"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, September 15, 2018


~ By James Fire

In the ancient schools of Greek culture, teachers would often instruct their classes on any particular subject by first explaining what it is not, before explaining what it is.
In this five-part series, we have examined the lives of Samson, Samuel, and the kings of Israel, Saul and Solomon. Much of what we have examined in the lives of these men relates to what we should not do in our walks with the LORD to ensure we don’t stumble and fall from our steadfastness in Christ (2 PET 3:17).

We may learn much by negative examples, learning from the mistakes of others and establish parameters and guard against committing such things ourselves. In addition to our spiritual education, we also learn by the positive examples as outlined in Scripture: we can look at the lives of Joseph and Daniel, Samuel and Elijah, as well as Peter and John, Paul and Timothy. However, we will focus on the quintessential and supreme example that’s set for us, the LORD Jesus Christ, the Savior!

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the 
throne of God

In each of these previous examples we learned that the core of the problems of Samson, Samuel, Saul and Solomon in falling from their right standing before God was, to one degree or another, because of their love of self. Simply, they wanted what they wanted, despite how it would affect others or even their own relationship with God. Regardless of the consequences, they acquired that which God says is sin. 
Among these men were those who also abused the position, powers and privileges that they were graciously granted by God, and proved to be unfaithful stewards of such.

This is in stark contrast with the LORD Jesus Christ who didn’t fulfill His own will, but the Father’s will; He always did those things that pleased the Father (JOHN 5:30; 8:28-29), and was well-pleasing to Him (MATT 3:17; 26:42) in that Christ offered up His Holy and Righteous Self on the cross, dying for the sins of others (JOHN 10:17-18):

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

His position was and is far loftier than any held by Samson, Saul and Solomon – higher by far even than the heavens are above the earth; yet He demonstrated the supreme example of humility and humbleness. Meekness in its greatest example, demonstrating true greatness. 

For your edification here is a three-part article on:

If we live out the two greatest commandments by the enabling Spirit of grace, we can ensure that we will not stumble into sin, but bear in mind that this practice is a life long process in our sanctification in Christ:

MATTHEW 22:37-40
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets

One would be correct in pointing out that Jesus of Nazareth is God made flesh, fully God as well as fully man – how can we possibly walk in such perfection as He Himself did? We know that we won’t ever achieve sinless perfection in a practical sense (though positionally speaking, God the Father sees us perfectly sinless due to the imputation of the righteousness of Christ on our behalf).

While still in this world, our sinful nature yet remains with us (GAL 5:19-20; 1 JOHN 1:8; ROM 8:22-23), but we also know that any true saint of God, anyone who is genuinely born again of God’s Spirit cannot and will not make a habitual practice of sin in a lifestyle of compromised corruption:

1 JOHN 3:7-10
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother

The Greek word for “commit/committeth” is poieo, and it means, among many things, “to keep, to continue, to fulfill” and so the idea here is not in committing an isolated incidence of a singular sin but in the continuing to sin, in keeping sin (and not forsaking or confessing it). 

This does not negate the fact that we as Christians will at times commit a sin, because 1 JOHN 1:8-9 tells us that anyone who says that they do not have sin (that is, a capacity for sin due to a sin nature which we are admonished to crucify [the flesh]; GAL 5:24; ROM 7:18-25; 8:13) is deceived.

The other aspect of this truth likewise considers the dual nature of the Christian; there is the fleshly nature of fallen Adam that remains with us still since the time of our physical birth, and there is the godly nature granted to us by being born of the Spirit of God (and these two are continuously at war with each other according to GAL 5:16-17). We know that when we commit a sin, it is the flesh – our carnal, sinful nature that does this, but that which is born of the Spirit of God, that divine nature that is in us because of Christ’s redemption (2 PET 1:4) is incapable of committing sin:

1 JOHN 3:9
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God

Now as we look at the life of JESUS our precious LORD and Savior, we see in perfect form the kind of life we are growing towards and aspiring to. Again, this is what sanctification is all about (read the article linked above "our sanctification in Christ"): it’s growing to become more like JESUS. When we read about the life of Christ, don’t be discouraged and think, “I’ll never get there!”

The LORD has promised, that for those who will surrender, yield to Him, allow His Spirit to work and be intent in crucifying the flesh, that He will complete the work that He Himself started!

