Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fight For You LIfe

1 Peter 2:11: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against your entire being;

There is a war going on within each of us, and many people are unaware of how intense the battle really is. Some are even completely unaware of the battle and go on living their lives each day as helpless victims of the onslaught that rages inside them. They don’t realize that they are losing the war because they are oblivious to the fact that it is happening at all. The Apostle Peter’s exhortation was for us to recognize the battle that is being waged inside us and to not sit idly by and lose the fight without even engaging the enemy.

Peter identifies the aggressor in this battle as “the passions of the flesh.” He says that these “passions” wage war against a person and that we are to “abstain” or refrain from indulging in them. The passions of the flesh he is talking about are the desires, urges, impulses, and drives that come from deep within us and are self-satisfying and self-centered in nature. Their sole objective is to be gratified (whether in the mind or in the body). These desires draw us toward pursuing all our fleshly appetites regardless of whether they are right and good for us or not. The passions of the flesh care nothing for abiding by moral boundaries or showing kindness or consideration; they have no conscience and will never think twice about the consequences involved in satisfying their “itch”­­—all they care about is being “scratched.”
The problem Peter is addressing is that if our passions are left unopposed, they will rule us, causing us to serve them and do what they want us to do; for as Peter declares, whatever overcomes or has mastery over a person, to that they are enslaved (2 Pet. 2:19). Thus, if our passions are left unchallenged, they will be the dominant force in our lives and will cause us to act in whatever way they choose. We will simply become slaves to our desires and live according to the pleasures of our flesh, satisfying our bodily urges and every inclination of our minds.
It is interesting that Peter identifies the “soul” as being the target upon which our passions launch their invasion. But what does it mean for our desires to be at war with our soul? Peter is using the term “soul” here to refer to the entirety of a person; dispositions, attitudes, emotions, thoughts, reasoning, and everything else involved in one’s being. These things are under attack by the passions of our flesh. Our desires want to be the commanding power within us, compelling us to think, feel, speak, and act in certain ways. They want to bring our very being into subjection to their cravings. And if nothing is done to oppose our desires, they will govern our being and enslave us to do their bidding.
Fight Like You Mean It
This war inside us is no small skirmish or temporary feud. It is a continual struggle that is being levied against us each and every day. In fact, we are caught in the crossfire every waking moment of our lives whether we like it or not. We are living in an active combat zone and there is no way out. The only option is to fight back.
Therefore, we must fight like our life depends on it. Because it surely does. Each spiritual battle we face inside ourselves is a battle for our hearts and will affect every aspect of our lives.
Regarding the battle being waged inside us, the Apostle Paul writes:
If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:11-13)
Each day our life hangs in the balance between doing what the spirit leads us to do, or what the passions of our flesh lead us to do. We will either choose to do what is good, honorable, and edifying, or we will choose what is bad, dishonorable, and destructive. Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” What we feel like doing (the passions of our flesh) might seem good because it feels good, but the end of that road is “death.” It is the opposite to what Jesus offers; Jesus offers life! And not just a bland sort of life, he offers life to the fullest (John 10:10).
If we live according to our desires (i.e., our flesh), we will lead a life filled with unrest, dissatisfaction, and confusion, always trying to get what we want, and never having enough. However, Paul says, the alternative is to “put to death the deeds of the body.” If we defeat the passions of our flesh, we will find joy, contentment, and peace—LIFE.
Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
The intensity of our fleshly passions might seem daunting and we might feel like we can never conquer them, thinking “they are just too strong.” But the success or failure in the battle against our desires is not determined by the strength of our willpower. Willpower alone can never completely and definitively overthrow our passions. Thankfully, as Paul explains, we don’t have to rely on our own strength to defeat our flesh. By the spirit of God, we can win the battle.
But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Because of the passions of the flesh, Paul says we do not always do the things that we “want to do,” meaning “what we know we should do” according to the will of God. The flesh will always seek to sit upon the throne in your heart, dictating what you should do, and its ambitions will never align with the will of God for your life. Nonetheless, Paul is saying we don’t have to succumb to what our flesh wants us to do. If we live by the power of the spirit, then we will not “gratify the desires of the flesh.” This is good news—Paul is saying that there is a way to win the battle!
Through the strength and power of God’s spirit within, each of us has the ability to live according to a different course of life. We can serve a different master other than our flesh. But this alternate way of living is not automatic and the war will always rage inside us. The difference is that we can be the aggressor and assailant against our passions rather than just the recipient of their attacks. We can launch our invasion against them to take back the ground they want. And by standing against our passions through the power of the spirit, we can yield our thoughts, words, feelings, and actions to the desires of a different “King.”
Your Life is the Proof
Each person’s life can be thought of as a tree representing their personal character and deeds. Whatever is dwelling inside a person determines what kind of tree they are, whether a good tree or a bad tree. Thus, to teach his disciples about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who did not speak what was good because their hearts were evil, Jesus said,
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:33-35)
Martin Luther once said, “This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not what we shall be but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.”
None of us are immune to the passions of the flesh, and none of us have yet reached perfection where our desires are no longer at war within us against our soul. Even the Apostle Paul proclaimed, “Not that I have already obtained this [to know Christ and the power of his resurrection] or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians. 3:12).
Our life is like a tree, and the fruit that we bear in our lives testifies to whether we are winning the battle with our flesh or losing it. If we will “walk by the spirit” (Gal. 5:16), then our life will produce good fruit and we will not succumb to our evil desires. But we must prepare ourselves for battle, we must expect the ambush of our flesh, and we must be ready to counter-attack. This is a war over our very being, and we must fight for it or else we will continue to fail at doing the things we “want to do.” We can be certain that our flesh will be on the battlefield, but are we going to show up? Will we fight for our lives?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Faith Story

