Tackling Temptation – Part 4

God’s Word is full of wonderful promises for victory over sin.

8. According to Peter, what are the promises in God’s Word able to do?

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4)

By claiming the promises of God, taking God at His Word, “You said that you would do this and I am believing in Your Word”, we can become partakers of the divine nature.  What is this divine nature? 1 John 4:8 “God is Love”

We can begin to love the way God loves, to overcome the temptations for selfishness, pride, self indulgences, and love others the way we love ourselves.

As we hide God’s promises in our hearts, we hold the keys that help us overcome temptation.

 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11)

The promises of Scripture are the key to escaping temptation! When hid in the heart, and mixed with faith-sin’s power is broken (FAST -Survival Kit Tacking Temptation p5)

9.  How many times do you think God is willing to forgive you?

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

So long as we are willing to repent, truly repent, God is willing and waiting to forgive us.  The risk comes if we intentionally continue to sin. Our conscience gets dulled to the voice of the Holy Spirit and we loose sense of the fact that we are doing wrong and we no longer realise our need to repent.  God does not force Himself upon us.  He respects our choices. Let us always turn to God and repent straight away and ask Him to give us a spirit of repentance if we do not feel sorry for our sins.  He is right there waiting to forgive us.

10. What will God ultimately empower you to do?

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24)

God has promised that if we completely rely and trust in Him, He can help us overcome temptation and keep us from falling into sin.  This is not something we can do ourselves and any attempt to keep ourselves from sinning will ultimately fail.  We can do no part of the matter but surrender our will to Christ and keep our focus on Him, even this we need His Holy Spirit to help us do.  

“Is there some sin in your life causing guilt? frustration? despair? Don’t give up! Victory is possible through Christ, and in God’s perfect timing and in His own gentle way, He will reveal to you what you need to know to overcome.  For now, be honest, confess your sin to God, and repent.  Then lay hold on God’s Word-both His promise to forgive and His promise to cleanse.  Both are crucial if you want to survive!  Are you willing to press forward with undimmed courage in your personal battle with temptation?” (FAST-Survival Kit Tacking Temptation p6)

The more we follow Christ and become like Him in our lives, the more beautifully God can shine through us and show a world lost in darkness and sin, what His character is really like.  Satan has made the world doubt God’s goodness but you and I can let His love shine our of our hearts and lives and show the world that God truly is LOVE.

 

 

 

 

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Tacking Temptation – Part 3

6.  How does God respond to true confession and repentance?

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:10-14)

This is such an amazing a beautiful verse.  If we have such a tender, merciful Saviour why is it that we take so long to come to Him?  Why is it that we cling so long to our sins instead of coming straight away for His mercy and forgiveness to cleanse us and free us from our sins?

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

7. What else should we pray for after stumbling into sin?

a) “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:10)

We need a new heart and a new mind and God has promised that He will give us this when we ask. 

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke11:11-13)

God is so willing to give us a new heart and to give His Holy Spirit.  All we need to do is ask in faith knowing that He will fulfil His word.

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

b) “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my  statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

We should pray for God to give us His Holy Spirit to enable or cause us to walk in His commands, and in His ways.  This should be our daily prayer in every aspect of our lives.  To ask God to direct us to keep His commands but also to walk in the path that He sees best for us in our everyday life.  To be directed moment by moment by His Spirit.

c) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

With God’s help we can become a new creature.  Our old habits and sinful ways have passed away, and we are created new to follow the counsel and direction of God.

Tackling Temptation – Part 2

We all struggle with temptation.  Things that we know we should not do, things we know are not good for us or others, and yet we so intensely desire to do them.

2. What is the source of this problem?

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15)

We are tempted or drawn away from God by our own lusts and desires.  Our physical desires, our selfish desires, our pride, our desire for the things of this world.  Unfortunately becoming a Christian does not stop this struggle inside of us but God does give us the victory over sin, to resist temptation.