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

So with all of that said, let’s witness the life of the Son of God, our Savior Who never, ever stumbled into a singular sin (HEB 4:15; 1 PET 1:19), but Whose perfect walk before the Father was a flawless one!

The marvelous miracle that is the Nativity – where the WORD was made flesh and dwelt among us (JOHN 1:14) – was the start of life for Jesus, God the Son, Who, is also the Son of Man – and we beheld His glory, both then at the time of His earthly life and today, as we read the testimony of Scripture in His regard. Additionally, we behold His glory as we see Him at work in the saints, conforming them into His image (ROM 8:29).

In the time of His earthly life, people beheld this unusual, remarkable Child and we read in LUKE’s Gospel that. . .

LUKE 2:40, 52
40 . . . the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man

He was raised by poor but godly parents; and while it’s uncertain whether or not He recognized Who He Himself was at an earlier age, it’s evident that He knew by the time He was twelve years old, for it was at His bar mitzvah (“son of the commandment”) that He spoke of His “Father’s business” (LUKE 2:49) – and it wasn’t in Joseph’s carpentry shop!

It was at that time when His family (not only Joseph, Mary and His siblings, but extended family that traveled caravan style) was returning to Nazareth from Jerusalem that they realized Jesus was not among them, which sent His folk into a panic (LUKE 2:48).

Mary rebukes her Son for making them worry so, and that’s when the LORD states that He must be about His Father’s business – however, as it states, in vs. 51, He submitted to His parents and traveled back to Nazareth.

Think of that – God made flesh, submitting to His earthly parents: this shows integrity and humility, truthfulness and humbleness – essential for walking without stumbling. This was further demonstrated when the LORD of Glory submitted to John the Baptist for His water baptism (even while the Baptist protested; MATT 3:14).

It was the LORD’s expressed intention:

15 . . . Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him

It was “immediately” after this that the Spirit of the LORD led Him into the wilderness – where He fasted and prayed for 40 days (a fast lasting this long will bring a body to the brink of physical starvation). 

During this time, at His physically weakest, the enemy came and tested Him, tempting Him with His necessary food (JOB 23:12), but He declined, being obedient to the Father and receiving sustenance of greater nourishment (JOHN 4:34). 

He tempted Him with displaying His power as God made flesh that would (supposedly) yield the desired response of His reception in Israel as the Messiah. Yet He rejected this temptation as well. Satan then pulled out his ‘ace in the hole’ and offered Him all of the kingdoms of the world.

He was destined to rule the nations, but not by the invitation of the god of this world (2 COR 4:4), but rather the way that the Father planned: the LORD Jesus would receive His crown by way of the cross; and this He knew! It was a serious temptation to avoid the cross and go ‘the easy way’. This is the tactic that the enemy often employs with us, appealing to our carnality: to have mercy upon ourselves, to take the easier path. He will sympathize us straight into sin if we heed his seductive words!

Still, our LORD stayed the course to the cross, from there to the carven tomb, to the clouds above and on the Day appointed, receive His crown. In each of these three temptations, rather than using His Almighty spoken Word and send Satan spiraling across the universe, He simply quoted Scripture – all of them from Deuteronomy, interestingly enough (DEUT. 8:3; 6:16,13).

What an example to us! He fought Satan, not in a way that only He could (by His personal power as God) but through the same means we are able to fight him, with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (EPH 6:17)! So, we who are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and likewise armed with the Scriptures can also do battle victoriously against the enemy of the church.

The LORD Jesus was not a procrastinator – He was, as we say sometimes of people, “a man on a mission” and He wasted no time. He immediately entered into ministry once He was anointed, tested and prevailed.

He declares the truth about Himself in perfect humility (that He is in fact, the anointed one of YHWH, aka the Messiah (LUKE 4:18-21). Yet He refused to back down when those who heard Him found offense with His claim.

In fact, He engaged them in truth when He spoke about Gentiles who expressed faith in the LORD and were favored of the LORD, even when Israel was under chastisement.
His meaning was obvious – that unless these Jews who heard Him likewise expressed faith in the LORD (Himself) that they too would be chastened and not favored. As it was, they were that offended, that they attempted to drive Him over a cliff (LUKE 4:23-29)!

The LORD was never one who allowed public opinion to sway Him: those who allow themselves to be so influenced are in danger of stumbling in their walk. Saul succumbed to peer pressure, and in some sense, so did Solomon. Yet here we see the LORD ‘calling a spade, a spade.’:

MATTHEW 15:8-14
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch

The LORD was always seeking the Father in prayer, often long before morning as well as early evening:

MARK 1:35:
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed
(See also MARK 6:46).

