My last few posts have been looking at testing what you hear and ensuring that you check the source of what you accept to ensure that you are following truth and not cleverly disguised lies.
In this section of the word we find another necessary practice. As a discussion arose among the Pharisees seeking the arrest of Jesus, we see one man try to persuade the Pharisees and how he failed. In His failure we learn a lesson that we MUST apply to ensure our own positions are solid.
Listen To Wisdom
The soldiers returned from trying to arrest Jesus empty handed. When question by the Pharisees about their failure they said, “No man ever spoke like this man!” (Verse 46) They could not withstand the power of the Lord’s teaching and were clearly in awe of Him and afraid of what the people would do if they had grabbed Jesus and taken him away.
The Pharisees then answered the soldiers back saying, “Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” (Verse 47-48) Foolish words of anger spoken in pride and arrogance.
But amongst the Pharisees there was one who had believed. Nicodemus believed in Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the Christ for He came to Him by night and said as much. But Nicodemus was fearful of losing his position of authority. Even so, we see him utter words of wisdom to try and defend Jesus that they should have listened to. He said, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (Verse 51)
Nicodemus knew the law and here he was advising the Pharisees in wisdom. He was telling them what I have been writing about in the past few posts. He was saying that they needed to find out, check what Jesus was saying and doing, learn to understand and examine him to find the truth.
This is wisdom that we need to learn and know also. Seek the truth. Find out the root cause and understand what is going on so that your mind is trained to distinguish right from wrong. But Nicodemus failed in the next part.
When Nicodemus was put to the test he failed. The Pharisees replied to his wisdom by howling him down. “They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” (Verse 52) The Pharisees belittled and berated Nicodemus and his fear kicked in and he shrank away.
It takes great courage to stand up for what is right. It takes valour to stand in the face of hostile opposition and to hold onto the truth. Nicodemus failed in that point. He spoke the truth and he spoke wisdom because they SHOULD have examined what Jesus was about to find the truth. But the desire of the Pharisees was not to look for the truth, their desires were for evil as they chose to have him killed.
Nicodemus could not stand in the face of this opposition. His fear was that he would be expelled from the council, disgraced amongst the people and his peers and lose his position.
How many of us have done the same at times? How many of us did not stand for what was right when opposed? All of us I am sure have fallen victim to it when peer pressure or other things have caused us to step back. And I’m as guilty as anyone of such behaviour.
In Christ Jesus we can gain the strength to stand up for what is right. Sure we may fail sometimes, but he gives us strength and as we grow, we will find the strength to stand for what is right.
What If You Fail?
If you fail, don’t worry about it because you are in good company. The apostle Peter suffered several times and failed. When he and the others fled in the Garden at Gethsemane, when he denied Jesus three times, when he withdrew from eating with the Gentiles as described in Galatians 2:11-18. But in each case the Lord showed him mercy and grace as he repented and returned to the Lord.
But then look at the times he did stand up for what was right and succeeded. At Pentecost he stood up and preached the word and three thousand people were saved that day. Peter and John were imprisoned after preaching in the Temple and healing a man who had been crippled. Five thousand believed after their preaching (Acts 4:4) and we see how they stood up to the authorities who charged them to cease proclaiming the truth about Jesus.
18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge;
20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
Did they fail sometimes? Yes they did. But on each occasion they repented and returned to the Lord to receive His Grace and to continue in the work of the Lord.
The Lord knows we are not perfect. He knows we will fall sometimes as we walk with Him. He knows that there will be times when we are weak and will succumb to temptations and make mistakes and so on. The issue though is less about the failure, but how we bounce back from failure.
What should you do if you fail to stand up when you should? Mope? Hit the booze? Become sullen and withdrawn? Take it out on your partner, friends or family?
No! Seek the Lord and repent. Seek the grace of God and return to Him for comfort and be lifted up by Him so that you are strengthened. You are being trained for a spiritual war against the forces of evil, and sometimes the training is tough. But when you return to the Lord after each failure you get that little bit stronger until you get the victory.
Most important is to walk in the Spirit. When you are going through the temptation use the sword of the Spirit to battle, use the Spirit to give you the strength to stand. And you will be able to stand because the Spirit will give you the strength.
So in anything and everything, use the wisdom of Nicodemus to seek out the truth, but then stand in that truth when you are tested. And if you fall, don’t condemn yourself and don’t worry. Pick yourself up and return to Jesus so that you can be strengthened and move on. Our walk is a continual forward movement. Don’t look back at past failures but keep your eyes on Jesus ahead of you as you follow Him.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Bailly Elodie)
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