Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P14 (11-03-20)
Jesus came to give us understanding of ourselves, that we are dead and in need of life. He showed us what true living is, what man was designed to look when he had the Spirit of God living in him. He did this by living like us, as a man, emptying himself of His divineatrobuutes, so that we, who are not God may know what it looks like. He did so that we might recognize our own righteousness and want His. He did this so that once the holy Spirit is given to men, they too can live in the same way he did. We do not do this imitating His action but by imitating His faith, His total dependence upon His Father. Jesus said He did nothing on His own initiative, but only did what He saw His Father doing and He did what His Father told Him to say and how to say it.
Now, being a human being with a human spirit, dead to God but alive to this world, Jesus explained things in terms we could understand. He explained spiritual truth in physical terms we could understand. That is why Jesus often explained spiritual truth in story form, illustrations of life examples, with a contrast between those who had a heart like God and those who did not. He often explained truth in light of real life events in His own life on earth, explaining what just happened. He did this so we might know Him and tap into that faith He had and demonstrated to us. Two examples of this are the story of the good Samaritan and the real life example of His encounter with a woman caught in adultery.
The mind and heart and attitude of Christ Jesus is in such contrast to our heart of stony flesh. God came so that our stoney hearts would be made pliable and soft. That is, we might receive the very life of God in us. For no one can love like God loves. We are not capable of doing so. There is no one who is good but God alone. Even if we did good, what about the and we did yesterday, and the bad things we might do tomorrow. Love never fails, and we fail.
God came so we can participate in that divine nature, and allow the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – to be produced in and through us, as we depend on Christ, living in us, just as that Spirit living in Jesus, who is the Godhood of Jesus. The good Samaritan really is a story about the heart of Jesus, who God is, who Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Jesus Himself demonstrated His heart in His attitude toward the woman caught in adultery. God did not send Jesus to condemn but to save. His attitude was that of restoration, not of condemnation. It was not an attitude of meanness or vindictiveness. It was not an attitude of let us get this in the newspapers. It was an attitude of get up and sin no more. That is the attitude of heart God wants formed in us. Come to Christ for this new heart, and become born again. When you are born again, access by faith everything you need for life and godliness, which is Christ in you, your only hope of glory.
1 John 1:1-3
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
“I have heard him speak. I have seen him with my eyes. I have looked at him. We have touched him. This physical Jesus that we are proclaiming, we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
So he wrote this for the Gnostics, who were claiming that, first of all, that he did not come in the flesh. Later on in scripture John writes.
2 John 1:7
7 I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Why did he say that? Because of people claiming that he did not come in the flesh.
Another doctrine that, of course, that gets a lot of controversy, in that same passage in 1 John, was the fact that they also claimed that man does not have a sin nature. That is also a claim of Gnosticism. So, therefore, the purpose of the writing of 1 John was to correct the Gnostic heresy and to be able to teach truth to those who were in an assembly that were being totally confused by these Gnostics sitting there, who were not saved people at all. It was heretical teaching.
A pastor writes to the apostle John asking for help. And John writes to the pastor, saying here is the answer. And the pastor stands there and reads it to a congregation, 1 John, essentially saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” If you are a Gnostic believing Jesus did not come in the flesh, if you are a Gnostic claiming man does not have a sin nature, he is saying to them that they are lost. If you are someone who claims to love God but hates your brother, I am sorry, but you are lost. I am sorry about that but you are lost.
Now, I am not saying this to discourage you. I am telling you that if you are lost, there is someone looking for you, but if you do not know you are lost or acknowledge you are lost, how are you ever going to be found even if they find you? “I found you”. “What did you find me for. I was not lost. You did not need to find me. I knew where I was going.” We need to understand, my friends, was 1 John we read written to Christians? No, it was written to a Christian pastor who was there for the purpose of receiving truth from the apostles and then passing it on to a congregation, as they are today, made up of lost and saved people, and all kinds of heretical ideas in regard to the word of God.
1 John 1:8
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Who is the truth? It is Christ Jesus. Who is not in them? Christ Jesus. And if Christ is not in you, what does the scripture say? You do not belong to Him. So you are lost. You cannot be claiming that Jesus did not come in the flesh and be saved because you are denying Jesus. You are not saved by understanding a doctrine. You are saved by coming to a person. How can I come to a person that did not exist? Why would I come to a person that did not exist? To get my sins forgiven if I did not think I had a sin nature? So all of these questions had to be answered, and they were answered in 1 John.
