There is an idea among some evangelicals that a change took place in Jesus when He walked on the earth. This train of thought teaches that Jesus gained a greater understanding of our sin nature by experiencing humanity, making Him less judgmental and more tolerant than His Father. However, today’s passage tells us that Jesus is unchanged from eternity past.
Far too many believers live in the bondage of guilt, allowing their feelings to control their faith. Constantly battling guilt is usually a failure to believe what the Bible says about who we are in Christ. We get so wrapped up in trying to doChristianity that we miss the joy and freedom of the guilt-free life intended for followers of Jesus.
The temptation to sin is inevitable. No one is exempt, including Jesus. His victory over temptation means that we, as His followers, can also be victorious. So, how does understanding His victory over temptation help us? Let’s see.
As we’ve been talking about temptation, we’ve seen how Satan uses deception as a tool to tempt believers. One of the most effective ways he does this is to present the thought that we can willfully choose to sin and it will somehow be okay - like jumping off a cliff without suffering the consequences. When a believer knows a certain thought or action is sinful and chooses to do it anyway, that’s presumptuous sin.
What’s the difference between being tempted to sin and having our faith tested? It’s an important distinction to make. John 10:10 shows us the key to determining whether we’re being tempted or tested. We see two people, each with a different purpose. The thief brings death and destruction, while Jesus gives abundant life.
Deception is the act of leading someone to believe something that is not true. It’s presenting a lie in such a way that it looks and feels like the truth. Satan has been a master of deception since the first temptation in the Garden of Eden. And we still fall for it! As with Eve, he tempts us by creating just enough doubt in our minds to draw us away from what God actually says.
According to Jesus, loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the Greatest Commandment. But He doesn’t stop there. The second greatest commandment should be an outcome of the first. When we love God with our entire being it naturally creates an awareness of the people around us. Jesus is the perfect example of living in all-out love for God and in loving service to others. So, let me ask, “Do you love like Jesus?”
Many Christians have a linear idea of what loving God looks like. We come up with formulas such as, God first, family second, work/school third, etc. While I agree with the order of priorities, we need to go further than just loving God first. Let’s consider the question, “How much do you love God?”
The word, “love” has lost its significance in our culture because we use it to describe our feelings for anyone or anything we like. Saying that we love chocolate or football diminishes our understanding of the Greatest Commandment to love God. Because our concept of love is so skewed, it’s hard to answer the question, “Do you really love God?” What we need is a better understanding of biblical love.
What’s the most important thing God wants us to do? That’s the question posed to Jesus in Mark 12. Without hesitation, Jesus zeroed in on Deuteronomy 6:4-5. While the heart of the Greatest Commandment is about loving God, let’s not skip over the Lord’s instructions to listen to what He’s about to say. So before we go further into the Greatest Commandment, I need to ask, “Are you listening?”