Tag Archive | Christ-like

BECOME A NEW CREATION (guest post)

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 NIV)

The physical characteristics of living things in a species are inherited traits inherited from genetic factors. We can’t change it like if we take off our clothes and then replace them with other different clothes. God used this analogy when rebuking the people of Judah. In the eyes of God, like a leopard can’t change its spots, so the people of Judah who are accustomed to doing evil can’t do good. This very strong rebuke was delivered through the prophet Jeremiah in the years before Judah fell to the king of Babylon who later took them into exile for 70 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, sin was rooted in the daily lives of the people of Judah. They lived in sin and carried out various forms of idol worship, even killing their children in sacrificial rituals to the gods. When King Josiah called for national repentance in Judah, they did return sacrifices to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they didn’t completely abandon their sins. Sin has colored the entire area of life and controlled their hearts, so God said:  “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars…” (Jeremiah 17:1-2 ESV).

Sin has been carved so deeply in the hearts of God’s chosen people. Such a condition of the heart will not be formed only because it is a sinful thing, but it is the result of a process that continues to be repeated. Jeremiah 13:23 clearly says that they are accustomed to doing evil. The word “accustomed to” in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament, also means “taught, learned, discipled”. The word comes from words that mean “to learn, to teach, exercise in, be trained”. Even in some variants of the Bible, that word is translated as “diligently, expert, skilful, teachers”. Seeing the original meaning, the phrase “accustomed to doing evil” means they are not only occasional or sometimes fall into sin, but there is a continuous repetition that may be intentional, which to a certain extent makes them expert, skilful, and trained in sin or that evil deed.

The same thing can happen to us. When we fall into sin, then “the alarm” of the Holy Spirit will be heard loudly in our conscience, making us aware of mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and arising from our sins. When we repeat the same sin again and again and again, then slowly but surely we will begin to ignore God’s rebuke, then our consciences begin to be torpid and insensitive.

The more we repeat the same sin, we will become more proficient in committing that sin, which will surely lead us to other sins! This is the same as we train and discipline ourselves to sin until it becomes a habit and our whole life is controlled by it. To some extent we may not feel the sinful act as something wrong because we have experienced moral degradation and a very severe spiritual deterioration!

REPENTANCE

There is no way out of sin other than repentance. That was what Jeremiah called upon many times to the people of Judah. Unfortunately they didn’t respond as they should until finally God’s punishment struck them. If at present some of us are still bound by sin, I pray that the Holy Spirit will realize that we need repentance. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8 ESV).

Like how sin begins to take root in our hearts that is because we train ourselves to doing evil, then we also have to do the opposite in the same way if we really want to repent. We must train ourselves to do the truth by disciplining ourselves constantly to live in obedience to God. This must continue to be done because as long as we are still breathing, in us there will always be an attraction between the desires of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit.

As believers who are still proceeding to be like Christ, we can still fall into sin if we don’t take care of our hearts. But there is a fundamental difference with our previous condition, that we are no longer a servant of sin but we have the power to win over sin because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

STAY IN THE TRUE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY

Training and discipline to live obediently to the word of God requires perseverance and fortitude because we live in a world where some of the values are contrary to the Bible. Every time we are faced with reality, hear various news, and interact with people of different characters. Directly or not, it can influence or even shape us. In our topic this time, the tribe of Judah is a clear example of how environment and association have transformed them into sinners and idolaters. Long before Joshua had warned them about it: “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12-13 NIV).

We must not isolate ourselves from the world because we are sent to be salt and light in the midst of this world. What we have to do is be wise in choosing relationships and communities, because: Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt {and} deprave good manners {and} morals {and} character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP)  How the influence of an association is very serious for our lives. Therefore we must pray a lot, read and do the word of God, and live in the true spiritual community. Thus we can grow spiritually so that we are not easily swayed by world values, and have brothers and sisters who rebuke if we start to deviate and strengthen if we start to weaken.

KNOW CHRIST PERSONALLY

Repentance is the right first step. A true association will prevent us from bad influences. But, one of the most important things that become our strength is to experience and know Christ personally.

