Nick Batzig

Marks of Manhood

If Christian men are to become what God intends for them to become, they will begin to manifest the gentleness and humility, righteous anger, truthfulness, patience, courage, sacrificial love, and affection of Christ in their lives. No truncated picture of manhood can serve as an adequate replacement for what we find exemplified in Jesus in Scripture. 

At a time when there is more confusion in the culture about gender and role relations, it would help us to take a step back and consider what Scripture sets forth as the model of manhood, namely, the Lord Jesus. Much of what passes as a call to manhood from certain quarters of the church today is nothing other than a parading of machismo austerity, whereas so much of what passes as a critique of “patriarchalism” is nothing other than a sophisticatedly repackaged egalitarianism. The biblical picture of manhood is much more complex and dynamic than most of the models with which we are presented.
No one reveals true manhood more than Jesus. The Christ who boldly threw tables over in the Temple and faithfully rebuked evil religious leaders, is the same Jesus who compassionately dealt with the sick and the sinful, loving laid down His life for His people, and affectionately allowed Himself to be leaned upon by the Apostle John. Jesus teaches us that manhood is not first and foremost a sort of grizzly outdoorsmanship. Rather, in Christ we find the complexity of characteristics that God intended for Adam to embody at creation. Jesus is the Last Adam, the head of a redeemed humanity. Jesus was more fully human, and more fully man, than any other man who has ever lived.
While there is no particular order in which we can set forth the characteristics of true manhood as embodied by Jesus, Scripture places His gentleness and humility front and center. A cameo of Jesus in the gospels reveals One who was supremely marked by gentleness and humility. As B.B. Warfield once explained,
“[Jesus] himself, on a great occasion, sums up his individual character (in express contrast with other individuals) in the declaration, ‘I am meek and lowly of heart.’ And no impression was left by his life-manifestation more deeply imprinted upon the consciousness of his followers than that of the noble humility of his bearing. It was by the ‘meekness and gentleness of Christ’ that they encouraged one another to a life becoming a Christian man’s profession (2 Cor. 10:1); for ‘the patience of Christ’ that they prayed in behalf of one another as a blessing worthy to be set in their aspirations by the side of the “love of God” (2 Thess. 3:5); to the imitation of Christ’s meek acceptance of undeserved outrages that they exhorted one another in persecution — ‘because Christ also suffered for sin, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously’ (1 Pet. 2:21-23).”
The complexity of true manhood embodied by Jesus is seen in the way in which His holy meekness resulted in righteous angry toward evil. Warfield again explained,
“Meekness in our Lord was not a weak bearing of evils, but a strong forbearance in the presence of evil. It was not so much a fundamental characteristic of a nature constitutionally averse to asserting itself, as a voluntary submission of a strong person bent on an end. It did not, therefore, so much give way before indignation when the tension became too great for it to bear up against it, as coexist with a burning indignation at all that was evil, in a perfect equipoise which knew no wavering to this side or that.”
This aspect of the manhood of Christ is evident in His act of purifying the place of His Father’s worship (John 2:13-22), and in His anger over the effects of death when He stood at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:33, 38). At the tomb of Lazarus, John tells us that Jesus was literally “moved with indignation” (the force of language is not captured in many of our English translations). There is no conflict between the meekness of Christ and His righteous anger. The two characteristics work together in perfect harmony. The righteous anger of Jesus toward death and its effects at the tomb of Lazarus led Him to weep with Mary (John 11:37).
Though Jesus’ righteous anger led him to weep with Mary, it was love that led Him to rebuke the religious leaders in Israel for the spiritual harm they were causing the people. Wherever He saw the truth of God perverted in the teaching and lives of the Pharisees, Scribes, Chief Priests, and Sadducees, he confronted it was a directness and righteous anger.
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Check Your Spirit Before Doing These 4 Things

The gospel cures us of the black smoke of our hearts. Whenever we are tempted to draw conclusions about others hastily or unjustly, whenever we are about to speak about someone else, whenever we want to write something about someone’s sin, and whenever we have decided to give up on someone who has sinned against us or in public, we must check our spirits. While it takes only a minute, it will make all the difference in the world to us and those around us.

