Like Christ

Saturday, July 15, 2017, 8:41 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read several scriptures (ESV) on the subject of Christ-likeness.

Image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18 NASB)

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The goal of our faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to be free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and to have the promise of eternal life with God in heaven. God’s purpose in saving us is that we might be conformed to (to be consistent with) the image (likeness, pattern, character) of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, what does this look like? What was/is Jesus Christ like? Well, he is God, and he is perfect (sinless), and he is holy and righteous and just. He is also kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving. He is also unselfish, and giving of himself to us to meet our legitimate needs. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he provides for our needs. Yet, his kindness and compassion is based in his justice, in his righteousness, and in his love for us. In other words, if we are Christ-like, we won’t placate (appease) sin in ourselves or in others, and we won’t lie to others just to make them feel good about themselves while they are engrossed in their sinful practices. But, we will be honest with ourselves and we will speak the truth in love to others, too.

Also, we will walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and not walk after the flesh, to please our sinful passions. God, who saved us and who called us to a holy calling, is in the process of transforming us, who have died with Christ to sin, into the image of Christ. Some people refer to this as the process of sanctification. Yet, our salvation is also a process, for we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved when Christ returns (future), and our salvation is complete.

Like Him in Death (Phil. 2:5-8; Phil. 3:10)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

When Jesus walked the earth, he told those who would come after him that they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if they held on to their old lives (of living for sin and self), they would lose their lives. But, if they would lose their lives (die with Christ to sin), they would gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). And, the Apostle Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we would live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, becoming Christ-like means that we are becoming humble, unselfish, obedient to Christ and his Word, and that by the Spirit we are putting the deeds of our flesh to death, so that sin does no longer reign in our bodies. It means that “I” am crucified (put to death) with Christ so that “I” no longer live, but that Christ lives in me to his glory and for his purposes. And, now I live by faith in Jesus Christ, meaning I now allow Christ to rule and reign supreme in my life, instead of me still having control over what I do or don’t do. I listen to his Word, I do what it says, and I follow Christ with my life. Yet, this is not saying we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that we should no longer walk in darkness (sin), but we should walk (conduct our lives) in the light (righteousness, truth, the gospel, Jesus Christ).

Imitators of Christ (1 Thess. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:1-3)

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”

We are to be imitators of Christ, not in the sense of a performance or a mockery of someone, but in the sense of following him, being his disciples, doing the things he did, saying the things he said, and taking on his character, morals, values and attitudes and actions, making them our own. When we do this, people will think us strange, out of touch with reality, crazy, or hyper-religious, because this is not the norm, not even among those who also claim to be followers of Christ, at least not in America.

Some of them will say we are too serious, and we need to lighten up, or we need to chill (relax) and enjoy life the way they do. They may think it odd that we do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they may heap abuse on us (1 Pet. 4:4). Yet, we are not to fear what others think of us.

As imitators of Christ, we should arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had about sin. He gave his life up for us so that we could go free from slavery to sin, and so we would be free to walk in his righteousness. And, we should lay down our lives by dying with him to sin so that we might live with Christ to his righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to fulfill the desires of our flesh, but we should live to please God with our lives, and to do his will. Sensuality, adultery, fornication, lust, gossip, gluttony, lying, cheating, stealing, idolatry, perjury, and deceit, etc., should have no place in our lives. We should not think and act like the world. And, we should be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Jesus.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

A Wicked Land

Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Malachi 1 (Select vv. NIV).

Jacob and Esau (vv. 1-5)

A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Jacob’s name became Israel, and today Israel, i.e. the children of promise, is the church, the body of Christ, comprised of all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, whether Jew or Gentile by birth. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God the Father. We, who are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, who have been born anew of the Spirit of God, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, are the loved of God, i.e. we belong to him.

Esau’s descendants became the Edomites, who were enemies of God, and of his people, so they represent the ungodly and the unholy of this world. Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a single meal, and then later tried to get his inheritance, but he was not able to find repentance, although he sought it with tears (See: Heb. 12:15-17). This is a difficult passage to understand. I believe the Lord is saying to me that Esau did not forsake his evil ways, or he did not do so in truth (same thing), i.e. what he had was a false repentance with fake tears or with real tears, but with worldly sorrow, not godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance.

