Joyce Meyer - Becoming More Like Jesus
I want to talk to you today about becoming more like Jesus. You know, that should be the goal of every child of God. From the moment that they receive Christ as their Savior, they should want to grow up, that's one term the Bible uses, another one is seek spiritual maturity. It's great to be a child of God, but we want to be sons and daughters of God. But another thing the Bible talks about is just becoming more and more Christ-like, more like him in our character, the way we behave, what we say, how we think. Everything about Jesus should be something that we desire to be like.
And so, let's just talk today about becoming more like Jesus and how can we do that without being discouraged all the time and seeing progress, making that progress. So, after we're born again, anybody who receives Christ, the Bible says they have a new nature: now, that new nature is on the inside of us. When you're born again, according to 2 Corinthians 5, old things pass away and all things become new.
If any man be in Christ, he's a new creature, old things pass away, all things become new. However, what you have in you is not necessarily something that anybody can see yet. It's on the inside of you. You know something's happened, you know something's different, but your behavior may not be different yet. You may not be acting different yet. You may sound like the same person. If you go look at yourself in the mirror, you're gonna look the same as you did before. So, if we're not careful, it's very easy for the devil, who is our enemy, to try to start making us think that nothing really happened.
Well, when you're born again, you have this new nature on the inside of you, sadly, you also still have the old nature. We have the flesh, we have the spirit. Our spirit has been born again. It is made alive to God. Something happens on the inside. There's a new life in us. There's a new enthusiasm. There's a new excitement. We begin to not be satisfied with the things that once satisfied us. But because we also have the sin nature still, we are not to give into sin.
Sin no longer has any power over us, but the devil is alive and well, and the flesh is the instrument that he uses for sin, is what Romans says. So, if the enemy is gonna try to work through us, which he often does to not only cause problems in our own lives, but he works through people to get to other people. A lot of times we, you know, we think that people are our problems: but really, we need to look beyond that and realize it's the devil that actually is our problem. And so, we have this new nature, but we have this old nature, and boy, the fight is on, isn't it?
Now, one of the things that's interesting is when you only had an old nature and you weren't alive to God yet, you pretty much liked your sin. You were pretty comfortable in the things that you were doing: and although really, they were making you miserable and stealing your life, you didn't know that. You weren't real aware of that. You thought it was everything else, and everybody else, and if you weren't happy, it certainly wasn't because you chosen a bad lifestyle. It was because somebody else wasn't doing what you wanted them to do. But now you have this new thing on the inside of you that all of a sudden now begins to rise up and war against these old things that you used to do.
So, maybe let's just say like entertainment that at one time you just thought was the greatest thing going, now all of a sudden, you try to do those same things and you have this little something, this little uncomfortable feeling on the inside that that's just not right anymore. It just doesn't seem to do for you what you used to do. But we still have this sin nature, and it keeps wanting whatever it is that we give it.
I want to say this to you and I want you to remember this today, whatever you feed the most is gonna be the strongest and if we can learn that, we're a long way down the road toward having some degree of spiritual maturity. You can kill anything by starving it, even a weed. If it gets no sunshine, no water, no anything eventually even that will die off. So, what we have to do is learn to feed our spirit man more than we feed our flesh. Now, every time we give in to the flesh, we feed it, but every time we say no to it, we discipline ourselves with the help of God, it gets a little bit weaker and a little bit weaker.
We can very easily understand this by just thinking about appetite. Okay, if a person first begins to overeat, eat more than they really need, eat more than they're used to, it actually will make you uncomfortable. It's like, you eat too much and now you're uncomfortable and you're too full and you're sleepily and you're miserable, so you might think, "Well, why would do I do that if it's gonna make me miserable"? But the flesh wants what it wants, and I can tell you if you gave it something yesterday that it liked, it's gonna want it again today. And so, then maybe another day you overeat a little too much and then you overeat a little too much well now, pretty soon that doesn't bother you anymore. You're getting kind of used to it. It feels good and you like it. Well, then someday you get on the scale.
