“At a middle school in Oregon, some girls were putting on
lipstick and then pressing their lips to the mirrors,
leaving dozens of lip prints.
The principal called the girls to the bathroom and told them
how the lip prints were causing a major problem for the
custodian, who had to clean the mirrors every day.
To demonstrate how difficult it was, she asked the
custodian to clean one of the mirrors.
He took out a long-handled brush, dipped it into the
toilet, and scrubbed the mirror until one set of prints was
off. Then he
followed the same procedure until all the lip prints were
Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirrors!
And the moral of the story is: When tempted to sin,
if we could only see the real filth we’d be kissing, we
wouldn’t be attracted to it” (Kays in Larson/Elshof).
We are into a series on discipleship, and we've noticed that
the central issue of being a disciple of Jesus involves this
question: Will I willingly surrender – submit for a lifetime
- every aspect of my life to the authority of Jesus
and His teachings? Have
we thought that the church revolves around us and do we come
Sunday to get some kind of a spiritual high, almost like a
drug experience, so that this high will make us feel good,
and excited, and enthusiastic?
You see, we want an ecstasy, but the problem is that
it's based on a falsehood because it's all about the church
conforming to my desires.
It's not about real worship and being disciples who
conform our lives around the Master and His
Isn't this what the apostle Peter taught?
1 Peter 2:21 says: “For to this you were called,
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that you should follow His steps.”
1 Peter 4:1-2 affirms: “Therefore, since Christ
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the
same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased
from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time
in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
2 Peter 3:18 admonishes: “But grow in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
We've been reflecting on a simple principle
“To be a genuine
disciple, we need to rearrange our lives around the
practices of Jesus' life.”
Well, what all does that entail?
We've already seen how Jesus can transform
our minds when we listen as He listened, think as He
thought, and believe as He believed.
We've discovered how He can transform our
character when we live as He lived, pray as He prayed,
and obey as He obeyed.
Last week, we saw how Jesus can transform our
relationships when we care as Jesus cared, love as Jesus
loved, and forgive as Jesus forgave.
Today we want to look at three more practices that we
as disciples can imitate.
The first practice is this: pursue holiness as Jesus pursued
see this idea brought out very clearly when Jesus was
tempted in the wilderness in Matthew 4.
We see how Jesus pursued holiness and overcame the
comforts, the crowds, and the compromises.
If you would believe as Jesus believed, then
you'll have to believe that people's arch-enemy is a real
being known as Satan or the devil.
Ever notice how when God wants to mature someone, He
often drives them to the wilderness?
Moses, Elijah, and Jesus' cousin, John, all had
The Holy Spirit now has Jesus face a wilderness
What all did Jesus do during His days there?
Did He move around much?
Did He confront any wild animals?
The text does not say, but it does tell us that He
fasted for 40 days, and that would have made Jesus very
how God had told Jesus 40 days ago at His baptism how He was
His beloved Son?
Satan challenges that idea and strikes at Jesus'
physical weakness: “If you are the Son of God, command
these stones to become bread.”
“Jesus, prove Yourself as God's Son and use Your
supernatural powers to have a bite to eat!”
Would Jesus use His own powers to serve Himself or
would He continue to trust God to provide His needs?
“It is written: 'Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of
Jesus was not deceived into using His supernatural powers to
satisfy His own comforts.
Jesus was not thinking of Himself—His comforts, His
needs, His agenda.
What about us?
Do we overcome the temptations to feed our own
comforts and pleasures?
Can we live so unselfishly that we suppress our own
cravings and lusts and keep God's spiritual truths our focus
as well? Let's
pursue holiness as Jesus pursued holiness!
“So, Jesus, do You really trust in God?”
“'If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down
[from the highest point at the temple which rose about 450
it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over you,'
and 'In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash
your foot against a stone.'”
“Oh, Jesus, let's just show the crowds at the temple
how much you really do trust God!
Why He'll take care of You, and a lot of people will
discover that You really are the Messiah!”