He identified Jesus as someone that they had seen, they talked to, their hands had touched and they were proclaiming Him as the Word of life.
Now in John 4:24.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
God is Spirit and we must worship Him in the Spirit and in truth. In other words, if I am going to worship God, and worship Him in Spirit and in truth, that is not being done in a worship service singing praise songs as wonderful as that is. It is walking in what He is and who He is. He is truth. He is full of grace and truth. So it is walking in His truth. What truth? The truth about Him. He already told me the truth about me. Wretched. Now, I need to find the truth about Him. That is the good news.
If I did not realize that I was wretched, then what good news would there be about salvation? If I did not understand my total depravity, then what good news would there be in exchanged life? We have discussed this but it is so vitally important for us to discuss. There is a world of difference between understanding grace and truth. What would rejoicing in the grace of God be when ignoring the truth about your own wretchedness? It is only when I come to grips with what Paul came to grips with is when you can truly come to the point of rejoicing in the grace of God.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
It is then, when I know how wretched I really am, that I am able now and be willing to exchange my life for His. Until that is done, our understanding is “I am really okay. If I could just get rid of this bad habit of mine, then I will be okay. And if I cannot get rid of it, at least let me get forgiveness.” So we live our lives in total delusion, thinking, “I am basically okay. I am okay and you are okay. But I do have some of these flaws. Of course, that is why it is so exciting to go get forgiven.” Or, it is also exciting when you really understand the fullness of God’s grace, which really testifies to the fact that you already are forgiven. “Oh, praise God for this. This is marvelous.” But really, do you think, “the reason that Christ went to a cross to reconcile me unto Himself, not counting my sins against me, was because of these few sins I had. But basically I am okay.” That is what keeps people, when you have got a hangup from drinking, and whatever it might be, drugs, a critical spirit, a vindictive mindset, we think, “well, that is the only thing that is wrong with me, just these things.” God says, “No, everything is wrong with you. In and of yourself is no good thing.”
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
You do not need Me just to take care of these little bad habits that you have. Those have already been forgiven. You need Me for your life.
It is like a person who says he has got a runny nose. If I could just get rid of my runny nose, I would be so good. I also have this cough. If I could just get rid of my cough, I would be so good. And my eyes water up a little bit too. If I could just get rid of it, but I cannot get rid of it, so I just ask God to forgive me for dripping all over the place. But He tells you, you got a cold. You got a problem bigger than your runny nose, and that is you. That is what we have to come to grips with. That is why it is circumstances that reveal our hearts, to show us the yuckiness that is inside there. When we see the yuckiness that is inside, and we see how vindictive that we can be, how unforgiving we can be, how mean we can be, how judgmental we can be. Those are all attitudes of the heart. That is when we say, “Lord Jesus, I think I need to exchange my life. Not just to rejoice in the grace of God that He did for me on these kinds of smaller things that I go through. But there is not anything good inside of me.” God looks on your heart. When you see your heart in comparison to His, the only thing you can say is, “Lord, if you do not mind, I would like to exchange mine for yours, because mine is not worth a flip.”
1 John 5:20
20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
In Him, the one who is true, is understanding. You are not true. It is Him who is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God. He is eternal life. How can anyone deny the deity of Christ when you are talking about the Son of God who is the true God and eternal life, when Jesus said, “I came to give you eternal life?” How can anyone give you eternal life except the one who is eternal life, the true God and eternal life, that is identified in 1 John 5:20 as the Son, Jesus Christ? People certainly rationalize that in some way.
Folks, Christ, therefore, the Son of God, came to give us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. In other words, we are not the ones who are true. That is what man did at the garden of Eden. He sat there and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In essence, what he was saying is “God, I do not need you to determine right from wrong and good from evil. I will determine it myself.” On the day that man did that he became his own god. “And I do not need God to determine that. I will determine it on my own.”
Now, Jesus came to give us understanding so that we may realize that. “No, man, you are not the one who is true. I am the one who is true.” And if you are in Him, if you have exchanged your life for His, Christ has come to live in you, placed you into His body, in Him. Christ is in you. You are now in Him. If you are in Him, then you have now plugged into the one who is true and the true God and you also have eternal life. Folks, that comes from exchanging your life for His. It does not come from just understanding a message. It comes from understanding that I need new life.
