Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P59 (09-01-20)
To the degree we grasp God’s love for us is the degree to which we can allow God’s love to be produced in us and through us into the lives of others. We are a conduit of God’s truth and grace, of His love in our hearts. As we receive from Him, that is what then spills over into the lives of others. We cannot produce this fruit of the Spirit. As we abide in Him, in the source of love, rely on Him, allow our minds to be renewed with truth, fruit of the Spirit is borne in our lives to the glory of God and the benefit of others.
Knowing this love of God is so vitally important. Until we know the love of God for us, we have nothing to pass on to others. For apart from Him we can do nothing. We were designed to be dependent on Him. God wants us to trust in Him, that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. The Spirit teaches us what truth is and replaces error with truth as He guides us, as a counselor and perfectly loving Father, into all truth and teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. There is a dynamic relationship with the living God, as in a best friend, whereby we can go boldly to the throne of grace for help in time of need.
Learn to access what is already there, the Spirit who is full of grace and truth, who is living in you. As a child of God, you are to be led internally by the Spirit He has given you. He reveals to you things of the Spirit that are spiritually discerned, and so you can know and experience this love of God that surpasses understanding. Love is the fulfillment of the law. As He has loved you, so you love one another. Love does its neighbor no wrong. Against the Spirit there is no law. And in 1 Corinthians 13, we come to see who God is, who has made Himself known to us in Christ Jesus, and so we have gained access to Christ Jesus, living in us.
You learn to copy the attitudes of heart that are in Jesus, the faith, the dependency on His Father when He walked this earth. What Jesus did, as the second Adam, was to empty Himself of His divine attributes, never ceasing to be God, but choosing to live as a human, to be in appearance as a man and to become obedient to death even death on a cross. What He modeled for us, who are not God, was the way a human being was designed to function, being totally dependent on God. Jesus did nothing on his own initiative but he only did what he saw his Father doing and only said what His Father told him to say and how to say it.
As we grasp this pattern and way of life of Jesus, as we read in the gospels and ponder over John 15, the parable of the vine and the branches, we begin to see more clearly how we are to function, and we begin to see the result of that, the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control in Christ Jesus coming out of us. We are surprised by that, for that would not be the natural inclination of our flesh. We marvel at the abundant supply of grace in Christ Jesus.
So, it is not actions you imitate, but his attitude of heart, of dependency on his Father, to make his Father known, to do his will and not his own, to do what his Father told him to do and what to say it and how to say it. You learn to trust what God has said, what is true, and you respond to that and act on that truth. You respond to the fruit of the Spirit that was initiated to you, the unconditional love and patience of God with you. You realize the gentleness in how He deals with you. You experience Him initiating these qualities to you, and you respond to that and so you love because He first loved you. You are living by faith in who He is, who has been revealed to you, that you are a recipient of, that you echo the words of the apostle Paul, to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
As a result of all that God accomplished in Christ Jesus, as a result of Christ Jesus giving His life for you, so that He could give His life to you, so that He could live His life through you, you are the recipient of Christ placed in you. God is the initiator and you are the responder. So you respond and become born again, and continue to respond to the life He has given. You continue in the same faith so you are compelled to make your body available to the living God who lives in us. That is the most reasonable act of worship.
We have spent many weeks discussing God’s love for us. Again, you say, why do we do that? Because it is an absolute necessity if we are ever going to express that kind of love to our brothers and sisters in Christ around us. It is not that we loved Him but that He loved us first.
1 John 4:10
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
If we do not understand His love for us, then we really have nothing to pass on. It is the vine and branch we talk about. Unless we are abiding in the source of love, how are we ever going to bear the fruit of that love. We cannot produce it. We are not the source of love.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
That is something we have to understand. We as human beings are not the source of love. God is the source of love. If we are going to love with the kind of love God is talking about, we have to plug into the source just like the light bulb is not the source of light. It is the instrument of light, but it is not the source of light. The electricity is what is necessary in order to produce the light. The bulb bears the fruit of that connection. We are in that same type of situation whereby until we know the love of God for us, we have nothing to pass on to others.