Jesus saw through this trick: God was under no
obligation to provide spectacular rescues nor would the
crowds' initial enthusiasm last long.
“It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the
Lord your God.'”
How often do we sin just to please our peers?
Jesus responds each time with God's Word; He is
informed about what it says.
That's the Sword of the Spirit that we can use in our
battles with Satan as well!
Informed, well-versed, grounded, call it what you
will; it's knowing God's will well enough that you can
recall it and foil Satan when he tempts you!
Let's pursue holiness as Jesus pursued holiness!
Satan makes one last attempt after showing Jesus all the
kingdoms of the world and their glory: “All these things
I will give You if You will fall down and worship Me.”
“Jesus, let's be partners.
Just think, You can have great power, and You won't
even have to suffer the cross to get it.
Just acknowledge my leadership, and we can be on our
compromise sure sounds inviting, doesn't it?
Don't you like, however, the decisive and aggressive
way that Jesus responds: “Away with you, Satan!
For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your
God, and Him only you shall serve.'”
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”
Jesus knew at His baptism that He was to be the Lamb of
God and Suffering Servant that Isaiah had predicted; the
Scriptures and God has determine His course, and He would
not be moved.
Can you be as decisive and loyal when Satan offers
compromises to you?
What filth are you kissing that you need to quit in
Let's pursue holiness as Jesus pursued holiness!
Another practice is this: We must battle as Jesus battled!
We probably don't like to think about it, but we are
engaged daily in spiritual warfare.
Our adversary is the same one that Jesus had—Satan,
the devil, the evil one.
We need to recognize three battles that will come our
way from our adversary.
We must recognize the battle against our family.
Did you notice when Jesus was born, there is a very
nasty story in Matthew's Gospel?
Some wise men from the East show up in Jerusalem one
day saying that they have seen a star of the King of the
Jews and would like to know where they can find him in order
to worship him.
This troubled King Herod the Great, and when he felt
threatened, you'd better watch out.
The emperor Augustus once said that it was better to
be Herod's pig than his son because you'd have more chances
of staying alive.
Well, King Herod gets the chief priests and scribes
to discover that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem,
and then he tells the wise men to let him know when they
find this new king, so that he could worship Him too.
What was King Herod really going to do?
Right, he wanted to kill this new rival king.
Now who put that notion of murder into Herod's heart?
It was Satan.
Jesus tells us that it is Satan's nature to want to
murder in John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil,
and the desire of your father you want to do.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not
stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”
You probably recall the rest of the story.
An angel warns Joseph to flee to Egypt, and Jesus'
family does so in haste.
Just in time too because King Herod had ordered his
soldiers to go to Bethlehem and kill all those male babies
who were two years old and under!
Hear the cries of those innocent children, and feel
the pain of those innocent parents!
This destruction is the handiwork of our enemy!
And if Satan will attack the family of Jesus Himself,
what makes us think that our families are immune from his
about this a moment.
How many institutions on this earth are from God?
There are only two—the church and the family.
These are the two places that people feel the safest
and most unguarded.
“Since the family [involves more people] than the
church, Satan knows that attacking and destroying it gives
him an edge in his battle against God. ... And when satanic
forces [can] destroy a family, they [can also] destroy a
hundred good other things that come from that family!
Attacking families opens the door for unfaithfulness,
addictions, and loss of identity.
It can breed gangs, abuses, and cruelties.
It also diminishes respect for authority, self, and
mankind in general” (Beam).
Beware, my beloved brethren, of the attack that Satan
wants to bring upon your family and be ready to take action!
There was a Christian family whose daughter began to
get involved with the wrong crowd at a public school in
another state, so they took her out of that school, began to
home-school her themselves, and did not allow her to be with
that crowd anymore.
They saw Satan attacking their family, and they took
recognize the battle that Satan will wage against our
family, and let's battle as Jesus battled!
Next, let's recognize the battle that will come with our
Jesus have any enemies and oppressors?