My Faith Story 

Reckoning self as “dead indeed unto sin”

The only one can reckon he/she is ‘dead indeed unto sin’ is the one who has been through identification with the death of Jesus. When he has been through that moral transformation, he will find he is enabled to live according to it; but if one tries the “reckoning” business without having gone through identification with the death of Jesus, one shall find oneself deceived; there will be no reality.

When I can say, “I am crucified with God’s anointed one: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but God’s anointed one lives 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,” (Galatians:2:20) a new page of consciousness opens before me; I find there are new powers in me. I am now able to fulfill the commands of Yehovah, now able to do what I could not do before; I am free from bondage, the old limitations, and the gateway to new age life has be opened to me because of the sin offering sacrifice of God’s anointed one, Jesus.
Galatians 5:1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith God’s anointed one has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Romans 8:15:  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.


Luke 11:13: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

He says, “If you then, being evil.” Notice the significance? Why did he not say, “If we then, being evil?” He did not say it because he knew he was essentially different from them as the only perfect man.

The speaker is the son of God; not just a man who is called Jesus, but the lord Jesus God’s anointed one who lived his entire life without sin. God’s anointed one, the uniquely begotten son of God. He does not include himself in that “you”. But He does include the whole of mankind. “You being evil” means that we not only do things which are evil, but that we are evil.

Our natures are corrupt and evil, and those who are essentially corrupt and evil are not the children of God. That is why in the prayer to our Father we ask to be delivered from “all evil”.

Jesus speaking to the religious leader of his day says:

Matthew 12:34: O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The following applies to all of us.

Jeremiah 17: 9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can understand it?

My nature before baptism/regeneration was selfish, sensual, self-satisfied, all wrong and out of order and as a result not fully committed to obedience to the lord Jesus God’s anointed one.

That was my condition for almost 50 years all the while calling myself a Christian, committing perjury before men and God, lying to others before God. As Jeremiah has stated in Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? The heart is capable of 
great self delusion and deception.

Jesus said: “IF any man/woman will come after me”… the condition is that he/she must leave something behind. His/her right to himself/herself.

Our cross is the sign that we have denied our right to ourselves and are committed to manifest that we are no longer our own; we have given away forever our right to ourselves to the lord Jesus God’s anointed one.

Unless the lord Jesus, God’s anointed one is the lodestar there is no benefit to any sacrifice on our part. Self-denial must have it spring in a personal outflowing love to our lord Jesus which will show itself in obedience to his word. We are no longer our own; we are therefore spoiled for every other interest in life except we can win men/women to the lord Jesus, God’s anointed one.

The cross is the gift of Jesus to his disciples and it can only have one aspect: “I am not my own.” The whole attitude of the life in following “THE WAY” is that I have given up my right to myself. I live like a crucified man in God’s anointed one. Jesus made it plain that these are the conditions to following him.

It is a slander to the cross of God’s anointed one Jesus to say we believe in him and then go about pleasing ourselves all the time, choosing our own way to live our lives, instead of living the way of Jesus, as he said he is the way, the truth, the life, the light, etc.