3. Is victory possible, and from where?

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Our victory is in Jesus.  He has won the battle for us, He has claimed victory over sin and death for us.  We need to turn to Him when we are struggling with temptation, focus on Him and what He has done for us and temptations will lose their power.

“But while we are not to be dismayed by trial, bitter though it be, we should pray that God will not permit us to be brought where we shall be drawn away by the desires of our own evil hearts. In offering the prayer that Christ has given, we surrender ourselves to the guidance of God, asking Him to lead us in safe paths. We cannot offer this prayer in sincerity, and yet decide to walk in any way of our own choosing. We shall wait for His hand to lead us; we shall listen to His voice, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Isaiah 30:21. 

It is not safe for us to linger to contemplate the advantages to be reaped through yielding to Satan’s suggestions. Sin means dishonor and disaster to every soul that indulges in it; but it is blinding and deceiving in its nature, and it will entice us with flattering presentations. If we venture on Satan’s ground we have no assurance of protection from his power. So far as in us lies, we should close every avenue by which the tempter may find access to us. 

The prayer, “Bring us not into temptation,” is itself a promise. If we commit ourselves to God we have the assurance, He “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. 

The only safeguard against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. It is because selfishness exists in our hearts that temptation has power over us. But when we behold the great love of God, selfishness appears to us in its hideous and repulsive character, and we desire to have it expelled from the soul. As the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, our hearts are softened and subdued, the temptation loses its power, and the grace of Christ transforms the character. 

Christ will never abandon the soul for whom He has died. The soul may leave Him and be overwhelmed with temptation, but Christ can never turn from one for whom He has paid the ransom of His own life. Could our spiritual vision be quickened, we should see souls bowed under oppression and burdened with grief, pressed as a cart beneath sheaves and ready to die in discouragement. We should see angels flying swiftly to aid these tempted ones, who are standing as on the brink of a precipice. The angels from heaven force back the hosts of evil that encompass these souls, and guide them to plant their feet on the sure foundation. The battles waging between the two armies are as real as those fought by the armies of this world, and on the issue of the spiritual conflict eternal destinies depend.” (MB 117-119)

4. What is the first step to take when we stumble into and fail i some temptation?

 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

 

So often when we sin we are like Adam and Eve, trying to hide from God in fig leaves, covering our sin in the good things we do to try and make us feel better.  But the bible is clear the only remedy is to confess our sins and Jesus is ever ready to forgive us and give us power to overcome.  This is where true freedom, peace and happiness lies.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

5. How does Paul describe genuine repentance?

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Genuine repentance is something that you are not sorry that you have done.  It makes you want to make things right.  To be willing to humble yourself, to make yourself clear in this matter, to go to those you may have hurt and genuinely apologise and be willing to go to whatever lengths to show how sorry you really are.

“Repentance is more than just acknowledging sin; it is a deep sorrow for sin, and a resolute desire to turn away from it.  This kind of repentance comes only from God – so ask Him for the gift of repentance if you find yourself struggling with some cherished sin” (FAST Survival Kit – Tackling Temptation p4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling Temptation – Part 1

Though God has a great plan for us (Amazing Grace Part 1-4) and all the riches of heaven are available to us through Christ (Looking to Jesus Part 1-4) sometimes we stumble. Sin creeps in subtly, temptation overwhelms us, guilt weighs us down.  Fortunately, God has made provision for just such occasions and understanding that provision is vital – to our survival (FAST -Survival Kit, Tackling Temptation p2)

  1. What is one problem the Bible describes as common to all?

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

We are all tempted.  We are drawn away by our own lusts and desires (James 1:14) but God has promised that He is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond the ability to resist but will make a way of escape that we may bear it.