One of the things that disturbs me most in life is having to drive down a backwoods road in Southeast Georgia behind a truck (and it’s always a truck!) going 20 miles under the speed limit with black smoke pouring out of the tail pipe. It’s not simply the fact that I know that the carbon monoxide is knocking a few hours or days off my life. Neither is it merely the fact that I can’t pass him on this particular stretch of road. What bothers me as much or more than both of those things is that it would literally take two minutes for the driver to check the dipstick to see if there was oil in his car, and it would take 30 minutes to change the oil.
Add to that the fact that it wouldn’t even take an entire minute for him to look at the speedometer, and in the rearview mirror, to see if he was selfishly holding someone up. Yet, as I confess my frustration, I find an analogy for my own life. Too often I find that I am the driver of the truck with the black smoke billowing out of my spirit. What I need more than anything is to pull over and do a spirit-check.
There’s an account in the Gospels in which Jesus has just sent the disciples into a city of Samaria in order to receive him while he was on his way to the cross. When the city rejected Christ, James and John come back with black smoke billowing out of their hearts. Luke tells us:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)

Though James and John had reached back into the Scriptures in order to justify their response, Jesus rebuked them. It is actually quite possible for us to be actively engaged in gospel ministry and yet have a heart that is contrary to the gospel. It is possible for us to care about justice and yet have a bitter and vitriolic spirit. It is possible for someone to care about holiness while having a heart that is silently (or vocally) delighting in the fall of a brother or sister in Christ. The same brothers whom Jesus rebukes for wanting the destruction of others rather than the salvation of others will, in due time, reveal that they were also using Jesus to get to the top (Mark 10:37). If two of the choicest apostles of Jesus could need “a spirit-check,” I certainly need to pull over before I say, write, or do just about anything.
It’s interesting that in the account of Luke 9:51-56, James and John have not actually said or done anything to hurt someone. It is what they say to Jesus that reveals what spirit was in them. As the old saying goes, “the matter of the heart is the heart of the matter” or, as Proverbs reminds us, “Above all things keep the heart, for out of it flows the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).
There are so many applications of this principle that even the world itself is not big enough to contain all the volumes that would have to be written. Here are four basic categories of application that I believe will help all believers:
1. Before you draw conclusions about someone, based on something that they have said or done, check your spirit.
I have many times taken something that someone has said and read it in the worst possible light. Others may struggle with the opposite problem.
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Refuting Theological Error

All theological error originates from the evil one. He is more cunningly skillful than we could ever know at leading people astray through academic and highly nuanced theological error. As is true with every other danger that we face, when we come to study theological error we must remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

There is a profoundly important section titled, “On the Preaching of the Word,” in The Directory for the Public Worship of God, in which we find a very short and very wise statement about the minister’s responsibility to refute false teaching in the church. What is most captivating about the brief statement found therein is that it instructs concerning, first, the dangers of talking about false teaching, and, second, the necessity of refuting false teaching in the church.
As the Divines unfolded their beliefs about how ministers should approach the aspect of refuting theological error in their preaching, they wrote:
In confutation of false doctrines, he [i.e. the minister] is neither to raise an old heresy from the grave, nor to mention a blasphemous opinion unnecessarily: but, if the people be in danger of an error, he is to confute it soundly, and endeavor to satisfy their judgments and consciences against all objections.
The rationale for this statement is dependent on understanding the nature of false teaching itself. In short, ideas can and often do have massive spiritual consequences. J. Gresham Machen made the important statement about the implications of false teachings and ideologies when he wrote:
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel…What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combated; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassioned debate.1
Since beliefs inevitably have consequences on our lives and actions, the Divines first warn against our “raising an old heresy from the grave, nor to mention a blasphemous opinion unnecessarily.” They do not say this to be necessarily or fearfully censorious, or to bury their heads in the sand rather than deal with difficult theological matters. Rather, they raise this warning because of the nature of false teaching.
When I was a young Christian, a friend taught me that “whenever false teaching is taught in a nuanced fashion there is always the danger that some who hear it will be drawn into it.” He went on to explain that this is true within the realm of relationships, as well. Whenever we start to enter into debate with those with whom we disagree we are in danger of becoming more like them–as well as becoming more susceptible to being influenced by their beliefs. It is not guaranteed that this will happen, but it is certainly a very real and ever present danger. Tragically, years after sharing this thought with me, my friend went on to embrace a sinful lifestyle due in part to the public discussions about, and approval of, that particular sin. Additionally, I have watched–with great heaviness of heart–as a minister of the Gospel walked away from Protestantism in the midst of engaging, on church court levels, with men who were being tried for holding to aberrant theological views on the sacraments and soteriology. Whether engagement with sacramentalist views were the cause of his departing from the truth or not, I cannot help but wonder what impact interacting with aberrant teaching had on this particular individual.
This danger must be highlighted within the realm of pastoral ministry in the church. There are some who thrive on debating theological issues. This can be harmful to the members of a church because some members already have misguided beliefs, and some have a very small knowledge of doctrine. In the case of the first group, introducing old heresies can encourage more confusion. I have, time and again, seen individuals start to dabble with heresy because they already had misguided beliefs based on their erroneous knowledge of Scripture. In the case of the latter group, introducing theological error–even in the name of “discernment”–can end in filling the minds of God’s people with falsehood when they ought to be filling their minds with the truth. Far better to teach them the nuances of the truth of Scripture so that they will be able to discern falsehood when confronted with it. You don’t study a counterfeit dollar bill to spot a counterfeit; you study the real dollar currency so that you will be better suited to spot the counterfeit.
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We Are Not Home Yet