Jesus said; “IF any man/woman come after me – follow me.” The word “IF” means, you don’t have to unless you want to, but you won’t be of any account to him in this life unless your do!”

Wherever the spirit of Jesus is still battling around this one point – my right to myself – and until that is deliberately given over by myself to Jesus in recognition that he is my lord, I will never have the relationship with him that he asks for!

Our cross is something that comes only with a peculiar relationship of a disciple to Jesus, God’s anointed one; it is the evidence that we have denied our right to ourselves and made a full faith commitment to following him as our lord and master, realizing that we have been bought and paid for by his shed blood and as such we are not our own. It is only in him that we can become the slaves of righteousness, doing what is right according to the will of his God and our God, his Father and our Father.

You know what the third commandment is? “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) What does that mean? It is not only a question of swearing with the mouth; it is a question of swearing with the life. If you are a Christian, you are taking the Lord’s name on your life. The commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”, i.e., falsely or unworthily. If you take the name of the God in your life, and in your lips, and you then turn around and deny Him in your life, by your actions, you are guilty of perjury.

Nobody should to take the name of Yehovah in their life or take the name of the lord Jesus upon themselves, who is not prepared to obey their words, the truth.

We must realize that we are always in the presence of God. Let us remember that everything in our lives and conversation is in His presence, and may indeed be the thing which will determine what others will think of Him.


Popular teaching tells me that my sins are forgiven even if I am still enslaved to sin and the sinful nature. My sins are forgiven even if, in reality, the debt of sin is piling up, so that every day I come back to God for forgiveness: “Lord, I’m sorry I failed you, yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.” Is this the Christian life?

Some Christians want to forget about sin because it is tiring to ask for forgiveness again and again, apologizing to the Lord God day in and day out. Shouldn’t this come to an end? Isn’t God tired of listening to our endless apologies? In what way does our incessant asking for forgiveness differ from the need to offer sacrifices endlessly under the Law?

Sadly, many Christians have never crossed over from the bond­age to sin described in Romans 7 to the freedom from sin, available only in God’s anointed one Jesus, described in Romans 8. Sadly, many Christians identify with the description in Romans 7 as correctly portraying their failed “Christian” lives. Scripture, however, must not be interpreted according to our failures in such a way as to exonerate them. On the contrary, our failures must be examined in the light of Scripture, and our lives must be made to conform to what Scripture describes as being “Christian” or as being “in God's anointed one”. That life should be one of victory not failure!

Notice a statement which the great George Muller once made about himself:

"There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Muller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God."

The key to it all, as George Muller reminds us, is that we must die to ourselves. George Muller died to himself, to his opinion, his preferences, his likes and dislikes, his tastes, his will. His one concern, his one idea, was to be approved unto God.

A man must be born from above and become a new creation before he can live like this. No man can die to himself except he has the spirit of the lord Jesus in him, and then that man who can say, `I live; yet not I, but God’s anointed one lives in me.'

That attitude of heart and mind is something that is only possible for one who is regenerate and seeking to be renewed daily; who has received the spirit of the lord Jesus.

Examine yourself and your life, your ordinary work, the things you do, the contacts you have to make with people. Reflect for a moment upon the extent to which self comes into all that. It is an amazing and terrible discovery to note the extent to which self-interest and self-concern are involved, even in the preaching of the gospel.

Have we come to realize the extent to which the misery and the unhappiness and the failure and the trouble in our lives is due to one thing only, namely SELF.

Man, according to the Scriptures, was meant to live entirely to the glory of God. He was meant to love Yehovah God with all his heart, with all his soul, looking towards God and seeking His honour and glory. It is the self centered nature in man which God condemns. It is that self-centered nature [the self ish nature] which is under the curse of God and the wrath of God. And as I understand the teaching of the Scriptures, holiness is deliverance from this self-centred life.

Jesus said: `I have come to do Your will, 0 God,' and he was wholly dependent upon God for everything, for the words he spoke and for everything he did. The son of God humbled himself to that extent. He did not live for himself or by himself in any measure.

Paul says: `Let this mind be in you, which was also in God’s anointed one Jesus.'