I have experience the truth of this verse in my life.  I have been strongly tempted to do something or say something I shouldn’t (and that would likely cause more problems) and when instead of giving in to my desire, I give that to God and claim this verse and taken a step of faith, He had removed that desire from me. For example, I have been hurt and angry at someone. Everything inside me feels anger and resentment, not peace and love.  When I have turned my heart to God and claimed this verse and instead of focusing on my hurt and pain, I have taken a step of faith and focused on God’s love for me and the fact that He is Father who loves me despite my short fallings and I am His child, the feelings that before overwhelmed me melt away and instead my heart is filled with peace and I can respond to that person as though nothing happened.

I am not perfect, I still give in to my desires, but if we took God at His word more, we would have many more victories where now we are failing.

“Christ is an overflowing fountain, an ever outspreading shade. In His shadow we may find rest and peace and pleasure. When temptations assail you, as they surely will, when care, perplexity, and darkness seem to enshroud the soul, look, O look to where with eyes of faith you last saw the light, and you will rest in Christ’s love and under His protecting shield.” (Help for the Tempted -From a letter written to Elder S. N. Haskell, published in Bible Training School, May 1915)

“I find that I have to fight the good fight of faith every day. I have to exercise all my faith, and not rely upon feeling; I have to act as though I knew the Lord heard me, and would answer me and bless me. Faith is not a happy flight of feeling; it is simply taking God at His word—believing that He will fulfill His promises because He said He would.

Hope in God, trust in Him, and rest in His promises, whether you feel happy or not. A good emotion is no evidence that you are a child of God, neither are disturbed, troubled, perplexing feelings an evidence that you are not a child of God. Come to the Scriptures and intelligently take God at His word. Comply with the conditions and believe He will accept you as His child. Be not faithless, but believing.” (Our High Calling p119)

 

 

Tackling Temptation – Memory Verse

Memory Verse:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

 

  • Focus on Retention – God wants to engrave His word on our hearts and our minds so we will never forget it.

“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” (Proverbs 4:4-5)

Daily review new verses for 2 months to permanently engrave them on your mind.  Then review these verses once a week at first then as you know them well, to monthly review. 

A box with sections is a good way to do this. Daily review verses in the front, weekly review verses next and then monthly review verses in the back.

  • Know your References – Not just knowing the verse but where it is found that you may direct someone else to it in their bible.

“Study to whew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

How?  Repeat the reference before you quote the verse and then again after like a sandwich. This will help to cement it in your mind.

For more keys on scripture memorisation: FAST Survival Kit

 

 

 

Looking to Jesus – Part 4

5. What is one way we can fix our spiritual attention on Jesus?

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39)

We can learn of Jesus and keep our attention on Him by reading and memorising His word.  However this verse also comes with a warning that it is possible to know the scriptures but not actually come to the person who they are testifying about.  We need to not only read & memorise scripture, but surrender our hearts to the author of them and allow His Spirit to work in our lives.

“Though we cannot physically see Jesus, we can study the Bible and fix our focus on His life through the Word.  The Scriptures are like a mirror reflecting Christ to all who look.” (FAST Looking to Jesus p4) 

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

6.  What is the result of an encounter with Christ through the Scriptures?

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures” (Luke 24:32)

As we prayerfully open the Scriptures and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us Christ reveals Himself to us.  We experience fellowship with Him and our hearts are warmed and encouraged.  

7. How often should we have this kind of encounter?

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

We should daily seek to have an encounter with Christ, that He may renew us day by day in the inward man, that we may be transformed into His likeness.  This should not be something we just do in our devotional time, but our minds should turn to Christ throughout the day that He may speak to us and give us strength and encouragement to meet the tasks before us.

8. According to the following verses, why is the daily renewing of the mind so important?

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Paul here is calling us not to be conformed to this world by focusing on it but to be transformed by the Holy Spirit renewing our minds so that we may know what the will of God is for our lives.  If our minds have not been renewed, if we have not studied God’s word and allowed His Holy Spirit to speak to us, we will not know His will.

