arrogantly in our mind and act humbly. We do and act as we think. Our actions and life is little more than an extension of our thoughts (Mt. 15:18-19).
The best way we can train our minds is through thorough immersion in the Word of God and the life of Christ!
HUMILITY AND OUR RELATIONSHIPS
(Read Philippians 2:1-5.) Humility is defined for us in Philippians 2 where Paul says “Do nothing from rilvary or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (verses 3-4). Everything goes back to our purpose (or ambition). Who are we living for? What makes us tick? What is it that we really want to accomplish in life? If our foundation or outlook on life is wrong, humility is impossible!
True Christianity puts others first. Humility causes a person to analyze his own faults more than the faults of others (Mt. 7:1-5). Humility gives others the benefit of the doubt. Humility spends much more time commending others than bragging on self. Humility will sometimes be silent, and allows it’s “rights” to be violated for the good of others. Humility evaluates itself according to truth. Humility is ready both to apologize and to forgive.
WHAT HAVE WE LEFT FOR HIM?
God did not force Jesus to come to earth. Likewise He does not force us to leave anything. However, He does tell us: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). That takes humility! We have to be willing to yield to the Will of God in every facet of our lives. We are not here to live the way we choose, but the way God chooses!
The rich young ruler was not willing to give up his wealth (Mt. 19:16-22). Judas was not willing to give up his pride and thus committed suicide (Mt. 27:5). Remember, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lads, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Mt. 19:29).
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Think about our service to the Lord and the church, and then think of the service Jesus offered. Think about Him washing the disciples’ feet. Are we willing to perform the menial tasks to provide for ourselves and our families? Are we willing to work hard so that we have enough to give to others? (Eph. 4:28). If it were necessary, would we wash our brethren’s feet? Or, do we have plenty of time and energy for the things we want to do but very little time for serving others? True humility seeks to serve.
HAVE WE DIED TO SIN?
Humility also requires that we humble ourselves under the Will of God. Jesus died that we might be redeemed from sin. (Read Romans 6:1-23.) Paul said, "Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thes. 5:22). Humility should cause us to bow down to the way God wants us to live and truly submit our lives to His Will as Jesus did.
Christ demonstrated unparalleled humility by coming to earth, becoming a servant, and dying for lost humanity. If the Son of God could humble Himself, how much more should we! The life of humility is completely contrary to the way most want to live. Ironically, it leads to the greatest happiness in this life and the next. When we are tempted to be selfish let us think about our Savior. Jesus truly defined humility.
1. What chapter in Philippians discusses the humility of Christ and the need for us to be humble?
2. What 3 things did Jesus do that clearly demonstrates His great humility?
3. Was Jesus forced by the Father to die on the cross? If not, why did He do it? (Give at least two Scriptures)
4. Is it likely that Jesus washed Judas' feet knowing that he was about to betray him?
5. Give at least one verse which shows that Jesus' life on earth was certainly not always easy.
1. What did Jesus sacrifice (or give up) by coming to earth?
2. If Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to wash feet, what should we be willing to do? (Give at least 3 different answers):
3. In your eyes, what are the greatest sacrifices (or changes) you have made in your life because of Christianity? What are the most significant changes that you need to make at this point?
Lesson 3 - Love
In this lesson we will briefly notice two stories involving our Savior and then make important applications concerning our love for others. Remember that our goal in this study is to be let Christ define Christian living for us.
“God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). Christ, being Deity Himself, perfectly modeled love while He was on the earth. He was the exact representation of the Father (Heb. 1:3). Like God the Father, Jesus was and is love. He did nothing in His life that was contrary to love. So, in Christ we have true love demonstrated. He shows us how the rubber meets the road as far as love is concerned, and He also teaches much on this subject matter.
As we study this lesson and continue in the following lessons, let us remember that we are trying to be like Christ so that others can see Him in us. We are the "salt of the earth" (Mt. 5:13). We are trying to be like Him not only so that we can fit ourselves for His eternal kingdom, but also help others arrive there as well!
JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
A fitting and powerful example of the love of Christ is found in John 4 where Jesus has a discussion with a Samaritan woman. Not only was this a Samaritan woman, but an immoral one. (Read Jn. 4:1-27.) Consider two very important points from this story. First, notice how surprised this woman was that Jesus asked her for water. She said, “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaritan?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (verse 9). Likely the enmity that existed between Jews and Samaritans stemmed from the Samaritans being refused the opportunity to help the Jews reconstruct the temple after their captivity in Babylon (Ezek. 4:1-5; Neh. 2:10,19; 4:1-3). Regardless of the cause, social interaction with the Samaritans was viewed as loathsome, yet Jesus requested the courtesy of her getting Him some water. He then uses this basic need that He has as an opportunity to talk to her about the “living water” that leads to “eternal life” (verses 10,14). The love and kindness of Jesus extended far beyond the cultural norm. He was unconcerned with what others might say or think. Regardless of who this woman was, He took the opportunity to teach her. As the story continues we see that Jesus also practiced what we might call "tough love" as He questioned the woman about her many marriages (verses 16-18) and also refers to the pagan and vain worship of the Samaritans (verse 22). Pointing out personal and religious error is not necessarily contrary to love!
