Holy Ghost Teacher
John 7:15 “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”
Jesus received His wisdom and knowledge by direct revelation from the Spirit of God rather than by the teachings of man. Jesus had been learning, but not through man. The Holy Ghost was His teacher. Jesus had to be taught the things of God. This looks contrary to Colossians 2:3, which says that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus. If Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, why would He have to learn or be taught?
The harmony between these apparently opposite statements is that Jesus’ spirit man was 100% God and had all of the wisdom and understanding of God in it, but it was manifest in natural flesh. It wasn’t sinful flesh but it was flesh, nonetheless, and had to be educated. Jesus was not taught by man, but He was taught by the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. The knowledge was within Him but it had to be drawn out.
At the new birth, a born-again man’s spirit “is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”… Colossians. 3:10. “… we have the mind of Christ.”… 1 Corinthians 2:16, and “an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”… 1 John 2:20. All of these things are a reality in our spiritual man. However, just as Jesus had to be taught, so we must draw this wisdom and knowledge out of our spirits and renew our minds with it… Romans 12:2. This is one of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit to the believer. Through the new birth, we have received the mind of Christ in our spirit man and are in the process of growing in wisdom by drawing this knowledge out of our spirits and renewing (or reprogramming) our minds. This wisdom has to be drawn out by faith, time spent in the Word, and prayer.
Matthew 18:33 “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?”
Peter thought he was being very generous by offering to forgive his brother seven times in one day, but Jesus said he should forgive him 490 times in one day. It would be impossible to have someone sin against you 490 times in one day. Jesus is actually saying that there should be no limit to our forgiveness.
When we are offended or hurt, we often feel justified in holding a grudge. The Old Testament law expressed this when it stated, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,”…Exodus 21:23-25. Until the offense was paid, we did not feel free to forgive. However, God dealt with all men’s offenses by placing sin upon the perfect Savior who was judged in place of every sinner of all time. To demand that others now earn our forgiveness is not Christ like. Jesus died for every man’s sins, extending forgiveness to us while we were yet sinners, and we should do the same.
The main thrust of this parable is that when we have people who wrong us, we should remember the great mercy that God has shown to us and respond in kind. Any debt that could be owed to us is insignificant compared to the debt we were forgiven. We should have compassion on others as Christ had on us.
If God expects us to forgive our brother who has trespassed against us 490 times in one day (actually an unlimited number of times), certainly He who is love will do no less with us.
The forgiveness that we have received from the Lord is infinitely greater than any forgiveness we could ever be asked to extend toward others.
Alive Unto God
Matthew 17:2 “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”
It is interesting to compare Jesus’ transfiguration with that of Moses’. Jesus’ face shone as the sun and His garment was as white as the light. This certainly exceeded what Moses experienced, and yet Jesus’ face did not continue to shine when He came down off of the mountain as Moses’ face did. Moses’ face reflected the glory of God, but Jesus was the glory of God… John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3. Moses put a veil over his face to conceal the glory of God… Exodus 34:29-35, so that the people would not be afraid to come near him.
Jesus’ body was His veil that concealed His true glory within. During His transfiguration, He pulled back the veil of His flesh, and we simply caught a glimpse of His glory that he had with the Father before the world was… John 17:5. At Jesus’ death, the veil of His body was “rent in two” giving us direct access to the glory of God… Hebrews 10:19-20.
We need to be conformed to the death of Christ. That is, reckoning ourselves dead to sin and all its effects upon us in the same way that Christ is dead to sin and all its effects upon Him. Many people focus on the death to sin and omit, or at least put secondarily, being alive unto God. It is assumed that if we will just die to sin, then life with Christ comes automatically.
That’s no more so than physical death automatically producing physical resurrection. God doesn’t need dead people. He needs people who have risen from the dead spiritually. He needs people who know who they are “In Christ.” The victorious New Testament believer is not just living for the Lord, but the risen Christ is actually living through him. There are over a hundred scriptural references to the indwelling presence of the Lord in the life of a believer. Look into the Word, and see what God has to say about you.
His Purpose Revealed
Matthew 16:21, “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Despite the abundant and clear prophecies about His death and resurrection, Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand or remember Jesus’ words until after His resurrection… Luke 24:5-9. Luke records twice that Jesus’ sayings about His resurrection were hidden from the disciples. It is interesting to note, however, that the chief priests and Pharisees remembered Jesus’ prophecies about His resurrection… Matthew 27:63, when His disciples didn’t.
One of the great truths of the Bible is that Jesus died for our sins, not for His own. Jesus was totally sinless. This is one of the major differences between Christianity and the religions of the world. No other religious leader has ever claimed to be sinless, therefore no other religious leader is even in the same class with Jesus. Also, no other religious leader has ever given his life in sacrifice to atone for the sins of others. It wouldn’t have done any good if one had. Since the religious leaders were sinners themselves, their lives weren’t worth any more than any other sinner. But, since Jesus was the sinless Son of God, His life was worth more than all of humanity throughout the ages.
Every detail of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection was already prophesied in scripture before it happened. All the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection had fulfilled scripture. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and only through His Word can we receive faith to be born again. We must preach the Word, not experiences. Experiences are only useful to illustrate that God’s Word is true. Jesus is alive from the dead. His tomb is empty. Jesus provided us with the ultimate verification of His authority. He arose from the dead.