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

As we study God’s word and as Christ works in our life, we see that the things of this world are nothing in comparison with the things of eternity.  We see and realise that this world is not our home and we see the things that are above, not the things of this earth.

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

As we are renewed day by day, we are transformed into the image of Christ, His righteousness and holiness becomes a part of our life and when others behold us, they see Christ and His character of love and unselfishness.

“Our faithfulness in looking to Christ and experiencing a daily renewal of our mind is key to the transformation of our lives.  We must never lose sight of this important truth!” (FAST Looking to Jesus p5).

9. What priority should we place on beholding Christ?

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” (Psalms 27:4)

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8)

Christ should be our first, our last, our everything.  He who gave up all of heaven for us, how can we not give up all for Him.  We need to seek after Him with all our hearts and His promise is that He will be found. (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

10. What lessons will we learn in putting Christ first?

 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Without Christ we can do nothing.  It is He who gives us life.  Each breath we take is a gift from Him.  If we put Him first in our lives, if we take time to acknowledge that all we are and have is from Him, He will help us and guide us in our day.

I have so often experienced this in my life.  When I take time to spend with God in the morning, even at the cost of being behind time or late, He has always blessed me and smoothed my path that more was achieved in my day than I thought possible.

On the other hand, on days where I thought I did not have time for God, it was a waste of time getting up.  Nothing goes right, I am unorganised and unproductive and at the end of the day I feel frustrated.  It is not that God is punishing me for not spending time with Him. No, no, no, God is not like that.  It is that He never goes where He is not invited.  If I don’t take time to ask Him to be apart of my life, He won’t force His way in. He won’t send His angels to help smooth the way.  He won’t send His Spirit to lead and guide us in our decision.  We have to ask and His word assures us that He is so willing to help us, to send us His Spirit and to lead and guide us.  We don’t have time not to spend time with God!

“Christian living is learning to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Day by day, study the Word, meet with Christ, and allow your heart to be warmed.  If you do, you will soon find yourself growing more and more like the Saviour.  You will see more and more clearly, both your great dependence on Him and your great power in Him. Christ will become the centre of your life – and it will become evident to everyone around you.  Isn’t this the longing of your heart?” (FAST Looking to Jesus p6)

Looking to Jesus – Part 3

In order to live after being bitten by the fiery serpents (the sting of sin) the Israelites had to look at a bronze serpent hung on a pole, a representative of Jesus who became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) to save us from our sins.  As they obeyed in faith the command of God to look upon the serpent they received healing.

“Moses was divinely commanded to make a serpent of brass resembling the living ones, and to elevate it among the people. To this, all who had been bitten were to look, and they would find relief. He did so, and the joyful news was sounded throughout the encampment that all who had been bitten might look upon the brazen serpent and live. Many had already died, and when Moses raised the serpent upon the pole, some would not believe that merely gazing upon that metallic image would heal them; these perished in their unbelief. Yet there were many who had faith in the provision which God had made. Fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters were anxiously engaged in helping their suffering, dying friends to fix their languid eyes upon the serpent. If these, though faint and dying, could only once look, they were perfectly restored.

The people well knew that there was no power in the serpent of brass to cause such a change in those who looked upon it. The healing virtue was from God alone. In His wisdom He chose this way of displaying His power. By this simple means the people were made to realize that this affliction had been brought upon them by their sins. They were also assured that while obeying God they had no reason to fear, for He would preserve them.

