By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
Does it ever seem hard to live like Jesus? When we read verses such as 1 John 2:6 that tell us, "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did," why do we think we can’t obey this command?
Paul the Apostle told us to follow his example as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). We could use the excuse that we aren’t the Apostle Paul and we sure aren’t Jesus. Paul wrote most of the New Testament and established churches across Asia. But do we reason that since we don’t have that same enormous task, our calling is different?
Paul was anointed to preach in a bold way few others have aspired to do. He was changed from a religious Pharisee who persecuted Christians into a zealous disciple of the living God by the same supernatural power that changes us. And he commanded us to emulate his example. So, why do we think we can’t do it?
Here are 5 lies we tell ourselves about being like the Son of God.
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Lie 1: We Can’t Be Like Jesus Because We Are Only Human
Truth: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). This promise is dependent upon how much of Christ’s influence we allow to work.
We are created as three-part beings, spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul and body are the parts of us we battle with. We must decide which of the parts we will listen to, the born-again spirit or the unregenerated soul. Whichever one we give dominance to will determine our actions. If we rely on emotions, then we will behave like fallen human beings. But if we listen to the part that is like our Creator, we are acting on the virtue that He put inside us.
We can think everything we want to be changed in our lives is up to the Lord. We forget that He has given us His tools for transformation. Because the Almighty is holy and sovereign, we don’t think anything can limit Him. But our doubt can block what He wants to do in us. Psalm 78:41 NKJV gives us an example of how the Israelites failed to see their Deliverer’s omnipotence. Miracles abounded yet their unbelief obstructed what they could receive.
Yes, again and again they tempted God and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Words of doubt will inhibit how much we can be like Christ. This will cause us to mimic the example of the wilderness-wandering Hebrews. Tradition and religious rules can deceive us into living a life that restricts spiritual enrichment and our influence is stunted. But if we allow His power to control us, as Ephesians 3:20 says, then we are not acting as merely human. We are able to do more than we can imagine.
Lie 2: We Can’t Do the Works Jesus Did
Truth: And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well (Mark 16:17-18).
Jesus’ works were not confined to the time He walked the earth; nor were they only for the twelve apostles (John 14:12).
He gave authority to 70 individuals who went into towns and villages healing the sick and casting out demons (Luke 10:1). This anointing was bestowed upon them before the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers for all time. Now that we have the Comforter residing in us, He doesn’t come and go as He did under the Law. Authority is delegated to all people who will believe and follow the Savior. But like anything offered to us, we must use and appropriate the gifts.
The words spoken in Mark 16 were not instructions to pick up snakes and drink poison. He was telling us that His ability would defeat evil. In the wilderness temptation, Satan tried to trap the Son with the allurement of proving His deity against something intentionally harmful. Jesus replied that we are not to tempt the Lord our God (Matthew 4:7).
We can do His works, but they are to demonstrate God’s magnificence, not for impressing Satan or other people.
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Lie 3: We Would Be Thought of as Making Ourselves a Deity
Truth: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
We are instructed to conform to Christ’s image, but that doesn’t mean we become a deity.
Believers were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The citizens of this city saw something in these disciples that identified them with Jesus Christ. They were acting so much like the Savior they were given a new moniker, “little Christ.” What a compliment to say that we live and act so much like Christ that we are easily identified as being one with Him. Christians didn’t go around saying they were a deity and wanted to be worshipped. They pointed to the only One who deserved worship.
When Paul and Barnabus preached in Lystra a lame man was healed (Acts 14:11-15). The crowd immediately proclaimed the two men were gods and sought to offer a sacrifice in their honor. Paul was quick to stop what they were doing and point the crowd toward Christ who was the healer.
God made us to be victorious (Revelation 1:6). We are His representatives on earth to show people what the Father is really like. He didn’t intend for us to get saved and then remain stuck in the difficulties of life. We are not expected to just hold on to the knot at the end of the rope until He pulls it up and we go to heaven.
When we act like children of the Father, we reflect His character to unsaved people and His image comes through (John 1:12). We can demonstrate His glory without appearing to make ourselves His equal.
Lie 4: We Can’t Love the Way Jesus Did
Truth: This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus (1 John 4:17). This verse tells us in this world we are like Him.
We can’t love others unconditionally in our own ability, but the command to love one another wouldn’t be given if it were not possible to do it.
Of course, we aren’t in an immortal body at this moment, but right now in this world where we live and breathe, we are like Jesus in the regenerated part of us, not the physical part.
If we are like Him now in this world, then we have the capacity to see others the way He does. The Father’s passion is stopped when we rely on our senses.
Love is not an emotion, it is action. We exhibit feelings of affection for our family and friends, but godly love is the Lord’s holy response in situations, not our feelings.
A thermostat is a device that regulates temperature. The Word should be used as a holy thermostat to regulate our emotions. To deny our own desires and put others first is to love like Jesus did.
Lie 5: We Can’t Resist Temptation the Way Jesus Did
Truth: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus was part of the Trinity in His Spirit, but He still had to overcome feelings and physical limitations that were in His body.
The Son of Man got tired and hungry. He was tempted with fear and faced rejection. He lived as a human to show us how to operate in spiritual principles. The devil attempted to seduce the Son of God through His earthly mind, emotions, and bodily needs.
The fallen angel tried to get Jesus to question His identity when he said, “if you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3,6). Eve was deceived at the serpent’s words, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1). This enemy does the same thing to us by inserting doubt into our minds about who we are in Christ.
If enticement can get us to fluctuate about what God said, we won’t have the strength to combat temptation.
Jesus endured testing in all ways yet without sin. He showed us through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome these temptations also. He resisted the devil with the Scriptures, and we have been given the same access to His Word (James 4:7).
The Truth Is We Can Be Like Jesus Through Training
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40 NKJV).
Mind renewal is a continual process of training (Romans 12:1-2).
The more we sit at His feet like Mary did and absorb the words of our Savior, the more the lies that shadow our view of Him will dissipate like fog under the rising sun. The light of His Word will illuminate our hearts.
We can be the disciple who reflects the perfect teacher to all those around us. We don’t have to believe the lies that tell us we can’t be like Jesus.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).
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