Becoming Like Jesus in Character

2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

“To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

What is a faith of equal standing with that of the apostles of the New Testament? Well, first of all it is genuine, not fake, and it is of God, and not of our flesh, not of our own doing. It is authored and perfected by Jesus Christ so it is going to be aligned with God’s righteousness and holiness and with his divine will and purpose for our lives. And it is gifted to us by God.

And this faith is persuaded of God, for we can’t even come to faith in Jesus unless God the Father first draws us to Christ, i.e. unless he first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our own sinfulness, and of our need to repent of (to turn away from) our lives of sin to follow Jesus Christ in obedience and in walks of holiness and righteousness, in the power of God and in his strength and wisdom.

And it is the intended result from what Jesus did for us on that cross when he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness and that we might live for him and no longer for ourselves. And he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we will now honor God with our lives.

So, by faith in Jesus Christ we are crucified with him in death to sin and we are resurrected with him to walk in newness of life in him, no longer according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit. For Jesus died on that cross to free us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. And daily we are to deny self and die to sin and walk in obedience to our Lord Jesus.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Acts 5:32; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Matt 7:21-23]

2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

So many people today are teaching a gospel which is reduced to Jesus just forgiving us of all our sins so we can now go to heaven when we die. But there is so much more to our salvation and eternal life with God other than just that. And in fact it is not true salvation from sin if that is all it teaches and if it excludes the primary reason for why Jesus gave his life up for us on that cross, which was to free us from slavery to sin so we would now walk in holiness and in righteousness in the power of God in obedience to Him.

For we are called to (or by or through) God’s own glory and excellence. So, what does that mean? What is God’s glory? It is his honor, his splendor, his eternal power and divine nature, the essence of who he is, and his intrinsic worth/value. And what is his excellence? It is his moral goodness, his virtue and his uprightness. So, we are called to be holy as he is holy. And when we believe in Jesus we are to take on his character, to become like Jesus in how we live our lives day by day and to be separate from (unlike) the world.

And yes, our salvation includes promises of God, to save us from our slavery to sin, and to empower us to live godly and holy lives for the glory of God, and to strengthen and empower us to walk with him in obedience to his commands, and to give us eternal life in him, and to give us the hope of heaven when we die, etc. But all of these promises of God are provisional, i.e. we receive them only providing that we do as he says we must do or else we don’t have those promises.

For example, the Scriptures teach that if we walk according to the flesh, in deliberate and habitual sin, making sin our practice, and if obedience to our Lord and righteousness are not what we practice, that we will not inherit eternal life with God regardless of what faith we profess in Jesus Christ. But if we die with Christ to sin, not just once, but ongoing, and we walk in obedience to his commands in holiness and in righteousness, and if we continue in these walks of faith to the end, we have eternal life with God.

So, if we obey our Lord and we forsake our lives of sin and we walk in righteousness and not in sin, he promises to be there with us and to not leave us, and he promises to watch over us and to keep us in his love, and he promises encouragement and strength and power to say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God and to righteous living. In other words, we are not on our own to have to figure all this out ourselves or to struggle through it.

Our Lord will carry us through it all if we will surrender our lives to him and if we will submit to his command, i.e. his Lordship, and if we will obey him. And then we will become partakers of the divine nature, i.e. we will become God’s holy people who are holy in all our conduct, and who are walking in obedience to his commands in righteous living and who no longer walking in sin, according to our flesh. He makes that all possible. But we have to cooperate with his work of grace and partner with him in living holy lives.

And yes, we cannot take on the nature of God, i.e. his holy character unless we truly have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For if we are still living in sin, deliberately and habitually sinning against God and other humans, without conscience or compassion, and without true repentance, then we cannot become partakers of his divine character, for we can’t walk in sin and walk in holiness at the same time. It doesn’t mean we are absolutely perfect in every way, but we must no longer be walking in sin but in righteousness and in obedience to our Lord.

[Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Constantly Abiding

By Anne S. Murphy, 1908

There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
A peace it cannot take away;
Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!

All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King,
When peace sweetly came to my heart;
Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
Blessèd Jesus, how glorious Thou art!

This treasure I have in a temple of clay,
While here on His footstool I roam;
But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
Over there to my heavenly home!

Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, rapture divine;
He never leaves me lonely, whispers, O so kind:
“I will never leave thee,” Jesus is mine.

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