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Power of My Example

Power of My Example

Introduction:

Years ago I had a meeting with my family at the Cracker Barrel restaurant.  At that meeting, I began to recognize the impact I had on so many people.  For good or bad, I have had an impact on others.  Some would not even be alive if it were not for me, or if I had made other decisions.

The argument is not whether we have had an impact on the lives of other people but what kind of impact.

It is not just limited to dads and moms, but to grandparents.  It also includes anyone you touch in your daily life because people know who you are and are influenced by you to some extent.

For Christians, we are to be examples as Christians.  People know us by our relationship with Christ.  So, one is not a school teacher, but a Christian school teacher, or Christian business person, or Christian doctor, and so on.

If people know of our relationship with Christ, they identify us by that relationship.  People are watching us and some follow our example.

In view of this, we are supposed to be examples of Christ in this world to our children, neighborhood, fellow workers or classmates.

There are no excuses for not being a good example.  Being the right kind of example is a part of being a Christian.

1 Corinthians 4:

[16] Therefore I urge you to imitate (μιμηταί) me.

[17] For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Being an example of Christ today is always rooted in the biblical example of Christ.  Note verse 16 of our text: “Therefore I urge you to imitate (μιμηταί) me.”

Many today ask “What would Jesus do?”

This is well and good as long as we know what Jesus did!  The problem is that many start making stuff up about their own view of Jesus as they perceive him rather than how he is revealed in Scripture.

Edgar Guest was a poet who was active in the first half of the last century.  Toward the end of his career he wrote a poem titled, “Sermons We See.”

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye is a better pupil, more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear,
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see a good put in action is what everybody needs.

1 Corinthians 11:

[1] Follow my example (μιμηταί), as I follow the example of Christ.

The poet continues:

I can soon learn how to do it if you will let me see it done;
I can watch your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live
.

1 Timothy 4:

[12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Note also that Timothy’s job is more than just telling people what to do, but showing them what to do by his example.  As Christians, we not only set the standard by what we say and believe but by what we do in living out that truth.

Why do you suppose speech is the first thing on the list?  Perhaps it was the hardest.

James 3:

[6] The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

The Bible says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

The Bible also says that “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

Here is the point: This is hard to do!

The Bible says “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalms 141:3).  So, the next time we talk, ask ourselves “What would Jesus say?”

Next, he says set an example “in life.” Not just a life, but a life that is ordered in a particular way.  Perhaps “a way of life” would be better.

Luke 6:

[40] A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

This is how we set an example for the believers in life.  We become like our teacher who is Christ.  Or, as Paul said in our text, “Follow my example (μιμηταί), as I follow the example of Christ.”

John 13:

[34] A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

[35] By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Notice that Jesus calls this a new command.  Love is not a new command.  What is new is that we are to love as Jesus loved: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

We should ask, “How did Jesus demonstrate his love?”

Love is often defined by the extent to which one is willing to act in behalf of another.  Note the example of the story of the Good Samaritan.  The good Samaritan was willing to stop and help the one who had been robbed.

Paul also says set an example “in love.”

Philippians 3:

[17] Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Philippians 4:

[9] Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.

Many of us think we cannot do this because we are imperfect, but we do not have to be perfect to set the right example.

The Christian life is a process toward maturity, which means we are not going to be perfect in the way we always live our Christian life.  But others also need to see what we do as a Christian when we fail or struggle to live the Christian life.

Note that Paul often admitted he was not perfect but at the same time encouraged the brothers to follow his example.

1 Timothy 1:

[15] Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

[16] But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

In the same way, we can provide an example to our children and others by working through our imperfections.  So, being imperfect and knowing that does not exclude us from be an example for Christ.

Love is demonstrated when we care for and correct those who stumble in life:

Galatians 6:

[1] Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

[2] Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles, and a strong man stands behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

Titus 2:

[6] Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

[7] In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

In your teaching show integrity, seriousness [8] and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

One good man teaches many; men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noted is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day
.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

The Depths of Satan

The Depths of Satan

Psychological profile of mass killers:

Oftentimes, the pathway to violence begins with a personal grievance:

1) Grievance: They feel they have suffered a loss (imaginary or real).

2) Hate:

1 John 3:

[15] Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

Mark 7:

[21] For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder…

2) Anger: They are very angry about grievance and hate.

3) Blame: They blame others for their condition and the way they feel.

4) Notoriety: Often they are life’s losers who seek notoriety.

5) Psychotic: Mass killers are often psychotic (delusions and imagine things).

6) Psychopath: Psychopaths have no inner awareness of right and wrong.

Mass killers do not have defective genes.  No one forces them to do what they do.  They are not justified in what they do.  They are not triggered by some event that forces them to do bad things.