Friends, when we do not understand that, we can come to grips to the fact that the law has buried us. That was what the law was there to do, to bury us. You can say I experienced that. I experienced being buried under the law. I also, as a Christian, experienced being buried under the law. Then I came to understand something about God’s wonderful grace, how in Him I am totally forgiven, in Him I am a new creature in Christ, in Him I have been given his righteousness, in Him I have been made holy in the sight of God, in Him I have been made perfect in the sight of God. We can sit around in our holy huddles and just praise God for that. Then before long get an idea and think, “God am I the only one who understands this?” All of a sudden exclusivity sets in. We begin to think, “I am wonderful. For some reason God has just revealed this to me and no one else.”
Friends, I want to tell you something. What God has done for you, is what mercy and grace is all about. But until you and I come to understand our need for that, that I need all of His righteousness and I do not need some of it. I need all of it. How come? Because in and of ourselves, we do not have any righteousness. If righteousness could be gained through the law, through self effort, through self will, then Christ died for nothing.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
The reason that I can rejoice is the fact that I have been set apart, made holy in the sight of God, because there is not anything holy in me. So, it is not that I am a little bit holy and I need a little bit more. There is not anything there. The fact that someone is lost. We use the word unsaved. It is kind of a way of watering down being lost. I am not really lost. I am not really saved. I am just kind of unsaved. Kind of like an un-cola.
The fact of the matter is, I need to see I am lost. Until I understand I am lost, how can I ever rejoice in being found? There is a world of difference in seeing a sinner as just someone who does sinful things, and seeing a sinner as a person who is dead as a hammer. Because if I am doing sinful things, I can repent and stop doing sinful things. But if I am dead it is hard to repent and come alive. I need to see my condition instead of the manifestations of my condition. The manifestations of my condition should bring me to the reality of my condition. If it doesn’t then you have not done anything yet. We rejoice in the grace of God. That certainly covers the manifestation of my condition, but have you dealt with your condition, wretched man that I am?
Have you let God see that circumstances do not cause our nature. They reveal our nature. They reveal where you are walking. I can act and so can a monkey. I can repeat verbiage and so can a parrot. I can teach Charleston Heston to act like Moses and people think he is. Actors can act like Jesus. Acting is not the Christian life. Reacting is where you find out what is going on underneath the skin. Jesus called people who acted as white-washed tombs, Pharisees.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
As someone once wisely said, that a Chrisitan is like a tea bag that you do not find out what it is made of until it is put in hot water, because it is in hot water, that shows what you are made of. If I am acting like a tea bag, but all of a sudden God gives you an opportunity. God gives you an opportunity because He loves you. When you read about the grace of God. Love, for example, keeps no record of wrong. He gives you an opportunity if you are going to keep a record of wrongs. Sometimes we fail the test because we do keep a record of wrongs. It shows us that my heart is deceitful above all things and who can know it. We get opportunities to forgive. God gives us opportunities to forget. Your grace gets you in contact with people you need to forgive. And we flunk the test because I don’t want to. All that does is show you what your heart is. I t is not the issue that I am not forgiving but that you have a bad heart.
Of course, when God shows you have got heart trouble. it really does not do much good to deal with symptoms. You need to deal with the heart. And only God can change hearts. In other words, you cannot work on that. That is where the exchanged life comes in. There is a world of difference between saying that I am understanding and rejoicing in the grace of God and experiencing it.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Of course, it would do me no good for me to live by faith in Him if I am still going to live by faith in me. Because I cannot live by faith in me and faith in Him at the same time. It does not work that way. We have to come to grips with the fact of who we are going to walk by faith in. Until we come to grips with our reactions to see that circumstances do not cause your nature. It just reveals it. It reveals where you are walking and what your heart attitude is.
When Paul was there, giving approval to the stoning of Stephen, thinking he was doing something great for God. That is another heart condition we have to see, is deception, how deceived we can be. In the end times, even the elect are going to be deceived, even crucifying their own brothers and sisters in Christ, thinking they are doing something good for God. That is like cutting off your own finger thinking you are doing something good for your body. That is like trampling on toes, bleeding them and bruising them, thinking I am doing something good for my body. We are deceived by this. The Christian world is deceived in this. We are the only army that shoots their own wounded. When you shoot the wounded, you are deceived. God has to show that to you and me. I can get deceived too. When it comes down to the point that we have to see, “Lord Jesus, my mind needs renewed. That of course, is what He is there to do.