It's just an example. You can apply it anywhere. And so, now you've gotten on the scale or your clothes are not fitting and after you've stopped saying that the cleaners shrunk up them and all other things that we go through, then we finally realize okay, we've been eating too much. We're gonna need to lose some weight. So, the only way that you can get your flesh not to have that authority over you anymore is to, when I say starve it, I don't mean like starve yourself to death, but I mean you stop giving it what it's demanding and it's uncomfortable for a while. Your flesh says, "I'm starving to death. I'm gonna die. I can't stand this". And then if you're truly spiritual, you assure it that it will live, will not die and then eventually, because you're not feeding it that excess anymore, then you get to the point where you don't want it.
Well, it's the same way with spiritual things. Let's just say maybe you the kind of person, I'm sure none of you are, but let's just say you're the kind of person that always has to have the last word in an argument. You just can't stand it if you don't go away having said the last thing. And ladies, we are very good about saying it quietly under our breath if we can't say it totally out loud. So, the more you do that, the more you're gonna have to keep wanting do that, but if you begin to discipline yourself when the Holy Spirit says, "Enough, don't say anything else, you say anything else you're gonna cause trouble". Does anybody in here, do you ever get that sensing from God you don't need to say another word, anybody? This half of the room don't ever get that. How about you watching from whatever device you're watching on, do you ever get that sensing you've said enough, you don't need to say another thing?
Well see, spiritual maturity or becoming more like Jesus happens when we begin to listen to that still, small voice inside of us rather than the screaming voice of the flesh that's making demands on us. Every time I give in to the flesh, I'm feeding it. It keeps staying strong, but every time I say yes to the spirit, my flesh is not gonna like it at first, but then eventually you'll be surprised you won't even be tempted to feel like you have to have the lost word because you now have learned the value of peace that you're gonna prefer peace over having to be right or having to have the last word.
Now, I want you to listen to me, these are not just things you can pray for and get. "Oh God, make me nice". I mean, I pray for that like all the rest of you do, but you're still gonna have to go through things. We all have muscle, but if you don't use them, they're not developed. We have the new nature. It's a gift from God. We actually have a seed, Christ is the seed. He is the seed that comes to us as a gift from God, and he brings us a little seed of everything that God is and plants it in the womb of our spirit.
What happens when we become new creatures in Christ? "Oh, I'm a new person. I'm born again. Things are gonna be...-" and you're like, "Well, you don't like any different to me. You're still behaving the same way you did. You sound the same, you act the same". And so, it's very important that we grow into this new creature that God says that we are because, here's the thing, no matter what we have hidden on the inside of us, if people can't see it, then our witness is absolutely no good at all. So, we need to become more and more like Jesus. So, after we're born again, we have a new nature but learning to walk in it is a process that takes time.
Now, here's something you need to hear today so you don't get discouraged with yourself while you're making this journey. Takes time. It takes time. It's a journey, and there's a teaching that I do sometimes about how the Israelites, they journeyed through the wilderness, but if you read about their journey, it says, "And they journeyed and they camped. And then they journeyed and then they camped". And we do that in your walk with God. Sometimes it seems like we're making great progress. Man, we're journeying, whoo, we've covered all these miles today, and then all of a sudden, you're camped somewhere.
And the interesting thing about the Israelites journey is they never got to get up and continue their journey until the cloud moved. So, when the cloud moved, then they had to be ready to move. Well, God would be like our cloud, and so we can't just do something that we want to do or behave even in a more godly way just because we want to. God's gotta be moving. And so, we have this desire to be more like Jesus, but here's the thing, you can't change yourself by yourself, only God can change us. The interesting thing about our new walk with God is he's pretty determined that we're gonna learn to depend on him for absolutely everything. Even things that he commands us to do, he still wants us to depend on him to be able to do them so we don't get full of pride and start taking the credit that only belongs to God.
So, in Galatians 3, the first three verses, Paul was talking to the Galatians and he said, "O you foolish and thoughtless and superficial Galatians, who has bewitched you," or deceived you, "that you would act like this, to whom (right before your very eyes), Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified in the gospel message? This is all I want to ask you: did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of obeying the requirements of the law, or was it the result of hearing the message of God and believing it"?