As believers, we are called by God to train our minds and hearts to firmly latch onto the biblical teaching that we are passing through this world as pilgrims and strangers. We can never allow ourselves to become comfortable here. We are merely sojourners passing through this world on our way to glory. From the first promise of redemption in the garden (Gen. 3:15) to the glorious heavenly vision of the City of God (Rev. 22), the totality of the Bible focuses on the pilgrimage for which God has redeemed His people.
When God called Abraham to leave his family and his homeland, he “went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise” (11:9). Moving from place to place, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob walked by faith in the promises of God. The Lord had promised Abraham that he would inherit the land; yet, the only land he ever possessed during his pilgrimage was a tiny plot that served as a burial place for him and for his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. The act of burial was the last great act of faith. It proved that he was looking for something better—the hope of the resurrection. Abraham never had a permanent home until he died. When he died in faith, he settled in “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Joseph also lived and died as a pilgrim and stranger on the earth. Abraham’s great-grandson spent the better part of his life as an alien in a foreign land. He was cut off from his earthly family until the end of his father’s life. He was instrumental in the rest of his brethren coming and dwelling in a foreign land. When he died, Joseph “made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:22). By charging his brethren to take his bones up from Egypt and into the promised land (which would not occur until some four hundred years after he died), Joseph was teaching the Israelites that there was a better city—one for which God would raise him up, body and soul.
After Moses fled from Egypt into the wilderness of Midian, he married the daughter of the Midian priest Jethro and fathered a son with her. Moses named his firstborn son Gershom (literally meaning “stranger there”). Scripture teaches us the rich biblical theological meaning of this name in Exodus 2:21–22, where we read: “Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’”
We discover the secret to spiritual pilgrimage when we read:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  (Heb. 11:13–16)

A Mountain Range Christmas

As we head toward another Christmas—and a renewed time of remembrance of the fulfillment of the prophecies that God gave for millennia concerning the Christ—it would do us good to step back and consider the fact that the Old Testament prophecies about Christ were often not time-specific, neatly packaged prophecies but rather mountain-ranges of prophecy about all that the Savior would be and do in both his first and second coming.
At this time of year, our minds often turn to the prophecies concerning the virgin who would conceive and bear a Son whose name would be Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14) and prophecies of the child who would be born whose name would be Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Princes of Peace (Isa. 9:6), and of the One who would be ruler over Israel—who would be from everlasting—would be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). We love to look back with delight as we see the way in which these prophecies, given so long before God fulfilled them, were so specifically and clearly fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
The Old Testament prophecies about Jesus foretold both his first and second coming.
However, we often forget that the Old Testament spoke of another dimension of the advent of the Christ. The entire Old Testament pointed forward to the coming Savior—who, in his work on the cross and in his return to judge the world in righteousness—would bring about in the consummation the salvation and judgment of all men.
Louis Berkhof, in his book Principles of Biblical Interpretation, illustratively explained how it is that the prophecies made about Christ in the pages of the Old Testament appear more like mountain ranges than mountain tops. He wrote:

