Galatians 4: 19, My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you... NKJV
There's much more to being a Christian than just saying, "I'm saved." All who confess faith in Christ must also undergo the conversion process. Our transformation is manifest when Christ is formed in our hearts, and it becomes evident in our everyday lives. Now, we all know that this doesn't happen overnight. Nevertheless, does that mean we can wait until it's time for us to go to heaven before we commit to the process of being converted? No, it does not. As soon as you choose to accept Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit will immediately begin the work in your heart of converting you from "flesh-like" to "Christ-like."
Those of us who have placed our faith in Christ as the Son of God have, by faith, become the children of God. However, none of us have the kind of faith it takes to walk fully in what God intends for us to inherit; nonetheless, we are reaching for the goal. On the other hand, many people teach that, once we accept Jesus, we have "it" all, and in-part that is true. Jesus is ALL that we need in order to please the Father and become born again. Nevertheless, now that we're saved, we have an inheritance that must be given. There is a backlash that has come from teachings that tell believers they have "it" all at the moment of salvation. Believers will use that teaching or doctrine as an excuse to settle, instead of pursuing God for the rest. Therefore, we must begin to lay aside the old man and be renewed by putting on the new man... becoming more like Christ.
Allow me to give you a couple of stories from the Word of God that will help explain the term, "Becoming Christ-like." Abram had an encounter with the Lord in Genesis 12. During this visitation, God promised Abram that, in him, all the families of the earth would be blessed. As Abram walked with God, which is a type of us continuing in our faith by obeying God's Word and instructions, God promised Abram a son. The son whom God promised didn't automatically materialize in Sarai's womb, but, instead, began as a Word in Abram's heart. When Abram entered a covenant with God, God swore to Abraham that he would, indeed, have a son of his own. After twenty-five years, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah, and she conceived their son of promise.
God waited until the bodies of Abraham, and Sarah were beyond the human ability to conceive and bring forth a baby before He allowed them to inherit their promise. Doesn't that sound a lot like us having to wait to inherit the promises of God until our old man is dead? Yes, it does.
The second story is about a virgin named Mary. God spoke to her about the promise of a Son, just as He did with Abraham. Isn't that interesting? God is making the same promise to a virgin woman in the New Testament that He had previously made in the Old Testament to a man. What is the significance of God repeating this principle? The Old Testament represents the flesh, and the New Testament represents the Spirit. Abraham believed God and had a son by a woman who was unable to be pregnant. Mary believed God and gave birth to the Son of God without the assistance of a man.
So what do these two stories have to do with us being Christians and the need to become Christ-like? When we're born again, we look more like the first Adam than the Last Adam. As we CONTINUE abiding in the Word of God and standing on the promises of God, the Word that has been hidden in our hearts begins the transformation in us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that we have borne the image of the earthly man, Adam. However, as the Word grows in our hearts, we will become like the Last Adam. We start out in the flesh; nevertheless, as we grow in the faith, we will take on the attributes of Christ and be converted into spiritual beings.
Does this sound to you like we get "it all" at the moment of salvation? You have the remainder of your life to become Christ-like. Even so, that doesn't mean that you need to procrastinate. If we harden our hearts to the voice of God like the children of Israel did, it will prevent the Holy Spirit from performing God's will in our hearts and lives. None of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior want to stand before Him naked and ashamed. We don't want Him to look at us with disappointment on the Day of Judgment, nor do we want to hear disapproval in His voice. For this reason, it is essential that all believers know that Christianity is more than a one-time experience.
We are to enter a covenant relationship with Christ, just like a man enters a covenant relationship with his wife. The two shall become one flesh. We must become one with Christ in order to inherit the promises of God. Our faithfulness to God's Word and His will assures us that Christ is being formed in our hearts and will transform our lives.
Walking the Talk,
Pastor Asa Dockery