How We Become Like Christ
- God’s grace has given us a return to a relationship with Him, we are forgiven, adopted into His family, heaven bound. Sin separated us from God and from His life. Grace has reintroduced us to Him, but that is not where we stop!
- God’s grace has a future direction for our lives now. We are to grow into people who reflect the character of Jesus Christ. The point of character development is for abundant life!
- This growth will occur in the most basic spheres of life. Marriage, family, work, church friends, and community at large. We will receive instruction for each of these areas.
We are at the point in the book where Paul has established the “what” of God’s grace in us now, and we are going to spend a considerable amount of time now on the the “how” of our growth and maturity.
4:13 attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
4:15 we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The first thing we will experience is that God has, and therefore, we are to have
- Different Priorities than the World
- Futile thinking
A little bit is good, more is better. This leads to enslavement to desire. This leads to destructive competition. This leads to the sacrifice of tomorrow for today. Take a tire, keep it in balance and it will spin easily and fast. Get it out of balance and it will destroy itself. The more responsibility you have in life, the faster you are spinning. Washing machine with a brick.
If it feels good, it is good. The same issue as this above.
I need to get mine. There is a commitment to sacrifice necessary to a relationship with God. Sacrifice in many different areas, but all sacrifices are sacrifices of desire. And we believe in God’s ability to care for us. Man does not live by bread alone, but by the direction that God’s Word gives us!
If something feels good to me, if it pleases me, it is that thing that gave me the pleasure.
The struggle, the journey, the accomplishment, the learning, the process, the anticipation…
Ecclesiastes Chapter 2:
What happens when we replace God with His good gifts?
I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a]as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
- Understanding fades
No discipline at the moment seems pleasant! This is a constant fight toward faith in God vs. satisfaction of desire. And it is why fasting is a good exercise.
Understanding of what? Of what gives life.
Fruit of the spirit vs. Greed, lust and pride
Short term vs long term thinking
Individual vs. Group thinking Phil 2:3-4
The impact of bad thinking is progressive. We sin, we cannot sense that God is there, so folks conclude that pleasure is what there is an much time and effort is put into trying to mitigate the negative effects of sin. And we just don’t fit into our lives. We lose meaning and purpose. We can’t find the motivation to excel.
19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
- Separated from the life of God
Because people do not follow God’s will and ways, they lose the purpose for which they are ultimately made, that is, to be like God. So, we live in a culture with great prosperity, health, freedom, opportunity etc. And we live in a culture with a suicide problem, a gross complaining problem, we feel threatened to the level of our very existence. People are afraid and drawn to fear.
- How to Grow to Be Like Christ
- Biblical understanding of God and man
There is a God. I am not Him.
Hebrews 11:6 You will have to exercise some faith.
- Establish an absolute source of truth
We have learned that truth is in Jesus! v.21
I believe that it is impossible to emphasize this enough! Truth about what?
God has spoken! Jesus is the Word. The Bible is His Word!
II Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Trained for righteousness. Equipped for good living!
- Put off things that we discover are not true
Scripture will rebuke us.
How do we know that pride, sensual pleasures and the acquisition of things is not the source of life?
Giving into temptation will give relief, produce dopamine in our heads. And then lead to greater lack. We develop a greater need. We are better off fighting the fights that need fighting!!
It will take work and effort to get away from these things that we are obviously hard wired to fall back on when we do not live God’s way.
- Take responsibility for desire
We are told to be renewed in our attitudes, in our thinking. Ultimately this refers to priorities, desires, pursuits, what is really important.
As we learn what we are meant to be, we embrace that as our proper purpose and priority in life.
And this applies to all kinds of areas in life that will fall into the big three categories of human pursuit.
We have a desire for greatness. That is not sinful. To pursue accomplishment as the way to greatness is inadequate. Jesus teaches us to gain true greatness through being servant of all. And Jesus models this as well. Is He the greatest who ever lived? Yes. What proves His greatness? His service to God and others.
We have a desire for pleasure, but no meter to control our hearts from addiction and loss of freedom and control. We learn that voluntary fasting, to choose to deny ourselves in order to control desire, is the way. This works in many ways. With food, with entertainment, with any sensual pursuit.
We have a desire to acquire goods and money. The money and possessions are not the problem, but they are also not the resolution to our problem.
Paul in I Tim 6:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Godliness with contentment vs. money and possessions.
The thing in us that is pleased with money and possessions is what we are having truly satisfied with godliness and contentment.
- Adopt God’s vision of you
In every aspect of your life. You are:
Created to be like God!
This will be reflected in every aspect of your life. So, as a spouse and parent, you will act like God. As an employee, you will be like God. As a friend, you will be like God. As a citizen you will be like God, as a customer, you will be like God.
When we do this, then we will be following Jesus Christ. We will be maturing. But the key is to establish God’s standards of behavior, God’s way to life and then allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out. This is why we spoke about and pursued the spiritual disciplines this Winter and Spring. I know that I need to change. What will I do to make this happen?
Almost all of the rest of this letter is a description of God’s vision of you.