Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About Christlikeness

Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About Christlikeness

Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About Christlikeness
TOPICS: What Every Christian Should Know, Christlikeness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Do you remember having a role model while you were growing up? Maybe it was a teacher, somebody in your church, or a historical figure. We all have people we look up to and admire, but there's one person that rises above them all. My message is titled "What Every Christian Should Know About Christlikeness" on today's edition of, "Pathway to Victory".

Is there any more daunting word in the Christian vocabulary, than Christlikeness? We are to become like Jesus Christ. I mean, just think about it, what father do you know, would say to their young son as he goes out for his first peewee basketball game, "You know son, when you're out on that court, I wanna see some Michael Jordan likeness in you". Or imagine a tennis instructor handing a racket to a first time tennis player and saying to the girl, "Now when you're out there, let others see Serena Williams in you". And yet we tell people they are to become like Jesus Christ. Today we're going to see such a goal as not only desirable, it's possible.

Today as we continue looking at the ten historic beliefs of Christianity, we've come to that ninth pillar of truth, "What Every Christian Should Know, About Christ Likeness". If you have your Bibles, turn to Romans chapter 8. There is a word for Christlikeness in theology, it's called sanctification. And on your outline I've given you a definition of sanctification. "It's the process by which God molds our actions, attitudes and affections to resemble Jesus Christ". It's the process that God molds our actions, attitudes and affections to resemble Jesus Christ. You know, so many Christians wanna know what is God's will for my life? I hear that all the time. How can I know God's will for my life? There's no better passage of scripture that tells you God's will for your life than this one.

Romans 8, 28 and 29, and by the way, you can't separate the two verses. The two verses are inseparable. Romans 8 begins with a promise verse 28, and here's the promise. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose". This is probably the most loved but most misunderstood promise in all of the Bible. People really don't understand what this is promising and what it's not promising. This promise for example, is not claiming that all things are good. It's ridiculous to try to tell people all things are good. Imagine how hardhearted that would be to tell parents who have had a child who has been murdered. "Oh, well that's really a good thing that happened". Or to tell somebody who's been abused by his or her parents. "Oh, that abuse, that's really a good thing". Isaiah the prophet said, "Woe to those who call good evil and evil good".

Everything is not good, that happens to you. There are some things that happen that are nothing but absolute evil. All things are good is not what this passage is saying, nor is this passage saying we can see good in all things. There's some things you can never see any good in, in fact, you may die without seeing any good. Well then what is this promise? There is a promise of a purpose that's found in verse 29. "All things are working together for good". What is the good all things are working together for? Look at verse 29, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brethren". This promise is a promise that first of all, God has a purpose for your life. God is working all things together for good and that good is God's purpose.

You can't separate the good from the purpose. And what is that purpose that all things are working together for? Let me give you a hint. It's not a full bank account. It's not a satisfying marriage. It is not a healthy life. It is not a successful career. There is one thing God is working all things together for, and that is to make you like his Son, Jesus Christ. To conform you to the image of his Son, that's sanctification. You see, the Bible says, "God had a Son, his name was Jesus, and God absolutely delighted in his Son". "This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased". And God decided he loved his Son Jesus so much, he didn't wanna have just one child, he wanted to have many children. Many men and women who looked just like Jesus, who had the same devotion to him that Jesus did. And that's what God is doing right now, he's creating a group of people, who are conformed to the image of his Son. God has a purpose for your life and you'll never understand your life until you understand that purpose.

Secondly, God's purpose includes all things. God causes all things to work together. In fact, it's usually those hard things, those difficult things that do the most into shaping you into the image of Jesus Christ. A.W. Tozer has said, "If God has singled you out to be a special object of his grace, you may expect him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones who are called upon to endure. If God sets out to make an unusual Christian out of you, he's not as likely to be as gentle as he's usually pictured to be by the popular teachers". Now get this. "A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer, the chisel are cruel tools, but without them, the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful". And then his favorite line, "It is doubtful that God can use any person greatly, until he has hurt him deeply".

