Walk Like Jesus Walked

(From Jensen's Survey of the New Testament)



1) Exhortation of Witnesses

1Co 11:1+, 1Co 4:16+, 1Pe 2:21+, 1Jn 2:6+, Jn 13:15
See also Heb 12:2+, Php 2:5+, Php 2:7, 8+, Php 3:17+ 2Ti 3:10+ Ep 5:1, 2+ 2Th 3:7, 8, 9+ 1Ti 4:12 Titus 2:7, 8+ Heb 6:12+, Heb 13:7+,1Pe 5:3+ 3Jn11, John 10:4, 5

2) Emptying by Jesus of His Divine Prerogatives

Php 2:3-8+

3) Example of Jesus' the Perfect Man

Baptism (Anointing) - Mt 3:16-17+, Lk 3:22, 23+,
Spirit remained - John 1:32+, cp Isa 11:1-5+, Acts 10:37, 38+
Leading, Filling, Empowering - Mt 4:1+, Lk 4:1, 14,15+, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:37, 38+
Anointing - Lk 4:18, 19, 20+ (Isa 61:1, 2+), Acts 10:37, 38+
Joy - Luke 10:21+ (cp Acts 13:15+, Ro 15:13+, Gal 5:22+)
Casting out demons - Mt 12:28+
Offering Himself as a Sacrifice - read Heb 9:14NLT+ 

4) Equipping of the Disciples

Jn 14:12, Jn 14:16, 17, 18, 26 (cp Jn 6:63, Jn 7:37, 38, 39+, Lk 24:49+)
Jn 15:26, 27
Jn 16:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14  

5) Experience of the Disciples

Acts 1:5+, Acts 1:8+ (cp Acts 4:31+),
Acts 2:1-4+, Acts 1:4-5+, Acts 2:33, 38+ (cp Jn 14:16, Lk 24:49+)
Acts 4:8, 31+, (boldness)
Acts 13:52+ (joy)
Acts 6:3, 5, 8, 10+,
Acts 7:55-56, 59,+
Acts 8:29+ & Acts 10:19+,  Acts 11:12, 28+, Acts 13:2+, Acts 15:28+, Acts 20:23+, Acts 21:4,11+, Acts 28:25+ (cp Acts 4:25+)
Acts 11:24+
Acts 16:7+ (Spirit of Jesus)
Acts 9:17+, Acts 13:9, 52+

6) Epistles of Paul

Gal 5:16, 17, 18+, Gal 5:25+
Gal 5:22, 23+
Eph 5:18ff+ compared to Col 3:16ff+, (See chart - Filled with His Spirit/Richly Indwelt with His Word)
Negative Commands (see below): Eph 4:30+, 1Th 5:19+

7) "Enemies" of the Spirit

Acts 5:3+ (lie)
Acts 5:9+ (test)
Acts 7:51+ (resist)
Eph 4:30+ (grieve)
1Th 5:19+ (quench)
Mt 12:32+ (speak a word against),
Mk 3:29+ (blaspheme)

Related Resources:

The Holy Spirit at Work Today by Dr John Walvoord.

The Person of The Holy Spirit by Dr John Walvoord.

Sermon by John MacArthur - "The Perfect Model of a Spirit-Empowered Life" 


Disclaimer - This is not a call to seek a second experience. This is not a call for a Keswick experience (or here). This is not a call to "Let go, Let God," but is more like "Let God, Let's go" (His sovereign provision and power via His Spirit and our responsibility to live life enabled by His Spirit.)

The Christian life has been referred to as by some as  the Victorious life or "life on a higher plane," and similar monikers. In some ways these names might lead one to believe there are "haves" and "have nots" among believers. But this is not to be a "special" experience for an elite group who claim to have attained to one of these descriptions. In fact the John 10:10b abundant life Jesus desires for every (emphasize "every") one of His disciples is actually the "normal" Christian life. Indeed the abundant life is supernatural life in Christ as opposed to life lived in our "natural" strength (in Adam cf 1Cor 15:22+)? Even the name "Christian" implies it is not the believer per se who lives this life, but it is Christ in us the hope of glory (Col 1:27+). Paul later exhorts the saints at Colossae "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (past tense salvation), so walk (command calling for continual conduct) in Him (the command is present tense salvation = progressive sanctification, growth in Christlikeness, daily becoming holy as He is holy)." (Col 2:6+) If we take "Christ" out of "Christian" (Acts 11:26+), I fear we have a description of how many believers are living their "Christian" lives! How many of the followers (disciples) of Christ are truly living the abundant life Christ promised in John 10:10b? To ask it another way, how are believers enabled or empowered to live such a God glorifying supernatural life? Notice I did not say "helped" but  enabled or empowered because the verb "helped" implies we have some intrinsic strength of our own, and just need a little "spiritual push" to get us going! That is not theologically correct as discussed more below. So this begs the question, does the Bible give us any clues, any pattern we might follow if we are to experience an abundant life? Of course this question is rhetorical, for what God commands, He always enables us to accomplish. In fact the definition of the Greek Word for power is dunamis which simply means the inherent ability to accomplish a task. Although we do not have the "inherent ability" in ourselves, God has given us His Holy Spirit Who provides (supernatural) power or dunamis and He is the "secret" Who enables us to live life an abundant life in Christ (Jn 15:5)!

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke of the Spirit in his sermon on Ephesians 1:3 All Spiritual Blessings in Heavenly Places noting first that "the particular work of applying to us the salvation that is in Christ is done by the Holy Spirit. His purpose and function is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 16:14,15 Jn 15:26), and what He does is to make it possible for us to receive everything He has done for us and everything that He makes possible for us. Hence a good way of looking at the life of the Christian in this world is to look at the Lord Jesus Christ when He was here on earth. Although He was the eternal Son of God, He came and took human nature unto Himself (Php 2:5-8+). Having decided to live His life in this world as a man, He did not employ the prerogatives of His Godhead in order to save us, but He lived His life among men. It was therefore necessary that He should have received the Holy Spirit, and in the Gospel according to John we are told that ‘The Spirit is not given by measure to him’ (Jn 3:34+, cf Lk 4:1,14+). At His baptism, when our Lord was setting out upon His public ministry, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him to enable Him and to anoint Him (Lk 4:18+, Acts 10:38+) for His great task (Mt 3:13-17+, Lk 3:21-23+). That was necessary because He was living His life in this world as a man. Now the wondrous truth taught here is that, as the Holy Spirit filled His life and enabled Him to live as described in the Gospels, the same is possible for us through Him. The same Holy Spirit Who dwelt in Him dwells in us as Christians, and not only so, He brings to us and fills us with the life of Christ Himself. Thus the blessings we enjoy as Christians are all blessings in and through the Holy Spirit. Such is the type of life, the quality of life, which we are meant to be living as Christians."

So after taking it to the Lord in prayer, let us look at "three witnesses" (Two were sufficient in the Old Testament! Dt 17:6+), three apostles, Paul, Peter and John, and see if their testimonies help us understand how we might be able to live our the abundant Christian life!

Lord, we beg You to open the eyes of our heart, so that we may know beyond the "shadow of a doubt" what is the hope (Your absolute assurance of future good) of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in Your saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of Your power (dunamis - discussed below) toward us who believe in Christ, our Lord and our Life. Amen (Ephesians 1:18,19+)

Consider singing the following song as unto the Lord, as a prayer to Him, but be sure to soberly, sincerely ponder the words before you sing, especially the phrase "wholly devoted." (Study [consider memorizing] Romans 12:1-+, Romans 12:2-+ for Paul's pattern of "wholly devoted") Is that really the cry of your heart? "Wholly devoted" to Jesus as your Master (Study Mt 6:24-+, James 1:5, 6-+, compare - 1John 2:15-+, 1John 2:16-+, 1John 2:17-+, James 4:4-+)? Please do not answer this question too quickly. The writer of Second Chronicles tells us that "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely (wholly) His." (2 Chronicles 16:9-+). Do you really want the Almighty God's strong support, His power for His glory not yours? Then your heart must be wholly His! Now do not let this thought of a heart wholly His put you under a "guilt trip." A heart wholly His is not characterized by perfection (that awaits "Glory"!), but does speak of the general direction of one's life - towards the eternal heaven, not towards this passing world and eventually eternal separation from God. Now listen to (and pray) this prayer sung by Keith Green called RUSHING WIND...

Rushing Wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe Your breath upon me,
I've been born again.

Holy Spirit, I surrender, take me where You want to go,
Plant me by Your Living Water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.

Jesus, You're the One, Who set my spirit free,
Use me Lord, glorify Your Holy Name through me.

Separate me from this world Lord.
Sanctify my life for You.
Daily change me to Your Image,
Help me bear good fruit.

Every day You're drawing closer.
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done Lord,
You know, it's been worth the wait.

Jesus, You're the One, Who set my spirit free,
Use me Lord, glorify Your Holy Name through me.

Rushing Wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe Your breath upon me,
For I've been born again.


So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12-+

Teach me Thy way, O LORD
I will walk in Thy truth;
Unite my heart
To fear Thy name.
Psalm 86:11-+

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23, 24-+

May this Puritan prayer be the cry of our heart…


O Holy Spirit,

Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart.
Take away my unruly desires and hateful lusts.
Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief.
Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth.

