Jesus Is Our Prototype
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 617c . . .that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Believers express their obedience to God by adhering to a body of teachings (doctrine). The doctrines of Christ are to dictate our belief and behavior.
Christian living requires compliance with certain teachings. All we are–understanding, will, plans, principles, deeds, etc.–must conform to the teachings of Jesus. This means absolutely submitting to live by the Bible and its precepts.
Form was commonly used for a die that minted coins. This metaphor draws a graphic picture. Bible teachings are a mold our lives should conform to.
We are to let ourselves be placed in a template, and take our shape from it. The mold is the Bible. Jesus is the prototype, the image we seek to reproduce.
Gospel teachings are a pattern into which our lives should be cast. Only by conforming to the paradigm can we adopt a shape that closely resembles Christ.
Every life is controlled by whatever philosophy a person embraces. Our thoughts, desires, and actions are determined by the teaching mold we adopt.
When we come to Christ, we must accept His teachings as our example. We cannot believe on Christ without being willing to be molded by Him. Anyone who claims to be a believer, and yet does not conform to the Biblical mold, is deceived.
The Gospel is not only an interpersonal relationship or an intellectual exercise, but also a transforming influence. Its objective is to change our behavior.
John Wesley understood this, and built the concept into his classes. His class-meetings were a tool he wanted used to alter behavior. Henry Ward Beecher said, The greatest thing John Wesley ever gave to the world is the Methodist class-meeting. D. L. Moody said, The Methodist class-meetings are the best institutions for training converts the world ever saw. In Wesleys classes people confessed sins and repented. Having the spiritual gift of teaching, I find it fascinating (unnerving) that one of the most powerful forces for improving behavior was groups that emphasized not learning, but conduct. This does not mean Wesley was anti-learning. That function was done in the larger groups called societies. In the classes, the Gospel was used to change behavior.
Regarding our life-style, never equate grace with leniency or license. Grace requires much more than Law can demand. Law commands, but cannot compel.
Grace constrains from within and motivates to holiness. The Holy Spirit always softens and humbles us under a sense of sinfulness. The indwelling Holy Spirit makes us comfortable in the Bible mold. Law is impotent to do these things. For instance, a hundred signs commanding a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit are not nearly as effective as the presence of one policeman in a car with flashing lights.
Similarly, the Spirit polices us. He indwells the believer, takes note of sin, and severely convicts us of it. He makes us want our inner dross burned away.
We are motivated in knowing Gods cleansing is available to us. A mold and metal are useless without a fire. The metal must be melted, for this alone lets it take the shape of the mold into which it is poured. May God moment by moment burn within us and conform us more and more into the image of His Son.
Romans 618 Being then made free from sin, ye became the
servants of righteousness.
We belong to Jesus. He has every right to mold us. Salvation brings us not a license to commit sin, but a new Master. At conversion, we renounce sin as ruler, and accept a new Sovereign. Allegiance transfers from sin to Christ.
Any who love to live in habitual sin will never renounce their old master. By definition, conversion and repentance imply the sinners see themselves in a condition from which they seek release.
It is unreasonable to think we will want to wallow in a bondage we had sought release from. Anyone who loves sin, and can dabble in it repeatedly without remorse, has never been made free from sin. It is still their ruling philosophy.
It is contradictory to remain constantly in sin after being freed from sin. In believers, sin does not rule it only rebels. It flares up occasionally, but each time it does, the Christian is filled with Godly sorrow.
How well do you and I respond to sins we commit Is there true sorrow, or does it matter little Deep in our heart, do we want to serve sin or righteousness
There is no intermediate condition. At any moment, each individual is subject to one master or the other. We cannot halt halfway between the two. We must choose one or the other.
We can be liberated from the tyranny of sin only by giving up our self to be a slave to Christ. We must renounce our old life in order to receive the new life.
Romans 619a I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of
After the manner of men means he used illustrations from everyday life to stress his message. Teachers of the Gospel must simplify, illustrate, and repeat their lessons, not because people are unlearned, but because they are influenced by sin.
Our learning frailty is rooted in the flesh. Our mental faculties are influenced by sin. Our problem in understanding Gods teachings is not intellectual, but moral.
People do not lack intelligence. They lack spiritual desire to learn. Our trouble is not intellectual comprehension. Our problem is being unwilling to believe and do. The desire not to do causes us not to hear.
This is one devastating effect of our old nature. It urges us to view holiness as bondage rather than liberty. It lessens our desire for more spiritual knowledge.
Romans 619b . . .for as ye have yielded your members servants to
uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity
Before salvation we gave ourselves to evil voluntarily. Satan cannot force us into his service. This fact justifies Gods undoing sinners. By their own choice, they do evil. The sinful life is a vicious circle. Iniquity unto iniquity means to commit more and more evil. Sins lead to more sins. Evil gets worse and worse. We become more and more addicted to sin. If we sow the wind, we reap a whirlwind.
Romans 619c . . .even so now yield your members servants to righteousness
The key to Pauls lesson here is the words As and even so now. He was saying, You used to use your faculties for evil now use them for good, and do so with the same intensity you previously showed for evil. Do not do good with less vigor and enthusiasm than you did evil.
We used to sin because we liked it and wanted to do it. The same motivation should animate us for holiness. This is a reasonable request. It is proper to expect us to serve a loving Lord with as much enthusiasm as we served a cruel master.
Believers should be as preoccupied with good as unbelievers are with worldly pleasures. Look at the hours unbelievers devote to sin. They love what they do, and devote evenings and weekends to selfish pleasures. They gladly relinquish leisure time to the desires of the flesh. God is ignored in everything only self is considered.
Believers should display an opposite mindset. God should be considered in everything only His will matters. It is wrong for us to serve righteousness with less vigor than unbelievers serve sin, but look at us. Most people in a Sunday morning worship service believe one hour is enough religious activity for the whole week. What a contrast to sinners, who are never content with only one sin-session a week.
The attitude we should have is commanded of us. Paul said, Yield There is no hint of option here. The Bible emphasizes holiness is required, not requested.
Since it is commanded, it is something we can do. Every command of Scripture carries with it a promise of power to obey.
As we obey, we pass on to more and more holiness. Righteousness unto holiness implies growth and progress. Just as every sinful deed confirms a sinful habit, even so constancy in doing good will help confirm us in that good.
The faithful performance of a duty will lead to the doing of another. Victory over one sin strengthens us with confidence that other sins can be overcome.