There's some of you who are experiencing the hard blows of the hammer in the chisel in your life. God is using that to shape you into the image of his Son. Just look at what he did with his first Son, Jesus. Hebrews 5:8 says about Jesus, "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience by the things that he suffered". Now, that's on my list of things to ask God about. There are a lot of verses I don't understand, and that's one of them. How could Jesus, the perfect Son of God learn anything? Why did he need to learn obedience? I don't understand that, but what I do understand is, God used hard things in Jesus's life. Betrayal by friends, persecution, tortured, ultimately death. He used all of those things to accomplish his purpose in Jesus's life, and if God's plan for his first Son included suffering, why are we surprised when God's plan for our life includes suffering as well? God uses all things for his purpose. Have you discovered it's during those difficult times that you learned the most important lessons in life? It's not in the easy times, it's in those difficult times. God uses all things. And thirdly, God is in control of all that happens to you.

Now, the King James version does not capture what this verse is really saying, there's a little difference. The King James says, "All things work together for good to those who love God". And it's almost like saying, well, somehow magically, everything combines together to work out for good. Now, the New American Standard captures it best. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good". God is the one who is in control. He is the one who has the hammer and the chisel, God is in control, and that means there is absolutely nothing that comes into your life, that is not a part of God's plan. Everything is according to God's plan. Isn't that what you see throughout scripture? Psalm 139:16 says, "And in your book were all written, all the days that were ordained for me. When as yet there was not one of them". Every day of your life was ordained by God, it was written in this book. There is nothing that happens to you that takes God by surprise.

Proverb 16:9 says, "The mind of a man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps". We plan what we think we're going to do, but God's ultimately the one who's ordering our steps, or as somebody said, "He orders our steps, our missteps and our stumbles". Now, I know that raises a lot of questions about our free will and God's sovereignty. And please understand, I'm not saying that God creates evil in your life, God is the author of evil in your life, but what I am saying is, nothing comes into your life without God's permission. And God uses everything that comes the good, the bad, and the ugly, to mold you into the image of his Son. Now we've seen the purpose of sanctification, to mold us into the image of Christ. Let's talk about the process of sanctification. How does God make us like Christ? You know, somebody has said, "Justification is the work of the moment, but sanctification is the work of a lifetime".

Justification remember, is what happens when we trust in Christ as our Savior. The moment we put our faith in Christ, God declares us not guilty. Not guilty. We are never more justified than we are at the moment of our salvation. 50 years later, we are as justified as we've ever been. Justification is instantaneous, but sanctification, the process by which we become like Christ, starts the moment of our salvation and it continues until the day of our death. Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he who began the good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus". So how does this process work? Exactly who's responsible for making me like Christ? Well, first of all, we have a responsibility.

You know, these Christians who go around and say, "Well, I couldn't save myself, I can't sanctify myself, I'm just gonna let go and let God. I'm not gonna exert any effort whatsoever, it's up to God, it's his responsibility". No, Galatians 5:16 says, "But I say to you, you walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh". Or Ephesians 4:22, "In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self". Or Colossians 3:8 we'll look at in a moment. "But now you also, put them all aside, anger, wrath, malice," and so forth. We have a responsibility in our sanctification, but God has a responsibility as well. Those who try to do this in their own strength will be unsuccessful.

Jesus said in John 15:5, "Apart from me, you can do nothing". So is it my responsibility or God's responsibility? It is a joint responsibility, our sanctification. God alone can save us, but we and God together cooperate to make us more like Christ. We don't have time to look at it, but in 2 Peter 1, 3 through 5, you see a great illustration of that. Peter says that "By God's divine power, he has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness and made us partakers of the divine nature". And then in verse 5, he says, "Now for this very reason, applying all diligence in your faith, you supply moral excellence, you supply knowledge," and so forth, and so forth. God has given you everything you need to live a godly life, to become like Jesus, but you have to supply some of the effort. You supply diligence, moral purity and so forth.

You know, you see that so well illustrated in Romans chapter 6, Paul has talked about how the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead is working in our life and we are no more a prisoner of sin than we choose to be. Sin has no more power over us than we choose to allow it to have, and that's why he says in Roman 6, 12 and 13, "Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lust. And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God".

God has given you the power, you've gotta supply the effort. You know what he's saying when he says, quit presenting the parts of your body for sin? Let's get real practical, he's saying, stop filling your eyes with pornographic images from the internet, from television, from movies, and start filling your eyes with the truth of God's Word. Stop using your tongue to tear down and criticize other people, use your tongue to build up and edify others. Stop allowing your feet to take you to places you shouldn't be, and instead, allow your feet to take you to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stop allowing your mind to be filled with anger, and bitterness, and worry, and fill your mind with the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit of God. You've got all the power you need, but you must take action. It is God and us together.

