You know we are tried, and the Lord allows us to be tried in all these realms. Sometimes the physical is the realm, the basis, of very definite testing and trying. It is the laying down of our physical life for God; as He, the Lord said, on another occasion, "He that saveth his life shall lose it. He that loseth it for My sake shall find it." And that often becomes a physical issue, a real physical issue. It has been that for for many people in recent days; and it becomes that for us, whether we will serve the interests of our bodes when spiritual interests are at stake or involved, or whether we will bring under the body and say, "Look here, you are not the master: you are the servant." Well, it is a realm of real testing. And, I think, our souls know this testing. It is much better in the realm of our souls. The whole matter of reputation and standing and favor and advancement in this world; "gaining the world," as the Lord put it, gaining the world, which means gaining its advantages, and gaining its favor, its smile, its pleasure. This is a temptation to young people especially, and to all Christians, but to young people particularly, whether or not they are going to compromise in order to really stand well with the world. And then there is testing in the spirit, the most acute form of temptation, in our spirit.
Now I have just pointed these things out. We cannot deal at any length with these things, but what I am saying is that here in this temptation of the Lord Jesus, you had an inclusiveness of all temptation of the Lord Jesus, you had an inclusiveness of all temptation in the whole man - spirit, soul, and body, or body, soul, and spirit; and in that comprehensive trial, the IMAGE triumphed and is really confirmed as the IMAGE.
Then we have the devil back again, and, oh, he is back through the closest of His disciples, the beloved Peter, because when He was speaking of His coming death, Peter said: "This shall never come to Thee, Lord, Save Thyself." Here we are back on the body level again. "Spare Yourself, do not put Yourself in the way of that." It came to Him in His soul, for He cried: "My soul, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." He poured out His soul. And, finally, from the Cross, His spirit: "My God." He was tried to the last degree as to God, His Father, the Love of His Father, the Faithfulness of His Father. The testing was pressed into the deepest and closest areas of His human life. It was like that all the way through, but the point is that He triumphed!
But note, what is the heart, the core of it all? Whether the trial is in the body or in the soul or in the spirit, this is the testing, the deepest ordeal. There is one thing in the heart of all, each and all - it is filial relationship with God. The attesting, the presenting was: "My Son in Whom I am well pleased." My Son. "All right," says the devil, "that is the point, the focus point, the focal point upon which I will concentrate." And what is the essence of true sonship? It is the filial relationship to the Father, a relationship of love to the Father.
And do not think of that word "suffering" in connection with Him as just being His physical sufferings on the Cross, His bodily sufferings. That is where many focus everything, on the Crucifix, the wounds, that side of things. No, no, His sufferings were in the realm of not serving His own interests in not even one way at all - in body, soul or spirit. And what it cost Him! What it cost Him so to do. There were His sufferings, and He was made perfect through suffering. And, then, having been made perfect through suffering, He is installed in heaven, instated in heaven, as THE MAN that satisfies God.
Stephen, in his last moments, and almost with his last breath said, "I see the Son of Man STANDING at the right hand of God." Here is the Son of Man installed as the Heavenly Pattern, the Heavenly Pattern to which the Holy Spirit will take up His work no so soon after this. There is a Greek word which is only used once in the New Testament, and it is used by the Lord Jesus Himself, "I have left you an example." This is the only time in the New Testament when that word "example" occurs. And it is like all other Greek words, a pictorial word. It has a picture behind it, and it is taken from the classroom, and the scholars. And we know something about it, where the master teacher sets a pattern to be copied, a writing, the "top line" we used to call it. I do not know so much about things in the school now, but I remember well how I plodded on to imitate that top line in writing, and how much hung upon my success in imitating. The Lord Jesus took this word as an example or pattern after the realm of the classroom the scholar, where the boy has been given a top line, has been given a pattern, an example to follow, copying the master's writing.
You do know the Word says much about "looking off unto Jesus," - "Beholding Him," but then that does not exhaust it, because I think that there is always some weakness. I have found it so at any rate - about this example idea. Ah, everyday to imitate Jesus, but what an awful mess we make of this Top Line. But there is more in the Greek word than that. The Master not only gave the Top Line Pattern, but He drew some grooves in the clay upon which the writing was being done, because at that time, the only means of writing in school cheap enough was clay tablets; and so the master would draw grooves, lines. Now that is very helpful, having some lines to work on so that you do not go crooked. But if there are grooves, so that if you tend to go out of the straight, the groove holds you. That is an extra. That is all in the Word and in the word here, "example". It means that not only has He become the PATTERN to which we are to b conformed, but the Holy Spirit has given us, in our own heart, the grooves, that when we do go out of the straight, the groove pulls us back again. Something that holds us to the straight, do you understand?
Now this is a very simple illustration, but that is the Word, the meaning of the Word "example." That He has been installed and instated as the PATTERN, and THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS COME TO KEEP US ON THE LINES OF THE PATTERN, TO KEEP US FROM DEVIATING. "Kept by the Power of God." If we go askew, we have something to pull us back again, to get us back onto the straight.
Now I must stop there, because that does introduce this activity and energy of the Holy Spirit in the matter of renewing after the IMAGE of Him That created him. We will take that up next, but let us again return to the point of all this, that is, the Lord has focused His attention upon us as human begins to recover the IMAGE of the one Perfect Man. And it is in us as people of whom He is concerned. He is concerned with us. As we so often say, "It matters to Him about us, or about you," focusing His attention not upon getting a perfect system, a New Testament order, but people, just people; and we will never have any kind of heavenly or New Testament order until He gets the kind of people that He wants. And He has got them, or He is getting them. Then everything else will follow, and we will have the right order.
(continued with # 9 - "The Crisis of Being Renewed")