Now, we again become so do-oriented that we forget that our actions are the result of our attitude. We have to realize that. That we function from a vantage point of an attitude toward something. If you have an attitude that I do not want to work, your every morning is going to be a struggle to get up. That is all there is to it. I have got an attitude that I do not want to work. I do not deserve the work. Why do some people have to and I do. We are going to be miserable. Our attitude is miserable. So getting up is going to be miserable.
On other hand, if we look at work as a privilege that we do have. God says it is good for us to work.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Idle hands give us to the devil. We know that from experience, on the few days we do not work. If we look at work as God says it is, it is good for you. If a man wants to eat, God says he should work.
2 Thessalonians 3:10
10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
I have the privilege to work. We have plentiful jobs in this country, but around the world it is not the case. So we get up with a different attitude. We get up with a privilege, of how privileged we are. So our attitude is always going to proceed our action.
God has chosen to use people to express His love and forgiveness to the world. Since actions always follow thought, God is in the process of renewing our minds and giving us the proper thoughts that produce the attitudes of love. So when we understand God’s love for us, we begin to see people in a totally new light. This is progression. This is not something that you just get hit with or zapped with. The Christian world has become instant everything. We live in a world of instant coffee, in instant meals, and instant gratification. Some think there is instant spirituality. That is not the case. We grow because we are growing in grace. We are growing in our understanding of God’s love for us. Then would we not be growing in our understanding of how to love others?
So we learn through the word of God to begin to look beyond our outward appearances, to see people as God sees them. We have talked about this so many times, how anger is a secondary response to fear. When you see the angry person, an angry man especially, you see a fearful man. Men do not want to admit we are fearful. We do not mind admitting at all we are angry. That is motcho. A woman does not like to admit she is angry. That is not real feminine. She doesn ’ t mind admitting she is fearful. But a man. Do not tell me I am fearful. I would rather be angry. We hide behind that. You see an angry man, what you see is a fearful man.
Now, if I look at the outward, the anger aspect of it, I recoil. When I see an angry person, I do not want to be around him. Get me out of here. I do not like to be around an angry person. Do you like to be around an angry dog? You would not be anxious to pet him. I understand that behind that anger, underneath the skin, is a fearful person. What is your response when you see someone fearful? Your response is to put your arms around him and protect him. Everything is going to be okay. There is the difference between walking away from something and looking beyond the outward and seeing the inward and then responding as God sees people instead of the way we see people.
So we begin to see people as God sees them. That is a learning process. Having been a recipient of God’s mercy, kindness and love, we find ourselves, surprisingly, to begin to extend those same qualities to other people. We find ourselves being merciful, kind, loving and forgiving. Where in the world did that come from? Really that is not even admirable traits in the flesh. We say “ be hard. ” You see people, especially many times, you see that in the media, where these people, sweet looking women up here. But sometimes our heart is hard as a brick. They have learned to be hard.
I learned to be hard as a businessman, way before I knew the Lord. I was told nice guys finish last, and I was a nice guy. I got the message. I learned to be hard. Jesus lives in your life, and you start finding that you extend mercy, kindness and love. Your heart softens. You begin to extend these qualities to other people. You do not understand what you are doing, let alone others.
Only Christ can produce this kind of love in us. He is going to do that through the renewing of our minds. Through the renewing of our minds, we are going to find our attitudes begin to change. We begin to see that I have the attitude of love and mercy I did not have before. What we recognize to do these next few weeks is to look at attitudes of love that are absolutely necessary if we are going to express His love of God to one another.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
Folks, I want you to notice something. He did not say that your actions should be the same as Christ Jesus, but your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. We are going to go on with this passage. Once again, a reminder to us. What is the attitude of Christ Jesus concerning how to live his life here on this earth as a man. He was made in human likeness. How do you live your life on this earth as a man? How did Adam live his life here on earth prior to the fall? How did Jesus live his life here on earth through the entirety of His life? In both cases, they lived in dependency upon the Father, prior to the fall for Adam and as a total lifestyle for Jesus. So Jesus said, “I do nothing unless the Father tells me to do it.” In other words, “I am going to live in total dependency upon the Father. I am going to do nothing unless He tells me to do it.”
