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Summary: In this passage, The Apostle Peter gives us seven Character Traits that we are to add to our faith, which God wants to use to progressively transform us into the likeness of Christ.

A Portrait of Christ: The Quest for Authentic Transformation

Did I tell you I have a son and daughter?

It’s amazing how rapidly they are changing – as they move along the continuum from infancy to adulthood

Physical, emotional, and intellectual growth is natural –

It’s to be expected in every healthy, growing child

This growth principle equally applies to our Spiritual development

When we receive Christ as our savior, Spiritual growth should naturally result - moving us along the continuum from spiritual infancy to spirituality maturity

But – like physical growth – there are things that can stunt our spiritual growth

I imagine we all know people who have received Christ as their savior, but for some reason, have never really progressed in spiritual maturity

The Apostle Paul says:

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified

1 Thess 4:3

Sanctification means, to be cleansed or purified

There are three stages to God’s purification process

Initial Sanctification, Ongoing Sanctification, and Ultimate or Final Sanctification

Stage 1: Initial Sanctification

Initial sanctification occurs the instant we invite Christ into our heart and receive his forgiveness

As Christ’s blood completely removes all sin from our lives – and makes us perfect in God’s eyes

It is a gift we receive from God – and is thoroughly God’s doing

Stage 2: Ongoing Sanctification

The second stage of purification is called ongoing sanctification

This is the ongoing process that moves us from spiritual infancy to maturity

Stage 3: Final Sanctification

The third stage of Sanctification is called ultimate – or final sanctification

It requires us to completely shed our human sinful nature – which means we won’t experience this final stage until we get to Heaven

Like initial sanctification, final sanctification is completely dependent upon God

Each are Gifts God instantaneously gives us – think of them as housewarming gifts

Initial sanctification occurs when Christ enters our Heart

Final Sanctification occurs when we enter Heaven

It’s the second Stage – Ongoing sanctification – that God gives us the responsibility for developing

So our concern needs to be with stage two

The Apostle Paul refers to this send stage as “working out our salvation”

We don’t work for our salvation – it’s a free gift we receive through Christ

But once we receive Christ – and are declared Holy through initial sanctification – we get to spend the rest of our lives working out what God has worked into us

Through the act of initial Sanctification, we receive Christ’s Name –

Through the process of ongoing Sanctification, we grow up to resemble Him

But herein lies the problem

How do we know where we are in this process?

How do we evaluate our progress?

Did I tell you I was once a model?

Actually My Wife, Linda and I, both were

It was during the first summer after Linda and I began dating, in 1975,

She joined me and my family on a vacation to Disneyland

While we were there – Linda and I had a chance to be models

That was the beginning – and end – of my modeling career

We weren’t the kind of models you probably have in mind

There was certainly no runway

And we didn’t have to change clothes

We just sat in a chair

While this lady drew our portrait in chalk

I must admit – she did a good job – we still have that portrait packed away somewhere

One of the problems you and I face –when we talk about ongoing sanctification – is trying to understand what

it looks like in our lives

How are we supposed to measure or evaluate where we are on the continuum of this purification process

Has God given us a model to look at that will help us access where we are and where we hope to go

The Bible says yes, Christ is our model

In the bible, God gives us a portrait of Christ –

And says, keep your eyes on my Son, because he’s the model I’m using as the pattern for your life

Paul uses the phrase - conformed into the likeness of his Christ – to describe this process

Conformed is the Greek word – Summorphos

Summorphos is found only twice in the New Testament – and is a word coined by the Apostle Paul by combining two Greek words

Sum, which means, beside, or alongside

Morphos, which means, to change

Summorphos means: To change alongside

I wonder if Paul had a yoke in mind – when we created this word

Specifically, Jesus yoke

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites us to come alongside him and put on his yoke

During Jesus’ time on earth, yokes were common instruments used in farming and agriculture

They acted like harnesses – connecting two animals together at the their necks

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