Make it

fragrant as the garden of paradise,
rich with every goodly fruit,
beautiful with heavenly grace,
radiant with rays of divine light.

Be my


Take of the things of Christ and

Show them to my soul.

Through You may I daily learn more of His


Lead me to the Cross and show me …

His wounds,
the hateful nature of evil,
the power of Satan.

May I there see my sins as …

the nails which transfixed Him,
the cords which bound Him,
the thorns which tore Him,
the sword which pierced Him.

Help me to find in His death—

the reality and immensity of His love.

Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in His death.

Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of …

atonement achieved,
redemption completed,
guilt done away,
my debt paid,
my sins forgiven,
my soul saved,
hell vanquished,
heaven opened,
eternity made mine.

O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.

Write them upon my heart, that my walk be …


Note the last stanza - Christ-loving precedes sin-loathing and sin-fleeing. It is called the expulsive power of a new affection


Now that our heart is prayerfully prepared for the Word of Truth and Life, study the exhortations of four reliable witnesses, as we seek to understand how we as followers of Jesus Christ can live the abundant life (Jn 10:10b).

(a) THE WITNESS OF PAUL - 1Cor 4:16, 17, 1Cor 11:1, Phil 3:17


(i) 1Cor 4:16, 17+ - I exhort you therefore (term of conclusion = forces us to look back at the previous passages ~ a great aid to enable us to practice the powerful discipline of Biblical [not mystical] Meditation. At the very least we can always ask "What's it there for?" Paul had just explained that he was their spiritual "father" through the Gospel - 1Cor 4:15), be (ginomai more literally means "become" and the present imperative is a command to "continually become") imitators (mimetes = one who follows someone else's behavior, miming their behavior so to speak. One who copies another person's actions.) of me.

(16) For this reason (term of explanation - always begs a question "For what reason?" Always stop, look [ask] and listen [to your Teacher, the Spirit's answer]) I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ (Whose Spirit would enable them to faithfully imitate Paul), just as I teach everywhere in every church, just as I teach everywhere in every church. (Ed: Implication? Paul imitated the "ways" of Christ! And so must we beloved!)

Comment: Be aware that we cannot "be" (or become) imitators in our own fleshly strength. We can become imitators only as we submit and surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who continually works in us, giving us the desire (the "want to" - because in our old nature the truth is we "don't want to!") and the power to do what pleases" the Father (Php 2:13NLT-+). So in this case the Spirit enables us to fulfill the command to "be imitators" (which is one way we daily "work out [present imperative] our salvation in fear and trembling" = Php 2:12-+). Note also that Paul's command for the Corinthians to imitate him was based on the assumption that they knew that he was an imitator of Christ (see 1Cor 11:1+ below). It is interesting to note that one dictionary definition for "imitate" is "to counterfeit." Believers are NOT to be counterfeits! The world needs to see AUTHENTIC Christianity, SUPERNATURAL (not superficial) Christians, Spirit filled men and women who are like Paul, who are like Christ! (cp Mt 5:16-+, Phil 2:14-15).

Webster's 1828 Dictionary (highly recommended!) gives this "Bibliocentric" definition of imitate - "To follow in manners; to copy in form, color or quality. We imitate another in dress or manners; we imitate a statue, a painting, a sound, an action, when we make or do that which resembles it. We should seek the best models to imitate, and in morals and piety, it is our duty to imitate the example of our Savior."

John MacArthur makes an excellent point on 1Cor 4:17+: "He (Timothy) had been so faithfully discipled by Paul (Ed: In short, Timothy had become an imitator of Paul and by extension an imitator of Christ!) that he could be sent in the great apostle’s place with confidence that he would perfectly represent him. Cf. 2Ti 2:2-+; 2Ti 3:10-14-+."

Comment: This begs an important question, one that the modern church has unfortunately largely ignored and abnegated (relinquished) to her own detriment! Have you "reproduced" a "Timothy," a man or a woman who you could confidently send to someone so that they might follow your example by witnessing the life of your "Timothy?" Are you as convicted as I am writing this question? Or to ask it another way [just as convicting to me] "Are you a teacher, a spiritual parent or a real parent (if the latter, you have "built-in" disciples!)?"

Addendum (2011): Since I originally penned these words several months ago, God has sent me [age 66] a Timothy, a faithful man (age 34), who I have the privilege to disciple. Praise the Lord! Pray for us! 

Follow-up of 2011 request to "pray for us": 4 years later (Fall, 2015) God has answered your prayer - he is now a pastor of a church plant!

Second Addendum (2015): I am revising these notes at age 70 and have begun discipling a group of 11 young Timothy's, all 40ish, with the goal that they will go out and disciple 2-3 faithful men. Pray for us!

God is willing and able to do the same for you if you ask Him to send you a "Timothy." (better yet 2-3 Timothys!) Let me ask a sobering question: How will we feel at Christ Bema Seat (2Cor 5:10+) when He asks us "Who have you discipled, fulfilling my last and greatest commandment to "Make disciples (matheteuo in the aorist imperative = a command not a suggestion = It conveys a sense of urgency! Do this now is the idea!)" (Mt 28:19+)?

Disciple Study Bible: A part of Timothy's curriculum, as he taught the Corinthians, would be drawn directly from the life of Paul. How many Christian teachers would dare say, "My life is the book from which I want you to learn?'' How many can say, "My life agrees with my teaching''? (Woe!)

Not just… "DO AS I SAY"
But also… "DO AS I DO!"

John MacArthur: Often the hardest place to disciple is in the home. When we disciple those outside our families, they often see us only in ideal situations, where it is easy to act spiritual and mature. But our children see us in all of our moods, in all of our attitudes and actions. They know firsthand if we are living up to what we are trying to teach them. If we are not, most of our instruction and admonition will fall on deaf ears. Even if we sincerely love them, our children are more likely to follow what we do than what we say. Having godly children is required of an elder (1Ti 3:4–5) in part, at least, because that is good evidence that he himself is godly. Discipling is more than teaching right principles; it is also living those principles before the ones being discipled (cf. 1Ti 4:12). (See 1 Corinthians Commentary)

ILLUSTRATION: A minister was called to the bedside of a dying girl, who had lived for the sinful pleasures of a Christ-rejecting world. The faithful minister did his best to lead her to the Saviour, pleading, praying, and quoting Scripture. Seemingly he could make no impression on her. As a final effort, he called in her mother, who with heartbreaking sorrow also pled with the girl to receive Christ as her Saviour. The girl listened stonily, then said, "Mother, you can't talk to me now. You haven't lived the life before me!" (In commanding the saints to imitate him, Paul) didn't want to set himself up as some sort of moral or spiritual hero on whom everyone should mechanically pattern his actions. Nor did he consider Christ in that light. To him, Christ was not merely the Jesus of history to be copied, but the heavenly Visitor Who becomes the possessor of our spirits. Only as God the Son indwells us, can we do the acts that He performed when He was here on earth. To live as Christ lived, we must have Christ in us. And, if we are to be imitators of Paul, the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9-+) that prompted him to live as he did must live in (More accurately "live THROUGH us" - cp Jn 7:38-39) us also.


Gordon Fee: They (Ed: The saints at Corinth, and by way of application you and I) are to be "like father, like children." The immediate context for this exhortation is the tribulation list of 1Cor 4:11-13, in which Paul describes his own life and ministry in terms consonant with the Gospel of a crucified Messiah. It therefore functions as one more item in the long argument of 1Cor 1:10-4:13 that appeals to the servant nature of discipleship over against their "boasting" and worldly wisdom. However, by implication, especially from what is said further in 1Cor 4:17, the concern is now also being raised to the much broader level of their behavior in general, as it is reflected throughout the rest of the letter. (See Fee's The First Epistle to the Corinthians

(ii). 1Cor 11:1+ - Be (literally "keep on becoming", not a suggestion a present imperative = a command to continually keep on becoming - this is a lifelong "project," a process not an arrival!) imitators (mimetes) of me (Paul), just as (term of comparison) I also am of Christ. (1Cor 11:1+)

Comment: Followers of Christ, are called to a continual, lifelong imitation of their Master. There is no point of "arrival" regarding Christ-likeness in this present life. Our growth in grace is progressive, always "becoming" an imitator of Christ. Clearly this calls for our continual dependence on the Spirit of Christ in order to continually be becoming like Christ!

Gordon Fee: This final imperative has suffered from one of the more unfortunate chapter divisions in the NT. The language and argument are such that it seems clearly to conclude the parenesis of 1Cor 10:23-33. It is not enough for Paul that he appeal to his own example. They are to follow ("imitate") that example, in the same way that he has "imitated" Christ… The emphasis here is certainly on the example of Christ, which for Paul finds its primary focus in His sacrifice on the Cross (Ed: Cp "death to self" is Christ's "definition" of one who "follows" [cp imitates] Him = see Mk 8:34, 35). Thus, as in 1Corinthians 1-4, the antidote to their behavior predicated on wisdom and knowledge is Christ crucified. Lying behind Christ's "saving work" is not only the event of His death but also a life lived for others, as well as His teaching. Even though Paul has not here specifically referred to any single teaching of Jesus, the parenesis (exhortation) itself is permeated by the spirit of that teaching, even if not by the language. (The First Epistle to the Corinthians)

(iii). Php 3:17+ - Brethren, join (present imperative) in following my example, and observe (present imperative) those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 

Comment: The Greek translation of Phil 3:17YLT more literally reads "Become (ginomai in present imperative = command to continually become - only possible as we yield to the Spirit) followers together of me, brethren, and observe those thus walking, according as ye have us—a pattern."