If our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, what should our attitude be? Once we have become children of the living God, indwelt by the living God, able to be taught by the loving God, what should our attitude be toward the living God that resides in us? It should be an attitude of total dependency, for recognizing the fact that I have a counselor living inside of me, who does not even charge me $100 an hour and say ’Um. Um.’ to me. I have a counselor who is my teacher. He wants to teach my mind, renew my emotions and direct my will to become compliant to the Spirit of God who lives in me. Therefore, I have an ability. I have the wherewithal to be led internally 24 hours a day by the Spirit of God. That is available to me. It would be like a person saying these light bulbs are available to you 24 hours a day. If you want to be in the light, all you have to do is just stay in the light. If you want to wallow in darkness, then there is a closet you can hide in. But if you want light, there is light available to you. The same thing with us. All of these things are available to us.
Living in us is the fruit of the Spirit. Love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control is not something you go get. It is something that is already in residence. It is already there. It is already in the house. It is like the armor of God. You do not seek it. You put it on. It is there. The fruit of the Spirit is there. Access it. It is available to you. Your dependency upon it will create control of it through your life. The only thing missing is if I am going to depend upon that or not? Or am I going to try to create my own light? Or am I going to recognize this has been provided for me and to walk in that newness of life that has been given to me in Christ Jesus. That is a difference in the attitude of faith. Is faith something that causes me to get something new? Or, is faith what you use to access what you already have? I believe the latter is the teaching of Christ Jesus.
His attitude was that of dependency. Why did he not say our actions should be the same as Christ Jesus? Because Jesus ’ actions were the result of what the Father told Him to do. If my actions were going to be the same as Christ Jesus, then I would have to walk in the assumption that everything that he told Jesus to do I am going to do. Then why not go out and raise Lazarus? God does not tell you and me as individuals to do the same thing. Can you imagine every believer being told to do the same thing. Imagine the confusion that would be.
God did tell us to duplicate the actions of Jesus. There is an arm band with the letters WWJD. I am sorry, what would Jesus do has nothing to do with what you would do. Now, if it said what was the attitude of Jesus, then there is something to copy. But to copy what Jesus did, and take it to its ultimate conclusion then you will have to walk around raising the dead, make the blind see and the deaf here. You will certainly be bold in attacking the religious world, and go over and knock over tables and call them white-washed sepulchres. You would also live without a home.
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
So, I would probably have to get rid of my house.
It is so easy to say what Jesus would say in regard to these nice things. He did other things. He lived. Do you want to duplicate that? Some people say “Oh, yes.” How did it go? The issue is we do not duplicate actions. Actions come from the direction of the Father. What we go to copy and imitate is the attitude, the attitude of dependency that Jesus had. The attitude of dependency He wants to develop in us is to be available to listen to the voice of God and act accordingly. If He says go there, go there. If He says go give a cup of water in the name of Jesus, go give a cup of water. It is listening to the word of God. Again, the attitudes of Christ and the attitudes of the apostle Paul, who certainly lived by this, you are going to see that total attitude of dependency upon Christ. Do not try to duplicate what I do, but duplicate my attitude of dependence.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Is that eternally, or is this talking about the time He spent on the earth in an earth suit? Certainly the latter is what we are talking about here.
sup>7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
He made himself nothing. What do you mean, made Himself nothing? He came in human likeness. Is this not a study of contrast? When you talk about the difference between God and His creation? But compared to God, we are nothing. Jesus used that word nothing when He said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” So, He is saying to us here that that attitude of dependency is an attitude that says “I am not the important one. My desires are not what is important. What is important is that the desires of the Father be communicated to me and I am willing to carry them out. That is what is important. I am not going to be the dynamic of my own action and the cause of my own effect. I am going to live in dependency upon my Father, even though I am God. I am not going to hold onto that.”
