Summary: Where does God do the work of making us more like Jesus?
Last week we began our consideration of the disciple’s heart and the process of spiritual growth, whereby we become more like Jesus. We made the point that the first step required is that I allow Christ to touch my heart.
The reason this is necessary is that all of us are naturally born under the condemnation of sin and are alienated from God. Because of sin, we are spiritually dead-unable to commune with God, who is the source of all life. Without this ability, the only direction available to us is that provided by Satan through the world.
"... you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins. In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control oft the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind," - Ephesians 2:lb-3 (Amplified)
Notice how Paul describes the life of one who has not had his heart touched by Christ:
1. They are spiritually dead because of sin and their heart is dark.
2. They are influenced by Satan through the world.
3. They live according to their physical senses only, with Satan appealing first to their emotions, which influences their thoughts, which leads them to make choices consistent with Satan’s desires for them.
4. They are the objects of God’s wrath, destined to live eternally separated from God.
God doesn’t want this for man. This is why He sent His Son, to reverse the effects of man’s poor choice. Through His sacrifice on Calvary, Jesus took care of the sin problem for us, making it possible for us to be "born again," to have our hearts touched by His power and enlightened, so that we have communion with God, as we were designed to do.
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross." - Colossians 2:13-14 (CEV)
Now that we are in a position to commune with God, we can live the life that God designed us to live-a life of purpose and meaning, a life of significance and victory. Now, a person who has not allowed Christ to touch their heart has no choice in how they live; but a child of God does.
We can choose to live life our own way (which results in sin and broken fellowship with God) or we can choose to live life God’s way.
We can choose to allow ourselves to be led by Satan or led by God. We can choose to be influenced by the world or by God’s Word. We can choose to walk by feelings or by faith. We can walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. We can live according to lies or according to the truth. We can choose to live like the devil or live like Jesus.
While those who have not allow Christ to touch their hearts are naturally condemned to live life separated by God and have no choice in the matter, the Christian does. Paul says that a Christian can live as a "spiritual man," or as a "carnal" or "worldly man." The problem with the "worldly man," Paul says, is that he is not growing spiritually.
"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ"
- 1 Corinthians 3:1 (NIV)
All this having been said, it is important for us to realize that a disciple is not only one who has allowed Christ to touch his heart, but...
2. A disciple is one who is allowing Christ to transform his heart.
This is a daily choice every Christian must make. Spiritual growth is a matter of choice.
"....throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. In stead, there must be a spiritual renewal ofyour thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness-righteous, holy, and true."