JESUS AND THE SINFUL WOMAN
Another powerful example of the love of Christ is found in John 8. The story shows the direct contrast between Christ’s love and the Pharisees lack of love. In this case the Pharisees and scribes brought a woman to Jesus that was caught in the act of adultery. As was their habit, the Pharisees and scribes were doing this not for the sake of justice, but in an attempt to trap Jesus. They thought that if He condemned her to death, He would be assuming authority that belonged only to the Roman rulers. If He said that she is unworthy of death, He would be contradicting the Scriptures. However, His simple and yet profound response was, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (verse 7). To this, they were speechless. Jesus, of course, was not condoning this woman’s sin. In fact, He later tells her, “go, and from now on sin no more” (verse 11). In Acts chapter 8 Jesus is condemning the spirit that longs to condemn! Jesus loved sinners (Rom. 5:6-9), associated with them (Lk. 7:36-50; Mt. 9:9-13), and came to save them! (Lk. 19:10). Christ loved this woman while the scribes the Pharisees merely used her for their own malicious ambitions.
JESUS’ TEACHING ON LOVE
Space and time does not permit us the opportunity to notice all of the times in which Jesus teaches about love. In the Gospel of John alone, Jesus mentions the word "love" 24 times. Let’s briefly notice four principles in the teachings of Jesus concerning love (especially from the Gospel of John).
(1) Love obeys. Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (Jn. 14:15). Out of love for God, wives should submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:23); children should submit to their parents (Eph. 6:1); servants should to their masters (1 Pt. 2:18); citizens should submit to their government (Rom. 13:1-7), each Christian should submit to the other (Eph. 5:21); and of course (and especially), every Christian should submit to God (James 4:7; Heb. 5:8-9). This “spirit” of obedience is vital not only to one’s own salvation, but also to winning others to Christ (cf. 1 Pt. 3:1-7).
(2) Love sacrifices. In John 15:13 Christ says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” As we mentioned in the previous lesson, Christ sacrificed the joys and glory of heaven for us. What are we willing to sacrifice for our brethren? Will we sacrifice our pride for the sake of unity in the church? Are we willing to sacrifice materially so that the Lord's work can go forward? Will we sacrifice of our time to see that the work of the church is accomplished?
(3) Love does good. Our Lord says in Luke 6:27-28, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Jesus is described as one who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). John tells us: “let us not love in word or in talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Paul says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). We ought to seek the best interest of our brethren, but Jesus' love even went beyond that, and so must ours. Real love never does evil regardless of the circumstances.
(4) Love identifies who we are. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Love amongst Christians serves as an identifying mark to those who are not children of God. Jesus emphasizes this same point in His prayer in John 17 where He says, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me” (verses 20-21). How does Jesus say that people will believe that Christ was really sent from the Father? By the love and unity of His followers! Jesus never minimizes the doctrine that we teach (in fact He emphasizes it). However, it is interesting that He specifically mentions that His people can be identified by their love and unity.
PAUL’S DESCRIPTION OF LOVE (1 CORINTHIANS 13)
One of the most well known passage in the Bible on the theme of love is 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul describes love like this: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (verses 4-8). In the teachings of Jesus that we observed, His focus was on the outward acts of love. In contrast, Paul focuses largely on the attitudes of love and what love is not. He lays a foundation from which good works will come! We will not properly serve our brethren and reach the lost without embracing Paul’s teachings here on love. Memorize these few verses and allow them to change your life!
True love has to do with how we behave toward others and that begins in our own heart. It is closely related to humility which seeks the best interest of others. Jesus sought the best interest of others regardless of who they were and how others viewed them. As we try to love others let us never lose sight of the ultimate gift of love that was given for us on the cross. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
1. Why were the disciples surprised that Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman?
2. Was Jesus extremely concerned about following the cultural norm of His day? If not, why not?
3. Does true love sometimes need to confront? (see Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:15)
4. Why did Jesus love people regardless of who they were?
5. List at least two other stories (with Scripture references) that demonstrate Christ’s love for others.
6. Can a Christian truly claim to love God if He is not willing to submit himself to Him?
1. How did Jesus use a basic need He had to talk with the Samaritan woman about a deeper need that she had? How can kindly asking somewhat to help you with a need, open up opportunities to have influence and teach them the Gospel?
2. In the case of Jesus and the immoral woman, do you think the Pharisees were really concerned about justice being done? Why not? What about the adulterous man?!
3. What damage is done to the church when Christians talk poorly of other Christians in front of non-Christians?
4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and substitute your name for the word love. Does it fit! What do you need to do in order to make it fit better?
Lesson 4 - Holiness
Man stood seperated from God because of his sin (Is. 59:1-2; Rom. 3:23; 6:23) condemned to perish eternally in hell with no hope of heaven (Eph. 2:11-12). Jesus came as the remedy for this monumental problem. Matthew records that He came into this world to “save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). Jesus lived and modeled a perfect life of purity and righteousness (1 Pt. 2:22). In distress in the Garden of Gethsemene He prayed that His coming suffering be avoided if possible, but if not, He said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt. 26:39). He could not have possessed a higher or more noble purpose. Jesus was completely set apart for the work that His Father had given Him (Jn. 6:38).
