God, our Holy Father, wants us (Christians) to spend the rest of our lives developing family characteristics. He wants to make us like Jesus Christ.
How does this happen? When we were saved, we had a life-changing experience. He changed our life! How does Jesus Christ do that?
Some say: "Just wait on the Lord." Others say: "If it is to be, it's up to me!" There are two parts, however, God's part and our part. It's a partnership that results in Christ-likeness.
St. Paul says in Philippians 2: 12b-13: "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. In verse 13, he says: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."
Our Part: Notice it doesn't say, "work for" your salvation, but "work out." We know salvation is not of works (Eph. 2:8, 9). Paul is writing to Christians. He is saying develop what you already have. We must accept personal responsibility for our own spiritual growth.
"With fear and trembling," not fear of our loving Father, but afraid of missing out on all God has made for us — we must take our salvation seriously because of its eternal implications.
God's part: "For it is God who works in you." He is the engineer, the power to work change in us, He will enable us. We must choose to act, to get serious about our spiritual growth.
There are three tools God uses to make us like Jesus. The Bible. In 2nd Timothy 3: 16-17, says: "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Verse 17 says: "So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
We must get into Bible study –– read, memorize and meditate — and think about what it says. We must work it into our hearts and minds. Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Word of God." We get faith getting into God's Word.
The second tool God uses to make us like Jesus is His Holy Spirit. The Spirit is given to us Jesus when we accept Jesus as our savior. This is our power. Romans 8:11 says, "And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you."
This is the power we need to drop bad habits, develop new ones and change the way we think, and respond to situations the way Jesus would. (Please read 2nd Cor.3:18.)
The third tool God uses to make us like Jesus is Circumstances. He uses problems, pressures, difficulties and stresses to mold and shape our character. Rom. 8:28-29 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes. Verse 29 adds, "For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers."
Not everything that happens to us is good, but God says He will use all that happens to us for good! Our problems come from sin, from a fallen world. Adam blew it! And from Satan, who wants to destroy us.
On top of that, our poor decisions cause many problems. Next week, we will discuss an extremely important truth about following Jesus!