Recognize The Real Enemy
Mark 8:33, “But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Jesus was not implying that Peter and Satan were one-and-the-same, but was referring to the fact that Satan had inspired Peter’s statement. This type of metaphor was used elsewhere in scripture such as when God spoke to the serpent in the garden of Eden… Genesis 3:15, as though addressing Satan. The serpent was merely the vehicle of communication Satan used to tempt Adam and Eve, while Peter was the vehicle Satan used to tempt Jesus. Ephesians 6:12 reveals that our warfare isn’t with people, but against the spiritual powers who inspire and use people. Jesus recognized that Peter’s reaction to His prophecy about His death was motivated by His enemy, Satan, so He went right to the source.
Every Christian is at war. There is a perpetual struggle against Satan and his kingdom from which there are no “leaves” or “discharges.” Our enemy goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour…1 Peter 5:8. Those who resist the devil will see him flee… James 4:7.
Some of us believe that anger will put others in their place. But “the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.”… James 1:20. Anger against people makes us play right into the hand of the devil. The way to overcome the spiritual powers that come against us through people is to turn the other cheek… Matthew 5:39. This makes the demons flee in terror. We cannot win a spiritual battle with carnal weapons. We must realize who the real enemy is and fight with the spiritual weapons the Lord has given us. It is supposed by many that the higher echelons of the devil’s spiritual authority take more power to rebuke or remove. That’s not true. There is no demonic power, including the devil himself, that will not flee at the name of Jesus when faith is put in that name. What a wonderful name!
God’s Will Above Ours
Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Self-denial is an important part of the Christian life. Jesus sacrificed His life for us and He demands that we die to ourselves that we might experience the new life He has provided. We do this first by recognizing that we can’t save ourselves by our own effort and, second, by trusting God – not self – for salvation. Then daily, we need to deny our own wisdom and seek God’s wisdom and direction for our lives.
Self-denial is only good when we are denying ourselves for the singular purpose of exalting Jesus and His will for us in some area of our life. Some have made a religion out of self-denial and find pleasure in their denial – not in Jesus’ lordship. This leads to legalism and bondage, which Paul condemned as will worship… Colossian s 2:23. We are told not only to deny ourselves, but to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.”
The cross is what Jesus died on. There are circumstances in our lives which, like the cross of Jesus, give us the opportunity to die to ourselves each day. These are not things like sickness, poverty, etc., for which Jesus’ atonement provided redemption, but rather things like persecution (which we are not redeemed from) and the constant battle between our flesh and our born again spirit. The cross that we must bear is to take God’s Word (which is His will) and exalt it above our own will in each situation every day.
Symptoms Of A Hard Heart
Mark 8:17, “And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?”
Just a few days before this instance, hardened hearts caused Jesus’ disciples to be amazed when they saw Jesus walk on the water to them. Here, Jesus’ statements reveal some of the characteristics of someone with a hardened heart.
First, a hard heart keeps us from perceiving spiritual truths. This is why everyone in a church service hears exactly the same message yet, some will receive while others won’t. It’s not the Word that is the variable, but rather the condition of the hearts. A hard heart stops spiritual perception.
Second, a hardened heart stops us from understanding spiritual truth. When a person doesn’t understand God’s Word, Satan finds no resistance when he comes to steal it away.
Third, a hard heart keeps us from remembering. This isn’t to say that we can’t recall facts or scriptures. As related in Mark 8:19-20, the disciples remembered the facts of the two miraculous feedings, but they had forgotten any spiritual lessons they might have learned. Likewise, some people can quote scripture or remember what the sermon was about, but they can’t perceive the spiritual life in the message or retain what they did perceive.
A hardened heart blinds us to any spiritual perception and keeps us thinking only in the natural realm. Small faith and a hardened heart are the same. Hebrews 3:12-13 parallels an evil heart of unbelief to a hardened heart. It takes great faith to keep our heart sensitive to God. Seek Him with your whole heart today.
Jesus Tried Her Faith
Matthew 15:27, “But he answered and said. It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”
It is very clear in scripture that Jesus was sent to fulfill God’s covenant to the Jews. However, it was equally clear that Jesus would open up faith unto the Gentiles. Jesus certainly knew this, and had already ministered to numerous Gentiles without the apparent disdain that we see here with the Syro-Phoenician woman. Jesus could not have been forced into ministering to this woman’s daughter if it was not His will to do so. Therefore, His silence and rough answer to this woman must have been designed to accomplish a positive result.
Humility is an important ingredient of faith. This woman was a stranger to the covenants of promise and had no right to demand anything. Jesus’ silence and then comparison of her to a dog would certainly have offended an arrogant person, and it is possible that for this very reason, Jesus tried her faith. Jesus didn’t need to do this with the centurion in Luke 7:6-7 because the centurion had already humbled himself.
An integral part of faith is seeking God alone with your whole heart. If we are concerned about what people think and gaining their approval (or honor), we will never take a stand in faith for anything. After all we might be criticized for it. This one thing has probably stopped as many people from receiving from God as anything else. You cannot be a “man-pleaser” and please God at the same time. Satan uses persecutions to steal away God’s Word and, thereby, stop our faith. To see faith work, we must say with Paul, “…let God be true, but every man a liar;”… Romans 3:4.