Somewhere last year I made a decision to take discipleship class in church and during one of the lessons on salvation, I came to an understanding that, continuous effort towards becoming like Christ is possible — in the sense that even though we are saved we must constantly, continuously, and consciously work at it.(Jesus Christ is the set target for perfection)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.(2 Corinthians 5:12)
The scripture says we are a “new creature” so then relating our salvation to a newly born baby, for instance there are stages(process) of growth a baby goes through, from the stage of milking, teething, crawling, first steps, first word(not in any particular order). Therefore, becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life. Referring to this process, Paul said;
“This will continue until we are. . . mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.” (Ephesians 4:13)
We often get confused over the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in matters of salvation and sanctification. When we have to take responsibilities for our sins or actions, personally I created the impression in my mind that “God understands” so whenever I sinned I’ll make myself believe that He understood and it kept going on and on. But let’s look at this;
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Trembling, means to shake in fear or panic, the word tremor is derived from it. A quick scenario when I was in class 5 (a 10 year old by then) I lied to my dad concerning my fees because I wanted to help a friend who was an orphan, the means she used to pay her fees seemed uncomfortable to me — I went home crying that my fees had been stolen forgetting that they will call my dad to verify the cheque (that day I truly understood what it meant to tremble) seeing the anger and disappointment my dad had in his eyes — I had the whooping of my life(punishment). Now let’s relate this to God, Does this mean He feels the same way whenever I sin? Yes He might even feel worse.
This is to say that I should equally tremble at offending or going contrary to the things of God, because these are proper reactions to the awareness of one’s own spiritual weakness and the power of temptation. So now I get the picture that God seeks such an attitude from me, as His words in Isaiah 66:2 indicate that “To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
Fear involves self-distrust, a sensitive conscience, and being on guard against temptation. It necessitates opposing pride, and being constantly aware of the deceitfulness of one’s heart, as well as of the subtlety and strength of one’s inner corruption. It seeks to avoid anything that would offend and dishonor God. We (believers) should have a serious dread of sin and yearning for what is right before God (Romans 7:14).
To have such godly fear and trembling involves more than merely acknowledging one’s sinfulness and spiritual weakness. It is the solemn, reverential fear that springs from deep adoration and love. It acknowledges that every sin is an offense against Holy God not making excuses for them and produces a sincere desire not to offend and grieve Him, but to obey, honor, please, and glorify Him in all things. Those who fear the Lord willingly accept the Lord’s chastening, knowing that God “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10).
This fear and trembling should urge us to pray earnestly for God’s help in avoiding sin, as the Lord taught; “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver [rescue] us from evil” (Matthew 6:13) That prayer again reflects the spiritual tension that exists between our duty(responsibility) and God’s power.(sovereignty)
Working out salvation pertains to personal conduct, to be faithful, obedient in daily living. Such obedience obviously involves active commitment and personal effort — a sustained effort to work out the ultimate completion of our salvation, which has been graciously granted to us by God through our faith in Jesus Christ. Sin in every form is to be renounced and replaced by righteous thinking. As we continuously obey our minds will be renewed. He assures us in Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; He’s with us through the process.
Christ is now our identity —and in Christ we do not lose our true essential selves; we become our true essential selves. In Christ we are born again and become a new person, which is why in the coming age he will give us a new name (Revelation 2:17). So much more could be said.
I believe I am a work in progress. My spiritual transformation in developing the character of Jesus might take forever, even then it won’t be completed here on earth. It will only be finished when we get to heaven or when Jesus returns — and the best you and I can do is consciously prepare for that moment, and as and when we grow weak or weary we fall back on him for strength.
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
Hope of a Life Spent With You
Purity Is Possible