The cross of the lord Jesus is the supreme illustration; and the argument of the New Testament is this; that if we say we believe in the lord Jesus and believe that he died for our sins, it means that our greatest desire should be to die to SELF and serve him in newness of life as one bought and paid for by his precious shed blood.
Jesus is the beginning of God’s New Creation, and he became a sin offering sacrifice in order that a new people might be formed, a new humanity, a new creation, and that a new kingdom would be set up, consisting of people like him. He is `the firstborn among many brethren', He is the pattern. God has set for us, says Paul to the Ephesians: `We are His workmanship, created in His anointed one Jesus.' We are `to be conformed to the image of His son'.

That is the life to which God calls us to have in the lord Jesus His anointed one and He enables us to do so by the power of His spirit and the spirit of the one who died for us, in order that you and I might live it.

I have been saved = regeneration
I am being saved = renewal in mind and heart
I will be saved = the resurrection!

How do you become the son of your Father in heaven?

By being utterly renewed, transformed! Paul says exactly the same thing, as we have seen before in Romans 12:1-2, especially v.2: “that you be transformed in the renewing of your mind”.

Becoming a Christian is to become utterly changed.
Baptism is essential, but unless you are transformed, you are not saved.

The challenge is enormously high, but it is accomplishable only by God’s power.

The lord Jesus is saying, “I want you to move into this new land, a Promised Land.” See it? We come out of Egypt, what for? To stay in the wilderness like so many Christians do? Not at all!

To enter into the new country, the new land, the atmosphere, the new area, the kingdom of God - the atmosphere of love. In there you will find all God’s promises, but only there.  So we are moving out of the old way of life dedicated to SELF, out of the wilderness of this world, and into the land of Promise.

By faith, I have entered into the land of God’s promises.

1 John. 4: 16 says, “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

God, as to His character, as to His nature, is love. And he who abides, that is, he who lives in love, who conducts his life in love lives in God and God lives in him.

He who lives in love will find that he is living in God and God is living in him.

Remember: that only as new creations in God’s anointed one  will we experience the promises of God - His saving power, new age life, age upon age lasting life!

It must always be borne in mind that those who are saved are those who “have been called according to His purpose” (Romans:8:28). And what is that purpose? It is stated in the very next sentence, “To be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Rom:8.29).

Jesus says, “You therefore must be per­fect, as Your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew:5:48). This is both a call and a command, so anyone who refuses to obey it is evidently being defiant, insisting that perfection is irrelevant for salvation.

He also says you cannot be his disciple unless you deny SELF, hate our self which is how you take up your cross daily, and follow him in newness of life. (Luke:9.23; 14.26-27).

The Lord himself made it clear that, “The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matthew 7:14).

That is precisely why salvation is by grace, but also in this sense: that without God’s empowering us, enabling us, by the His Spirit, it would be im­possible for us to live the new life to which He has called us.
Is God truly at the center of our lives, or are we still at the center? Are we still subtly running the show; or are we allowing the Spirit of God to guide us and direct us in the way we should go?

We start with regeneration because only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and therefore spiritual. We are made spiritual becom­ing a whole new person in God’s anointed one, Jesus, not by human effort or zealousness, but by God’s work of new creation transforming us.

Zechariah: 4:6: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says Yehovah of hosts.

When we become spiritual, our new life will grow and develop, moving towards a definite goal: the fullness of the image and stature of God’s anointed one Jesus.

Paul’s life, heart, and thoughts are all centered upon God’s anointed one, Jesus. That, according to Paul, is how the perfect think. Spiritual or inner perfection is gov­erned and motivated not by earthly and external things but by the Lord Jesus, the One who sits at the right hand of the Father, who is indwells us by his spirit. If we have been crucified with God’s anointed one, Jesus, we will no longer live according to our own self-centered lives, but because God’s anointed one lives in us, we will no longer look at things from a human point of view, but with the “mind of God’s anointed one, Jesus” (1 Corinthians:2:16), see things from his point of view.

This way of living and looking at things is what constitutes the inner perfection that derives from the indwel­ling Spirit of Jesus which provides us with a heart attitude centered on God.

God leads us, His children, at times when we are not fully aware of it. Often we only realize it in hindsight. Who are the children of God? They are those who are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14).

Holiness means to be separate and distinct from this world and its carnality. Paul exhorts us to move on to the attitude of heart the Jesus had and has (Phil:2:5), which is the essence of perfection.

Biblical perfection means one’s heart is wholly centered on God. His/her whole life revolves around Yehovah, not on himself/herself. His/her heart and mind are focused on Him as the goal of life.