So, a little bit of history about the Galatians. First of all, they were gentile believers. Now, prior to God including the gentiles in his plan for man, the Jews had been the chosen people of God and the law was given to them, and they spent their whole life trying to obey this law because in obeying the law, then they thought they were purchasing by their works the favor and the approval of God. Well, God knew they couldn't keep the law, that was why he gave it to them so they would know that they needed a Savior, that they needed help.
After Jesus came, they had the help that they actually needed, but the Jews had not accepted that and believed that yet. Now, there were Jews that were being born again, but some of them, not all, but some and maybe even many, still thought that they could not depend totally on Jesus, they had to follow some of the laws, the rituals, the rules and the regulations in addition to that. The experts say that some them say that they don't believe some of these Jews were even really saved and then some say they were, so we're gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say, yes, they were saved, but some of them were referred to as the judaizers because even though they were saved, they would go among the gentiles who never knew anything about the law so they weren't tempted to try to live under the law because they had never lived under the law.
However, the Jews were having a hard time giving it up because that's what they were accustomed to. And so, they would go among the new gentiles believers and tell them, "Well yes, you know, you're saved, you're saved by grace, but now to be perfected, you have to follow these rules and regulations". One of the things that causes us more trouble than anything else is being saved by grace and then trying to change ourself by works of the flesh. How many times did I go and hear a sermon and I was convicted by it? Well, most of the time, I was condemned by them 'cause I didn't know any better.
We'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. And then I would go home and try to change, but I left out the most important ingredient, I forgot to ask God to help me. And so, you know, most people, when they're newly born again, if they just try to change and they change, it's real easy for them then right away they're gonna be giving victory lessons to everybody else. It's like, "Well, how could you still be doing that? I mean, I had that problem, but I changed right away. How could you still be doing that five years later after you're born again"? Well, you better go back and realize that God did something for you that you need to be thankful for and not let it cause you to be judgmental and critical toward everybody else, but to have mercy on them.
And so, Paul was disturbed because these judaizers had come among the gentiles, who so much believed that they were saved by grace, they received salvation strictly by believing, but now they had been convinced by these judaizers that they also needed to follow these certain laws to ever be fully perfected and suitable to God. So, he's a little bit frustrated and a little bit upset.
Even though Paul was a very godly man, he could actually get a little bit upset and he said, "Who has bewitched you? Who has come among you and deceived you? What"! Exclamation mark. "What do you think you're doing. Do you actually believe that these of you whose lives were in such a mess that you literally just collapsed at the feet of Jesus and said, 'I'm not gonna make it if you don't help me," and you received him as your Savior, do you now really think that you can perfect yourselves by works of the flesh"?
I don't even know how to tell you how this helped me almost 40 years ago because I was just in so many works of the flesh. I mean, I was trying to be quiet and I had a big mouth. And I was trying to be nice and, you know, I still wasn't nice, and I had a bad temper. And so, you know, we have all these desires to be good on the inside of us, but we're on a journey, and we don't change everything all at one time. Actually, to tell you the truth, the thing that you can change is what God's dealing with you about right now.
That's why it's so important not to look at the progress of some other believer and be condemned because you're not where they're at. You need to work with God on whatever he's dealing with you about right now and totally lean on him and depend on him, and then he'll give you the victory and he will get these credit. You know, Paul went through this too. In Romans 7:15 he says, "I don't understand my own actions I'm baffled and bewildered. I don't practice what I want to do, but the very thing I don't want to do, that's what I always end up doing". We all understand that, don't we? And so, that's verse 15, I'm not, obviously, not gonna read the next ten verses, but if you go all the way through to romans 7:24 and 25, then he says, "Wretch and miserable man that I am".
You remember how happy you were the day you received Christ and how miserable you can be 3, 4 years down the road when you feel like you're such a mess because you haven't been able to change and be the way that you know that you should be? And I'm sure Paul was maybe going through some of that, "Old wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body? Who's gonna deliver me from the flesh? Who's gonna help me be like Jesus? Can I ever change? Can I ever be spiritually mature"? And then he said, "Oh thank God he will through Jesus Christ". This is the way it actually reads, "Thanks be to God for my deliverance, through Jesus Christ our Lord". Thanks be to God for my deliverance.
