How much do you strive to be like Jesus? Do you expect that your transformation will happen eventually and so you wait on the Lord and keep walking in the flesh? He’s ready, He’s begun, and He’s waiting for you. Are you determined to be righteous and so you keep as many laws as you can recall and hope the Lord won’t count it against you when you come upon laws impossible to keep? Neither of these paths bring you to the hope of Jesus.
The first step to Jesus is Salvation and salvation comes by faith. Romans 10:9-10 tells us,
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
But you can’t just stop believing after that, your faith doesn’t just evaporate and you either live in the flesh or live by the law. Faith continues, believing in Jesus’ grace carries on. Salvation isn’t fire insurance, it is an active lifestyle in which you choose to exercise faith.
But some people forget the great miracle of redemption, the mystery of the Gospel, and the beauty of God’s grace. In Philippians chapter 3 Paul reminded the church that righteousness is something to pursue, but not by the law but by faith in Christ. If anyone had reason to believe the law could save him, it was Paul. Verses 1-6 read,
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
But not one iota of Paul’s impressive résumé mattered when it came to salvation. It was garbage to him. His greatness in the world, his piety, and his passion for the law nearly kept him from knowing Jesus. All he strove for before Jesus saved him was waste. He put it like this in verses 7-11,
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Our righteousness doesn’t and cannot come from ourselves. Righteousness comes from faith in Jesus. It comes from depending on God, it comes from letting the Holy Spirit do His great work in us. Paul was one of the greatest Christians of all time. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was mature. Acts 19:11-12 describe how powerful Paul was, not in himself, but in the Lord.
“And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”
But Paul didn’t stop and sit in his haunches. He continued to strive toward Jesus righteousness. If Paul had to keep endeavoring toward the actualization of Jesus, how much more so do we? God is immense. We can’t even begin to fathom the depth and breadth of His Love, much less anything else of His nature. He wants us to know Him and to know Him deeply. There is always more of Him to know. Verses 12-16 say,
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
One day, we will be changed in an instant. We will have reached the goal. But while we still live, while we wear suits of flesh and walk this earth, we have not yet reached that objective. And it’s not alright to just sit back and say, “I’ll change eventually” or “I can sin as much as I want because of grace.” We are not part of this world, we are part of the Kingdom of God. Our path should be one that leads to Jesus and we should be walking that path, ever-growing ever-maturing.
We are meant to glorify Christ. That means we are meant to reflect His image. We can’t do that if we don’t know Him intimately. He gave us His Spirit, He gave us His name, and He gave us His nature. We must, like Paul earnestly pursue a profound knowledge of God so that His Love and Righteousness, Jesus shines out of us. Our lives should lead people to faith in Christ not worthless hope in the law. Verses 17-21 read,
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Are you maturing? Are you different today than the day you were saved? Are you different today than you were last year? Or are you fooling yourself and trying to follow the law or floundering in your flesh? Believer, the Spirit of the Living God is in you! You are united with Jesus. He has made possible your transformation. He is there waiting for an intensely beautiful and profound relationship. You are His bride. He adores you.