The secret of a godly life lies in Jesus Who lived on earth as a Man, and Who was tempted in every way as we are, but never sinned even once in thought, word, deed, attitude or motive or in any other way (See 1 Tim. 3:16 along with Heb. 4:15 and Heb.2:17,18).
Since it is only those who have come to a godly life who can live together without strife as one body in Christ, we could go one step further and say that a local church can be a functioning expression of Christ’s Body only where believers have seen our Lord Jesus in this way. This is the truth of which the church is to be the pillar and support (See 1 Tim. 3:15 along with verse 16).
Temptation is not the same as sin. James 1:14,15 makes that clear. Our mind has to agree with a temptation before it becomes sin. It is clear from Matthew 4 that Jesus was tempted. But His mind never agreed with any temptation even once. Thus He never sinned. He kept His heart pure.
Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit. He did not have the ‘old man’ that we were born with. We have sinful flesh, whereas Jesus did not have sinful flesh. He came only “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom.8:3). But the Bible teaches that our Lord “was tempted in all points as we are” (Heb.4:15). We do not have to analyze this, even as we do not analyze the mystery of God becoming Man. We believe it. At every point, in every temptation, during His 33? years on earth, Jesus obeyed His Father (unlike Adam who disobeyed).
God’s Word says about Jesus, “He learned obedience and was made complete” (Heb. 5:7-9). The word “learned” is a word that relates to education. So what this verse is saying is that Jesus received an education in obedience as a Man. In each situation and in each temptation, He obeyed His Father and thus completed His education as a Man. Thus He became a Forerunner for us, so that we too can now follow in His footsteps, overcoming temptation and obeying God (Heb. 6:20).
Our Lord can sympathise with us in our struggles against temptation, because He too was tempted exactly as we are (Heb. 2:18; 4:15; 12:2-4). If He was not tempted as we are or if He had access to resources in times of temptation that we do not have access to, then He could not possibly ask us to follow Him. But He had only the same power of the Holy Spirit that He offers us.
An angel cannot ask us to follow him if he flies across a river. We have to swim across that river. And so an angel would have to take a body that is subject to the law of gravity before he could ask us to follow him and show us how to overcome gravity and swim.
The purity of Jesus as a Man was not something that He received on a platter, but one that was acquired through battle. He had to pray “with loud crying and tears” to overcome spiritual death – just as we have to (Heb.5:7). But those battles were not endless ones. Each temptation was conquered – one after another. Thus, over the period of His lifetime, He faced every single temptation that we are tempted by – and overcame every single one of them.
The school of temptation is just like any other school. We all have to start in the kindergarten class. Our Lord too must have been tempted with the most elementary temptations first. But He never spent more than the minimum time necessary in each class. By the time He died on the cross, He could say, “It is finished”. Not only had the work of man’s redemption been finished on the cross, but the path for every child of God to walk in – in victory over sin – had also been finished in His lifetime. Every single temptation that any man can ever face had been faced by our Lord and overcome. Every single examination in the school had been passed successfully. His education as a Man was “finished” (Heb. 5:8,9).
For a person who is unfaithful in the kindergarten class of temptation (e.g. sexually dirty thoughts, anger, lying, love of money, etc.) to try and understand the temptations that Jesus faced in the Ph.D. class of temptation is presumptuous. If you are faithful yourself, you will understand. That is what Jesus said plainly in John 7:17. If however, you are unfaithful in the moments of temptation, you will never understand, no matter how many books you read or tapes you listen to. You will then think that what we are saying here is heresy.
The great mystery of godliness (1 Tim.3:16) cannot be understood by listening to messages or by reading books. The secret of the Lord is revealed only to those who reverence Him so greatly that they hate the very thought of sin. To them alone God reveals His mysteries and His covenant (Psa.25:14).
**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/
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