Yet, Jacob and Esau had the same father and the same grandfather, i.e. they were both descendants of Abraham and Isaac. But being physical descendants of Abraham was not enough. They had to be his spiritual descendants, too.

And, I believe from this the Lord is giving me a picture of the church (or the institutional church) here in America. There are people here who are truly born again believers in Jesus Christ, who are walking in his ways and in his truth. There are also those who profess to know Jesus, some of whom are members of some of these ‘church’ organizations (institutions), but their profession of faith is shallow, and it lacks true repentance. But, I also see that there are those who were born again of the Spirit of God, but who have since wandered off and need to be brought back to repentance (Rev. 2-3). Yet, there seems to be a fine line between these last two groups.

If we study the New Testament from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, we may soon find ourselves grappling with truth we had not seen before, because we were taught differently from our ancestors. We may find, too, that we can’t explain away many of these verses using the doctrines we were taught as children. Thus, we then have to face the reality that what may seem uncomfortable or foreign to us is actually what the Bible teaches. And, what I am speaking of is that scripture makes it real clear that our salvation is not a one-time deal, and then we live our lives, and then one day we go to heaven when we die.

What scripture teaches is that our salvation is progressive. It begins when we first believe in Jesus (we were saved), and then we are “being saved,” and then it is complete when Jesus returns for us, his bride (we will be saved). The Bible also teaches that if we want to have eternal life with God we must walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We must not hold on to our old way of living in sin, but we must lose our lives (die to sin) for the sake of Jesus and his gospel. And, it teaches that if we continue in (keep on; practice) sin, we don’t have the hope of eternal life. As well, it teaches that we must continue in Christ and in his word, and that we must keep (obey) his word, if we want to have the hope of eternal life. So, eternal life with God is not guaranteed if we do not continue in Christ, in his Word, in obedience to his Word, and walk in the Spirit and not by the flesh.

The Honor Due Him (vv. 6-11)

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

What I believe the Lord is showing me here is that this describes much of the church (or institutional church) here in America, and its leaders. Many of them have the appearance of being on fire for the Lord, but it is surface only. They are wrapped up in their own lives and are busy entertaining themselves and the people of the world, and their hearts are far from God. Their lives are not committed to Christ but to this world. For some of them, their devotion to the Lord is half-hearted, and thus not fully committed. Many of them, too, are following a false grace gospel which requires no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or death to sin at all. So, their worship of God is in vain.

Not only that, but many of them are on the attack of those who do share the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God). Or else they are supporting those who do, i.e. they have partnered with the U.S. government who is going throughout the world killing, pillaging, and raping people, and murdering Christians, as well as taking over sovereign nations and bringing the world under the rule of the New World Order “beast.” And, God is definitely not pleased! In fact, he is calling his church, the body of Christ, to come out from under these 501c3 corporations (the institutional church) which are under the headship of the US government so that she does not share in her sins and in her punishment, but not many are listening.

So, God is going to visit the USA in judgment, and at the hands of her own leaders, who have handed the people of this nation over to be destroyed. Our government, though, that we believe is our government, are not really the ones running the ship here. They answer to a shadow government of the Elite of this world (the wealthy and powerful) who are truly the de facto government of these United States. And, they are deserting our nation, and they are, or they will subject us to disaster because the One World Order (beast) must have the rule of all of the earth. Thus, we can’t believe what we read in the news because these Elite own the news. Most everything is lies or twisted truth (lies).

Our nation is known for their false flag operations where they create chaotic or disastrous situations so that they have an excuse to go into other nations in order to take them down, and to kill Christians, too. I believe our government (well, the shadow government) was behind this chemical weapons attack in Syria so that they would have an excuse to go into Syria and strike them. All of this is leading up to the rule of the beast. And, I also believe that they have something similar in mind for the USA, and that God will use this to bring people here to their knees so that they will honor HIM alone as their God and King. And, these will be troubled times, and yet God will be with those of us who put our faith and trust in him. And, he will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to be victorious to the end.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.