The element of time is a rather negligible character in the prophets. While designations of time are not wanting altogether, their number is exceptionally small. The prophets compressed great events into a brief space of time, brought momentous movements close together in a temporal sense, and took them in at a single glance. This is called “the prophetic perspective,” or as Delitzsch calls it “the foreshortening of the prophet’s horizon.” They looked upon the future as the traveller does upon a mountain range in the distance. He fancies that one mountain-top rises up right behind the other, when in reality they are miles apart. Cf. the prophets respecting the Day of the Lord and the two-fold coming of Christ.[1]

We see how this is played out in the way in which the elderly Simeon spoke of the destiny of the baby Jesus. “This child,” he said, “is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35 NKJV).
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The Good, Chief, and Great Shepherd

We find that our Lord Jesus, in consummate glory, will be Shepherding His people for all eternity. The Apostle John tells us that in glory, “the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them [i.e. the redeemed] and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” After all the under-shepherds have come and gone we will see that the Shepherd, who became the Lamb that was slain for the sheep, will continue to shepherd His people by giving them everlasting joy and peace in His presence. 

As we consider the many biblical theological themes that are unfolded throughout the Scriptures, our minds ought to be drawn to many of the passages in OT historical narrative and the prophetic literature in which we discover a synthesis of typological imagery brought under the light of prophetical fulfillment. Ezekiel 37:24-27 is one such passage. There, we find the Lord promising to raise up a Shepherd-King–under the typical name of David–to shepherd His people in the New Covenant–to dwell with them and protect them:
“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:24-27).
This succinct New Covenant prophecy combines the most prominent biblical-theological themes of redemptive-history (i.e. king, land, covenant, descendants, presence of God and dwelling place) in typological prospective. What is striking is that Shepherd is included among the other well known BT themes. On one hand, this ought to be surprising to us; on the other, it ought to be one of the most naturally anticipated. Consider the following biblical-theological developments regarding the Shepherd theme in Scripture:
The Scriptures draw our attention, at the beginning of redemptive-history, to the fact that the very first person martyred for his faith in Christ was a Shepherd. Abel was a righteous Shepherd who was envied, despised and murdered by his brother. Jesus is THE RIGHTEOUS SHEPHERD who was envied, despised and murdered by His brethren (Matthew 21:38; 27:18; Mark 15:10 ). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the Sheep. Additionally, the fact that Shepherding was one of the very first occupations in human history shows us that it was God’s plan to set this apart for an analogy to reflect His relationship to His people.
In his departing covenantal blessing pronounced on Joseph, Jacob addressed God as being his Shepherd when he said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day” (Gen. 48:15). One of the chief characteristics of a Shepherd is that he feeds his sheep. God feeds His people with the rich food of His word. He feeds us also with His own flesh and blood in the Person of His Son. In the subsequent blessing on Joseph he spoke of the coming Redeemer by the name of “the Shepherd:” Again, Jacob alludes to the LORD as Shepherd when he pronounced a covenant blessing on his son prior to his death: “But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)” (Genesis 49:24).
The patriarchs are said to have been shepherds. When Joseph is speaking to his brothers about what they are to say to Pharaoh, we read: “Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me.’ 32
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Paul’s Farewell Address to the Ephesians

The secret to continuance in Christian service is found in serving others with transparency, diligence, and tears. It is also in recognizing the dangers that face us when we fill roles of leadership in the church. Most significantly, it is based on remembering that God has called us to serve those Jesus purchased with His own blood on the cross.

I had a mentor who once told me, “It’s easy to start something in ministry, but it is very difficult to follow it through to the end.” This is so very true. Many enter ministry service or projects without considering what it will cost to see it through to completion. This challenge was not something foreign to the apostle Paul. As he pressed on toward the end of his ministry, Paul told the elders that he had trained in Ephesus, “My purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Paul knew that it took resolve to finish the course and ministry he had received from the Lord. 
Paul had spent three years in Ephesus. He had set up a theological training institute there. He had planted the church and he had put leaders in place to care for the people. As he readied himself to depart from there and to head to Jerusalem, in order to preach the gospel, Paul called the elders together and gave a farewell speech.
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Are You Bored with the Gospel?

