Have you ever wondered why some people seem to think they must make themselves over when it is God who in the business of making us into a new creation? Are we supposed to do His job, or should we allow Him to do what He alone can do?
There are no self-made Christians. As human beings, we have, at best, only a vague idea – if even that – of what God intended man to be when He created us in His image. Since we were intended to manifest His likeness, the vision we need is that of God in His glory. But sin has so twisted our thinking that our perception of perfection is woefully warped. Why would the God who brought us into being in the first place then leave it up to us to re-create ourselves, especially since our understanding of what we are supposed to be has been so clouded by sin?
We were made to be in the image of God, and until we can come to the place where we can see God, we cannot see ourselves as we really are and therefore cannot see how we need to be changed. The apostle Paul wrote; “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). We are changed by beholding, contemplating, meditating upon until we desire more than anything else the perfection of the Son of God who is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3).
Jesus came into the world to be the personal representative and perfect representation of God. He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). He came to show God to us, and as the “Son of man,” to show us God’s ideal man as well. He is what God always intended you and me to be!
Now, how in the world can we ever achieve the level of personal development demanded by these truths? How can we, through our puny efforts, ever achieve the perfection the image of God demands? The obvious answer is, “We can’t!” This is why God needs to work His creative power in our lives. This is where God in the person of the Holy Spirit comes in.
“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
It is tragic that so many deny the fact of the working of the Holy Spirit in the transformation of the Christian. This denial results from the desire to avoid the extreme and excessive claims of the people known as “charismatics.” But this reaction is, itself, extreme and excessive. One need not “throw the baby out with the bathwater” in order to not be carried away into extremism.
But do we not have anything to do to accomplish this renewing of ourselves? Certainly we do! There are two things that are essential to the achievement of the new, recreated human that God wants us to be.
The first of these is knowing – knowing God and by knowledge of Him, knowing ourselves as paltry, pitiful failures without Him. Jesus, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15), is the means by which God reveals the knowledge of Himself to man today. We must seek knowledge of God by coming to know Jesus. We must become as acquainted with His as with the closest friend we have ever had – and even closer than that. We must want to be like Him more than anything else in the world – to think as He thought, to speak as He spoke, to act as He acted.
The second is letting, or permitting God to do His work in us to make us into what He wants us to be. God does work in us. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Of ourselves, we neither know what it is God wants to accomplish in us nor how to reach that goal. We seek to know His will by studying His message to us, the Bible, and by praying for understanding of His will for our lives.
When we yield ourselves to His creative power, we will be amazed at what God can do. We must yield ourselves to His direction as we learn what His will for us is. As Jesus did, we must submit ourselves to others as humble servants, helping meet their need, seeking as we have the opportunity to help them to a better understanding of the God whom we love and serve.
Of course both of these require effort on our part. We must become willing participants in His creative endeavor. But that is what He has wanted from man from the time He created the human race – people who would join with Him in His benevolent work of perfection.
Create within us a yearning heart that longs to know You and to comprehend the perfection that exists in You alone.
Give us a deep desire to learn how to be like you.
Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus who is the only true representation of You on this earth.
And keep us in your love until that time when we can see you in all your glory – the time when we will be perfectly restored to your image and be made acceptable to be in your presence forever. Amen!