To become Christ-like is the ardent prayer of every consecrated Christian. But how can this become a reality?
Jesus prayed for His disciples that they would be “sanctified by the truth” – God’s holy word (John 17:17). Therefore, our answer is in the Bible.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Denying oneself is not an easy, natural behavior. It includes putting others’ needs first (Philippians 2:3-5), loving others, even to the point of laying down our lives for them. John 15:12, 13 (NKJV), “…love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Denying ourselves also means to fight the tendencies of our own fallen flesh. We look to Jesus who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26 KJV), and we are eager to follow Paul’s instructions to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires… and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (Ephesians 4:22-25 NIV). Holiness is God’s will for Christians. “This is the will of God, your sanctification…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NASB).
Learning God’s will is a process. We begin our day with a prayer, “Father, this day and my life belong to You. Please grant me the grace and wisdom to think, speak, and act in harmony with Your holy will.” Then read a morning devotion. Keep that scripture before your mind all day. When you notice your thoughts going in the wrong direction, review the devotion and think on pure, lovely, praise-worthy things (Philippians 4:8). We are to “…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).
Our words and actions need to grow Christ-like as well. So, study God’s word to learn how to apply God’s principles to your behaviors. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 (ESV), “All Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete…” – equipped for every good work.
Finally, we must “pray and not give up,” Luke 18:1. God has promised to graciously finish our development. Philippians 1:6 (ESV), “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”
Let us always focus on our loving, wise Savior’s example. As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grown strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”