We know that we are nowhere near the absolute perfection that we observe in the lord Jesus, who has never failed in any action whatsoever. This kind of perfection is unattainable at the present time, but it is what we ought to strive for until the end.

“We know that when he appears, we shall be like him;  for we shall see him as he is” (1John:3.2). Only then will we become fully like God’s anointed one Jesus.

The flesh obscures the vision of God at present and will continue to do so until the day we will be granted to see God’s anointed one face to face and become transformed into his perfect image and likeness.

We are waiting for the trans­formation of the body, “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans:8:23).

Paul’s fervent aspiration is that “I may attain to the resurrec­tion from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on…” (Philipians:3.11,12). Here is an explicit link between absolute perfection and the resurrec­tion from the dead.

So we understand that only spiritual perfection, concerns us in the present time as people who have become new persons, as “new creations” (2 Corinthians:5:17), in God’s anointed one Jesus.

We discover that pursuing perfection leads us to walk on the “narrow road” (Matthew:7:14) on which we are called to take up our cross [deny self completely] and follow Jesus (Matthew:16:24;  Mark:8:34;Luke 9:23).

Anyone who declines to bear his own cross [deny his/her self completely] will find that he will be unable to walk this narrow road that leads to new age life and, consequently, cannot be the Lord’s disciple. For so many, many years I declined!

Why is this so? Precisely because human nature with its earthly appetites, pursuits and aspirations will oppose the call to spiritual perfection with tooth and claw because it sees its security and its interests being threatened. That is why when we become new persons in Jesus, it is absolutely necessary to settle the question of what exactly our attitude towards our earthly physical) life is going to be. Failing to do so is to court certain defeat right from the outset.

Are eternal things the main con­cern of our hearts? Do we look at our health, our occupa­tion and the like, through the eyes of a faithful steward who serves God as the center of his life?

The Christian life is very practical; it comes to grips with these concrete realities of everyday life. It is within the sphere of daily life that we come to experience the fact that perfection has to do with the enduring spiritual quality of our lives. That is what salvation is about.


To have “little faith” really means a failure to realize the implications of salvation, and the position resulting from salvation. My trouble was due to the fact that I did not realize to the full, the implications of the doctrine of salvation…..

Ephesians 1: 18-19; 2:1,4-5:  ……. being enlightened;  that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power… You He has made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins… God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith he loved us…. Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with His anointed one, (by grace you are saved;) and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in His anointed one Jesus:

God's children are destined for glory. All the purposes and the promises of God are meant for us and designed with respect to us; and the one thing we have to do is just to realize what God has told us about ourselves, as His children. A man then begins to apply the logic which argues: `If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life' (Romans 5:10).

Whatever happens to us, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, shall He not with him also freely give us all things?”
The vital thing is to see ourselves as His children.

The children of God had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world. There is nothing contingent about this. It was “before the foundation of the world” that we were elected (Ephesians 1:4-5).

His purposes are immutable and changeless, and they envisage our eternal destiny and nothing less. This is constantly expressed in various ways in the Scriptures. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” “separated unto God’s anointed one Jesus,” “sanctified, set apart by the Spirit.”

When people believe things like that they are able to face life in this world in a very different way. That was the secret, once more, of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. They understood something about the immutable purposes of God, and, therefore, whether it was Abraham or Joseph or Moses, they all smiled at calamities. They just went on because God had told them to do so, because they knew that His purposes would surely come to pass.

God never contradicts Himself, and we must remember that He is always behind, beneath and everywhere round about us. “Underneath are the everlasting arms.”

When we come to know the love God has for us, and rest in it (1 John 4: 16) our whole lives will be different.
Ephesians 3:20: He `that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us'.

Romans 6.17, affirms that “you became obedient from the heart” to the teaching of God’s word, and as a result you were set free from sin and became slaves of righteousness (v.18).

What does this mean? It means that obedience is the basic reality of the spiritual life, because the hard reality is that everyone in this world, with­out any exception, is a slave. But there is good news: God has given every one of us the freedom to choose whose slave we will be; slaves don’t normally have such a choice.

We can choose to give our allegiance to sin or to righteousness in Christ, to obey the one or the other. This ultimately involves a choice between life and death.

What does obedience of heart mean? It means rather a con­forming of our hearts to God’s heart. That is why Paul says, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephessians:5:1). “Be” is in the imperative mood; it is a command or exhortation. The call to imitate God is issued to all who are born from above, who are regenerate, and who have God as Father. Every true child of God will not only see it as an obliga­tion to imitate his Father with his heart, but also have it as his heart’s desire to do so.