Those kinds of things are never going to be revealed to you until you come to the point in life that you are willing to exchange your life for His. As long as living in deception saying “I am basically okay. In fact, I am really pretty righteous. Look at how wonderful I am. I am so compassionate and loving. I give a marvelous appearance to everybody. My family knows different but that is okay.” So we are dealing in deception. We are not really deceiving those people who are closest to us. We are just deceiving ourselves in thinking what others think about it.
In that process of deception, we have not come to grips of exchanging our life for His. We are still trying to function in the energy of our own flesh. Still trying to function in the energy of my wisdom instead of realizing Christ came to give you understanding. He is the one who is true, not you. He is the one who has given you eternal life. A corpse cannot give himself life.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Friends, we have to come to grips with these things. We have to come humbly before God, have I exchanged my life for yours? Have I truly come to see myself as who I am. The things I want to do I don’t and the things I do not want to do I do anyway. Wretched man that I am. Who will free me from this bondage. And Jesus said “I will. If you give me your life I will give you mine. You give me your desire, your absolute passionate desire for acceptance from the world and I will give you all of the acceptance you need from me.” It is an exchanged life, folks. I give Him the rejection of the world. He gives me the acceptance from God.
As we conclude this last section, the reason that we are going into this in the depth that we are is because, again, of the importance of understanding this person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who pulls all this off. Again, it is not just a message that He gave but it is the person of that message. Christ Jesus alive living in you. You are in Him. He is in you. Christ Jesus alive living in you your only hope of glory.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Your only hope of ever being restored for the intelligent purpose for what God created you for. The only hope of ever having understanding. Your only hope of ever knowing what truth is, is in Christ Jesus our Lord, a person, not in a doctrine, not in a denomination, not in tradition, but in a person, and that is the person of Jesus Christ. When we truly come to exchange our life for His, it is truly an exchange. It is saying, “Lord, it is no longer I who live. John the Baptist told us about this.
30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
We understand in Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth. We understand Jesus is the creator of all things. If Christ Jesus is your creator and the way He created man that He himself, God living in His creation, man, then that means that I have to come to a point of recognizing my destitution, recognizing my lostness and come to Him for life, and then to understand that it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me and come to the point in your life that we exchange ours for his.
“Lord Jesus, I give you me. Me is not worth anything. I give me to you. I do not know why you want it, but you do. I give you me in exchange for you. I ask you to be my life. That is your desire. You came to give me your life. So I want you to be my life. If you gave your life for me to give it to me to live it through me, then Lord Jesus, I exchange mine for you. Therefore, I am going to quit trying to live the Christian life and allow you alone to live your life in and through me. I cannot give it and I cannot live it. You are the one who gave it and you are the only one who can live it. So Lord Jesus, I give up. I want my mind to be your mind. I want your thoughts to be my thoughts. I want your heart to be my heart.”
That is why the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-6.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[Deuteronomy 6:5]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Leviticus 19:18]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Is your attitude the same as Christ Jesus. When you see a person bleeding to death as in the good Samaritan story. You can see someone robbed physically or emotionally or whatever it might be, what is your attitude? Cross over to the other side of the road, not getting your hands dirty? Such was the attitude of the Levite and the other priests. Or was it an attitude of the good Samaritan who went to help his brother. Is your attitude of giving unto others as you would have others do unto you? That would be Christ’ attitude. But is it yours? Or do you have an attitude of resentment and bitterness? It says do not judge lest you yourself be judged. Is your attitude of judging others or is your attitude of not judging others? It is the attitude of Christ.
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 1011 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The other is an attitude of the flesh. Remember the story of the self righteous Pharisee who drug a prostitute into the presence of Jesus. Here they were with their stones, getting ready to stone her to death. Jesus said to them, “You without sin, you cast the first stone.” In other words, if you are going to stone this woman, if you are without sin, do it. If not, you better drop your stones and go home. And they all dropped their stone. The only one there without sin was Christ Jesus. In other words, like E. B. Hill said, “As far as I understand the bible, my sins are between me and God and as far as I am concerned I hope they stay that way.” In other words, your sins are between you and God. Jesus looked at her and asked, “Where are your accusers?” My friend, the accuser is Satan, not God. Jesus did not accuse. Satan is known as the accuser. So where are your accusers? So they have all gone away. Neither do I accuse you. Get up and sin no more.
His attitude was that of restoration, not of condemnation. It was not an attitude of meanness or vindictiveness. It was not an attitude of let us get this in the newspapers. It was an attitude of get up and sin no more. That is the mind and heart and attitude of Christ Jesus. Anything contrary to that is an attitude of the flesh.
Order the Bible Study; “A Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love” book today!