Comment: "Followers together" is the noun summimetes (from sun/syn = together with, speaks of intimate association + mimetes = an imitator) which means literally fellow imitator. So Paul commands the saints to "continuously be becoming co-imitators of me" or "keep on becoming fellow imitators of me." Just as Paul mimics Christ (1Cor 11:1+), so the saints at Philippi (and all saints) should mimic imitate him. It is interesting that the art of "mime" emphasizes the actions (the "mime" does not use words), so let your righteous, godly actions speak louder than your words and as children of the Living God bring glory to God the Father (Mt 5:16-+).

Here is a quote worth pondering as we consider what it means to imitate Christ - "We unconsciously imitate what pleases us and approximate to the characters we most admire." (Christian Nestell Bovee) We fix our gaze on what pleases us, do we not? May the Spirit of Christ enable us obey the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews to "fix (our) eyes (present tense = continually fix our gaze) on Jesus the Author and Perfector of the faith." (Heb 12:2+) The New Living Translation has an interesting paraphrase of Hebrews 12:2 - "We do this (run the race in Heb 12:1) by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion Who initiates and perfects our faith."

Charles Spurgeon once said that "A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ… We should be pictures of Christ… Oh! My brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep your head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ." (From Morning and Evening - Acts 4:13+)

Spurgeon is not saying we should strive in self effort to be a "striking likeness of Jesus Christ". No, the only way to bear a "striking likeness" is by depending on His Spirit to enable us to bear that likeness, transforming us from glory to glory as we behold Christ's glory (2Cor 3:18-+).

Ponder this quote by C H Spurgeon regarding Jesus' life on earth - “It was the mighty power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him by which Jesus overcame the world–and that same quiet power, if it dwells in us, will make us win the same victory by faith.” (From the sermon Good Cheer from Christ's Victory over the World)

John MacArthur commenting on "Be filled with the Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18 writes that

"Apart from the truth in Eph 5:18, which is the heart of Paul’s message, the book of Ephesians would appear to be legalistic. Every exhortation he gives would have to be fulfilled through the power of the flesh. Believers would need to rely on their own resources and strength to follow the great road map of the Christian life that the apostle presents in Ephesians 4–6—and would, of course, find themselves completely deficient. Christians cannot walk in humility, unity, separation, light, love, and wisdom apart from the energizing of the Holy Spirit. To walk without the Spirit is to walk unwisely and foolishly (see Eph 5:15–17+). We can “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1+) only as we are filled with the Spirit (cf. John 15:5)." (See Ephesians Commentary)


1 Peter 2:21+ - For (term of explanation) you have been called for this purpose (What purpose? see 1Pe 2:20), since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

Comment: While the context calls us to suffer for Jesus (1Pe 2:20+), the principle is clear that we are to "follow in His steps." Where His Spirit leads us, we are to follow (cf "leading" by His Spirit in Gal 5:18+, Gal 5:25+, Ro 8:14+) Peter expands on this exhortation in 1Peter 2:24 writing "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." In other words, we are able to follow in His steps because of His death on the Cross, a death to sin which we also died with Him so that we are not even able to walk in righteousness as He Himself walked.


1John 2:6+ - The one who says he abides (present tense = continually) in Him ought (opheilo = "owes a debt" or has a strong obligation, where present tense speaks of our continual obligation - not out of guilt or legalism but motivated by love!) himself to walk (peripateo) in the same manner as He walked.

Comment: Even though this passage does not mention the Holy Spirit, how else can we ever hope to walk as Jesus walked? There is only one way to walk like Jesus and that is to daily surrender to the indwelling Spirit Who alone can enable us to walk as Jesus walked. Jesus walked supernaturally in the power of the Spirit, and so too must we dear child of the Living God. Notice also in this passage that John is saying we should "validate" our profession that we are believer in Christ by the demonstration of possession of a life lived for Christ. Like the old saying goes, our actions speak louder than our words. Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount when He declared "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' (WORDS) will enter the kingdom of heaven (He is saying they are not born again, not regenerated by the Spirit); but he who does (poieo in the present tense = habitually = speaks not of perfection, but of general direction of one's life) (ACTIONS) the will of My Father who is in heaven." (Mt 7:21+) Jesus goes on to say that the group He refers to as "not everyone" are in fact the "many" who have fallen into the trap of "religious self deception" (Mt 7:22+)

Steven Cole - Christ left an example for us to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21). The word example is literally, “underwriting.” It was a school word. Teachers would lightly trace the letters of the alphabet so that students could write over them to learn how to write. Or, as in our day, teachers would put examples of the alphabet up in the room for students to look at to copy as they formed their letters. Christ is that kind of example for us. If we follow how He lived, we will form our lives correctly. Following “in His steps” pictures a child who steps in his father’s footprints in the snow. Where the father goes, the child goes, because he puts his feet in those same footprints. In like manner, we are to follow our Savior. Peter says that we are called to the same purpose as Christ was (1Pe 2:21). If our Master’s footprints led to the cross where He suffered unjustly, so we can expect to die to self (Mk 8:34-35, Lk 9:23) and suffer unjustly. If we respond as He did, people will see our Savior in us. Many people will never read the Bible, but they do read our lives. (cp Jn 12:24) They should see Christlikeness there, not a defiant spirit of self-will that characterizes those who are living for themselves and the things of this world. (1 Peter 2:18-23 What To Do When Your Boss Isn't Fair)


And finally the greatest Witness of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, said in John 13:15 "For (term of explanation = explaining Jn 13:14) I gave you an example (hupodeigma = first in Greek sentence for emphasis) that (terms of purpose or result) you also should do (present tense = habitually) as I did to you."

Comment: Indeed, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) While we cannot follow His example of being a ransom, we can follow in His footsteps as a servant to others. And we can daily die to self and take up His cross (Lk 9:23, Mk 8:34-35)

Christ emptied Himself.
Behold our Pattern!
-St. Ambrose

Just a comment on St Ambrose's quote as it is not absolutely theological accurate (you ask why quote it? I did that over 10 years ago so now I am adding the addendum which is still instructional) - Believers are not called to "empty" ourselves per se, but we are called to die to self daily, an action that requires dependence on the Spirit (because our fallen flesh does not want to die, so we need to rely on His supernatural power to fill us. Notice that when we are commanded to be Spirit filled, it does not mean we are to "get more" of the Spirit, but in fact just the opposite, that the Spirit gets more of us (so to speak). Col 2:10+ says " in Him (Christ) you have been made complete (pleroo filled full and the perfect tense signifies this is our permanent state)." So if we have all of Jesus in us that we are ever going to have, it follows that we also have all of the Spirit of Jesus that we are ever going to have. 

Paul also commanded the predominantly Gentile believers in Ephesus to…

Be (present imperative = keep becoming) imitators of God, as beloved children (teknon = from tikto = to give birth to, to be born), and walk (present imperative) in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Eph 5:1,2+)

Comment: Again, we cannot "be" or "walk" in our natural ability or power. It is the Spirit Who gives us the desire and power to fulfill these commands. The NLT paraphrase emphasizes Christ as our perfect example "Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, Who loved you and gave Himself (as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to Him."

Zodhiates: This (Eph 5:1) is the only place in Scripture where "imitation" is applied to man's relation to God. Imitation is natural to a child. So it is to the child of God. This indicates that by His indwelling Spirit we have the capacity to act as God acts, to show forth to the world what God is. Of course, we do not acquire full maturity immediately on being born of God. As the child imitates the father at various stages of growth, so we imitate God more faithfully as we grow in our spiritual lives. God made us for no other end than to be like Him. But how can we imitate God? In Christ, we have the Father represented to us in the infinite Son incarnated in finite human form. Looking at Him, we behold as in a mirror the glories of the invisible God reflected in the person of Jesus Christ; and contemplating these glories we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of God" (2 Cor. 3:18). One of the causes of defective holiness among us is the neglect of the careful study of God's character, as revealed in Christ… A true imitation begins within, in the condition of the spirit, rather than outwardly, in conduct; though the lessons that the inner spirit learns will surely express themselves in outward actions. (Ibid)

F B Meyer: Children mostly resemble their father. There is often an unmistakable family likeness, which compels the most casual observer to exclaim, "The very image of his father." Oh that in each of us there might be that which would make men think of God! (Our Daily Homily)

Related Resources:

SUMMARY OF EXHORTATIONS: The Scripture is clear that in order to live a "Christ"-ian life, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2+). Paul, Peter, John and Jesus Himself exhort believers to imitate Christ, to walk in His steps, to walk as He walked and to do as He did. But you are probably saying something like "That's not possible because Jesus was God and I am not!" Paul addresses that objection in the next section.

