Christ Is Our Example Lesson 6 from the series, “Paths To Power”
I Thessalonians 1:5, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” I Peter 2: 21-23, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” Christ our example in word and in deed. As we walk as Christ walked, we can talk as Christ talked. This is not a condition of one’s feet or lips, it is a condition of the heart. (Mark 7:21-23, Proverbs 23:7) Before we can walk as Christ walked, and talk as He talked, we must first think as Christ thought. All action is the result of thought. Your actions are produced by what you think. It cannot be otherwise. Every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5) This requires an act of determined consecration, requiring purpose and continual application for the mind loves to wander. It also requires a willing exchange, giving up former ways of thinking and accepting as our own “the mind of Christ.” Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” My English teacher, in diagramming that line, would have shown the little verb let to be the main verb of the sentence. “Let this mind be in you…” That is an act of the will. When you have been birthed of God, filled with the Holy Ghost, you have two minds. In the new creation, you have the mind of God, in the old, you have the carnal mind. To be carnally minded is death. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. So you, by a determined act of your will, must let His mind be your mind. A sane mind, is a controlled mind. God draws the line on some thinking. It is possible to lead a victorious thought life. This does not mean that Satan cannot come with evil suggestions, but we can refuse to dwell on that which is evil. A sane mind is a controlled mind – filling the mind with right thoughts can drive out evil thoughts. In the book of Philippians 4:8 we have the instructions on what we should think. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Evil thoughts will come. Thoughts of lust, thoughts of violence. I believe these mostly to be spirits. They come uninvited into our mind. You have not sinned when they come. If you entertain them, you sin. You drive them out by filling the mind with these things that are good, right, and honest. Jesus thought right, and the result was He walked and talked right. “…Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps,” “Who did no sin…” (I Peter 2:21 and 22) Christ did not live in habitual sin, and He did not make excuses for sin. He resisted the devil, the temptation, He knew no sin even though He was “…but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not…” (I John 3:6) This is contrary to much religious teaching. As a result, most religion is powerless when faced with those who need deliverance. You must hear, know, believe, and live in this truth if you have power with God. We are called not to follow religious tradition. We must look into the Bible as if we have never seen it before. We must see the path that we are to walk, if we are to have this power and preach this Gospel in the way that is acceptable to God. The church, Jesus is coming after is not going to be some broken down religious traditional machine. He is coming after a glorious church, without spot, and without wrinkle, that is doing the works of God. To be a part of such a body we have to resist the religious foolishness that says we cannot live above sin. To abide in Christ is to walk in the Spirit of God. To abide in Christ is “to resist the devil” – it is “to give no place to the devil.” The flesh is Satan’s place. It is his body, just as surely as the church is the spiritual body of Christ. God’s work depends on human vessels, the message of Pentecost is God the Father, through God the Holy Ghost, and displaying God the Son, through a human vehicle called the church. This has always been God’s plan. You and I are to be that vessel. If you really desire God’s purpose in your ministry, surely this is worthy of your serious, prayerful thought regardless of your former opinion. What does God say about sin, about living above sin? What does God say about our being in a life of holiness at all times? There is a reason why some have power and others do not, and it is not that God is a respecter of persons. Power is a direct result of faith, and faith comes by obedience (I John 3:21-22). “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” You see the position, and the place? This is a place of faith, consequently a place of power. Hope is available to people without holiness, but faith is not. If faith were available without holiness, then people who can never see God could have power to ask and receive anything they desire. God’s unqualified promise to those who have faith is, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22) God also said “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Religion teaches man that he must sin everyday – God says, “…Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16) Who are we going to believe? God, or a religious system that evidently has come to misrepresent God. Holiness is the Holy Spirit living the life of Jesus through us who believe God. If He lives the life of Jesus through me, then He will work the works of Jesus through me. Paul writing to the Corinthians said, “Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame.” (I Corinthians 15:34) Christ is our righteousness. (I Corinthians 1:30) You cannot have power with God when you are asleep. So God is saying, Wake Up!! Quit making excuses for sin! Begin to walk in the Spirit! To abide in Christ, is to walk in the Spirit. If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts and desire of the flesh. Spiritually asleep Christians are not led by the word of God, or by the Spirit of God. David said in Psalms 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” The work of the Spirit is to reprove of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. We must walk in Jesus’ steps. For the Spirit to reprove of sin, the word has to be in the heart. If we don’t know what is sin, there is no way the Holy Spirit can judge it and reveal it. If the word is in our heart, and we are full of the Holy Ghost, before we ever sin, the Holy Spirit will make us know. We can make the choice. Let us look at our text again. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) Those who teach that we cannot live above sin will have to tear this out of the Bible. Jesus knew no sin, and God says to me, “follow in His steps.” Jesus healed by the word. Matthew 8:16-17, “…Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” He healed with his word. Luke 4:32 says, “…His word was with power.” As Christians we are assured that our words may also be words of power. Matthew 21:21, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily, I say unto you…” He is speaking to the Apostles and early believers that are following Him, but His message is to believers of every generation, “…If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done.” For our words, to be with power, there can be no guile found in us. Guile means cunning, craftiness, or deceit. None of that must be found in our lives. We must be transparent. We must not be facades. We cannot be one thing in a pulpit, and something else with our family. We must at all times, abide in Christ. We must not only talk as Jesus talked, we must walk in His steps. Jesus walked in the Spirit. Matthew 4:1, “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” We, His followers, are told to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The opposite of that has to be true. If you do not walk in the Spirit, you will fulfill the lust of the flesh. In verses 19 through 21, He tells us what the flesh is. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The works of the flesh listed here are not present in the lives of those who walk in the Spirit. There are those who harbor some of these works of the flesh in their lives, making very little effort if any to overcome. These are the people who are continually asking why the power isn’t there when we pray. Verse 21 says, “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” If you are not fit for the kingdom of God, we certainly cannot work the works of the kingdom. “…Walk in the spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” God commands us, to put off the old man, (works of the flesh) with his deeds. (Colossians 3:9,10) We will look at some characteristics of those who walk after the flesh. The fact that we are in this school says that we know something is wrong out there. The church is not functioning as it should. We know from the word of God that the sick are to be healed, the demon possessed are to be set free, and the lost are to be saved. We know that power is sadly lacking in the 20th century church. We want to know why this is not happening. We are asking why in a very serious manner. We want to know that we may remedy the problem and get on with the work. Certain things in the life will prevent God’s power from flowing through the vessel, whether it is the vessel of the first century or the vessel of the 20th century. It is all the same. We examine the cause of this failure. First, there is PRIDE. – That important, independent spirit. Inordinant self-esteem, disdainful, and haughty. There you have it. You see much Pride in the advertising of “God’s man of faith and power.” I walked that road. There is none good with God; only Jesus. It is only as I submit myself to God, can the Holy Ghost manifest Christ through me. Some of the advertisements concerning religious meetings say in effect that God is going to be in town three days, and if you desire anything, you must attend this crusade. Let God work one miracle through such vessels, after they’ve told it three times, the people are led to believe the man himself performed the miracle. PRIDE. Then you have LOVE OF PRAISE – That desire to be noticed. Is that you? Love of supremacy. Do you prefer your brother, or do you want to be first? Draw attention to ourselves, as in conversation. That spirit in the vessel will stop the power of God. In the very beginning we said man’s tongue was his worst enemy. Nothing will stop this power from functioning in your life, quicker than an ARGUING – TALKATIVE SPIRIT – Stubborn, unteachable spirit. It is self-will, unyielding, commanding, criticizing, and fretfulness. Such a spirit loves to be coaxed and humored. The river will not flow where such a spirit exists and is tolerated. There is so much of that in the church today. If you don’t notice them then they will find somebody who will. You have no love unless you notice them and everything they do. One Sunday morning, the house was full. During the service, I noticed one man sitting on the front pew; he seemed to enjoy the service very much. When I came back to church that night, that same man was sitting all the way in the back of the church. I said to him, “What are you doing back here? You were up in the front this morning.” He poutingly said, “You never even shook my hand this morning.” I said, “Move over, I am the one who ought to be back here pouting, there are seven hundred of you, only one of me, you did not shake my hand.” God’s power can never flow through such childishness. FAULT FINDING LUST – Familiarity with the opposite sex, unholy actions. DISHONESTY – Deceitful, evading, covering the truth, always trying to leave a better impression of yourself than is true, exaggeration. SELFISHNESS – Love of money, love of ease, laziness. FORMALITY – Spiritual deadness, lack of compassion, for souls, for the church, dryness, indifference. All of these result in a LACK OF THE POWER OF GOD. The answer to it all is a simple one – “…put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) The characteristics of that “new man” are the very nature of Christ, the true holiness of God.