The tribe of Judah in Jeremiah’s day didn’t lack “information” of God. They heard the story of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt, kept them in the wilderness, and led their ancestors into the Land of Canaan. They heard the story of various miraculous deeds done by God. But unfortunately all of that is just “a story about God” that they heard from generation to generation, but they themselves didn’t experience it. They didn’t know God personally because they have never met God personally. As a result they become easily misled and turn away from God.

We can hear many sermons and hear various testimonies from people who experience God’s help. We can read many books about Christianity or even read the Bible. But without experiencing and knowing God personally, all that will only be information for our brain, like we hear stories, read news, or watch movies. Every Christian must meet the Lord Jesus personally and continue to learn to know Him. The more we know Him, the easier it is to trust Him and obey Him without being suspicious. Every step of obedience will take us one step closer to becoming more and more like Him.

CHANGED TO BE A NEW CREATION

Originating from the same seed of life, a caterpillar that for some people looks disgusting can transform into a beautiful butterfly that flies elegantly. The colors of butterflies are not costumes and their graceful wings are not accessories, but a permanent change that can only be realized through a process of change from within.

Now, if the same question is presented to us: “Can we do good if we have previously used to do evil?” YES, WE CAN !!! In what way? By becoming a new creation in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

No matter how dark our past is, no matter how deep we fall into sin, God must forgive and restore us if we want to come to Him. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) and Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

The important thing after we are forgiven is not to commit sin again. We must intentionally place ourselves in a spiritual community (church) that can encourage our spiritual growth so that we are stronger in facing challenges and still standing firm even though we have to go against the flow!

Repentance is not just a moment of confession, but requires our commitment to continue to live in that conversion.

Repentance is not a make-up to correct deficiencies or accessories to beautify the appearance, nor is the disguise mask so that we are not recognized.

Repentance is a complete change from within that encourages us to behave contrary to before.

If then our old environment does not recognize us anymore because we are no longer the same person, it is not because we turn into someone else’s person but because we are restored by God to be our supposed selves, that is, humans who are created like and similar to Himself and to do His works.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( https://www.pixelstalk.net/blue-butterfly-wallpaper )

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Our Ultimate Goal

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

“Karin, you really like your father!” Many people around me always said like that. Yes I have to admit it. I have many likenesses with my father. The way we talk, our mindset, the way we handle problems, and many more likenesses. Still remembered until now, when I was a kid, if anyone asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Confidently and firmly I replied, “I want to be like my daddy” I really idolized my father. From him I have learned so many precious things. He taught me about the meaning of life, he taught me about humanity, from him I learned about true love, How to sincerely love one another, he also taught me about how to have empathy to others, and many other important lessons to live this life.

Talk about father, as Christians, beside worldly father, we have good and loving Father in Heaven. My dear friends, I have a question. As Christians and Father’s child, what is our goal?! I strongly believe all of us have personal goals to be achieved. We have big dreams to be reached. We want to be succeeding in career regardless of what we become. We want to be rich, maybe we want to be famous and honorable; we want our live always run smoothly, have problem-free life, and other worldly things. All of that isn’t wrong and indeed we must have goals and have dreams in our lives. But you know, as Christians, we actually have another important goal and it will become our ultimate goal. Let’s take a look to the Bible verse at the first paragraph of this post to get the answer. Let’s focus to:” …He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” From these words we clearly know what our ultimate goal as Father’s child is. Our ultimate goal is to become Christ-like.  Actually, the message about this thing already stated from the beginning in the first book of Genesis. God said:

 “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27)

 We’re Different with another God’s creation, we’re created very special. We were created in the image and likeness of God. Not physically but in character. It is very important to be implanted in our heart. Paul stresses the importance of living like Christ and describes his longing to see the fulfillment of this ultimate goal could be happen. He said, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” (Galatian 4:19) in other word, That Paul willing to suffer again, like a suffering mother in childbirth so that Christ’s image is completely and permanently formed or molded in us.

