In His Image:
An Outline for Discipleship
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord –
II Corinthians 3:18
We want to be like Christ and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to help us achieve that goal. But what does it really mean to be like Christ? If it merely just being “good”? No, it is more than that. Being like Christ means that we possess the inner motives and
attitudes that result in a life of genuine obedience. The following is an outline designed to help us be conformed to His image.
To be like Christ, we must share the same motives. What were Jesus’ motives?
A. Love for God –Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul – Matthew 22:37.
B. Love for people – and love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:39.
Jesus’ love for His Father and us kept Him focused on His purpose, the redemption of mankind. When our motive is love, then our purpose will be Jesus’ purpose, to proclaim His salvation.
We develop our love for God by dwelling on His love for us – But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life – John 3:16.
How many other Scriptures can you find that emphasize God’s love for us through Christ?
There are three major attitudes or mindsets that Jesus possessed that a Christian must develop by the Spirit to be truly Christ-like.
A. Separation –I am not of this world - John 8:23.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also – Luke 12:34.
Jesus’ mind and His heart were firmly entrenched in heaven and so we must seek a spiritual detachment from the pull and lusts of this earth life. There is a tremendous freedom that results when a soul has been so disciplined in this area. We begin to value the unseen above what we can see, and when this happens, we begin to experience the abundant water-walking-above-the-problems-of-this-life power that Jesus promised to give us. When we sharpen our focus in this area, our purposes become more and more God’s purposes. His goals become our goals. We begin to lose the carnal handles that the devil often uses to hinder us and we can better withstand him in our wilderness temptations.
If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth – Colossians 3:1, 2.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: be he that does the will of God abides forever – I John 2:15-17.
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come – Hebrews 13:14.
Jesus’ will was submitted to the Father in all things.
Not My will but Thine be done –Luke 22:42.
And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him – John 8:29.
Jesus’ human will was fully submitted and yielded to the Father.
When we yield to the inner workings of the Spirit, we will find that we make fewer mistakes and we will be more effective in our ministries. God’s will is the perfect will for our lives. Also John 8:29 suggests that obedience results in a closer union with God.
I seek not My own glory – John 8:50.
I do nothing of Myself; but as the Father has taught Me, I speak these things – John 8:28.
If any man will come after Me, let Him deny Himself, and take up His cross daily and follow Me – Luke 9:23.
And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple – Luke 14:27.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts – Colossians 5:24.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me - Galatians 2:20.
Even as the son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many – Matthew 20:28
This is the definition of true Christian maturity. Self-will diminishes in the love light of serving others.
Now how do we acquire these motives and attitudes we’ve just discussed? We develop the motives and attitudes God desires us to have by “Abiding” in Christ, His Holy Spirit, for without Me you can do nothing – John 15:5.
We develop an abiding relationship with Christ by prayer, which is conversation and communion with Him and consistent Bible study.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you - John 15:7. - Attitudes and motives that are being developed by the Holy Spirit are focused on God’s desires, and thus we receive that which we are seeking -
Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples – John 15:8.
When we desire to “Abide” in Christ and let His words abide in us, the fruit of the Spirit, His holy character that He desires to see reproduced in us is developed over time. This is the fruit of our union with God by His Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23, lists for us the fruit of God’s Spirit – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (Patience),gentleness,(kindness) goodness, faith (faithfulness), meekness,(humility) temperance (moderation- not self-indulgent.)
We are told that of the three, faith, hope and love, love is the greatest –And now abides faith hope and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity – I Corinthians 13:13.
For without charity we are “Nothing” - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing - I Corinthians 13:1-3.
Of all the fruits of the Spirit, Love is the most important because all the subsequent fruits are aspects of God’s multi-faceted prism of love. Let’s try and match the characteristics of love described in I Corinthians 13: 4-7 with the fruits outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23. – A- Joy, B -Peace, C -Patience, D -Gentleness, E-Goodness, F-Faithfulness, G-Meekness,(humility) H-Moderation (temperance).
I Corinthians 13:4-7 - Charity suffereth long, (Is patient) C
and is kind - D
Charity envieth not, ( is not jealous) - E
Charity vaunteth not itself, (is not proud) is not puffed up, - G
Doth not behave itself unseemly, (is self-controlled and moderate) - H
seeketh not her own, (is unselfish) is not easily provoked,- B
thinks no evil -E
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; A
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. F
Charity never fails…
The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness and truth – Ephesians 5:9.
Continue to gather Scriptures related to these characteristics God desires you to have. Meditate on them and ask God to develop them in you. This is the work of Grace, to conform us into Jesus’ image.
Christ in you, the hope of glory - Colossians 1:27.
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them – Ephesians 2:10.
God uses different methods sometimes to help us along in our walk with Him. Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches and His Father is the husbandman or gardener - I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman - John 15:1.
There are two basic gardening techniques that God employs to help his garden grow properly and they are –
Pruning and Dunging. - Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away (Prunes) and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (Dungs) it, that it may bring forth more fruit - John 15:2
God prunes away the things that are hindering us in our relationship with Him. He can remove things through our circumstances or we can remove them ourselves by obeying His word and responding with His help to overcome the things in our lives that stunt our spiritual growth. And if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. – Matthew 5:29-30.
Here Jesus is not speaking about physical amputation, but spiritual. Can we eliminate the things we put our hands to that are not pleasing to Him? Can we refrain from looking and lusting for things that are offensive to Him?
The dunging technique He uses is a little different. It’s described for us here - He spoke also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. – Luke 13:6-9.
Have you ever been stuck in an unpleasant situation that you just can’t get out of on your own? Picture the poor tree that cannot move and it has to remain surrounded by a bunch of smelly muck. The muck however, is feeding its roots, and the way we respond to this situation by relying on God and trusting Him through it, will eventually produce the fruits of patience, faithfulness etc. that He is seeking from your branches.
We have a wonderful illustration of the dunging process in the story of Joseph, (Genesis 37-50.) God showed Joseph the wonderful plans He had for Him in a dream. Then he was sold as a slave into Egypt by his own brothers. He spent fourteen years in jail on a false charge, but eventually ended up second ruler to Pharaoh, all because God had to use his circumstances to engineer him into a position where he could save the lives of his family.
There must have been plenty of times during Joseph’s long sojourn in prison when he looked down at the dung on his feet and cried out to the Lord, Why? Everything he went through was for a purpose and eventually served to help mature him into the leader God wanted him to be.
We are reminded that no chastening, discipline or correction is pleasant, but it is needful and without it we cannot be His children.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, (illegitimate)and not sons - Hebrews 12: 5-8.
God is maturing us, and as we surrender to Him we slowly grow from bud to radiant bloom, to fully mature fruit that will be the delight of our Gardener, and a blessing to others.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:4, 5.
We have a promise that someday we will be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit that works within us unto the glory and praise of God - Philippians 1:11.
Copyright 2009 by H.D. Shively
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