What is Jesus' example? How did He walk in His three and one half year ministry as a God-Man? First, recall that He "emptied" Himself of His "divine prerogatives", taking the form of a bondservant and humbling Himself in Phil 2:5-8-+, and even in this passage He gives us an example of how to follow in His steps. Those who would seek to follow His example, should by grace through faith pursue genuine humility and a willingness to daily die to self (Mk 8:34-35, Lk 9:23). So if Jesus "emptied" Himself of His "divine prerogatives" how was He able to walk? "What was the example He left that we might be follow?" "How was Jesus' empowered for ministry?", etc. Since the Gospels deal primarily with Jesus' 3.5 year ministry, that is where we will look to answer this question. My premise, based on a study of the Gospels and Acts is that Jesus' walked by the Spirit, that Jesus gave us the example of submission to and dependence upon the the leading of the Holy Spirit, continually relying on the power of the Spirit for His incredible ministry.



Jesus "emptied" Himself of His divine prerogatives in His incarnation. This truth is mysterious, for Jesus was and is and always will be FULLY GOD, even in His incarnation when He became FULLY MAN (See more on this below). The truth of His Humanity is important to keep in mind to help us understand the role of the Spirit. In other words, the practical import of Jesus "emptying" Himself of His divine prerogatives, sets the stage for Jesus as the PERFECT MAN living out His life on earth in perfect dependence upon the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing Jesus has provided every believer the PERFECT EXAMPLE to follow in His steps, living life in power of the Spirit just as He did.

As alluded to earlier, the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us. Then the writer makes it clear how we are to run. He explains that we are to run by continually "fixing (our) eyes on Jesus the Author (He began the "race" as the perfect Man running in the power of the Spirit as discussed below) and Finisher (He finished in the power of the Spirit!) of the faith (the content of what is believed, not the act of believing.) (Heb 12:1-+, Heb 12:2-+).

In short, while we may not ever fully understand how Jesus Who is forever fully God became the PERFECT MAN, the point is that that in His "emptying" He became the PERFECT EXAMPLE for our Christian walk in this life! That is why in the next section we will "fix our eyes on Jesus", paying close attention to how He walked, to how He ran the race set before Him! As we pursue His pattern we will begin to experience the fruit of the the "Spirit Filled Life," the "Abundant Life", the "Victorious Christian Life!" Beloved, you can mark it down -- The example of Jesus is "Plan A" and there is no "Plan B!"

So let's review the somewhat mysterious truth of what happened when Jesus became a Man by focusing on the key passage in Philippians in which Paul exhorts the saints to…

Have this attitude in yourselves (present imperative = command to make this one's continual attitude! All the time! As your lifestyle! Just try to do this in your own "natural" strength! The truth is that we must continually depend wholly on the Holy Spirit for the desire and the power to manifest this selfless attitude! See Php 2:13NLT+ which alludes to the Spirit Who indwells every believer!) which was also in Christ Jesus (Note that here we see Jesus' example, His attitude of how to we are to walk, an attitude which Paul "amplifies" by giving three specific manifestations!), Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulos), (Jesus' example #1) and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He (voluntarily, of His own volition) humbled (tapeinoo) Himself (Jesus example #2) by becoming obedient (hupekoos) to the point of death (Jesus example #3), even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8+)

Comment: Notice that the "attitude" of Jesus is not optional for those who claim to follow Him, but is a command in the present tense, calling for this to be the disciple's continual mindset. Specifically Paul calls on all believers…

(1) to manifest the attitude of a bondservant, a doulos, a person who is no longer their own "possession" (1Cor 6:19+, 1Cor 6:20+, 1Peter 2:9+, Titus 2:14+) but is possessed by another and whose will is wholly surrendered to the will of their master (Master), in wholehearted devotion, even to the disregard of one's own interest;

(2) to be humble - "not proud" (especially not proud of our "humility!") As Archibald Alexander put it "Humility is to the Christian what ballast is to the ship; it keeps him in his proper position and regulates all his thoughts and feelings." John Flavel rightly said that "They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud." Spurgeon added "Humility is to make a right assessment of oneself… The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.";

(3) to obey (even to the point of death). For Jesus of course this refers to His "one of a kind" death on the Cross, but how does this apply to the life of believers today? If we are genuine believers in one sense we have already died with Christ on the Cross for Paul teaches we "have been baptized into His death" (Ro 6:3-+; Col 2:20-+), "we have been buried with Him through baptism into death" (Ro 6:4-+), "we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death" (Ro 6:5-+) and "our old man was crucified with Him" (Ro 6:6-+). This describes ever believer's past history, for when we first believed in Christ, we died with Christ, were buried with Christ and were resurrected with Christ so that we "might walk in newness of life." (Ro 6:4-+) In short, positionally our death has occurred on the Cross, so that when He died, we died. In our daily experience, God providentially provides many "opportunities" for us to die to self, to sacrifice our desires for the betterment of another person (See Mk 8:34, 35, Mt 16:25, Lk 9:24 cp Php 2:3-4).

The following comment by Elmer Towns provides a good segue way into the next section which discusses Jesus' example…

When Bible teachers seek to explain how Jesus became a Man, they use the word kenosis to describe the self-emptying of Jesus in taking on Human Flesh (Php 2:7-+). This emptying includes submitting to the limitations of humanity. Although Jesus never ceased to be God during His life on earth, He was nevertheless dependent upon the Third Person of the Trinity to accomplish much of the work of God. Although not denying the deity of Jesus, this truth illustrates His humanity. (The Names of the Holy Spirit)

In summary, in His incarnation, Jesus was fully God, but voluntarily relinquished His rights as God so that He might give us an example of One Who was fully Man. The first Adam failed. The "Second Adam" succeeded in giving us a perfect example of how to live a supernatural life that is pleasing to the Father.



In the 1990's there was a popular saying "WWJD?" (see Wikipedia article), which stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" Here is an excerpt from a sermon by C H Spurgeon in which he used this term in 1891 and he alludes to provision of supernatural power to actually answer the question of "What Would Jesus Do" in specific settings...

The effect of the love of God, shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost (Ro 5:5+), is to burn off the rust and scales of sin and depravity, and we become pure love to God through the force of the love of God, which takes possession of our being (cf Gal 5:22+). Moreover, that (SUPERNATURAL) love moves us to patient imitation of Christ. Do you know what that means? "The Imitation of Christ" is a wonderful book upon the subject, which every Christian should read. It has its faults, but its excellences are many. May we not only read the book, but write it out anew in our own life and character by seeking in everything to be like to Jesus! It is a good thing to put up in your house the question, "What would Jesus do?" It answers nine out of ten of the difficulties of moral casuistry. When you do not know what to do, and the law does not seem very explicit upon it, put it so—"What would Jesus do?" Here, then, stands the case: by your creation in Christ you come to exhibit faith in Him, love to Him, and imitation of Him; and all these are the means by which good works are produced in you. You are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." (The Agreement of Salvation by Faith and Walking in Good Works - Ephesians 2:9-10)

And so while clearly this famous saying is a reasonable question by which we can make moral decisions, in the context of our study, there is another question we also need to ask and that is "HDJD?" or "How Did Jesus Do" what He did? As discussed, Jesus was fully God, but He voluntarily choose to fulfill his supernatural ministry as a Man, thus leaving His followers an example. Let's study the "Jesus Way," and giving special attention to the role of the Holy Spirit.

As Dr John Walvoord emphasizes "The matter of greatest importance in the study of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels is the consideration of HIS MINISTRY TO CHRIST. (The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ)

Warren Wiersbe - For His sermon in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus read this text: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19, quoted from Isa. 61:1–2). When our Lord lived on earth, all that He did was directed by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit, whom the Father gave to Jesus “without limit” (John 3:34+; Acts 4:27+). “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power,” said Peter, “and he went around doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38+).While ministering on earth, Jesus lived and served just as we His followers must live and serve today: directed by the Word of God, energized by the Holy Spirit, and depending wholly on prayer. He did not use His divine attributes independent of the Father. If we hope to succeed in life and service, no matter what God has called us to do, we must follow that example: prayer, the Word, and the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 6:4 and Acts 1:8). Each member of God’s family has the gift of the Holy Spirit and gifts from the Spirit to be used for service (1Cor. 12:1–11; Eph. 4:1–16). The Spirit has anointed us (2 Cor. 1:21) and the Spirit teaches us the truth so that we can understand the Word and detect the lies of the enemy (1John 2:20, 27; 4:1–6). We may ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Our privilege is to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) and depend on His power as He fills us and enables us to glorify Christ. By God’s grace, we possess the anointing. Don’t leave home without Him in control. (See C Is for Christmas)


The Pulpit Commentary adds that

Christ not only died as a Sacrifice, but lived as an Example. He is the great Example Whom we must imitate, the Pattern of the new creation, the Original of which all believers are copies. Especially we must imitate Him in His patient endurance of suffering. The Cross is ever the Christian's motto. (Ed: Again the caveat is "do not attempt this supernatural behavior relying on your old natural strengths!" You will inevitably fail!)