What and how God’s characteristic is?  Actually it’s easy to know and understand God’s character. God has given the way to know His character through Jesus Christ who came to this world.  Generally, Christ – likeness encompasses two aspects, namely: First: the mind, attitude, and Christ’s heart. And the second thing is Christ’s character/ Integrity.  Easy to know but it turns out isn’t easy to apply in our lives.  Honestly, I have many times met Christians but they exactly don’t reflect the character of Christ. Instead they more reflect the worldly characters. For example, by chance I involved in the business world and really know how cruel the business world. I found so many sly businessmen. They can do anything just for the sake of their own business. They could run their business with dirty way, They compete unfairly, they in a sneaky way can  turn off the business of others that runs the same business with them, and you know, I got a sad fact that not a few of them are Christians. They assume that Christianity and business world are two very different things that cannot be mixed. They argue that Christian doctrines aren’t related with business rules. Business will be difficult to grow if always stick to the Christianity.  Once again I remember when for the first time I started to take over my parents’ businesses, my mom and dad give me myriad of advices and it all based on Christian doctrines. This proves that the Bible also deals with issues of how to run a business based on Christian teachings.

Another fact, I met many Christians that look like have “split personality”. In one particular situation and time their attitudes reflect Christ’s character. They seem like “A holy man” in the Church but in the other place and situation (out of the church), they changed and have completely contradictory attitudes. They didn’t have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) they are totally normal but they can easily set up their attitudes as needed. I call them as hypocrite. Another Sadder fact, the attitudes that didn’t reflect Christ’s character instead occurred in the church environment. Some time ago, one of my church friends in Singapore told me that just because there was dissent in some of the church assemblies, conflict occurred and they blaspheme and lash out each other and eventually they are hostile to each other. The examples and facts above are proofs that not necessarily people who claim as Christian could automatically reflect characters like Christ. I apologize to have conclusion that it’s not definite guarantee people who have been baptized and busy with church ministry automatically will completely reflect Christ’s character.  My father once said, “Don’t ever claim as Christian and already live in Christ if we aren’t reflecting His image. Once we claim we are Christian and live in Him, we have to always could reflect the form of His image” Then my father gave a simple example a glass and water. When the water gets into the glass, the water will follow the form of the glass. It’s impossible we pour water into the glass and the form of the water like a bowl. The water will always follow the shape of the vessel where it is poured. It means, when we say that we are living in God; we are obliged to follow the lead of Christ. We have to do something as exemplified by Jesus himself. About this thing John also affirms:

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

My beloved readers, this evening I want to ask all of us to seriously take time for a moment. Let’s think, ponder, and make an evaluation. How our spiritual life as Christians right now?  If we claim to be Christians and live in Christ, have we already reflect two aspects of Christ’s character through our behavior, deeds and lifestyles? Have we succeeded in getting people around us say: “Oh, their deed and behavior are truly reflecting the figure of Christ” Or even otherwise we are simply becoming a stumbling block to others? Let’s examine ourselves whether each thing we think is already in line with Christ’s character. Let’s evaluate again the way we think, the way we behave, our temperament, attitudes, character, integrity, and we have to make sure that it all still leads to the Christ. Do we already have a solid and genuine Christian character or we as if have “Split personality” that could be changed any time as needed and then people around us will labeling us as hypocrites.

Personally I have to admit it’s not easy to become Christ-like. Not infrequently I have to experience a struggle when I try to always reflect the character of Christ in my personal life.  As long as we live in this world, it’s not easy to always reflect Christ’s character because there are many things in this world are opposed with the Christian teachings. That’s true but isn’t an impossible thing to do and we have to remember one important thing that if anyone in Christ, the new creation has come the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) As a new creation, we have to put off our old behavior and habits and day by day we should continue to experience renewal and increasingly get an Image of Christ and we continue to proceed to become Christ-like.

… you have put off the old man with his deeds,  and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. (Colossians 3:9-10)

And we also have been granted with the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, teach, help, and remind us of everything God has said to us:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

 Let’s always longing to live in God, really love Him, and always live in His words, faithful and obedient to His teaching, and fear to God. God will give us strength and ability to continue to live in accordance with His will. God’s word said:

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Don’t be affected by worldly temptations, stay focused on the process of reaching our ultimate goal. Stay focused to Jesus Christ as our role model and let Jesus mold and process us according to His will and also let Him eroding and destroying our old unpleasant character until finally our ultimate goal become Christ-like will be achieved. Amen

Karina Lam – Living by faith

Image source: thePreacersWord