Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do you look like Jesus?

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

Progressive sanctification means we are continually being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Jesus Christ. The Spirit and the sinful, forgiven human are in a partnership. There is responsibility by the forgiven sinner to participate in his sanctification. "Kill the old man" as Paul would say. On the other hand, we cannot accomplish this without the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. We can't change ourselves for the good, only He can. But we do bear responsibility. How does this dual union work?

We present our bodies to God for Him to send the Spirit to sanctify. (Romans 6:13; 12:1). We surrender to the Spirit's work. However we also listen to our consciences, choosing right over wrong. We wash ourselves in the word, actively absorbing His statutes. Like Joseph, we choose to flee immorality. As Philippians 2:2 says, we work out our sanctification in fear and trembling.

In the transformation process of sanctification, we go back to the verse at the top. We are transformed into His likeness. I think of the old married couples who wind up looking like each other. Though Jesus our Groom is not being transformed into the Bride's likeness, we are being transformed into His.

Anyway, the old married couples looking alike ... that is really true. It's not just perception. Popular Science asked,

American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930
"FYI: Why Do Old Married Couples Look Alike?"
"Through the years, couples' wrinkles form in the same places because of a lifetime of shared emotions, he wrote in the journal Motivation and Emotion".

Why do old couples look alike?
"...[T]he study also offered some answers on why couples may look alike. To start, consider that life experiences can end up being reflected physically. Someone who is happy and smiles more will develop the facial muscles and wrinkles related to smiling. The years of experience of an old couple's marriage, happy or otherwise, would then be reflected in their faces."

Just think, if two people in a marriage share enough experiences over time, their experience shows on their faces and they end up looking like each other. If that happens on this sinful earth, through mere biology, what will we look like as we continually submit to the Spirit? What power the word has to transform us! What power the Spirit has to metamorphose us into His likeness! How glorious that he adopts us and transforms us into His image.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." (Romans 8:29)

2 comments:

  1. great post elizabeth :)
    what does it mean if you keep having problems progressing in your relationship with christ (almost like going around in circles) or just continually regressing? Does this mean a person is not truly a christian? Please let me know what you think. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for reading. I can't comment on whether someone is a Christian or not over a few sentences, but I can share what the bible says about progressive sanctification, and a fruit bearing Christian.

      Overall, the trajectory of any and all Christians is upward. We are continually conformed into His likeness. That is not to say there aren't hitches in the road, or short times when we veer off the path and wander, but the Spirit will bring us back. However, over the long term, the real Christian WILL bear fruit. (Phil 1:6, 1 Cor 1:8, John 15:8).

      It is like being a parent, day by day you don't notice how much your child has grown, but if you see your niece or nephew only a few times per year you immediately see how much they have grown. The growing takes place invisibly but it IS there and one day you just notice that you have holier desires, or your react differently than you did before, or that you don't struggle as much with a particular besetting sin.

      Got Questions says about being a fruitful Christian,

      "When we have committed ourselves to Christ and live to please Him, the natural result is behavioral choices that look like His. He was clear that true followers of Christ will be recognizable by their fruit: “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16–20)."
      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/fruitful-Christian.html#ixzz2kxC33RWE

      So if a person who says they are a Christian isn't growing over time, doesn't have holier desires than they did a year ago or five years ago, or isn't bearing fruit, then there is a problem. Yes.

      FMI here are some links-
      Is a backsliding Christian still saved?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/backsliding-Christian.html

      Can a true Christian backslide?
      http://www.gty.org/Resources/Questions/QA116

      As to the above, here is the first paragraph as a beginning of an answer to the question:

      "Certainly true Christians can backslide, if by that you mean they can regress into a period of spiritual dullness or disobedience. Those who do so will bring God's discipline (Hebrews 12:6-11). That's because God disciplines those who are true sons (v. 8). But no, if you are thinking of backsliding as a perpetual state of willful rebellion or ungodly indifference on the part of one who professes faith in Christ. That situation is a sign of false profession (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 3:4-10)."

      Delete

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