Before we continue to look at the role of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus, let us first review the role of the Spirit in Jesus birth and growth into Manhood…


While our goal is to focus on the relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit during the last 3.5 years of Jesus' life and ministry, we would be remiss in not briefly mentioning the role of the Spirit in Jesus' birth and boyhood.


Matthew records the role of the Spirit in the incarnation of Jesus

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph ("engaged" but among the Jews of that day as binding as formal marriage [note that even Mt 1:19 refers to Joseph as Mary's "husband"] the engagement period lasting one year!), before they came together (Euphemism for intimate physical relation) she was found to be with child by (more literally out of or from) the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (Mt 1:18-20+ The Virgin Birth - John MacArthur)

Comment: Conceived is the verb gennao which means to beget or to procreate and in normal secular use describes a male causing conception of a fetus in the mother's womb. In short, Matthew describes the Holy Spirit's somewhat mysterious but very real role in the virgin birth of the Man (Baby) Jesus Christ.

Luke's record is even more specific

And the angel answered and said to her (Mary), "The Holy Spirit will come upon (eperchomai = same verb used in Acts 1:8-+ of Spirit coming upon the disciples) you, and the power (dunamis = inherent ability to accomplish = also used in Acts 1:8+ to describe the power associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit) of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35+)

Comment: It is notable that the Holy Spirit is clearly associated with the manifestation of power (dunamis) in Jesus' birth and in His powerful three and one-half year ministry (discussed below). For more on the role of Mary the mother of Christ and the nature of the conception of Christ see Dr Walvoord's discussion.


Luke alludes to the Spirit's work in the maturation of Jesus recording that…

the Child continued to grow and become strong, being filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him… And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers… And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:40, 47, 52+)

In other words as the perfect Man, Jesus' physical, intellectual, moral and, spiritual development was perfect or as Plummer says "At each stage he was perfect for that stage."

Although the Holy Spirit is not specifically mentioned in Jesus' boyhood, comparison of Luke 2:40, 47, 52+ with other texts leaves little doubt that the Spirit was active in His matriculation into Manhood. For example, Isaiah prophesied that

the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (Jesus), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2+)

Comment: Ultimately this was fulfilled at Jesus' Baptism when the Spirit descended upon Him, but He obviously played a role in Jesus' manifest great wisdom and understanding described in Luke 2:40, 47, 52+.

Luke uses the same phrase "grace of God" in his description of Barnabas (Acts 11:23+) who he then describes as "full of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:24+. A similar phrase "abundant grace" (Acts 4:33+) was used to describe the disciples who "were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness." In both these passages, we see the association of the Holy Spirit with the grace of God, supporting the premise that Luke 2:40+ is describing a manifestation of the Spirit in the boyhood life of Jesus.

Henry Morris comments that…

As a little child, Jesus already was… "filled with wisdom." Though not specifically stated, this surely implies that He, like John the Baptist (Lk 1:15+), was filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb… Jesus is God (Jn 1:1) and God is omniscient, so how could He "increase in wisdom?" This question points up the mystery of His divine/human nature. He was fully God, yet fully Man (apart from sin), and this mystery is simply beyond human comprehension. We are told that Christ "emptied Himself" (the essence of the Greek term translated "made Himself of no reputation" in Php 2:6), thereby implying a voluntary setting aside of His "omni" attributes in order to take "the form of a servant." In the records of His life and teachings, there is abundant evidence of His deity, including His own claims (John 8:12; 11:26). At the same time, there is abundant evidence of His true humanity, including the fact that He "increased in wisdom" as He also grew in stature. (See also Hebrews 5:8-+)

In summary, there is little question that the Holy Spirit was actively involved not only the birth of Jesus, but also the boyhood maturation of Jesus. As we will see below, from birth to death as a Man, Jesus gave up His divine rights and surrendered to the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit and in so doing gave every disciple a clear example to follow in His steps.


Before we look more specifically at the role of the Holy Spirit in the earthly ministry of Jesus, we need to address the tendency some might have to shy away from any teaching which seems to emphasize the Spirit at the expense of emphasizing Jesus. We have been taught that it is the Name of Jesus which is to be exalted, and while this is indeed true, this truth should not discourage us from studying the role of the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus. And Scripture certainly supports this approach for their are several names of the Spirit which are integrally associated with Jesus.

The Spirit was sent by Jesus to be His Helper to carry out His work during the "Church Age". Recall from the previous diagram that when Jesus ascended physically, He did not leave the disciples to minister in their power. Peter's triple denial of Jesus clearly shows how effective ministry is when we rely on our own power! As we will see, Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit's power to carry out supernatural ministry and we can do no less! The apostle John had written about "the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him (Jesus) were to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39) Later John recorded Jesus' explanation to the disciples "is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7) And so clearly Jesus departure "cleared the way" for the coming of His Spirit, Who would enable His disciples to accomplish Jesus' incredible promise…

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12)

Comment: While the meaning of this passage is not absolutely clear, from the remainder of the New Testament and the experience of church throughout the last 2000 years, the works Jesus' described would not necessarily be greater in quality (feeding 5000, raising Lazarus from the dead, etc) but would be greater in scope. In other words, Jesus never left Palestine, whereas His disciples have traversed the entire globe, even reaching hidden people groups who had heretofore never heard the Gospel of Jesus!

William MacDonald agrees: In the book of Acts, we read of the apostles performing miracles of bodily healing, similar to those of the Savior. But we also read of greater miracles—such as the conversion of three thousand on the day of Pentecost. Doubtless it was to the world-wide proclamation of the gospel, the salvation of so many souls, and the building of the church that the Lord referred to by the expression greater works. It is greater to save souls than to heal bodies. When the Lord returned to heaven, He was glorified, and the Holy Spirit was sent to earth. It was through the Spirit’s power that the apostles performed these greater miracles.

In summary, when Jesus left, He did not leave His disciples alone, but sent them His Spirit as His "Representative" so to speak. As James Dunn writes, "the ascension from one standpoint brings to an end the story of Jesus, and from another begins the age of the Spirit (Acts 2:33)." (Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching).

The following five passages demonstrate that many of the names of the Holy Spirit clearly identify Him as the "Representative" of Jesus

(1) As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (1Pe 1:10-11-+)

Comment: The Spirit's dwelling within the prophets in the Old Covenant was temporary, in contrast to His permanent indwelling of believers in the New Covenant age.

(2) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (Gal 4:6+)

Comment: Observe that the Spirit in us gives us assurance of salvation and motivates us to relate to our Heavenly Father intimately and even boldly to the point that our heart cry is the Aramaic term of endearment "Abba" which means something like "Daddy". As an aside note that a repeated "effect" of the Spirit's supernaturally energizing believers is to enable us to speak with boldness and confidence.

H B Swete comments that "The purpose of the Son’s mission was to give (procure) the rights of sonship. The purpose of the Spirit’s mission (is) to give the power of using them ("the rights" or privileges Jesus earned for the sons of God).

(3) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Ro 8:9-+)

Comment: Observe that Paul is teaching that every genuine believer has the Spirit. Anyone who does not have the Spirit is not a believer. "He who has the Spirit, has Christ; he who has Christ, has GodWe in God, God in us." (Bengel)

(4) For (term of explanation = What is he explaining in context? Php 1:18-+) I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (Phil 1:19-+)

(5) And when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them (Acts 16:7+)

Constable comments: This unusual title of the Holy Spirit highlights Jesus’ leadership in the mission.

John Owen helps us understand the major role of the Holy Spirit in the "Church Age" writing that…

Everything God does He does as the triune God. Each Person of the Trinity is involved in every action of God. Yet at the same time each Person has a special role to fulfill in that work… There is no good that we receive from God but it is brought to us and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Nor is there in us any good towards God, any faith, love, obedience to His will, but what we are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit.


Now we will turn to specific instances that give us Jesus' example in regard to the role of the Holy Spirit in His life as a Man on earth.

However before we look at specific Scriptures describing the Spirit's role in the adult life of Jesus, we need to re-emphasize that although Jesus was fully God, in His incarnation He became fully Man and was fully Human in all aspects (except that He was sinless - see Isa 53:9; Jn 8:46; 2Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1Pe 1:19; 2:22; 1Jn 3:5). And so we read Jesus had a flesh and blood body (Heb 2:14), a soul (Mt 26:38; Mk 14:34; Jn 12:27; Acts 2:27) and a spirit (Mk 2:8; 8:12; Lk 23:46; Jn 11:33; 13:21). It is beyond the scope of this study to discuss Jesus' Humanity in greater detail, but the interested reader is directed to Charles Hodge's discussions - "He is Truly Man"; "The Hypostatic Union".

John Walvoord summarizes Jesus' Humanity this way…

The Scriptures make it clear, then, that Christ did not take to Himself in the incarnation a human body which was indwelt by deity, but that rather He took to Himself a human nature and body.

