home > Pastor’s Desk > 2020 > December > THE SURPRISING CHARACTERISTICS OF SINLESSNESS

THE SURPRISING CHARACTERISTICS OF SINLESSNESS

by Dr. Andrew Corbett, 24th December 2020

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel
Second Timothy 2:8

As we reflect on the birth of the Saviour once again this Christmas it is easy to get distracted with the gift buying, present wrapping, Christmas lunch preparations, and summer holidays, and in doing so lose sight of who it is we are remembering. With a hint of noëlic advent in his exhortation to Timothy, Paul reminds his protégé to remember the One who was born as the offspring of David. The promised offspring of David was to be the Messianic king of Israel and Saviour of the Jews. This is why Jesus was born in the town of David and made an annual visit to His ancestral territorial region of the city of David (which was located up from lower Jerusalem on Mount Zion and a little below the site of the Temple) according to Luke 2:41-42 — “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.” And while we could consider how Jesus was indeed the ‘consolation of Israel’ as the elderly Simeon spent his life longing for, there is something that we might not consider too closely about the birth of Jesus. He was born sinless and lived a sinless life.

“Who among you can prove Me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe Me?”
John 8:46 NET

“We’re only human!” We all say it to justify our failings. But Jesus never did. It would be too simple to retort that this was because He was God in the flesh — and in so doing, diminish the fact that He had become human “just like us” and was subsequently tempted in every way just as we are.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

None of us can ever attain sinlessness in this lifetime. (In the Resurrection we will receive a new glorified body like Christ’s and be partakers of the divine nature which cannot sin.) Therefore, an examination of Christ’s life gives us a revealing picture of what a sinless life looks like, and therefore a glimpse of what our potential was before the Fall. Consider the following and perhaps on Christmas Day offer a prayer of thanks that Christ exhibited these characteristics and what their implications mean for each of us:

Even though Christ was sinless, He was still-

◊ learning – in Luke 2:52 it tells that Jesus grew up learning to be wise and how to get along with people. This is remarkable considering that He maintained His omniscience, yet was able to have the human learning experience of discovery.

◊ keeping customs – in Luke 2:42 it tells that Jesus kept the customs of His family and in particular their religious customs. Later on we see that He made it His custom to be in a synagogue each sabbath (Luke 4:16).

◊ developing independence – in Luke 2:46 it tells that Jesus developed independence from His parents which afforded Him the privilege of spending time with other members of His kin beyond His immediate family and yet not in defiance of His parents. We see Him in the Temple learning and asking questions of the scribes and elders which reveals that He was formulating His own independent ideas and opinions.

◊ respectful – in Luke 2:47-49 it tells that Jesus was very respectful especially of His imperfect earthly guardians.

◊ submissive – in Luke 2:51 it tells that Jesus submitted to His parents which is also a demonstration of remarkable humility.

◊ spiritual – in Luke 3:21-22 it tells that Jesus was deeply spiritual and even though He was sinless, He was prepared to be water baptised (even though He had undergone both the Jewish rite of circumcision and purification as a child) and in Luke 4:43 He was engaged in preaching the good news about God and His kingdom.

◊ tempted to sin – in Matthew 4:1 it tells that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the Devil and yet did not yield to this very genuine temptation.

◊ compassionate – in Matthew 9:36 and Luke 7:13 it tells that Jesus had compassion on people who were sinful. He spent time with them, ate with them, taught them, and healed them of their infirmities.

◊ emotional – in John 2:14-17 it tells that Jesus was angered with what some people were doing in the Temple precinct which resulted in the poor being taken advantage of. In Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 we see that Jesus was sorrowful. In John 11:5 and Mark 10:21 we see that Jesus expressed love. And in John 17:13 we see that Jesus had joy.

desirous – Jesus had certain physical and aspirational desires. (This contrasts sharply with Buddhism which sees desire as the cause of all human suffering.)  In John 19:28 it tells that Jesus desired a drink. In John 17:5 it was his prayerful desire that His disciples would be guarded and protected after His crucifixion, and He also prayerfully aspired that they would be united (John 17:26).

What this brief list of sinless characteristics reveals to us is that these characteristics in themselves are not sinful. This list should also reinforce to us that the Christmas Child was and grew to be the most perfect human being who was incredibly strong, but incredibly gentle. He was supremely knowledgable, yet supremely patient. He was unlimitedly powerful, yet forbearing of those who maligned Him. He was the Ruler of the Cosmos with the power to instantly summon 12 billion+ of the cosmos’s most fierce warrior beings to obliterate any who withstood or defied Him, yet He surrendered to His enemies and permitted them to humiliate and desecrate His body. And when being tried by His judge, Pontius Pilate, He had the composure to tell the one who was judging Him that he was committing sin by doing so. 

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered Me over to you has the greater sin.”
John 19:11

As you wake up Christmas morning, spare a thought for what a sinless life looks like and consider these characteristics that only the Lord Jesus the Christ has ever displayed. Then after some long pondering on these characteristics, consider how Christ’s sinless life gives us the gold standard for the kind of life that we too should aspire to live. Merry Christmas.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. In the Father He remains, from His mother He goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth, He was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless. Filling the world, He lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom. He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant.”
Augustine

 

Your pastor,

Andrew

AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.