Right on the Mark! Part 1
All the basics of Christianity I learned from the Gospel of Mark
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:9-12 (New International Version)
The basics of being a new Christian is in the gospel of Mark. Look no further to have a basic understanding of being a new creature. It’s that simple!
Mark is the earliest gospel, for many reasons. The biggest reason is because it’s the briefest. Everyone else expounded and expanded on what Mark wrote. That’s a good thing for us, because being the briefest, Mark gets right to the point about the activities of the Lord Jesus the Christ.
Mark gives us three important principles of who we are in Christ. He illustrates our authority in Christ, our Power in Christ, and our Journey in Christ. He reinforces two things throughout his book: the immediacy in our earthly mission, and our image in our heavenly Master.
Right off, Mark emphasizes the urgency of the mission by immediately narrating the baptism of Christ and defeat of the Devil in the desert (Mark 1:9-13). In five short verses of scripture, he sums up two important aspects of my new life in Christ. I am a beloved child of God, and I have authority over the Devil. The two go hand-in-hand. When you are a born again Christian, you have authority. You have been changed forever and you know have a different status in the world. It took me a long time to understand that I am fundamentally different. (I changed verb tenses on purpose.) You may not feel different, but at conversion, you are fundamentally new, never have you been seen before in this world (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, Satan does not have authority over you, you have authority over him. He does not know what to do with that. And another point: God is pleased with you!
At Jesus’ baptism, the other two members of the Trinity, Holy Spirit and God the Father validated Jesus’ manhood, His ministry and His message. God the Father told Him in an audible voice for the world to hear, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Simultaneously, the Holy Spirit like a dove, landed upon Him. Jesus the man turned a corner in His life on earth. So did you at salvation. You are a beloved child of God, and He is pleased with you!
In the act of water baptism, Jesus as a man, showed Himself subject to both earthly and heavenly authority. This is critical for a new creation to understand. Jesus, being both man and God, needed to be working in both the earthly and heavenly realms. He wasn’t going to be in rebellion to earthly authority, nor smug in His approach to earthly authority. This is critical for a new Christian: you are not better than anyone, just a believer. Jesus was going to overcome earthly authority in another way. He was showing what each Christian needs to do, be humble when it comes to the earth, but heavenly when it comes to the authority of the spirit.
Straightway, immediately, and right now, God made Jesus make a beeline to the desert to ultimately confront Satan. Later in Mark, you will see that the well-meaning crowds tried to persuade Jesus to move in another direction that was not the Father’s will at that time. Well meaning Christians do this now to pastors and to you. But do not be distracted from the first priority of your new life: you must immediately understand that Satan is a defeated enemy and has no authority in your life (Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15).To do this, you must get the fleshly distractions out of the way as did Jesus.
The flesh itself is not the problem with defeating Satan, although I have been taught that in many churches. Jesus fasted as a way to keep the flesh under control for a reason. Your body itself is not evil. Fasting does not obligate God to move because you are being so pious. Jesus fasted not to keep the flesh under control for the sake of piety, but to allow His Spirit to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. This is why you fast: to be more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit! Period.
Jesus had to defeat Satan because he is the sworn enemy of God and His plans. Satan is defeated for eternity. Christians need to be reminded of this as much as Satan needs to be reminded. We overcome Satan by the blood of Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11, Mark, 16:17, Philippians 2:10). This means that we reinforce Jesus’ victory by pleading the blood of Jesus, and reminding Satan who we are. Jesus defeated Satan by using God’s word because His blood wasn’t shed yet. Satan tries the same thing on us today as he did with Jesus. Satan tries to use God’s word against us to get our flesh, our fears and our faith doubting. Notice that Satan misquotes what God the Father said about Jesus: he said if you are the Son of God.” Did you catch that? He left out the word “beloved.”
Again, your authority in this world as a Christian stems from who you are as a new creation in Christ (1 John 3:8, Colossians 2:15 ). You are “beloved.” You are no longer a stranger, an enemy or unholy. God the Father loves you, God the Son loves you, the Holy Spirit loves you, and Satan know that. But do you know that? If the foundation of your Christian walk is that you are loved as a person, not based on your works, – but who you are, – then you can never be defeated.
Understand this first lesson from the Gospel of Mark, you have authority over Satan because of who you are as new creation: you are the beloved child of God in whom God is well pleased!
Next, the power that comes with your authority.