Without God, we cannot, without us, God will not. That's what sanctification is. What we've talked about, the purpose of sanctification, to make us like Christ. We've talked about the process, it's God and us together. What is the product of sanctification? How do you know if you're really becoming like Jesus Christ? Turn to Colossians 3 for just a moment. Paul says in verse 1, "Therefore, if you've been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on things that are on earth".

You know, a lot of people read that verse and they think Paul is talking about, "Think about heaven, be heavenly minded". We've talked a lot about heaven. There's some upside to thinking about heaven, to preparing for heaven. But when Paul says, set your mind on things above, he's not talking about the things in heaven, the objects in heaven, he's talking about the Christ who is in heaven. That's where he said, "Think about the things above where Christ is". And he's talking about specifically, set your mind on the kind of life Jesus lived, the qualities that were his so that you can make them yours. You say, "Where do you get that in this passage"? It's the whole rest of the chapter. He keeps talking about taking off old behavior, and putting on new behavior. Let them go, take them off and put on some new clothes.

Well, Paul is using that image in Colossians 3. He says, there's certain behavior we need to lay aside. He says in verse 5, "Lay aside, immorality, impurity, passion, put them all aside". Verse 8, "Anger, wrath, malice, slander. Don't lie to one another, put on the new self," verse 10. And then in verse 12, he tells us some spiritual clothing we ought to put on if we wanna look like Jesus Christ. He said, "First of all, put on a heart of compassion". A Christ-like person is compassionate. That word, compassion, Splentology, "Splagchnizomai," means to be moved in the innermost bowels. In spiritual terms, it means to be so moved when you see the need of another person that you meet that need. It's being moved to meet the needs of others around you.

If you run into somebody who needs food and clothing and you have the power within you to help them, do it, a compassionate person does that. Maybe somebody you meet at church this morning needs a word of encouragement, being moved with compassion means you meet that need. That was Jesus life in Mark 1, it says, "Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched the leper, and said to him, I am willing, be cleansed". Compassion, put on a heart of compassion. Secondly, he mentions kindness. Kindness, "Chrestotes". It's a word in Greek that refers to wine that is aged over a period of time and lost it's bite, it has become mellow.

In spiritual terms, to be a kind person means that sometimes you give people what they need rather than what they deserve. You deal on the basis of grace instead of the law, isn't that how Jesus dealt with us? Titus 3 verses 4 and 5 says, "But when the kindness," there's that word, "The kindness of God, our Father and His love for mankind appeared. He saved us not on the basis of deeds, which we've done in righteousness, but according to his mercy". Aren't you glad God dealt with you on the basis of grace and not the law? The law says we all deserve eternal death, but he offered us his kindness, his grace instead. Thirdly, he says, put on humility. Jesus was a model of humility.

Philippians 2 says, "He didn't hold on to his rights as God, but he let go of them, He came to earth to be our Savior". You know, a real good definition for humility is the realization that any good thing in our life is the result of what God or others have done for us. Paul talked about that in 1 Corinthians 4:7. He said, "You proud Corinthians, ask yourself a question, what is it that you have that you didn't receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if you didn't receive it"? That's what humility is, the realization that it's a gift. Fourth, he said, put on gentleness.

Now that word gentleness is sometimes translated meekness. Maybe your translation has meekness, and we hate the word meekness, don't we? Because it rhymes with weakness, and we think that's a negative thing. But this word translated gentleness, actually means power under control, power under control. Every time I read this word, I think of Jesus on the cross in Luke 22, being tortured, being humiliated. He could have called 10,000 angels, he could only have called one angel and obliterated his enemies once and for all, but he kept that power he had under control, and instead, in Luke 23:34, he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they're doing".

That is gentleness, power under control. Then he speaks of patience, "Mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah". It literally means be long tempered with other people who wrong you. Galatians 3:13, "Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint; just as God forgave you, so you should also forgive". And then, finally, in verse 14, he mentions the overarching quality that marked the life of Jesus, love. "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity".

That's the fountain out of which everything else flows. Love, agape love self-sacrificing love that cares more about giving than receiving. Christlikeness. It's a daunting challenge, but just think about it. Every interaction we have, every temptation we face, every decision we make, is an opportunity for us to reflect Jesus Christ. One of my favorite writers of all time is the late Dallas Willard. He said, "The most important thing about us is not what we do, but it's what we become, because that is what we will carry with us into eternity". Through the power of the Holy Spirit and our effort, we have the ability to become like Jesus Christ. That's what every Christian should know about Christlikeness.
Are you Human?:*