Being like Christ is something that God desires for us. He will work in our lives to make it happen, but at the same time, we have a responsibility to work on it as well.
God is in control. It is God’s plan for us is that we will become like His son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). This is happening little by little. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ continually (2 Corinthians 3:18). Other Bible verses emphasize the role that we have to play. 1 Timothy 4:7 says “Train yourself to be godly“, and in 1 Corinthians 11:1 we read: “Imitate me (Paul) as I imitate Christ.”
God’s desire for us
When God created Adam and Eve, they were sinless, and this is God’s desire for us. When we become Christians we have received forgiveness for our sins. However, we are aware that we are still sinful. We find like Paul that in all our attempts to do what is right, we fail at every point. In Romans 7:15-25, Paul says this very thing. Even though he wants to do what is right, evil is always present. That is enough to tell us that Christ-likeness is not something that is easy. How can anyone follow Paul’s command to imitate Christ? How can we train ourselves to be godly?
The work of the Holy Spirit in us
This is the work of God’s Holy Spirit within us. He is the one who does the work. We must submit to Him when He makes us aware of our faults, mistakes and sin. Let us confess to God, ask for His cleansing, help and power so that we do not fall into the same trap again. People who feel or think they are already good or have achieved a good level of Christ-likeness will usually be very proud of themselves and judge others by their own standards. Jesus seemed to be surrounded by such people, called the Pharisees. They even felt qualified to judge that Jesus Himself did not reach God’s standard. The Bible commands us not to judge others. So we must remember that becoming more like Christ is a private matter between each individual and God.
The most important steps
If we are to be like Christ, here are the most important steps after becoming a Christian.
- Recognize when you have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard, confess your sin to God and ask for His cleansing.
- Submit to God and tell Him that from now on you want Him to change you to be more like Christ
- The Holy Spirit will take your words literally and begin to point out things that need changing and confessing. You may find that you come across more and more people that annoy you, make you angry, try your patience, treat you unfairly, take advantage of you or slander you, almost to the point of breaking you. All these things will be used by the Holy Spirit to change you to be more like Christ.
- Whenever you come across situations like this, ask God for His help to act, react and respond as Jesus would. It may not be easy and you may find that you fail more times than you have the victory. But if you continue to submit to God and obey the Holy Spirit, you will begin to see that your automatic responses of anger, hate and the desire for revenge will begin to change.
- Don’t deceive yourself though, being more Christ-like is God’s lifetime’s work in you, and only when we stand before Him in heaven will that work be completed: “He who began a good work in will bring it to completion on the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6).