Yes, He did, and they pursued Him relentlessly, and
tried on numerous occasions to ensnare and to trap Him
through loaded questions.
After they saw that didn't work, then they resorted
to force and to harassment until they finally got Him
Now did Jesus battle His oppressors?
When it came to their verbal challenges, He didn't
let Himself be swayed by their flattery, usually saw through
their trickery, and always gave the perfect response.
The apostle Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 3:15:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be
ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason
for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
Peter is helping us to see that if we want to have
the correct response when our oppressors encounter us, then
we'd better be doing some preparation of our hearts and
minds long before that encounter takes place.
When Jesus' oppressors were ready to kill Him, Jesus
did not oppose them because He knew that God had called for
Him to face them as a silent lamb.
He offered no resistance at His arrest, He offered
very few, if any, words during His trials, and the words He
said on the cross itself were not blasphemous or vengeful.
Letting others mistreat us is not an easy thing to
do, but loving our enemies in spite of their actions, is how
Jesus Himself did battle at times.
The apostle Peter once again encourages us with these
words: “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to
suffer for doing good than for doing evil. ... Therefore let
those who suffer according to the will of God commit their
souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Pt.
3:17 & 4:19).
Let's recognize the battle that we will have with our
oppressors, and let's battle as Jesus battled, with
preparation and determination to overcome evil with good!
Let's recognize the battle against our God.
Notice something interesting when Jesus was praying
in Gethsemane in Matthew 26.
In verse 39, He prays: “O My Father, if it is
possible, let his cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I
will, but as You will.”
Now drop down to verse 42 and notice how He
changes His prayer just a bit: “O My Father, if this cup
cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be
Does it seem to you that by His change of words
Jesus is realizing more and more while He prays that God's
will really does include this tremendous cup of
suffering that He must endure, and He cannot change God's
will on this matter?
Jesus battles here through total submission.
You know, there will be some Gethsemanes in our
are the times when you hit that crossroads about a matter,
and you pray earnestly for clarification.
Then you clearly see the fork that you must follow
since it is God's will.
At this point, Satan steps in and often says, “Surely
God wouldn't want to take that fork!
It would be so ridiculous for you to do that!”
Well, you don't know exactly where the road may lead
and all the hardships it may entail, but you know it's the
right thing to do, so you ignore Satan's attack on God, and
you too totally submit to God and trust in Him to see you
recognize the battles against our God, and let's battle as
Jesus battled through total submission to God's will.
A third practice of Jesus was that He was watchful, and He
warned us to be watchful as well.
Let's watch as Jesus watched!
That term “watch” comes from the military, and it
reminds us of the soldier who is ever alert and on his
look quickly at four areas where we need to be on our guard.
First of all, watch for Satan's attacks, and
especially do this in regards to our culture.
Very often what our culture teaches us may go against
what God desires for us.
Notice how this same idea was confronted by Jesus in
Jesus once asked the disciples who men thought He was.
They gave some answers, and then Jesus pressed them
for their response.
Peter then gave the correct answer that He was the
Jesus strictly warns them not to let this be known, and then
he begins to tell His disciples that He must be rejected,
killed, and rise from the dead.
Peter takes the Lord aside and begins to rebuke Him
for what He just said.
Why did Peter do this?
Because his culture had conditioned him to think that
a slain Messiah was a contradiction in terms.
The Jewish Messiah was to be powerful and victorious;
He was not to be rejected and killed!
Now notice what Jesus says when He rebukes Peter
before the others in verse 33: “Get behind Me, Satan.
[You see, Jesus hears Satan attacking once again
through Peter's words: “God's will is not for you to
foolish to think that way!”]
For you are not mindful of the things of God, but
the things of men.”
Peter was letting his culture dictate his outlook
instead of letting God influence his outlook!
Peter is certainly not the first or the last person
that follows what their culture pushes, rather than
following what God desires.
Are there some situations that our American culture
is approving that God would not desire?
