By Jarrod Jacobs
We sometimes ask this question when faced with a tough decision. It is a good question to ask. In fact, it has a Bible basis (Col. 3:17). Everything we say or do should be in keeping with the example and reputation of Christ. In this article, I would like to ask this question from another angle, however. In our everyday lives, would Jesus do the things that we do?
Not Attend Every Service
Would it be logical to assume that Jesus would not be present to worship God and study his word every time the doors are open? I think that it is important that we under-stand the sins involved when we refuse to assemble with the saints: (1) A person sins when he fails to assemble (Heb. 10:25). (2) A person violates the command to sing when he refuses to assemble with the saints (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). (3) Refusing to assemble is a sin because we fail to edify others by our absence (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:11). (4) A person cannot be taught of God’s word when he refuses to attend (2 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 5:12). This not only affects the soul of the person who is absent, but also affects other people’s souls because he misses the training in God’s word which could equip him to teach others. Let us not forget that one who refuses to assemble with the saints is refusing to be in the presence of Jesus himself (Matt. 18:20).
Jesus gave his body and his life’s blood for the church (John 19:33-34; Acts 20:28). Could we honestly say that Jesus would treat such a valuable possession as nothing more than a social club? I wonder if Jesus would do as many “Christians” do today, and refuse to assemble with the saints every time they have the opportunity?
Do Just Enough To Get By
Many today have the attitude that they are going to “slide” into Heaven at the last minute! I wonder if Jesus would act like this? We know that there were people like this in New Testament times. What did Jesus do? In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said that he came to fulfill the law. Literally, he came to “fill it full.” Does this sound like he was looking for what he had to do, so he could leave out other “non-important” commands? Looking into 1 Peter, we find Jesus is described this way, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:21-22). Jesus certainly kept all the law! He did not do just enough to get by, but did all the law!
Paul, in Romans 12:1-2, shows us that the life of a Christian is not one of doing things “half-way,” but of complete and total submission to God’s will. Let us read these verses: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Let us focus on some of the words used by Paul to de-scribe our new life in Christ. Notice that Paul is addressing the brethren. He is not talking to everyone. He is talking only to those who have taken on the name of Christ in baptism. He then says that we need to present our bodies. This word means “to place a person or thing at one’s disposal” (Thayer 489). As the Romans conquered nations, the people they brought back were paraded in front of Caesar and “presented” to him as property. This showed that the people were his. When making the spiritual application, we see that we also are slaves to God when we are brought into submission by his word (Rom. 6:17-18).
Paul then says that we need to be a living sacrifice. In the Old Testament, God required the killing of animals as sacrifices. Now, he requires that we “die” to the old man, and offer ourselves as a spiritual sacrifice (Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9; 1 Pet. 2:1-5). When we present ourselves as slaves and that living sacrifice, we need to realize that our master is not Satan, sin, and death, but God and his Son. You can then understand why Paul says that we are to be accept-able unto God. This literally means “well-pleasing to God” (Thayer 257). In giving our body as a spiritual sacrifice, what we do must please God! No one else matters! Our former master has no say in what we do, or how we live. We must live well-pleasing to God!
Paul continues by saying that all these things are our “reasonable service.” The word reasonable means, “rational, agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable” (Thayer 379). The things God commands us to do are not irrational things. He does not tell us to do things that we cannot do. Please realize the commands we are to follow are reasonable to God. Too many think that the things we do are to be reasonable to ourselves. As a result, if I think God has told me to do something unreasonable, then I will not do it. Isn’t that nice? Let us understand well that everything God has told us to do is reasonable. Everything that is commanded is rational, and follows reason. Let us never think that we may “pick and choose” what we do based on whether or not we think it is reasonable!
Paul writes in verse two that we are not to be conformed to this world. The word “conformed” means, “to conform one’s self (i.e., one’s mind and character) to another’s pat-tern” (Thayer 608). In Paul’s day, Caesar would demand that his people dress the statue of
Zeus with certain clothes. After they did this, he would appear wearing the same clothes as Zeus, and then claim that he was a god because he was wearing what Zeus wore. This is conforming! Do we state that we are of the world by the clothes we wear? Do we state that we are of the world by the way we talk? Do we state that we are of the world by the way we think? Let us think seriously about these things. Lord, help me never to conform to the whims and wishes of this world!
