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

HEARING THE WILL OF GOD

Christianity is a dynamic (always changing) journey with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit within us who works within us to desire to do and pursue the will of God (Phil. 2:13). It is the illumination of the Spirit that takes God’s Word as we read, study, and meditate on it, and makes it seem fresh and alive to us. And it is the Word of God, which He, the Holy Spirit, inspired men to write so that we could clearly discern the will of God for our lives. You don’t need a word from God to know what God’s will for your life is. You don’t need to attend a “Learn To Hear The Voice of God” seminar, or to read a book on the topic. Instead, you just need to dialogue with God in prayer through pouring out your heart to Him with your requests, petitions, confessions, and thanksgiving; and then, prayerfully read His Word as the light of the Holy Spirit illuminates it to your soul.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Second Corinthians 4:6 

Perhaps if more believers were led by the Spirit like this, less Christian marriages would end, less churches would be split, and less Christians would walk away from Christ and His Church after becoming frustrated by the false belief that since these presumptuous Christians have apparently mis-heard God so wildly, the reason must be that God doesn’t actually exist. This is one of the most pressing issues that needs to be confronted today — especially among those of us who identify as Spirit-filled Pentecostals.

LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > June > LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENTLOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT For anyone who is a fan of aviation, the movie Sully (2016) is one you will have probably enjoyed watching. The storyline is biographical drama based on the 2009...

THE BENEFITS OF A DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN R

The Greatest Exponent of what vitamin R can achieve within a person was the One who introduced vitamin R in small doses to His twelve followers. There initial dose came from simply complying with the request to, “Follow Me.” This they did for some three years or so. After watching Him intently, they then got a larger dose when they were told to, “Go…and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” And as every example of those who have ever received a near maximum dose of vitamin R bears witness, just before they received their ultimate dose vitamin R they felt two universally common sensations: inadequacy and inability. Yet, as everyone who has received such high doses of vitamin R from the One who gives the ultimate enabling strength found in vitamin R, somehow they were supernaturally enabled to do the very thing they felt both inadequate and unable to do!

A PICTURE IS PAINTED BY A THOUSAND WORDS

The most difficult challenge you’ll ever have to deal with throughout your life is others. They’ll make you angry, get you frustrated, and hurt you. At the root of these challenges will be miscommunication with others and communication breakdowns. Your ability to understand how language and communication really works could save you from much of this heartache. But the most unrealised — and by far the potentially greatest source of — heartache may eternally shock untold numbers of poor souls when they realise too late that they did not respond to God’s communications.

THE BUSY FOOLS ARGUMENT WITH THE BUSY WISE

What makes our busyness wise busyness? It’s when our busyness is doing what Christ wants for the reasons that He wants it done. It’s when we are busy without neglecting the priorities of spiritual disciplines and our obligations to those we are responsible to and for. This is why, when Christ calls someone to take on a greater responsibility in His Kingdom it is almost certain that they are already busy. I am not at all suggesting that a Christ-follower needs to be frenetic in their busyness for Christ, or that they should never sabbath (two points I have tried to make clear in this Pastor’s Desk by contrasting the busy wise with the busy foolish). But I am hoping that those who have been following and serving Christ for some seasons will recognise the doors of opportunity that Christ will enable them to walk through wisely. And as they do, and we do together, may we begin to see glimpse of the Great Commission being fulfilled in our valley-city.

IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.

EXCUSE ME

The essence of an excuse is the word, no. If we get invited to a party that we don’t to go to and we make a polite excuse to decline the offer, in essence we are saying “No, I will not come to your party.” This is the gist of the parable that Christ told in Luke 14 about His Father who sent His Son as His Servant to personally invite those who had already received an invitation to come to a great banquet. (It’s interesting how Jesus describes His Father’s heaven as a great banquet.) By saying “No” to the great banquet invitation those who were declining this invitation were saying that they had a better offer. What offer could be better than dining with the Source of Life, Joy, Peace, and Power, as His special guest in His luxurious mansion? What happens next in this parable also says a lot about how God feels when people make excuses to decline His offer to dine.

BELONGING

I’m not sure about you, but one of my great wrestles in becoming more Christlike is that sinful tendency to see my time, my resources, my life as belonging to me. I like to control it. I like to own it. I like to decide what happens and when.

God, in His great grace and wisdom, seems to work in our lives reminding us how little we truly control and that it all truly does belong to Him. So often these reminders come in the way of hardship and loss with the call to surrender ownership and control.

If our Heavenly Father was a despotic God, a cruel, tyrannical God who acted arbitrarily and selfishly for His own ends, knowing we belonged to Him would cause us to tremble and live in fear and apprehension.

But praise Him that this is not our God!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies your with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

ROOFS AND DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING

ROOFS AND  DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING
John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” Having a plan is generally a strategy that will help us to get things done, or respond correctly when things go wrong. A plan may help us to find a solution and a way through an adverse situation that we are experiencing. A plan also helps us to know what resources we might need for dealing with situations that we can foresee.

When it comes to thinking about the importance of planning, a statement that is worth considering is one that I like to get my Maritime Passage Planning students to contemplate:

‘The best thing about failing to plan, is that disaster comes as a complete surprise that is not preceded by hours or days of stress and worry associated with the planning process.’

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There are those who are busy but are highly productive. Often these people have learned that busy needs to be managed so that their time is focused on maintaining their important relationships, taking regular sabbaths, prioritising the important over the urgent, and cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it could be.