This precisely describes the characteristic of "holiness." Holiness has a deeper and more comprehensive meaning than purity or clean living. To be holy is to be separated to the purposes of God. (The Greek word is hagios; notice its use in 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thes 2:13; and 1 Pt. 1:2.) Holiness certainly embraces the idea of purity, but also extends and is rooted in purpose. When God’s purposes are ours, then we will live pure lives.
The purity of Jesus is clearly seen in what He did not do. He never committed any immoral act. He never sinned with His words. Although He was a friend of sinners and often associated with them (Jn. 4; 8; Mt. 9:9-13), He never joined in their sin. He never even thought a wrong thought! The Bible (a book of inspiration and integrity) records the sins of great men like David and the apostle Paul, but never one that was committed by Jesus!
The service that Jesus offered to His Father, God's children, and the lost was unsurpassed. As we have mentioned in a previous lesson, Christ left heaven to become a servant (Phil. 2:7) and ultimately to give His life on the cross for sinners (Phil. 2:8; Rom. 5:8-9). He taught often and with authority (cf. Mt. 7:29; 13:54). He washed the apostles' feet (Jn. 13:1-17), talked with a Sammaritan woman (John 4) and the immoral woman in John 8. He was often weary from serving and teaching so much.
How? How could Jesus keep Himself completely pure? How could He never sin once in thought or action? How could He remain so steadfast in His service? He had purpose! Again, He came to do His Father's will! (Jn. 6:38). Daily He lived with that in the forefront of His mind. He did not allow Himself to be distracted from His mission. Because He was the Son of God does not mean that He was a mere robot that could do nothing wrong. Christ was tempted (Mt. 4:1-12; Heb. 4:15). He had the choice between right and wrong like we have, but with every choice He made, He made the right one. He was determined to live according to His Father's will!
Jesus' Teachings Related to Holiness
Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 16 saying, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done" (verses 24-27). It all begins with desire! "If anyone would (or “desires”) to come after Me." What does this desire or following of Jesus entail? Losing our life to live the life that Christ wants us to live. That means denying self or giving up anything and everything that is sinful (cf. 1 Thes. 5:22) and that we use our lives for His purposes. If we do that, there is eternal reward for us (verse 27).
1 Peter 1:14-15 says, "do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" As we have previously mentioned, being holy goes beyond being pure. However, it certainly embraces within its meaning a deep sense of purity. We are called, or chosen for the purposes of God, to be holy like He is holy! What a challenge we have in such an immoral world! In fact, Jesus goes as far as to say, "that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt. 5:28). God does not just demand purity of life, but even purity of heart. The Christian that is unwilling to control His thoughts is just as separated from God as the adulteress woman of Acts 8! Purity is serious! Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt. 5:8). On the other hand, the Bible says, "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Eph. 5:3-4).
Holiness Based upon Romans 12:1-2
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1-2).
Our holy God has called us to holiness! (cf. 1 Pt. 1:15). Christians are different from the world. They live by a different standard (cf. John 12:48; Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16). They walk in His stepsinstead of according to the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26; I Jn. 2:16)! The church is to be the pure bride of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 5:27). How important it is for us, as Christians, to be pure and faithful in our spiritual marriage to the Lord!
We live for only one reason, to serve our Father. If we give up our entire life to help His kingdom grow, we have only done what we should have done. If our Savior came to serve, how much should we as mere mortals be willing to serve and be spent for His service! We should look for opportunities to serve and further the church. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7). "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples" (John 15:8).
How can we maintain holiness in our daily lives? Paul says, "by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Change the way you think. Change what you think about. Life is merely an extension of our thoughts (Prov. 23:7; cf. Mt. 15:19). Think on those things that are good (Phil. 4:8). Fill your thoughts with things from above (Col. 3:1-2). Put away all evil and ungodly thoughts (cf. 1 Cor. 13:5; Mt. 12:35). Beware of your entertainment: where you go, what you watch and listen to. Mediate on the Word of the Lord day and night (Ps. 1:2). "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17). Have spiritual goals. Consider those goals more important than any earthly pursuit (cf. Mt. 6:24, 33).
Although we stumble from time to time, through the sacrifice of Christ we can be seen by God as holy. May we never use the grace of God as an excuse for unholiness (Rom. 6; 1-2). Christians are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) and set apart to honor, serve and worship their Master. Paul says, "for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:20).
1. List one passage that indicates that Christ came to do His Fathers' will.
2. What does it mean to be holy?
3. Cite a passage about the sinlessness of Christ.
4. 1 Peter 1:15 says:
5. Is it possible to not do wrong, but still sin and become separated from God? Explain.
6. What kinds of things should the Christian think about daily?
1. Why are bad thoughts such as lust forbidden?
2. What are some aspects of our culture that makes holiness difficult?
3. Is there any sin worth loosing ones' soul over?
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