The lifting up of the brazen serpent was to teach Israel an important lesson. They could not save themselves from the fatal effect of the poison in their wounds. God alone was able to heal them. Yet they were required to show their faith in the provision which He had made. They must look in order to live. It was their faith that was acceptable with God, and by looking upon the serpent their faith was shown. They knew that there was no virtue in the serpent itself, but it was a symbol of Christ; and the necessity of faith in His merits was thus presented to their minds. Heretofore many had brought their offerings to God, and had felt that in so doing they made ample atonement for their sins. They did not rely upon the Redeemer to come, of whom these offerings were only a type. The Lord would now teach them that their sacrifices, in themselves, had no more power or virtue than the serpent of brass, but were, like that, to lead their minds to Christ, the great sin offering.” (PP p430)

4. How do each of the following verses express this same principle (looking and living)?

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 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.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Just like the Israelites were called to look at the bronze serpent in order to be healed and live, so are we called to look to Jesus in order to be healed from the sting of sin. As we see God’s love for us in Jesus, we who are so undeserving sinners. We see Him coming down from glory to our sin darkened world as a baby, being cared for and brought up by sinners, rejected, scorned, crucified and yet always responded in love and compassion, a realization of sin and its awfulness begins to lighten our minds.  We see how much it cost heaven to save us.  We see the contrast between our selfish hearts and His heart of love.  We experience the peace of forgiveness and sin looses its hold on us.  As we look to Jesus and study His character, and allow His Spirit to work in us, we will desire to become more and more like Him and become changed into His image of unselfish love.

“But when the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and the sinner will discern something of the depth and sacredness of God’s holy law, the foundation of His government in heaven and on earth. The “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the hidden things of darkness are made manifest. John 1:9. Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart. The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven. 

The prayer of David after his fall, illustrates the nature of true sorrow for sin. His repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his guilt; no desire to escape the judgment threatened, inspired his prayer. David saw the enormity of his transgression; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. He longed for the joy of holiness–to be restored to harmony and communion with God…

A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men. Just here is a point on which many may err, and hence they fail of receiving the help that Christ desires to give them. They think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins; for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will feel the need of a Saviour. But must the sinner wait till he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner and the Saviour? 

The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ. { 26.2}

Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts. 

Jesus has said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32. Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul.” (STC p24-27)

Looking to Jesus – Part 2

To be born again? What a strange thing is this? When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus he was confused when Jesus told him he had to be born again and asked “How can these things be?”

2. Jesus used a story from the Old Testament to explain the new birth.  What was that story?

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

He referred to an event that happened to the children of Israel as they were wandering in the desert for 40 years.

 “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” (Numbers 21: 4-6)

The people complained against Moses and against God despite all He had done for them and God removed His protective hand from them that they might see what He was daily doing for them.

“As the Israelites indulged the spirit of discontent, they were disposed to find fault even with their blessings. “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”

Moses faithfully set before the people their great sin. It was God’s power alone that had preserved them in “that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water.” Deuteronomy 8:15. Every day of their travels they had been kept by a miracle of divine mercy. In all the way of God’s leading they had found water to refresh the thirsty, bread from heaven to satisfy their hunger, and peace and safety under the shadowy cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Angels had ministered to them as they climbed the rocky heights or threaded the rugged paths of the wilderness. Notwithstanding the hardships they had endured, there was not a feeble one in all their ranks. Their feet had not swollen in their long journeys, neither had their clothes grown old. God had subdued before them the fierce beasts of prey and the venomous reptiles of the forest and the desert. If with all these tokens of His love the people still continued to complain, the Lord would withdraw His protection until they should be led to appreciate His merciful care, and return to Him with repentance and humiliation.

Because they had been shielded by divine power they had not realized the countless dangers by which they were continually surrounded. In their ingratitude and unbelief they had anticipated death, and now the Lord permitted death to come upon them. The poisonous serpents that infested the wilderness were called fiery serpents, on account of the terrible effects produced by their sting, it causing violent inflammation and speedy death. As the protecting hand of God was removed from Israel, great numbers of the people were attacked by these venomous creatures.

Now there was terror and confusion throughout the encampment. In almost every tent were the dying or the dead. None were secure. Often the silence of night was broken by piercing cries that told of fresh victims. All were busy in ministering to the sufferers, or with agonising care endeavoring to protect those who were not yet stricken. No murmuring now escaped their lips. When compared with the present suffering, their former difficulties and trials seemed unworthy of a thought.” (PP p429)

As people began to die the people cried out to Moses and to the Lord to save them.

