Summary: Wonderful milestones in the growth of a Christian
Wonderful milestones in the growth of a Christian
Jason has asked the question: What is the difference between being made dead to my flesh and being conformed to the likeness of Christ?
Phil 3:8-11 …That I may gain Christ and be found in Him (now, and at His second coming)…being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. NKJV
A good question, the two are related since part of being conformed to Christ is to be conformed to His death. This means being made dead to sin, dead to my sin nature, to the world, to the law and to Satan. For an answer, let’s look at some of the beautiful milestones in the intended spiritual growth of all Christians:
CONVERTED TO CHRIST
(1.) I am born again the moment I believe, with my heart, God’s words – for those words are the grace of God (1 Pet. 1:23 KJV and Eph. 2:8). Specifically, those of His words that tell me Christ died for my sins and rose again from the dead so that I could be offered God’s forgiveness (1 Cor. 15:1-4, Acts 26:18). It is this first entry of God’s words into my heart that makes it new again, clean from sin and righteous (John 15:3). By believing these first words part of the nature of Jesus Christ, who is the living word of God, has entered into me; that is, into my heart or spirit (Rev. 3:20). The process of being conformed to the likeness of the Son of God has therefore begun (Rom. 8:29). But I’m still very much alive to, meaning my will is still largely controlled by, my human nature.
A SEMI-CARNAL (often in the flesh) CHRISTIAN LIFE - PARTIALLY SAVED
(2.) While I do have a new heart with the beginnings of the life of Christ in it, I’m still saddled with my old human nature or flesh, which constantly draws me back into the sin of my old ways. But now my conscience bothers me when I give way to them. I haven’t yet, out of gratitude, made an irrevocable surrender of my life to God, therefore “self” often still rules. I’m miserable when sin separates from God (Isa 59:2). But I’m so glad to be taught that if I repent God will re-forgive me (1 John 1:9) or, if I believe with my heart a fresh word from Him it will re-cleanse me and restore me to peace with Him. As my heart does believe some more of God’s words I notice I’m being changed little by little; even some old habits amazingly just drop off. This encourages me and I begin to want to be totally free from sin; I keep trying but find I can’t free myself (Rom 7:19 & 24).
SURRENDERED AND CONSECRATED TO GOD
(3.) My understanding of how much God loves me has grown, as has my own genuine love for God. I will later learn that this love comes entirely from Christ’s nature in me, for the word of God is the love of God (1 John 2:5). Since I do love God more I have an increasing desire, and even that comes from God (Phil. 2:13), to surrender my life fully to Him and to always do His will, even though right now I still keep stumbling back into sin. But I’ve come to hate this sin and love righteousness (Heb. 1:9). One day love moves me, as a conscious act of my will, to unconditionally surrender my will and consecrate my life to God. I do.
BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT – JESUS IS NOW MY LORD
(4.) Because now I really am willing to obey God, although not able yet to fully do so, I’m brought, by God, to the truth in the scriptures of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). I ask God to fill me with His Spirit and, on the authority of His word, I believe that He has (Luke 11:13). God now takes over, by His Spirit, the control, that is the Lordship, of my life (1 Cor. 12:3). His purposes include:
a) To anoint and empower me by His Spirit as His witness, to preach the gospel and to both become and to make others, His disciples(Mk 16:15, Mt 28:19).
b) To teach me to pray believing prayers in God’s will (Mt 21:22, 1 Jo 5:14-15).
c) To cause me to overcome my spiritual enemies by winning thought life battles (2 Cor 10:4-5) like: always forgiving and casting my cares on God (1 Pet 5:7).
d) To guide me into all the truth of God’s teachings and sweep away falsehoods.
e) To lead me in all my decisions and cause me to walk in the light of His words. f) To speed up transforming me into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).