Over the past decade a floodwater of cultural change in our country has occurred, leaving a massive impact on the church in America. Twenty years ago, there was a push to address the issue of mercy ministry and evangelism in our churches. Much of this was, no doubt, a helpful corrective to a perceived deficiency in local churches.
Today, the loudest voices speak incessantly about issues related to social justice, intersectionality, and human flourishing. Time will most certainly tell whether this was a needed corrective or a toxic corrosive for the church. Movements and organizations spring up almost as fast as they whither. The leaders of many social and para-ecclesial syndicates wish to influence the church in such a way that the church will embrace the obligations they press on her.
There is a noticeable lack of focus on the Gospel in many churches today.
When I sit back and read the deluge of thoughts and opinions online about what the church ought to be doing, I sense a noticeable lack of focus on the Gospel. In the many Twitter rants that recur on a daily basis, there is a discernible deficiency with regard to Scripture and the Gospel. Any intellectually honest assessment of the content of so much that is bandied about on the Internet must necessarily lead to the conclusion that people are bored with the Gospel.
Either they don’t believe that it is “the power of God unto salvation for those who believe,” or they have convinced themselves that the Gospel is simply one among many messages that ought to take front seat in the message and ministry of the church. In either case, the only conclusion we can draw from the fact that the preaching of the Gospel is no longer the center of gravity in the message and ministry of many churches in our day is that people don’t believe the Gospel works. They are not astonished by the glory, majesty, unspeakable greatness of the message of Christ crucified and risen.
The central message of Scripture is the message of the Gospel.
When we turn to the Scriptures, we get everything necessary for life and godliness. We hear God’s voice in Scripture. “The Holy Spirit says,” “The Spirit said through…,” and “As the Spirit says,” are some of the most commonly used introductions to Old Testament citations in the New Testament. The whole of the Bible is the whole of God’s word. It is God speaking by the Holy Spirit to the church. The church is perfected by the washing of the water of the word and the proclamation of the whole counsel of God given by those men God has called and equipped to faithfully preach and teach the Gospel. Christ is the only head of the church and as such is the sole authority for how the church is to function in the world.
Jesus is also the great High Priest of his church and the perfect sacrifice for the salvation of the souls of his people. The central message of Scripture is the message of the Gospel—the good news of what God has done through the death and resurrection of Jesus for the salvation of his people. Surely, the message of the cross impacts more than simply the forgiveness of the sins of an individual, but it is not less than that. In fact, whenever the Gospel in preached by the apostles, that is the central message of the cross.
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The Sermon on the Mount: How Did Jesus Practice What He Preached?

The Savior has taken away the sin of our hypocrisy by his sincere obedience. Who but Jesus could keep the commands of God with such sinless sincerity? Then, having perfectly done what he taught in absolute sincerity, Jesus left us with the most potent example to follow.

Jesus constantly warned about hypocrisy throughout his earthly ministry. Whether it was the institutionalized hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13-15, 23-29), or the leavening effects that such hypocrisy had on professing believers (Luke 12:1), Jesus recurrently emphasized that we are ever in danger of falling into hypocrisy.
Since such hypocrisy was most prevalent among the religious leaders in Israel in Jesus’ day, pastors and others engaged in public ministry are far from immune to such hypocrisy in our own day.
Christian leaders need to have a deep determination to avoid falling into the trap of hypocrisy.
When the apostle Paul wrote his epistles, he often dealt with the issue of sincerity and hypocrisy in ministry. The same apostle who said, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:15-20) also said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27; all Scripture quotations from NKJV).
Paul, at one and the same time, acknowledged the principle of indwelling sin in his own Christian experience and a deep determination to avoid falling into the trap of hypocrisy. There was a devout resolution in the heart of the apostle to put hypocrisy to death daily–even as he recognized the irreconcilable warfare between the flesh and the Spirit that raged in his heart.
There was not one insincere bone in the body of Jesus.
And, while it is true that all Christians must have the same resolution as the apostle Paul, there was only One who never knew anything of the reality of indwelling sin–the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only One who perfectly abstained from every form of sin and hypocrisy. There was not one insincere bone in the body of Jesus. Jesus never taught others something that he did not perfectly exemplify in his own experience. This is perhaps nowhere better seen than in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. No one ever had a pure heart like Christ. Jesus never lusted after a woman, never lied, never had a hateful thought or affection. Jesus was perfectly pure in heart. Jesus loved his Father with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength.
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