In giving His Son, “God was in His anointed one reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians:5:19). Will we follow Him in reconciling the world to God? In the call to imitate God, our life mission has been marked out for us. God, by His own example, sets before us the scope and the standard of what we are called to imitate, to reproduce in our lives, to put into practice—and it leaves us breathless!  But His Holy Spirit (pneuma, the word also means “breath”) will sustain and strengthen us as we follow Him.

In John 14.6, Jesus says, “I am the way.” For that reason, in the book of Acts, the called-out Assembly or the Christian community is described as those “belonging to the Way” (Acts 9.2); while the gospel, of which God's anointed one is the center, is called “the Way” (Acts 19:9,23; 24:14,22).

The called-out Assemblies or people who live faithfully according to God’s word thereby embody “the Way” in their lives.

Disciples are followers of the Way. We must walk in the way, and follow it. Salva­tion has to do with a commitment to follow Jesus wherever he leads. This specifi­cally means that our lives conform to his as our way of life. Jesus is the model, the pattern, the template, according to which the Holy Spirit daily fashions us, so that we will finally be fully conformed to his image (Romans:8:29). God saved us, put us through a new birth from above, and made new creatures of us precisely so that we may have His life and bear His glorious likeness. But this requires that we faithfully follow and obey Him.

We are not saved simply by believing that Jesus died for us. He has indeed died for us, but equally im­portant is that we die with the lord Jesus; for unless his death takes effect in me, it cannot be effective for me. To be saved and become a new creation is not merely a matter of an external transaction but of an inner transformation.

The Apostle declares, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans:10:9).

Here several other important things are stated as necessary for salvation:

(1) public confession of Jesus’ lord­ship,
(2) believe in your heart,
(3) believe in his resurrection by God’s power.

These words won’t mean much to us unless we identify with him by following him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In other words, we “work out” (through following him) what God “works in” us (Philipians:2:12,13) through our union with the lord JesusIn the process of salvation, the out-working must necessarily follow from His in-working.

What does this “in-working” mean in experiential terms? Does it not mean that the Holy Spirit is transforming our “inner man” into the likeness of God’s anointed one in every way?

What does our “out-working” of it mean? Does it not mean that we, on our part, and conform all our thoughts and deeds to that likeness which God is working in us—which is exactly what “imitating God’s anointed one” means?

John epitomizes identification with Jesust in these memorable words, “As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John:4:17).

Three things are firmly linked together here:
1.              perfection (of love),
2.             salvation(confidence at the final judgment),
3.             and identification with God’s anointed one.

Peter uses the expression “follow in his steps”:
1Pet:2:21). Where the Lord Jesus takes a step,
there we put our foot; when he takes another step,
we follow him in that footstep too. We are
inseparably associated with him in everything he
does, thus learning to become like him under the
teaching of the God’s Spirit.
A true Christian—a disciple—is one who follows in
the footsteps of the lord Jesus. What does Jesus
require of his disciples but to imitate him? The
lord bore his own cross and says to us, “Come with
me, go where I go, and do what I do; carry your
cross as I carried mine, and thus you will be my
disciple.” To follow him is to imitate him in every
thing, but above all his attitude. “Have this attitude
in yourselves which was also in God’s anointed one
Jesus” (Philipians:2:5).

From the first day of our Christian life, we are called to take up our cross daily [deny SELF]  (Luke 9:.23). The cross is the instrument of the death of our old person or ego, allowing us to follow the lord Jesus in newness of life, as a new person in him. The cross is the indispensable means by which God fashions us into His anointed one’s image. Being liberated from sin (justification) and being transformed into his image (i.e. renewed towards perfection) are what constitute the Christian life; and this life is a great and wonderful experience.

It costs us nothing to believe, but it costs us everything to follow and to imitate him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John:10:27).

If the Jesus is our Shepherd (lord and savior) and we are his sheep, the question is not whether the cost of following him is too high but, rather, “what is the cost of not following him?” It is a question of surviving or perishing, of life or death. We simply can­not afford not to follow him.

We were buried together with [gr. Syn] him through baptism into death, in order that as God’s anointed one was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united together with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of his resur­rection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified together with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be ­slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died together with God’s anointed one, we believe that we shall also live together with him [in a bond of union and identification]. (Rom:6:4-8)

If we are united with him, how can we not follow him? If we are united with him, how can we not conform our lives to his? Those who are truly united with him will certainly imitate him (conform their lives to his).