He did not simply possess a human body,
but He possessed a human nature

Yet, in the incarnation, Christ did not take possession of a human person, else He would have had dual personality. As Charles Hodges says, “The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person, but with a human nature. The proof of this is that Christ is but one person.” It may be concluded that the Scriptures demand that the humanity of Christ be complete, and any other viewpoint is a serious departure from revealed truth… While guarded from every taint of sin, the Human Nature of Christ partook of the limitations true of humanity… The body of Christ had all the normal feelings and emotions which are natural to humanity except those arising in a sin nature… The human nature of Christ was very similar to that of Adam’s before the fall, the great difference being found in its union with the divine nature (see Hypostatic Union). (The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ)


And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Mt 3:16-17)

Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, (Luke 3:21-23, cp Mark 1:10-11)

Comment: God's voice from heaven tells us that we have just witnessed the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that He would anoint His Servant/Son with His Spirit (e.g., see Isaiah 11:1-2, Isa 42:1, 48:16, 59:21, 61:1-2). The anointing with the Spirit signals the beginning of Jesus' 3.5 year ministry (Luke 3:23, cp Acts 10:37 and Acts 1:22 which both identify ) — especially the prophetic portion. In the context of Isa 42:1, this prophetic ministry has a specific focus: “He will bring justice to the nations” (Isa 42:1d). Luke emphasizes that his genealogy is that of “a man of the nations” (Luke 3:23-38). Jesus' anointing with the Spirit equips Him with power which enables His victory over Satan's strong temptations (Luke 4:1-13). The Anointed One has passed the "test" and is ready to begin His prophetic ministry as the Redeemer of mankind!

And so we see that Jesus' ministry was inaugurated by His baptism with the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel of John adds that…

John (the Baptist) bore witness saying, "I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon Whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One Who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' (John 1:32, 33)

Comment: John states that the Spirit "remained upon" Jesus, implying that the Spirit was intimately involved with Jesus' entire earthly ministry. In fact in the prophecy of Isaiah describing the coming reign of Jesus as King of kings, the prophet states that "the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him" (See Isaiah 11:1-5).

Mark emphasized that

immediately the Spirit impelled (ekballo - literally to throw out) Him to go out into the wilderness." (Mark 1:11)

Jesus' baptism with the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of His ministry. Notice how Luke associates the baptism with the inauguration of ministry (Lk 3:22, 23). Luke again associates Jesus' baptism with the beginning of His ministry in Acts, writing…

you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (dunamis), and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. (Acts 10:37-38)

Here Luke associates the baptism of Jesus with His anointing, both being associated with the Holy Spirit. Although this will be discussed more below, note that the Spirit's anointing was associated with power, which is the Greek word dunamis, which simply means the ability to accomplish a task. In the context of the New Testament uses, dunamis most often refers to supernatural power and in fact is translated "miracle" (about 22 times in the NAS) in some contexts. Notice in Acts 10:38 that "power" to do (or accomplish) preceded doing ("went about doing good"). Notice also the term of explanation "for" in the phrase "for God was with Him." What is Luke "explaining?" Recall that Jesus had "emptied" Himself of His reliance upon His divinity, so that He might be the example of the perfect Man. And thus the "for" explains how Jesus was able to do good. God was with Him in the form of the Holy Spirit, Who provided the power for ministry. Remembering that believers are called to be imitators of Jesus' model for ministry, it is clear that a prerequisite for all supernatural ministry is reliance upon the supernatural power supplied by the Spirit.

A J Gordon (The Ministry of the Spirit) - Let us observe that Christ, who is our example in this as in all things, did not enter upon his ministry till he had received the Holy Ghost. Not only so, but we see that all his service from his baptism to his ascension was wrought in the Spirit. Ask concerning his miracles, and we hear him saying: "I by the Spirit of God cast out devils." (Matt. 12:28). Ask concerning that decease which he accomplished at Jerusalem, and we read "that he through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot unto God." (Heb. 9:14). Ask concerning the giving of the great commission, and we read that he was received up after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles." (Acts 1:2). Thus, though he was the Son of God, he acted ever in supreme reliance upon him who has been called the "Executive of the Godhead." Plainly we see how Christ was our pattern and exemplar in his relation to the Holy Spirit. He had been begotten of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin, and had lived that holy and obedient life which this divine nativity would imply. But when he would enter upon his public ministry, he waited for the Spirit to come upon him, as he had hitherto been in him. For this anointing we find him praying: "Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him." (Luke 3:22). Had he any "promise of the Father" to plead, as he now asked the anointing of the Spirit, if as we may believe this was the subject of his prayer? Yes; it had been written in the prophets concerning the rod out of the stem of Jesse: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isa. 11:2). "The promise of the seven-fold Spirit," the Jewish commentators call it. Certainly it was literally fulfilled upon the Son of God at the Jordan, when God gave him the Spirit without measure. For he who was now baptized was in turn to be baptizer. "Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." (John 1:33). "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I … he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire." (Matt. 3:11, R. V.).


After Jesus' baptism with the Spirit, Matthew records…

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mt 4:1)

Comment: Notice the time phrase "then" which marks sequence of events. In this case "then" marks the beginning of Jesus' ministry after being baptized by the Holy Spirit.

In a parallel passage Luke adds that after His baptism…

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1+)


So what do we learn about Jesus' example from these passages? First, we note that both accounts record Jesus being led by the Spirit (Mark adds "impelled by the Spirit"). What is the implication of the phrase "led by the Spirit?" Clearly, in order to be led, Jesus had to surrender or submit His will, His rights, His ideas for effective ministry, etc. In short, Jesus' submission to the leading of the Spirit, left each of us as His disciples the perfect example to follow in His steps. We too must continually be led by the Spirit, by being willing to yield to Him. In addition, Jesus submitted His will to the Father's will (Read Jn 5:19, 30+, Jn 8:28, etc) In short, during His 3.5 year ministry, Jesus yielding Himself to God the Father and God the Spirit. This is the example Paul followed (1Cor 11:1+) and the path we too should follow in our daily life and ministry.

Luke also describes Jesus as full of or filled with the Spirit. The point is that what fills a person is what controls them. Jesus was controlled by the Spirit and we should strive to follow in His steps that we too might experience a supernatural life and ministry!

As an aside Luke's description (Luke 4:1-13+) of Jesus' victory over the Devil's strong temptations (testings), provides us as disciples of Jesus with the basic foundation for victory over the strong temptations in our lives. Jesus in the will of His Father, was "Spirit filled" and "Spirit led" and He was "Word filled" so to speak, in that He relied on the Word of God to defuse and demolish the Devil's temptations. Spirit filled, Word filled believers are much more likely to experience victory in times of temptation. Notice that Jesus was filled with both BEFORE the temptation. Once the temptation comes, it's often too late for us to experience victory. We must follow Jesus' example in order to experience victory.


After the Temptation of Jesus, Luke described these first days of Jesus' ministry…

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dunamis - supernatural, enabling power) of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:14-15+)

Comment: Remember that Jesus' had "emptied" Himself of His divine prerogatives (Php 2:5-8) and in His incarnation placed Himself under the will of God the Father (cp Jn 5:19, 30, Jn 8:28 - see Experiencing God) and the enabling power of God the Spirit. In so doing, Jesus was providing an example which all true believers might be able to imitate (cp 1Co 11:1+, 1Pe 2:21, 1Jn 2:6, et al). Don't miss Luke's next statement that Jesus "began teaching" for the context shows us that He was enabled to teach empowered by the Spirit.

THOUGHT - If that is true, how much more dependent ought every teacher of God's Word be on the enabling ministry of the Spirit. Teachers of the Word need to jettison self reliance and surrender to Spirit reliance, Spirit enabling power (dunamis)!

As an aside, most commentators agree that between the temptation described in Luke 4:1-13 and the beginning of His Galilean ministry in Luke 4:14+ there is a period of about one year in which Jesus ministered primarily in Judea as described by John (See Jn 2:12+ through John 4:1-3+ = "He left Judea and departed again into Galilee.")

Luke goes on to describe Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath reading from the book of Isaiah 61:1-2a (See Lk 4:16, 17)

THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME (WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT) TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” 20 And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:18-22+)

Peter speaking before the Gentile Cornelius declared…

you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.

Comment: When was Jesus "anointed to preach the Gospel?" Jesus was anointed at His Baptism by John, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form" (cf. Lk 3:21-23+) This event marked the inauguration of Jesus' 3.5 year ministry. Note that the Spirit's coming on Jesus was associated with power (dunamis) and that this supernatural power enabled Him to going "about doing good and healing." Dearly beloved, recalling that Jesus the perfect God-Man was giving us His example. His did not rely on His intrinsic power for ministry, but upon the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that we have access to today! I would qualify this statement with the caveat that I do not believe we can reproduce all of Jesus' miracles (feeding 5000, etc).