3. What was the key to “survival” in this story that Jesus referred to?

“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:7-9).

This is such a powerful parallel or type of what Jesus was going to do for us.  Just like the Israelites we have sinned and complained against God. We have be bitten with the sting of sin and are doomed to die.  But God in His mercy did not leave us there.  “Look to me and be saved” (Isaiah 45:22).  He calls us to look to Jesus who became sin for us and was hung on a tree and as we behold Him in faith believing that He can save us, we will be healed from the poisonous sting of sin. 

The price paid for our redemption, the infinite sacrifice of our heavenly Father in giving His Son to die for us, should give us exalted conceptions of what we may become through Christ. As the inspired apostle John beheld the height, the depth, the breadth of the Father’s love toward the perishing race, he was filled with adoration and reverence; and, failing to find suitable language in which to express the greatness and tenderness of this love, he called upon the world to behold it. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1. What a value this places upon man! Through transgression the sons of man become subjects of Satan. Through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ the sons of Adam may become the sons of God. By assuming human nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen men are placed where, through connection with Christ, they may indeed become worthy of the name “sons of God.” 

Such love is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. The more we study the divine character in the light of the cross, the more we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly we discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite and a tender pity surpassing a mother’s yearning sympathy for her wayward child.” (STC p15)

Looking to Jesus – Part 1

  1. What did Jesus say needs to happen to every person?

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

We need to be born again.  Why born again?  

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

We need the new heart and new mind promised in Ezekiel that we may know and desire the things of God.   

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

We need His Spirit to dwell in us to write His laws on our hearts and minds that we may do His will.

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 33:31 (also Hebrews 10:16).

When we are born again we will walk and follow after God’s ways not after our own desires and lusts.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:6)

We will be filled with His Spirit and transformed in our character.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness. By nature we are alienated from God. The Holy Spirit describes our condition in such words as these: “Dead in trespasses and sins;” “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint;” “no soundness in it.” We are held fast in the snare of Satan, “taken captive by him at his will.” Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 1:5, 6; 2 Timothy 2:26. God desires to heal us, to set us free. But since this requires an entire transformation, a renewing of our whole nature, we must yield ourselves wholly to Him.” (STC p 43)

“But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.” (STC p 46)

Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.” (STC p 47)

Looking to Jesus – Memory Text

Memory Verse: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

KEYS FOR SCRIPTURE MEMORY:

  • Learn to meditate on God’s word – chew over it as you are memorising thinking about the words and what they mean

Why did Jesus refer to the vine & the branches and the need to abide in Him?  The life giving sustenance flows through the vine into the branches.  If this sap is not flowing into the branches, they will not bear fruit.  The branch needs to be firmly attached to the vine for this to happen.  We need to be firmly attached to Christ, daily spending time in His word, in prayer and meditation asking for His Holy Spirit to flow though us that we too may bear much fruit. When we fully understand that without Christ we can do nothing, then I think is when we truly can begin to live trusting moment by moment, day by day to His loving care.

  • Apply the word – what did this verse mean to the original audience and how does this verse apply to me and my life (FAST Survival Kit – Looking to Jesus)

Jesus here is talking to His disciples the night before He is crucified.  He is about to be betrayed and all will run from Him.  He is calling them to abide, trust, hold on to Him.  Not to trust in their own strength and abilities for without Christ they can do nothing.  The disciples are about to go through the darkest night of their life and Jesus is encouraging them abide, trust, hold on to me.  I too need to more fully realise my dependance on Christ and seek Him and His guidance in everything.  I need to dwell more on Him and His words throughout the day that by looking I may be changed into that same image.  I need the Holy Spirit more in my life to transform me from the inside out.  Today I will ask God to remind me to dwell in Him and trust Him in everything.