Many who profess to having been Christians for a long time, yet who have never experienced the reality of the new life in God’s anointed one. They know they are still enslaved to the power of sin, to the self, to covetous­ness, to worldliness. Not having exper­ienced the reality of the Christian life, they finally realize that they are unregenerate. Why then are they still unregenerate? Beloved, it is because they have never died with him. They haven’t been united with him in his death and therefore cannot enter into the new life in God’s anointed one.

Is this true of us as it was for the lord Jesus: “The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” “If we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” The word “likeness” here refers to our being made to imitate him in his death and resurrection?  Our old man was crucified with him; so now we are called to work out what God has worked in us; that “working out” is what imitating Christ means.

We thus arrive at the striking realization that salvation has to do with “imitating Jesus” from beginning to end. God our Father began that salvation process in us, and will complete it in us in when He brings us to final perfection through the lord Jesus. Now we see why Jesus is called “the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews:12:2).

For our part, although we cannot die Jesus death, we can die “in the likeness of his death”. What does that mean? Just as he died to sin (v.10), so we die to sin. In this way we share in the likeness of his death to sin; it is a death to sin like his.

The counterpart to “the likeness of his death” is “the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans:6:5). His resurrection is what makes the new life not just a possibility for us, but a reality in us. Dying with him is not an end in itself but the doorway into the new life in God’s anointed one. In this new life, we are like God’s anointed one, in that the life we live we live to God (Romans:6:10).

Faith commitment that doesn’t respond in total obedience to the Lord’s call is not a faith commitment that leads to new age life. If we die with God’s anointed one, our lives won’t be the same. Our relationship to the world will change beyond recognition. Believing by itself changes nothing. Following God’s anointed one will change everything. Identifying with God’s anointed one in his death and in his life will turn your life upside-down. It will sever your link to the world. You will view the world with different eyes. To be “in God’s anointed one” always refers to life, the new life in God’s anointed one, which will be brought to its full consummation at the Resurrection (1 Corinthians:15:22). God won’t finish His work in us until He has changed us so completely that we won’t recog­nize ourselves!

If we have died with God’s anointed one, we now live in him, and experience the power of the resurrection life as we “walk in newness of life” (Romans:6:4).

The true Christian, the one who lives in God’s anointed one, is one who follows him and models himself on him, imitating his holiness, his merciful­ness, his wisdom, his single-minded focus on his mission, his communion with the Father. He patterns his whole life on Jesus, and follows in his footsteps from the first step to the last. That first step is to walk into the grave—into death—having been crucified with him.

The command to be perfect is a call to be like God’s anointed one, to follow in his steps, to identify with him in every aspect of our lives. It is a call to take up our cross [denial of self] and follow him daily (Luke 9:23) Day by day the cross [death to SELF] will transform our thinking. We are being made conformable to his death (Philipians:3:10). As a result we experience his power and victory in our Christian lives. We will follow the lord Jesus day by day, learning to think his thoughts, and going in the direction his spirit as he leads us. We learn to do all things with the salvation of others in mind, for Jesus died not for himself but for others.

If we have not died with the lord Jesus, we cannot avoid being the center of our own thinking. But when we imitate him, he will be the center of our thinking. That is why we look to Jesus (Hebrews:12:2). The purpose of looking to Jesus is to imitate him and the pattern of his life. As we progress towards perfection, our focus will move away from ourselves to God, the Father of the lord Jesus.

If we are still the focus of our own lives, then we are still unregenerate. But if we focus on God in all things, remarkable things will take place in our lives. When we forget about ourselves and focus on Jesus as the pattern of our lives, amazing things will happen; we will experience God’s work in us and through us to others. We now pursue a goal that transcends ourselves. If we follow Jesus example, living for the sake of others, our lives will be focused.

It is in that focusing on him that we are being changed into his image by God’s power. Moreover, imita­ting Jesus keeps him in the center of our hearts and minds constantly.  “If any man is in God’s anointed one, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians:5:17).

Quotes from “Becoming a New Person” by Eric Chang. Edited by Bruce Lyon

God’s salvation is not unconditional. It is conditioned on obedience to the truth.

Hebrews 5:9: being made perfect, he became the author of age upon age salvation unto all them that obey him.