How To Become Like Christ
Almost two years ago I was driving in Birmingham and listening to a sermon by Dr. Bill Winston. For some time the Spirit of God had been saying to me, "get ready." During the sermon God showed me that "get ready" meant "become conformed to the image of Christ." I began studying the subject and I saw that becoming conformed to the image of Christ is a master key to walking in all of your divine destiny. That study culminated in me carefully reading all four Gospels to study Jesus and how to be like Him. I highly encourage all of you to do that for yourselves.
I could probably write for years on everything I've learned about Christ. I plan to share some of the revelation God gave me. But for now I want to simply show you how to be conformed to the image of Christ. There are several very important points about change and transformation for Christians. They include renovating the mind (from carnal to spiritual thinking) and putting off the old man and putting on the new man. There are more, and they are all entangled with becoming conformed to the image of Christ. This is the transformation God desires. This is the destiny we all share. We were created in God's image, and being conformed to the image of Christ is how we return to the Creator's original design for us. So now let me show you how to be conformed to the image of Christ.
I began the careful review of the Gospels after studying the following verse: "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:9-10). I already understood that "putting on the new man" was synonymous with "being conformed to the image of Christ." I therefore saw that the new man is renewed (or "renovated") in the knowledge of the image of Christ. The word for "knowledge" in Greek is "epignosis" which refers to perfect or revelation knowledge, knowledge that comes from the Spirit of God. So the first step in becoming like Christ was also the basis for my Gospel study. If we want to become like Christ, we need revelation from God about the true person of Christ.
So I began to study the Gospels specifically for knowledge of Christ. I saw that the Gospels contain both the teachings of Christ and teachings about Christ. In His Word God recounts stories of Christ loving, blessing and healing people. Those are wonderful to see the loving and merciful nature of Christ. God's Word also recites many of Jesus' teachings. Honestly, at first I wasn't sure how those revealed the truth about Christ. But then I realized the connection between Christ and His commandments, that Christ was the living embodiment, the perfect example, of all His commandments.
You can't read the later chapters of John without noticing the importance Jesus places on His commandments. "If ye love me, keep my commandments. . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." (John 14:15,21). Now when other people give commandments or instructions, that doesn't necessarily mean they follow them perfectly. I would love to say I personally walk in the light of all God's truth I've presented on this blog, but that's just not the case. Sometimes I struggle with some of the very first teachings. Since most of you don't know me, you really have no idea whether I live this way or not. But that's not true with Christ.
When Christ gives a commandment, whether it was to love, to bless, to forgive, to show mercy, or to do any other thing, we know that Christ was already living that perfectly. Sin was not an option for Christ (another fascinating reality.) Christ had revelation from God about the way to live perfectly. Christ then passed that revelation on to us in His teachings. Christ lived what He taught. So if we will study and obey Christ's teachings, we will become like Christ.
I then considered the other parts of God's Word. Could they help me? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:1,14) These verses tell us that Jesus Christ is the physical embodiment of all God's Word.
Let's keep this simple for people who aren't familiar with the relationship between the Old and New Testament. In general, Christ is not a character in the Old Testament. But God is a prominent figure in both Testaments. Christ is the exact likeness of God (Hebrews 1:3). So while we can study Christ and try to be like Him, studying God and His Word also teaches us about being like Christ, for Christ, God, and God's Word are all one and identical. When we see God deliver His people, bless His people, protect His people, guide His people, and doing so many other wonderful things, we know that Christ shares that same character. We know also that Christ shares God's hatred of evil and zeal for holiness. We can study and obey God's teachings throughout His entire Word. We can see what pleases God and how He acts. When I study the entire Bible, I am learning about both God and Christ. When I study and obey the entire Bible, I am being conformed to the image of Christ.
I'm sorry if it bores you to hear that studying and obeying the Bible is basically the master key in becoming like Christ, but that's the way it works. God is so wonderful to have given us His Word. It's alive, and it will change us and help us be all God created us to be. And that happens as we become conformed to the image of Christ.
But, thank God, it's not about just our efforts. We should know that without God's help we will never truly change. Think of an alcoholic who just trains himself to avoid alcohol. That's not what I want. I want to even have the desire completely removed. I want fundamental change, not just behavioral alteration. And this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. The Holy Spirit was the greatest gift to man after Christ. We have appreciated Christ and without Him we are lost. We must also appreciate the Holy Spirit and His role in helping us become like Christ.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18) The basic idea here is that while we read God's Word we behold His glory, and the Spirit of God will actually change us to become like what we see in God's Word. Isn't that awesome!
We've already seen that becoming like God is identical to becoming like Christ, because they are the exact likeness of each other. We've also seen that studying God's Word helps reveal them to us so that we can become like them. But now we see that, as we study God's Word, the Holy Spirit will supernaturally change us to become like Christ and God. With practically everything in our Christian lives, we have a part and God has a part. Our part is to read and obey; God's part is to supply the supernatural change.
Glory to God! God created you to be like Him, and now God has clearly shown us Himself and given us His Holy Spirit to help us be the person we were created to be. I promise you, the more like Christ you are, the more of your divine destiny you will live, the more of God's will you will see in your life, and the more of God's blessings you will experience. It's not about earning anything with God, that's not what I'm saying. It's about receiving what He's done for us, and allowing Him to change us into His perfect design.
I want to be like Christ. I don't want this to earn something or show off. I want this because I now have revelation knowledge of His nature. I want to love, I want to be merciful, I want to bless others. God and Christ have revealed their nature to me and this is how I want to be. Freely I have received, now I want to freely give. I was blessed to be a blessing. When you know the love God has for you, you want to love others. You want to please God. You want to "pay it forward." I want to change. I want harmonious fellowship with God. I want to be like His Son Jesus.
God has this for all of us. He doesn't have for us to be His slaves or robots. He has for us to be His children in unity with their Father, for in unity is the place of the commanded blessing, and in unity is love. So make becoming like Christ your top priority today. You will never regret it. Study all of God's Word; study especially the life and teachings of Christ. Strive to follow God's teachings and live His instruction. Then have faith that the Holy Spirit will bring fundamental change to your heart and mind.