As an aside, the Spirit's descent upon Jesus at His Baptism, in no way suggests that the Spirit was not active in the prior 30 years of His life, because He clearly was active (see Lk 1:35+, Lk 2:40+ where the phrase the "grace of God was upon Him" is surely synonymous with the enabling power of the "Spirit of grace" [Heb 10:29]; See also Lk 2:52+)

Do not miss the main point - When Jesus began His public ministry, He did so under the control of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' example provides a perfect pattern we should continually strive to follow! This truth begs the question - In whose power am I ministering (all believers are involved in ministry of some sort) - my natural strength or the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus? Or to use Jesus' metaphor, am I abiding in the Vine? (Jn 15:5)

Tom Constable comments…

Luke again drew his readers’ attention to the fact that Jesus was under the control of the Holy Spirit as He began His public ministry (cf. Luke 1:35; 3:22; 4:1). The Spirit empowered and enabled Jesus in His words and deeds. Luke would stress His teaching ministry. Luke attributed Jesus’ success to His orientation to the Spirit, not His essential deity. Consequently He was a model that all believers can and should copy. Luke continued to stress the Holy Spirit’s ministry in Acts. Everyone who had contact with Jesus praised Him, not just the Jews. This was the initial popular response to Him, and it is the normal initial response that Spirit-directed believers experience.


Take a moment to review the simple diagram below (click to enlarge). Note what transpired when Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father. Who "descended" on Pentecost and what entity came into existence? Obviously when the Spirit descended, the Church was born, marking the beginning of the so called "Church Age," an age which could just as accurately be designated as the "Age of the Holy Spirit" or as the "New Covenant Age", for even in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was promised as a gift of the New Covenant…

I (Jehovah) will give you (addressing Israel) a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26, 27+)

Ezekiel is describing conversion in NT terms. While the word "New Covenant" is not used, comparing Ezekiel's prophecy with Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34+) makes it is clear that the promise of the indwelling Spirit marks the beginning of a brand new way of relating to God and of working for God.

(From Jensen's Survey of the New Testament)

And if the Body of Christ, the Church, came into being by the Spirit, what does this truth teach us regarding how His Body should be ministering today? In short, what began by the Spirit, surely must continue to minister by the same Spirit. How many churches and individual believers have neglected their need for total, absolute dependence upon the Holy Spirit! (See Gal 3:2,3+) (See Spirit Filled Church)

Five Reasons to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit By Jack Hayford

SCRIPTURE:  Ephesians 5:18

INTRODUCTION: The indwelling of the Spirit is given to us at the time we receive Jesus. The overflow of the Holy Spirit happens when we receive the Holy Spirit at the dimension that He comes from Jesus with power. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not automatic; we open up to it. Literally translated, this text says, “Be filled with the Spirit—and keep on being filled.” Why should we be filled with the Spirit?

  1. Because Jesus promised the “Comforter” to come beside us and complete God’s purpose for us by His power in us.
  2. Because Jesus wants to replicate His life in each of us by this means. (ED: FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT IS THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE LIKE JESUS LIVED!)
  4. Because the power of the Holy Spirit births a passion to reach the unsaved. (ED: SEE Acts 4:31+).
  5. Because spiritual fullness begets ceaseless praise and prayer that exalts Christ, breaks evil bonds, and builds up believers.

CONCLUSION:  We’re living in tough times, but there’s a reservoir in heaven with enough for every person forever. We need to tap in and keep on being filled with the Spirit.


The Resurrection means that Christ lives in you.

It’s not imitation—trying to be a “good little Christian boy or girl.”
It’s impartation

A film loop I watched constantly as a high-school discus-thrower was the world-record throw of four-time Olympian Al Oerter. Over and over, I’d watch him drive his hip, thrust his shoulder, cock his arm, steady his grip, and make the toss. Then I’d go out to the rink and I’d try to do it all just like Al. But although I knew exactly what to do, did I ever do it like he did? I didn’t even come close.

And that’s the problem with religion and philosophy. They tell you what to do—but fail to give you the power to do it. Not so with Christianity. If Al Oerter could have squeezed into my body and thrown the discus through me, I could have set world records just like he did. Because Jesus is risen, His Spirit lives in me. It’s not a matter of me trying to figure out what to do, reading certain books, going to certain seminars, listening to certain tapes. It’s a matter of Him living in me, giving me the power to do what the Word tells me to do. (Story told by Jon Courson in Courson's Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1 - Genesis-Job) 

Ed Comment - While I like this illustration, I might beg to differ somewhat that is not imitation, for Paul specifically calls it imitation - 1Co 11:1. I would suggest that it is both imitation, made possible by impartation

The Perfect Model
John MacArthur

Now the question is this – and this is what gets us into the chapter before us: By what power did the Lord love and obey? By what power did the Lord love and obey? Because when He came into the world, He set aside His own prerogatives to use His power (Php 2:5-8+). He chose not to use His power. He says that. He says, “I emptied Myself,” in a sense. “I came into this world. I don’t know even when the Son will return. I do have the power to call legions of angels to My defense, but I do not use that power.” He didn’t lose His power, He didn’t lose His understanding of things in the future, but He willingly set them aside and took on the form of a slave to God for the purpose of doing the will of God. But the question is, “By then what power did He render this perfect loving obedience?” And the answer comes to us initially from the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 11.

In Isaiah chapter 11....we have a prophecy of the coming Messiah, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is what we read in Isaiah 11:1.... 

“A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse.”

Now, we all know that Jesse was the father of David.

“A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

There will come a Messiah – being referred to here – from the line of Jesse through David. Jesus, of course, the New Testament says, is the son of David.

And then in Isaiah 11:2 it defines the power that will rest on Him and in Him and through Him:

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.”

This is the answer to, “By what power does Jesus render this perfect obedience and perfect sanctification?”

The answer here: “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.”

Since He set aside His own independent use of His attributes, He had to depend on Someone else to empower His perfect sanctification; and it is the Holy Spirit Who is then defined for us in the richness of His nature. He is the Spirit of the Lord, He is the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of strength, the spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the Lord. That’s seven characteristics that are referred to there. There are seven references to the Holy Spirit, which is why the menorah has seven candlesticks, because it is representative of the sevenfold power of the Holy Spirit here in Isaiah. And the full power of the Holy Spirit – that is including wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear or worship of God – will rest on the Messiah.

And if you go toward the end of Isaiah’s prophecy to chapter 61 there is another familiar messianic prophecy speaking of the coming Christ. Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” (ED: NOTE THAT JESUS DOES NOT QUOTE THE WORDS IN BOLD IN HIS SYNAGOGUE SERMON. THEY SIGNIFY A PROPHETIC GAP - SEE EXPLANATION HERE). 

How is our Lord going to do this? How is He going to preach the good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, give liberty to captives, freedom to prisoners, and proclaim the coming favorable year of the Lord, and unleash vengeance and comfort as well? By what power will He do this? Verse 1, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” So the answer to the question is that the sanctification of our Lord was accomplished in Him by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now, turn to the New Testament to Luke 4:14. “Jesus goes back to Galilee” – it says – “in the power of the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit.” He could not have done anything if it hadn’t been for the power of the Spirit. He began teaching, was praised by all. He goes to the synagogue in Nazareth, in Luke 4:16, and He stands up to read, and the passage is Isaiah 61:1-2a.

And so, “He reads,” – starting at Luke 4:18, exactly what we just read in Isaiah 61:1-2a – ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. Sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him,” to hear how He was going to interpret this. “And He began saying to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ He said, “I am that Spirit-filled, Spirit-anointed Messiah that Isaiah promised.”

Well, eventually you know how that day ended. Lk 4:28, “The people were filled with rage (ED: DON'T MISS THE DRAMATIC CONTRAST - "FILLED WITH RAGE" VERSUS JESUS' "FILLED WITH SPIRIT! ). They got up and drove Him out of the city, led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built,” – Nazareth – “in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.” Our Lord said He did what He did by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the tenth chapter of Acts, I just want to show you one verse....but it’s a wonderful one: Acts 10:38. Peter’s preaching, and he says

““You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God (THE HOLY SPIRIT) was with Him."

God was with Him in the form of the Holy Spirit.

So, answer to the question, “How did Jesus do the will of God, the work of God in the way that God did it? How did He render perfect love toward God, perfect obedience toward God?” The answer, “By the power of the Holy Spirit.” The very person who empowered the perfect obedience of Christ is the very person that takes up residence in our lives as believers. So Jesus obeyed the word of God perfectly in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now listen, 1 John 2:6 says this:

“The one who says he abides in Him (in Christ) ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

If you say you abide in Christ you ought to walk as He walked. How did He walk? He walked in the Spirit; He walked in the power of the Spirit.

Listen to Colossians 2:6,

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

How did He walk? How do we walk? How do we walk in Him? In the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now someday we’ll do that perfectly, because it says in 1 John 3:2 that someday we’ll be like Him, and so we will have perfect love and perfect obedience. But now we are striving to walk like He walked. We have been given the Holy Spirit, the power is there. We are being led by the Spirit, as he says – and I read it earlier in Galatians 5:18. So if you’re led by the Spirit, then walk in the Spirit. There’s no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t have the Spirit. There’s no such thing as a Christian not being led by the Spirit. So follow and walk in the Spirit.

Now, one other portion of Scripture needs to be brought into consideration, and it’s Romans chapter 8. This is wonderful, encouraging truth. Romans 8:3, “For the law could not do.” Let me tell you about the law. The law makes demands and pronounces judgment if you violate them. And so we’re all under the law and we’re all basically guilty of breaking the law – I’m talking about God’s moral law. We’re all then sentenced to death and punishment.