So, we see here that we work with God, but we don't work independently of God. We do the work that God gives us to do, but we don't get into works of the flesh. So, here's what happens, God shows us a fault, whether it's through a sermon or a book that you read or reading the Bible, God shows us a fault. It's actually called conviction. It's the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but if you don't really understand the Bible properly, every time the Holy Spirit convicts you, you'll get condemned, and that's not what God wants us to do. That does not help us at all. Feeling guilty and condemned about past bad behavior only keeps you locked in the sin.
Now obviously, I'm not saying that we don't repent. He need to be very repentant. The apostle James even said you should weep and mourn over your sin, but you can't stay in that place. Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Thank God for repentance. Thank God that after we've sinned and made mistakes, we can ask for forgiveness and then we're supposed to do, what? Receive it and go on to the next place with God. Well, it takes a long time for most of us to do that.
So, I just want to give you just a few little hints here of what you need to do when God convicts you of something that's wrong in your life. First of all, you agree with him. "You're right, God, I am that way". You don't blame it on anybody else. You just receive it, and it usually hurts a little bit. It hurts us to face ourselves and to see how we really are. You agree with God. You repent, which doesn't just mean to be sorry, but you really want to turn around and go in a new direction. You don't want to do that thing anymore. You gotta be patient. You ask God to change you, and then you have to be patient because it happens a little bit at a time. You avoid condemnation. Don't live under guilt and condemnation.
Take the time to celebrate your victories, even if they're very small victories. Don't focus so much on how far you have to go, but look at how far you've come. Everybody here today, if you've been a believer in Jesus Christ for two weeks, you've made some kind of progress. It may be minuscule, but you've made it some kind of progress. And boy, the devil won't like it if you focus on your progress. He wants you to keep looking at oh, how far we have to go, and he'll usually run some super religious person in front of you that seems to have it all together so you can compare yourself with them and really think how far you have to go.
And then the last thing that I have time to tell you today is simply this: the Word of God is the most valuable thing that you have. We talked about what you feed becomes the strongest. Well, the way you feed your spirit man is with the Word of God. The Word of God is food for your spirit man. Actually whether you know it or not, what you're doing right here and those of you watching by TV or computer, wherever you're watching by, you're actually eating right now. And some of you maybe didn't take lunch and decided to watch this instead, and you're still eating.
When somebody says, "What'd you eat for lunch"? You can say, "The word". And you're feeding your spirit when you do that, and every time you feed your spirit, it gets stronger. So, here's the thing, don't just randomly study the Bible, but let's just say that you have a bad temper, you're dealing with a bad temper, and God has been dealing with you about your bad temper. And so, you've agreed with God, you've repented, you've asked God to help you, but he's still not gonna go it all for you because we're partners with God. So what is it now that you need to do that would not be works of the flesh, but actually be working with God? Study the Bible and study anger and self-control and things that are actually going to help you be stronger in that area.
I tell people all the time, if you got a bad temper, studying prosperity's not gonna help you. I really think that people make a big mistake in this. I think they think that just because they read the Bible, everything should be straightened out, or just because they go to church on Sunday, everything should be straightened out, but you need to hear something that's gonna help you with your specific problem, amen? And so, I strongly suggest that whatever it is that God's dealing with you about right now... I mean it's always good to read the Bible. You can read it on any subject that you want to and read it as much as you want to, but if you're dealing with a specific problem, like, for example, you know the Bible has a lot to say about selfishness. So, if you're selfish, which nobody likes to admit, but if you are, that would be the thing to do the Bible study on.
All I can tell you is this, babies grow, but they don't grow without proper nourishment and care, and we don't have to just be children of God, we can be sons and daughters of God, but it's gonna require some patience, some time, some obedience, some study, not letting the devil condemn you all the time. Every day that you stick with God, you are becoming more and more Christ-like in your life, and don't ever let the devil convince you that you're not changing because I can tell you you're changing right now just listening to me telling you that you are changing. Because all you have to do is get convinced of the truth of God's word and that truth is what changes you.