A PASTOR is called to imitate Christ Jesus. Therefore, a pastor's godly life has little or nothing to do with his academic degrees, wealth, honorific titles, popularity, stature, oratory skills, and stylish garments.
These may be good things to have, but scripturally they do not make anyone fit for ministry. But the life of a Christian pastor has everything to do with his doing, living, acting and obeying the Word of God in order to please God.
Beyond being equipped with the Word of God and the Spirit of God, a Christian pastor ought to be a person of high moral uprightness. An authentic calling to ministry is a unique calling.
The Bible describes it as a high, heavenly and holy calling. Hence, for a person to qualify to minister as a servant of God, the apostle Paul stated clearly that such a person must be blameless or be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2).
To be blameless, here, means that there is to be no unrepentant sin that can be publicly named or pointed to in which the church or civil community is aware of. It does not mean the minister is sinless or has never sinned, but that he or she cannot be held contempt, criminally, morally, socially or ethically.
A true servant of Christ must not be a recent convert; he must be a person who has walked with Christ Jesus for years, and by that his life has been influenced by Christ Jesus so that he could conduct himself publicly and privately like the Lord Jesus. After all, a true apostle, prophet or bishop is an ambassador or representative of Christ Jesus in the world.
Thus, Jesus Christ is every genuine pastor's subject for learning. Paul did not walk with the Lord physically, yet he could learn from Him (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul might have learned from Christ Jesus through the Scriptures, narratives of apostles like Peter and James, revelations he personally received from Jesus Christ and leadings of the Holy Spirit. If Paul could learn from Christ, we also can.
When we learn from Jesus, we will not always fall when we are tempted. The Bible says Christ “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus Christ never sinned when the devil tempted Him prior to the commencement of His public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). And He never sinned when men including the teachers of the law, Pharisees, Sadducees and others tempted Him with insults, lies and mockery.
The Bible does not tell us if Christ was tempted with sexual immorality as was done to Samson, David and Solomon who fell. But the truth we know is that Christ was in all points tempted as we are, yet He never sinned. Our Lord escaped the traps set for Him by the devil and evil people just like how Joseph escaped the temptation of sexual immorality with Potiphar's wife.
Bishop Justice Kojo Bentil teaches that “Christians are saved from sin, but not from the presence of sin.” The world is a fallen world full of works of sin. And so Christians particularly pastors are faced with daily temptations engineered by demons to destroy us. And Jesus said temptations to sin are sure to come as long as we live in this world (Luke17:1).
But the apostle James wrote: “Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings death” (James 1:13-15).
So, now, how can we overcome temptations? We must diligently learn the strategies Jesus Christ adopted to overcome them. First, when Christ Jesus was tempted by the devil, He quoted Scriptures to expose, neutralise and silence him. Here, either Christ Jesus recited Scriptures audibly with His mouth or silently in His heart to deactivate the trickery of the enemy designed to trap Him to sin against His Father.
Second, when Christ was tempted by men with insults, He often kept quiet. He never retaliated. The apostle Peter testified that, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, or threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly” (1 Peter 2:23). And the prophet Isaiah prophesying concerning the suffering of Christ Jesus said, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…” (Isaiah 53:7). Finally, Joseph's strategy to flee temptations is apt.
Now, there must be secrets to Christ Jesus' ability to prevail against those temptations and remain sinless in the world of sin. First, He was full of the Word and the Spirit with great grace. Second, He had earnest determination to please His Father and do His will. And third, He lived a life of daily prayer in solitude places. Well, it can also be argued that the peculiarity of His miraculous conception by the Spirit of God which freed Him from inheriting the sinful Adamic nature played a role in His sinless life.
However, Jesus Christ does not call people and leave them to live in the world without giving them knowledge and wisdom. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus taught that watching and praying defeat temptations. In John 8:31-32, Jesus again taught that abiding or holding to His Word frees us from the bondage of sin. And in Galatians 5:16, Paul revealed that walking by the Spirit makes it difficult to gratify the desires of the flesh. These mean that the Word, the Spirit and prayer empower us to resist the devil and triumph over temptations.
By James Quansah
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