Just as drugs do not cause addiction, guns do not kill people.  People kill people and people choose to abuse drugs and alcohol.

If you take a person’s drug away they will often choose another drug that is more readily available.  If you take an evil person’s gun away he will find another way to kill.

The Las Vegas killer could have killed more by flying a plane into the crowd.  He was a pilot and wealthy so he could have done this.

An Islamic mass killer in France killed 86 and injured 458 by driving a truck through a crowd.

The Las Vegas killer did not have bad genes but over a period of years he made bad choices.  He was 64 which rules out bad genes.

Revelation 2:

[24] But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.  [25] But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. (KJV)

[24] Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, [25] except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ (NIV)

[24] But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. [25] Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.  (NASB)

The depths of Satan appears to be the teaching of the false prophet Jesus calls “Jezebel” earlier:

[18]  To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.  [19] I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

[20] Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.  By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  [21] I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

Some think the prophet taught the church they could attend the pagan festivals or acknowledge Caesar as god if called to.  They would justify this be arguing the Christian needs to know the deep things Satan so they could know better how to defeat him.

I disagree.  I would argue the false teaching of the prophet would lead the church closer to the works of Satan and harm them.

The point: Sin changes people for the worse.

The closer we are to Satan the more we can be harmed in our thinking and religious life.

There are deep things of Satan as there are the deep things of God:

1 Corinthians 2:

[10] …these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

2 Timothy 2:

[25] Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, [26] and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Luke 22:

[31] Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  [32] But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.

Romans 1:

[21] For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

[24] Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

The point: God will abandon those who give themselves over to sin.

Getting close to Satan has consequences for people.  Those who are abandoned by God are susceptible to being taken over by Satan to one degree or another.

The ultimate expression of sin is death.  Not just spiritual death but also physical death.  This is always where Satan wants to lead people.  In some people, the influence of Satan can lead people to kill others.

Consider the sin of Judas who betrayed Christ.  At the Last Supper, the Bible says “Satan entered into him” (John 13:27).

Judas betrayed Christ and caused his death and then took his own life.

Luke 22:

[3] Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  [4] And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.

The pattern of those who purport to plumb the depths of Satan is one of bondage, not liberty.

2 Peter 2:

[19] They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

Romans 6:

[16] Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

Reward of Works and Grace

Reward of Works and Grace

Introduction:  There are misunderstandings of both grace and faith.  These misunderstandings are often because of a failure to understand the context of a passage.  Because of this, we are going to talk about rules for the interpretation of Scripture in addition to faith and grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 was one of the first passages I memorized.  What does it mean to be saved by grace and not be works?  Does this mean that salvation is by grace alone?  Or, is salvation by faith alone?  Some think salvation by grace means we do not have to be baptized, or that baptism is not essential to salvation.

Matthew 6:

[1] “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

[2] “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

[3] But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Psalm 62:

[11] One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, [12] and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

NKJV “For You render to each one according to his work.”

NASB “For You recompense a man according to his work.”

Matthew 16:

[27] For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Romans 2:

[6] God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”

[7] To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  [8] But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Revelation 2:

[23] Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

The harmony of grace and works:

The context of Ephesians 2 is that some Jewish Christians argued that gentile Christians should keep some aspects of the Law of Moses.  This made keeping the Law of Moses a requirement for salvation.

Ephesians 2:

[8] For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—[9] not by works, so that no one can boast.

[10] For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The context of Ephesians 2:

Salvation by grace means there is no salvation under the Law of Moses.

There were people who they were justified by the Law and did not have to obey the gospel of Christ:

Galatians 5:

[4] You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Many Jews in Paul’s day believe they did not have to obey the gospel because they kept the Law.  They believed they did not have to be baptized because they were already saved.

Some Jewish Christians also believed some requirements of the Law must be bound on the Gentiles in order for them to be saved.

Paul addresses these kinds of issues in Galatians 3:

Galatians 3:

[26] So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, [27] for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

[28] There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  [29] If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The context of Ephesians 2:8-10 is similar to Galatians 3 although the letters were probably written about 12 years apart.

Salvation by grace does not exclude the works of God:

This sounds strange to us today, but note Ephesians 2:10 again, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Titus 2:

[11] For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  [12] It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

A similar confusion exists relative to faith and works.  Biblical faith does not exclude works:

James 2:24  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

This passage shows that faith and works are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, we are to desire to do the works of God (John 6:28-29).  There are works of God and works of human merit.  Biblical faith is expressed and defined by our response to God (Hebrews 11).

A young man once asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20).  His question was not about earning his salvation.

James 2:

[18] But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices