The first business of every Christian should be his quest to become spiritually better. The Lord wants us to be growing, learning more of Him, becoming more like Him.
The apostle Paul turned his back on everything the world had to offer in order to become all that he could be for Jesus. "That I may win Christ and be found in Him" and "That I may know Him" were the reasons Paul gave (Phil. 3:8-10). In his quest to become better, he identified himself with his brethren, as he implored, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
The apostle Peter also stressed the primary importance of growth in the life of Christians. "Laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:1,2). He concluded his second epistle with the injunction, "Grow in the grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (3:18). In the fertile soil of God's grace and our knowledge of its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, we can and should become better and better for our Savior. When we do so, we need not fear falling for we make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
Please note that this process of daily spiritual improvement has both negative and positive aspects. There are sins of heart and life to be abhorred, renounced, and put away. Both Paul and Peter make this aspect of growth clear. Yet, this work of separating ourselves from sin is inadequate and futile without growth in the positive attributes of our Example. As Paul instructed the Roman brethren, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14).
Becoming better for Jesus thus boils down to desiring more of Him and less of ourselves. John the baptizer expressed the sentiment which should be our personal desire, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jno. 3:30). The apostle Paul said, "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" (Gal. 2:21).
All of this spiritual betterment must occur in the shadow of Christ's cross and in sight of His deserted tomb. It comes about as we walk in His footsteps and serve as He served. It demands an ever-increasing knowledge of the gospel of God's grace and a heart that finds itself softened day by day as that grace penetrates within. It is accomplished by God as we give ourselves to Him -- heart, body, mind, and soul -- and serve Him in obedient faith.
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then we are all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again... Therefore fi any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ..." (2 Cor. 5:14-18).
Brethren, let us open God's Book and expose ourselves to His grace. Let us be taught by it (Titus 3:11-14) that we might lovingly and obediently yield ourselves to its commands (Jno. 14:21-24). Then and only then, can we truly know Jesus Christ, be transformed in His image, and become better and better for Him (2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:1-10). TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!
By Allen Malone via Gospel Power, Vol. 15, No. 22, June 1, 2008.
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