The law has no power. The flesh has no power. The law can’t help us, it can’t empower us; it’s outside of us – the law, what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh. The law can’t help us, and we in our flesh can’t help ourselves. But what the law could not do, because it’s weak to the flesh, God did, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. “God sent His Son into the world as an offering for sin. By that offering He condemned sin in the flesh, so” – verse 4 – “that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” How then is the law fulfilled in us? By walking according to the Spirit; not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

You want to fulfill the law of God, walk in the Spirit. This is so very important, because these legalists had come to the Galatian church and said, “You need to conform to the external rituals and ceremonies and rites, including circumcision, of Judaism. You can’t be saved without that, and you can’t be sanctified without that.” Paul has been saying, “No, you’re free from all of that. You’ve been set free from all of that.”

The question then comes, “If I don’t keep those rules and rituals, how do I please God? How do I do the will of God?” And the answer is, “You walk in the Spirit.” Legalism isn’t going to work. Legalism cannot overcome evil desire; legalism cannot restrain the flesh. Wherever you see a religious legalist, you see a hypocrite, every single time. They may appear to be moral, but it is hypocritical morality because they have no ability in their flesh to conform to the law of God or the will of God. The only way that happens is when there is a new nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

So the Holy Spirit enables us, Romans 8 says, to do what the law and the flesh could never ever do. Yes, we have been set free, but set free from the bondage of the law which cannot save us and cannot sanctify us. The Holy Spirit alone can save us through belief in the gospel. The Holy Spirit alone has the power to conform us to the Word and, thus, the will of God. So we want to be like Christ. We’ve talked about that a lot in Galatians. We want to be transformed into Christlikeness, which means that we want more and more to walk as He walk. How did He walk? He walked in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now with that in mind, let’s go back to Galatians 5 and look again at verse 16 and just consider this one verse. Here’s the command: “But I say, walk by the Spirit.” Literally, present tense imperative: “Keep on walking. Keep on walking. Continually be walking.” It implies effort. It implies consistency. It assumes difficulty because we have to be commanded to do it. That is evidence that there’s going to be resistance, that there’s going to be conflict – we’ll see more about that next time.

But you can see for yourself in Gal 5:17 that the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition to each other. The flesh is producing all the horrible sins in Gal 5:19, 20, 21. The Spirit is producing all the virtues in Gal 5:22, 23. Both of those things reside in us because we still have unredeemed humanness, which is our flesh, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is why we’re in a war (1 Pe 2:11), we’re in a battle, we’re in a conflict (Gal 5:17), and we have to be commanded to walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), because there is so much resistance.

Now let’s talk about “walk.” What does “walk” mean? It’s simply the ordering of life, one step at a time in life, putting one spiritual foot in front of the other and doing it consistently. And the Bible talks a lot about walking. Walking is just the normal process of progressive sanctification one step at a time.

And walking is a big theme in the New Testament. Spiritual progress isn’t a sprint, it’s a long, lifelong walk. We read in Romans 6 about walking in new life. We read in Romans 13 about walking decently. We read in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 1 about walking worthily. In Philippians 3, walking in unity. In Ephesians 4, walking in humility. In Romans 13, walking in purity. In 1 Corinthians 7, walking in contentment. In 2 Corinthians 5, walking in faith. In Ephesians 2, walking in good works. Second Thessalonians 3, walking in separation from sin and the world. Ephesians 5, walking in love. Again in Ephesians 5, walking in light. Again in Ephesians 5, walking in wisdom. In 3 John, walking in truth.

Walking pictures of Christ!

Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity"

"Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

"The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15

True true religion is to imitate Christ.

There are four things in which we should labor to be like Christ:

1. Be like Christ in DISPOSITION.

He was of a most sweet disposition.
He has a heart to pity us.
He has breasts to feed us.
He has wings to cover us.

He would not break our heart, but with mercy. Let us be like Him in sweetness of disposition. Do not be of a morose spirit. It was said of Nabal, "He's so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!" Some are so sour, and breathe forth nothing but revenge! Or they are like those two men in the gospel, "possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs. They were so violent that no one could pass that way."

Let us be like Christ in mildness and sweetness.
Let us pray for our enemies, and conquer them by love.
David's kindness melted Saul's heart.
A frozen heart will be thawed, with the fire of love.

2 Be like Christ in HUMILITY.

"He humbled himself." He left the bright robes of His glory, to be clothed with the rags of our humanity—a wonder of humility! Let us be like Christ in this grace. Humility is the glory of a Christian. We are never so lovely in God's eyes, as when we are black in our own eyes. In this let us be like Christ. Indeed, what cause have we to be humble, if we look within us, about us, below us, and above us!

If we look within us, here we see our sins represented to us in the looking-glass of conscience—lust, envy, passion. Our sins are like vermin crawling in our souls! "How many are my iniquities!" Job 13:23. Our sins are as the sands of the sea for number; as the rocks of the sea for weight! Augustine cries out, "My heart, which is God's temple, is polluted with sin!"

If we look about us, there is that which may humble us.
We may see other Christians outshining us in graces, as the sun outshines the lesser planets. Others are laden with fruit, while perhaps we have but here and there, a berry!

If we look below us, there is that which may humble us.
We may see the mother earth, out of which we came. The earth is the most ignoble element. "They were viler than the earth." Job 30:8

"Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground." Genesis 2:7. "You will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return." Genesis 3:19. You who are so proud, behold your pedigree—you are but walking dirt! And will you be proud?
What is man? The son of dust!
And what is dust? The son of nothing!

If we look above us; there is that which may humble us.
If we look up to Heaven, there we may see God resisting the proud. God pursues the proud in vengeance. He threw proud Lucifer out of Heaven! The proud man is the mark which God shoots at, and He never misses the mark! Oh then, be like Christ in humility!

3. Be like Christ, in the contempt of the WORLD.

Christ was not ambitious for titles or honor. He declined worldly dignity and greatness, as much as others seek it. When they would have made Him a king, He refused it. He chose rather to ride upon the foal of an donkey, than be drawn in a chariot. He chose rather to hang upon a wooden cross, than to wear a golden crown! He scorned the pomp and glory of the world. He ignored secular affairs. "Who made Me a judge?" He did not come into the world to be a judge, but a Redeemer. He minded nothing but Heaven.

Let us be made like Him, in heavenliness and contempt of the world. Let us not be ambitious for the empty honors and glories of the world.
Let us not purchase the world, with the loss our soul.
What wise man would damn himself, to grow rich;
or throw his soul down to hell, to build up an earthly estate?

Be like Christ in a holy contempt of the world.

4. Be like Christ in HOLINESS of life.

No temptation could fasten upon Him. Temptation to Christ, was like a spark of fire upon a marble pillar, which glides off. "As the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct." 1 Peter 1:15

A Christian should be both a magnet and a diamond!
  A magnet, in drawing others to Christ.
  A diamond, in casting a sparkling luster of holiness in his life.

Oh let us be . . .
  so just in our dealings,
  so true in our promises,
  so devout in our worship,
  so unblamable in our lives;
that we may be the walking pictures of Christ!

Related Resources

  • A Spirit Filled Church
  • Spirit-Filled Believers Are Like Artesian Wells
  • Our Anointing - The Holy Spirit
  • Ephesians 5:18 Commentary
  • Acts 1:8 Commentary
  • Reuben A Torrey - Walking as Jesus Walked - Torrey lists 6 characteristics of Jesus' Walk while on earth. These are certainly helpful, and as much as I respect R A Torrey (a far greater theologian than this writer could ever hope to be and I sincerely mean that!), it is fascinating that to my surprise Torrey does not mention one word about the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' life. He does not emphasize that Jesus' walked as a Man (yes the God-Man) in dependence on the enabling power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, thus giving us mere mortals a pattern that we could at least have some hope of imitating (cf 1 Cor 11:1+, etc). In fairness in his very last paragraph Torrey does come close at least acknowledging the believer's need for the Holy Spirit, but he still does not emphasize Jesus' dependence on the Spirit and that is how we can imitate Him (cf 1 John 2:6-+)...

    Paul explains the whole secret of it in another way in Eph 3:16-20. Here he prays for the believers in Ephesus that they "may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." The thought is, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to form an indwelling Christ within us, and the way to know Christ in us is to let the Holy Spirit form Him within us (Ed: Here is where I would add - we need daily to be filled [present imperative] with the Spirit - Eph 5:18-+, so that we can walk [present imperative] by the Spirit - Gal 5:16-+. There is simply no other way to imitate Jesus but by daily, moment by moment relying on the Spirit's supernatural provision!).  Are you walking as Jesus walked? Do you wish to walk as Jesus walked, cost whatever it may? Well then, realize that you have not been walking as Jesus walked, and that the reason you have not walked as Jesus walked is because you have been trying to do it yourself, and give up your own attempts to do it and just look up to the Risen Christ, through, whose death on the cross you have found pardon and justification, and let Him come and dwell in you and live His life out through you ; to have His perfect will in you, and just trust the Holy Spirit to form this indwelling Christ in your heart.