Paul contrasts what a Christian should be by saying that we are not to conform but be transformed. This word carries an interesting meaning. It means, “to change into another form; to transfigure, trans-form; the change of moral character for the better” (Thayer 405). This word originally came from our word “metamorphosis.” Just as metamorphosis occurs when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, so our character and mind set must change to please God. Notice the meaning carries with it “a change for the better.” Paul finishes by saying that we are transformed by a renewing of our mind. The word “renewing” means, “renewal, renovation, complete change for the better” (Thayer 38). If a person is going to change and not think and act like the world any-more, what is he going to do?
Did you see the process that occurred? It began by us giving ourselves to God. We completely gave up all ties to this world and became God’s slaves. We become living sacrifices, doing all to the glory of God, and doing those things that are acceptable to him. We do not act, talk, dress, or think like this world, but we think like God! Can you see the great responsibility in being a Christian? We are only fooling ourselves when we think God will accept those who do not take their service to him seriously.
Paul instructs all people to do all things as to the Lord. In other words, we are to act and live as if God himself was standing right beside us (he is, by the way!). Paul goes on to say that we are going to receive a reward for what we do or fail to do (Col. 3:23-24). If we are trying to get away with the least amount of work, we better not look forward to a home in Heaven!
Knowing that some “Christians” are hypocrites, would Jesus be a hypocrite? Let the Bible answer that question. Notice that in Matthew 23:3-4 Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being hypocrites. He told his disciples that when the Pharisees tell you to do something, “That observe and do.” He did not want them to be known for their hypocrisy as the Pharisees were. When Luke gave testimony of Christ, he said that Christ acted and then taught (Acts I:1). While upon this earth, Jesus never exalted himself or acted hypocritically to those he was teaching. Jesus told his disciples, “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). This same truth is taught in 1 Peter 5:5-6. Knowing this truth, why do we think we can get away with acting one way on Sunday and another way the rest of the week? There is no room in heaven for a hypocrite!
Rely on His Opinions Rather than the Word of God
We do not have to look far to see people who try to justify themselves by their opinions. They would rather do this than submit to God’s Word. I find it more than coincidental that while Jesus was upon this earth, he never relied on his opinions. The Bible bears record of his sub-mission to his Father. John 12:49-50 records Jesus saying that he came to do what his Father had told him to do. In Matthew 26:39, 42, 44, are the accounts of the three prayers of Jesus before his crucifixion. In every prayer he stated that it was the Father’s will that was to be done, not his. It is evident from the Scriptures that Jesus kept the law of Moses without fail (1 Pet. 2:22). It is also evident that we need to keep Christ’s commands without fail (Col. 3:17).
Peter wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). In other words, whatever I say must be in accordance with the very utterances of God. Why one would deliberately teach that we do not have to do everything according to God’s word is beyond me. Who are we to think that we can do something that the Son of God did not do?
Teach in Such A Way As To Not “Offend” Anyone
There is a cry today from many who say that we ought not offend anyone with our teaching, but “be as Jesus was.” This cry is a blatant attempt to get gospel preachers and teachers to stop proclaiming sound doctrine (Tit. 2:1). Let us learn a lesson from my Lord. After Jesus condemned the Pharisees for honoring their traditions more than God’s commands, the disciples said, “Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12) Jesus answered by saying, “Let them alone” (Matt. 15:14). Jesus did not let hurt feelings get in the way of the truth when it was clear people wanted no part of it. We should not give in to the pseudo-unity cry that says if we all learn to love one another despite our differences, wecan just settle for doctrinal unity-in-diversity. This cry is nothing but a lie and a cancer on the church. It is a sad commentary on brethren when we see them refuse to teach and preach the gospel because they do not want the truth to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is a sad commentary on brethren when they refuse to preach the sound doctrine because they are afraid they will lose their money. It is a sad commentary on brethren when they preach in such a way that if they were condemning error, no one knew it! Beware of those who will not teach the truth because they are afraid someone might be “offended.”
Would Jesus do some of the things we do? This is a serious question. It is highly recommended that before any decision, we ask ourselves, “Would Jesus do this?” I seriously doubt if Jesus would be doing some of the things that we think are acceptable. Brethren, let us be very careful to make sure we are pleasing God at all times, “0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 19, p. 6-8
October 5, 1995