Isn't it very easy for us to be mindful of the things
the media preaches, and not of the things of God?
“Be sober, be vigilant [or watchful]; because your
adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking
whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Watch for Satan's attacks, and especially do this
in regards to our culture.
Watch as Jesus watched!
Next, watch for false prophets' heresies.
Jesus Himself warns in Matthew 7:15: “Beware
of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but
inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
The apostle Paul
also told the elders of the church at Ephesus in Acts
20:30-31: “Also from among yourselves, men will rise up,
speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after
Therefore watch, and remember for three years I did not
cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
False teachers and their heresies are still being
One brother recently wrote this strong appeal: “As
the church struggles to preserve her Christ-ordained faith,
worship and practices in the face of relentless pressure
imposed by the promoters of change, she needs the help of
... In time of war, every loyal citizen of the nation will
pitch in and do his or her part to help save the nation from
her enemies. In the church, it should be no different”
for false teachers and their heresies, and continue to hold
me accountable for my preaching as well!
Our goal is not to tickle people's ears and make
everybody feel good; our goal is get to heaven and persuade
others to go with us by obeying the truth and by living in
submission to Christ's teachings!
Watch as Jesus watched!
Watch also for our own moral weaknesses.
Jesus told His own disciples in Matthew 26:41:
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Be on guard and
be prayerful about falling into temptation for our flesh is
so very, very weak.
“The ways of evil cut so deep,” as our young people
We need to be watching collectively too.
Note what is stressed in Hebrews 12:14-17: “Pursue
peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one
will see the Lord: looking carefully [that's being watchful,
being on guard, for what?] lest anyone fall short of the
grace of God; lest anyone root of bitterness springing up
cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there
be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one
morsel of food sold his birthright.”
All of us in the congregation are to be helping each
other as we watch for those members who begin to lose
interest, and as we watch for things which might create
bitterness, and as we watch for those members who begin to
take on worldly behaviors once again.
We need to be watching out for one another and for
our own moral weaknesses.
Watch as Jesus' watched!
Next, watch for God's victory.
Jesus tells us
that only God knows when the final victory will come
So we need to be on our guard always.
The apostle Paul gives us this admonition in 1
Thessalonians 5:4-9: “But you, brethren, are not in
darkness, so that this Day [the final day] should overtake
you as a thief.
You are all sons of light and sons of the day.
We are not of the night nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us
watch and be sober.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who
get drunk, get drunk at night.
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on
the breastplate of faith and love, as a helmet the hope of
God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let's watch, be sober, and clothe ourselves with
faith, hope, and love, so we'll be ready for God's victory
day! Watch as
“Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now
Belgium, was grossly overweight.
brother Edward revolted against Raynald’s rule.
Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him.
Instead, he built a room in the Nieuwkerk castle and
promised Raynard he could regain his title and property when
he left the room.
This would not have been difficult for most people,
since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal
size, none of which were locked or barred. The problem was
Raynald’s size; to regain his freedom, he needed to lose
Edward knew his older brother well, and each day he sent a
variety of delicious foods into the room.
Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald
Raynald stayed in his room for ten years and wasn’t released
until after Edward died in battle.
By then, however, his health was so ruined that he
died within a year — a prisoner to his own appetite”
(Crostain in Larson/Elshof).
Becoming a disciples of Jesus should transform your
mind, your character, and your relationships.
Why not let Jesus transform your morality too?
Why not pursue holiness as Jesus pursued holiness,
battle as Jesus battled, and watch as Jesus watched!
Don't let Satan keep you kissing his filth!
Don't let Satan keep you imprisoned in his castle!
Jesus knows your struggles, your battles, and your
weaknesses; He's lived in this world too!
Let Him give you the strength and help that you need
to overcome Satan and the cares of this world!
Aren't your ready to start being His disciple by
dying to yourself in a watery grave?
Aren't your ready to start being a genuine disciple
by rearranging your life around His life?