The characteristic of God is He calls things into existence that are not as if they were. He is the initiator of all things. He did not consult us when He created the earth. He did not consult us when He saved the earth. All these things come from understanding that compared to God, we are nothing. The psalmist said that.
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
We need to understand that attitude. We are not the center of the universe. We are not a big deal. Who are we, God, that you should be mindful of us?
You fly up in the sky and you look down. You cannot see people. You can hardly see houses. You can hardly see buildings. You cannot see anybody but you know there are people all over the place. Whenever I get on an airplane and I look down, I say, “Who are you that you are mindful of us?”
What you are looking at in light of the immensity of the universe, just how important are we? When you look at that, then you are saying, “That is an attitude that it is not my will but it is your will, Lord.” Even though from a size standpoint, I could look at that, totally insignificant and yet we are absolutely precious in the sight of God. He even knows the number of hairs on our head.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
It is so amazing to realize that God is big enough to create the universe and small enough to live in our hearts and be mindful of us. His mind is so great, to the creative power of God, yet He sits down and teaches our little minds. It is a love relationship that we can never ever get our arms totally around.
He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant. He did not come to be king, but a servant. He was made in human likeness.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
Death on a cross is the worst of all ways to die. He was found in the appearance as a man. Yes, Jesus was totally God and totally man. But he is a man totally different than us. He did not have a sin nature. He was born of a virgin. His conception was from God. Ours was from mom and dad. Even though Jesus certainly had the appearance as man, he never lost his identity as who he really is, God. “I am God with an appearance as a man. I am not a man as you are because my conception was not as yours. But I do have the appearance as a man, and I had been made in human likeness and I am going to show you how to live as a man.”
Being found in appearance as a man, he became obedient to death. He lived in total dependence on the Father, even to the point of dying on a cross, saying “Lord, not my will but yours be done.” He did express human desire but spiritual truth is he did not come to do his will, but he came to do the will of the Father.
The attitude of expressing God’s love to others involves that continual renewing of the mind.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Once again, as we are listening or going through these studies together, let us keep our focus. Jesus came to this earth. He took upon himself our humanity. He identified with us in our humanity so we could identify with Him in His deity. He walked in total dependence upon the Father, and said therefore to us, “As the Father sent me so send I you. As I live, so you live with the same attitude of dependency upon the Father. I have done everything for you. I have justified you.” You have been reconciled to God through the death of the Son. Having been reconciled you have been saved through his life. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness. Therefore there is nothing else that you need. You merely access what is there. There is nothing more to get. There is no more new experience. There is no new miracle that will ever surpass the miracle of your new birth. There are no signs that are necessary. You have already been given the sign you will ever need with his resurrection from the dead. There are no wonders that are greater than the wonder of the one who indwells you. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness. That everything means everything. It did not say some things. It said everything.
As a result of that and as a result of Christ Jesus giving His life for you, so that He could give His life to you, so that He could live His life through you. In order for that to take place there is only one thing left for us to do. Make our bodies available to the living God who lives in us. That is it, folks. It is like saying to a branch. “I made you a branch. I have given everything you need to live a branch life. You got it all. You are not going to get another branch. You are it. You are branch. In the original language. I am the true vine and you are branch. It does not even say a branch just branch. Now that you are branch, I have given you everything you need to function a branch through abiding in the life of the vine you are attached to. If you detach yourself from that, then you will dry up and die. As long as you are abiding in the life of the vine you have been given everything you need to function as a branch. We are told the same thing.
“I have given you everything you need.” The only thing left is for you now, in view of the mercy of God, who did this for you, had given everything you need, in view of that, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. You are set apart. Do you know what sets you apart? Walking in dependence upon God sets you apart from the rest of the world. Being a child of God separates you from the rest of the world. Having the wisdom of God sets you apart from the rest of the world. What you know is true sets you apart from the world that does not know anything that is true. At Christ’s death, the question was asked, “What is truth?” The world does not know what truth is, but you do. You are a child of God. You have been blessed beyond measure.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
There is a spiritual act of worship and a natural act of worship.
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