Instances where the LORD took time out for prayer: MATT 14:23; 17:21; 19:13; 26:36-39,42,44; LUKE 9:28-29; 11:1; 22:32; JOHN 14:16; 17:9,15,20; HEB 5:7.

What may be learned by such a devoted prayer life other than the fact that such a life is guarded from the pitfalls of temptation and stumbling, even as our LORD had admonished His disciples:

MATTHEW 26:40-41
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

The flesh will hate any devotion in prayer, for prayer is the solicitation for grace and mercy in time of need (HEB 4:16), and the sinfulness of our rebellious flesh despises such solicitation due to pride and self-sufficient independence. It will resent the truth that: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” JOHN 15:5.

So, we have seen that our LORD respected the authority of others over Him – namely His parents when He was a child. No doubt teachers He had while growing up in synagogue as well.
However He reverenced the LORD God in all things, growing in the admonition and wisdom of the LORD (LUKE 2:52).

We likewise have seen that He has the highest regard for the Scriptures, resorting to them to prove His own identity to His people (JOHN 5:39) as well as His weapon of choice against the enemy – when He could have displayed and used His power as Deity to both.
The first thing He does when His disciples witnessed Him in His resurrected state was to give them a Bible study from the Old Testament Scriptures to authenticate His life’s ministry!

LUKE 24:44-48
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

He as an obedient Son, submitted to the will of God the Father (HEB 5:8), and sought Him continuously in prayer. He modeled godly conduct in seeking His Father’s will rather than His own (JOHN 5:30), even when it cost Him His life!

His love for others was unquestioned and abundantly evident – never did He conduct Himself in a selfish, self-centered manner (as did Samson, Saul and Solomon). See JOHN 15:10 (These three links will bring you to each of the three preceding studies in this series of "Walking Without Stumbling").

A study of agape love as found in 1 COR 13:4-8 (see the list below) is a character profile of the LORD Jesus Christ (and is central to all we do as His disciples, without such love, all that is done in the name of Christ is worthless (see 1 COR 13:1-3)):

~ vs. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind – JOHN 19:18, 26-27; LUKE 23:34.
~ charity envieth not – PSALM 22:5-6.
~ charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up - ISAIAH 42:2; ZECH 9:9; MATT 11:29
~ vs. 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly – MATT 4:5-7.
~ seeketh not her own – JOHN 5:30; MATT 26:39.
~ is not easily provoked – JOHN 11:33; 2:15. (Note: in this instance where the LORD drove the money changers out of the Temple, He first fashioned a scourge of small cords, which took some time to weave together – this was not a fit of ill-temper, but anger under strict control – (“not easily provoked”)
~ thinketh no evil – 1 PET 1:19; JOHN 8:46.
~ vs. 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity – MATT 7:23
~ but rejoiceth in the truth – LUKE 10:21
~ vs. 7 Beareth all things – LUKE 9:41
~ believeth all things – HEB 10:7
~ hopeth all things – JOHN 8:29
~ endureth all things – HEB 12:2
~ vs. 8 Charity never faileth – HEB 13:5

In Summary:
We likewise must learn to be subject to authority where ever God has placed them over us (COL 3:20; TITUS 3:1).
We must cultivate a reverence for the LORD our God and Father, esteeming Him above all others (ROM 15:6).
Likewise we are to be able disciples of the Word, and be obedient to the Scripture’s revelation of God’s will for our lives (ROM 6:16-17; PHIL 2:12).

In addition to reverence, we must also learn obedience to God in all things, because it means dying to self (via the Cross of Christ) and allowing the life of Christ to manifest in us, to the glory of the Father (EPH 4:21-32).

Our prayer life should reflect the same character and commitment as Christ Jesus’ devotion (1 THESS 5:17).
Our love one for another is another vital attribute as His disciples (JOHN 13:34-35).
If we follow the LORD Jesus – that is, “walk [and “live in”] in the Spirit” (GAL 5:16,25) then we shall indeed walk without stumbling and grow in the grace and the knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ!

2 PETER 3:17-18
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen

This concludes this five-part series! May the LORD Jesus Christ continue to bless and keep you in His grace and truth!

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