Learning to Live by the Spirit
In the early church and the church at Rome in particular, faced some very challenging questions.
* How can a new Christian stay alive in persecution and temptation?
* Will the power of Christ stand the test of reality?
Mark wrote his gospel and grappled with these questions in particular.
His answer was no trite treaty on growing spiritually; rather what he did was he brought the church back to Christ.
He wanted them to be sure that the Lord, in whom they had placed their trust, was truly the Messiah.
What happened to Christ would happen to them, only now because of what happened to Him, they could face temptation and grow through it.
Our exposition of Mark brings us back to the temptation of Jesus.
After the assurance of the baptism, He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, to be ministered to by angels and to win the battle which gives us the secret as how to stay alive spiritually.
Note Jesus' temptation was punctuated by two powerful parentheses.
* In the baptism, it was the affirmation of His Messiahship. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
* Then following the temptation in the wilderness, we see Jesus strutting out with tempered triumph, proclaiming "The kingdom of God is at hand."
The same is true for us.
We begin the Christian life with the liberating experience of God's grace penetrating to the depth of our souls but He does not leave us there.
Like Jesus, the assurance of the anointing is followed by the tempering of testing temptation.
He knows that unless we are liberated at the core, we can not stay alive.
We can not live a new life with old values, motives and attitude.
We know all about temptations but I want to talk tonight about the temptation.
There is an essential temptation through which we must pass, which makes all others easier to face and overcome.
Once we have victory ...
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