It is a simple fact that nowadays the task of becoming Christlike, with each of our unique personalities in view, is rarely taken as a serious objective to be thoughtfully planned for. Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday. On this monumental day, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit about what I wrote concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (See teaching on The Spring Feasts of the Lord below).
Specifically, I felt the Spirit convict me about the following line I wrote:
“The bottom line truth for us from the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that we ought to get radical about the removal of sin in our lives!”
When was the last time that you, or the church that you attend, developed a plan for putting to death or mortifying (don’t you love that term J) whatever belongs to your earthly nature or flesh?
“4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death [mortify] therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:4-6 ESV).
Indeed, putting things to death doesn’t seem to be the kind of activity today’s Christians jump to get involved in. Yet there it stands at the center of New Testament doctrine.
When Jesus taught about discipleship he made it very clear that a person cannot be the servant of his body and its many demands, while at the same time succeed in his course of training. This is the meaning of what he said bout denying ourselves, taking up our cross, “losing our life” for his sake and the gospel’s (Matthew 10:39; 16:24-26), and about “forsaking all” to follow Him (Luke 14:25-35).
Isn’t it true that discipline in the Holy Spirit is the doorway
to every Christlike character trait?
Consider how the Spirit continues Jesus’ teaching through Paul’s words:
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
“For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites [‘belly’ in KJV. The seat of ones thoughts, feelings, desires and choices]; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” – Romans 16:18 NASB
Of course one cannot overcome the hardened patterns of desires by force of will alone. Rather, through faith, we place ourselves in submission to Christ, and experience His Presence in our bodies. This takes place through incremental steps of righteous behavior as we allow our old ways to retreat into the background of life where they belong. Then the Holy Spirit reconstitutes our old ways into new, stronger righteous patterns that conform us into Christ’s image. I guess the verses in Galatians 5:16 and 25 really are true aren’t they?
“16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature… 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Our natural desires, including our fallen bodies, remain with us throughout life, but now act as servants of God. Our will is now to serve Him and not allow sin to be master.
So, what’s our part in this transformation? In addition to constant faith and hope in Christ, we are to purposefully and strategically re-train our bodies; replacing the motions of sin in our bodies with the motions of Christ. This is how we take up our cross daily. It is how we submit our bodies as “a living sacrifice” (See Romans 12:1,2) and how we offer the parts of our bodies to him as “instruments of righteousness” (See Romans 6:13).
In Colossians 3:5,6 Paul gives a list of sins that need to be “mortified.” If you are like me, there are motions of sin that must be “put to death.” Take about a half an hour and list out some of the areas that you know you need to become more like Jesus. Stop and prayerfully submit these areas to Him. In a spirit of humility, confess your helplessness, repent, and praise Him for His Spirit’s power at work within you. Remember, you are not alone. We are in this together and daily have the privilege, under God’s grace, to be live in the Spirit and help each other become more like Jesus.