Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Follow Jesus?

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased." Luke 3:21-22 (NIV).
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil for forty days. . . .  Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. Luke 4:1-2, 14 (NLT)

In Jesus, there was never an inner tendency (or bent) to sin that humans’ possess. Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure, and the Holy Spirit help Jesus defeat evil and sin within His life. The temptation narrative in the Gospels is preceded and followed by references to the Holy Spirit:  Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit . . . and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by evil” (Luke 4:1-2, NIV). Thereafter “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14, NIV). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus faced real human temptations. Yet, Jesus had the fullness of God living within His heart (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9) and He was kept from committing sins (John 1:2; John 10:30). 

Following His baptism while in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by evil for forty days (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13). Jesus’ temptations focused on three crucial areas: (1) physical needs and desires, (2) possessions and power, and (3) pride (see 1 John 2:15–16). However, Jesus did not give in to evil’s temptation. Mainly, Jesus never stopped believing and trusting in God, and He maintained a close relationship with God. Through this close relationship with God, Jesus did not give into the evil temptations of pride, sensuality, fear, self-pity, selfishness, jealousy and greed. Jesus refused to give into unbelief of God and His promises. Unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus never disobeyed God. Instead, Jesus believed God’s promises (Genesis 3; 1 Peter 1:19–22; 1 John 3:5). In essence, Jesus faced every single type of temptation that humans face, yet He did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 teaches that Jesus “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)

The New Testament states clearly that even in His humanity, Jesus did not sin (see e.g., 1 Peter 1:18–19; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus maintained His sinless state because He remained in a close, devoted, and personal relationship with God (see John 15:1-8; see 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 3:5). Jesus prayed frequently, especially when making important decisions (Luke 6:12). Still more, the New Testament portrays Jesus as a Man “who went about doing good” to others and wholeheartedly following God (Acts 10:38). 

Jesus never disobeyed God’s commandments (Exodus 20:1–21; Deuteronomy 5). During His earthly ministry, Jesus never lied, cheated, coveted, disobeyed His Father, committed adultery, murdered, nor did He commit any of the many other sins noted in the Old Testament (John 15:10; John 18:38; 2 Corinthians 5:21). No deceit was found in Jesus’ mouth (1 Peter 2:22). Jesus loved God and obeyed God’s will with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength. Jesus was “humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29) and Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and carried out all that God requires (Matthew 3:15; see also Jeremiah 31:31–34; 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

As the Sinless and Righteous Servant of the Lord, Jesus offers Himself for our sins (Isaiah 53:7–12). Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God (Isaiah 53:7) offered for the sins of all people (John 1:29; Revelation 5:6–14). We may go to Him as God and be confident that He has been there before us and so is the Helper we need (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:14-16). Most important as followers of Jesus, we must also follow Jesus’ sinless life by continually believing and trusting in God and obeying God’s will as found in the Holy Scriptures.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:1–5 (NIV).

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God bless you! You are loved by God (Romans 5:5).