Imitation Christianity

Imitation Christianity comes from Hebrews 13:1-7 and is a part of our Sticky Faith series.

At the start I need to encourage you to read and study the Scripture passage for today, and not tune me out if you are not a parent. Although this series is called Stick Faith, taken from a book to which Skip referred last week, my message this week and next week are all about living out Christianity and our faith in real life, whether you’re a parent or not.

How many of you remember the 1967 anti-smoking commercial, “Like father, like son?” It was about a father and 4-year-old son doing things together, and the little boy imitated the father’s actions: painting the house, hand signals while driving in the car, washing the car with a sponge and hose, throwing a stone on a country road, resting at the base of a tree together, and then dad lights up a cigarette, only to see the little boy pick up the pack, too. “Like father, like son?”

As a kid, I remember hearing the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, that is really not an option.

The lesson is that our children are constantly watching us, and they learn from us. The challenge is to always act as if our kids are always watching, because you know, they really are watching. As they get older, they will see whether our actions match our words.

The same goes for any follower of Jesus, people who are unchurched and lost look at YOU to discover if Christianity is real or fake. As believers, this is an awesome responsibility. Remember that witnessing is not so much what we go out and DO, a witness is who we ARE. Our choice then is to be a GOOD witness or a BAD witness. It depends on who we are imitating.

In other situations, people say that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” People can see someone they admire and seek to imitate them in there humor, golf swing, their attire, or some other preference or attribute. Think about sports icons, movie stars, and other famous people… that is why celebrity endorsements are so important. When the celebrity uses that product, we are more willing to take a risk and purchase that product.

The word imitation usually has a negative connotation because it would appear to be fake. “That handbag is an imitation.” “That jacket is imitation leather.” Or “My Bible cover is imitation leather, not real leather.”

Have you ever heard the compliment, “He’s a model citizen” or “She’s a model Christian?” I’ve had some concern over the term “model” because what does that phrase really mean? Especially when the definition of model, is basically, “an imitation of the real thing.” We want to be an authentic Christian, not an imitation or model Christian.

Today I’m going to talk about imitation Christianity. Not the fake stuff that people can use as evidence to prove that we are hypocritical in our behaviors related to our beliefs, but that fact that we are to imitate Christ, and the fact that others, like our children and unchurched people, will judge our authenticity by how we live out our faith in real life.

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

I suppose there are none of us who will stand up and confidently say to anyone else, “Imitate me” or “if you want to know what a Christian looks like, look at me.” I am convinced that the longer we walk with Christ, the more we realize that we have so much farther to go in order to conform into the image of Christ.

Today we are looking at Hebrews 13:1-7, a passage that William Barclay calls the “Marks of the Christian Life…” To see this in the context of imitation, we have to take a look at the previous chapters to see the progression of Hebrews concerning living by faith:

  1. Examples of faith – Hebrews 11 – the power of Faith in Christ
  2. Encouragements to faith – Hebrews 12 – the power of Hope in Christ
  3. Evidences of faith – Hebrews 13 – the power of Love in Christ

So, faith, hope, and love, then it All Comes Down to LOVE…

Remember that LOVE is an action word, more than just that warm fuzzy feeling you get when that special someone walks into the room. If love is what defines us a Christians (John 13:35), then how does that love manifest itself in everyday life. Let me quickly suggest 6 ways we can demonstrate love, right out of this Hebrews 13 passage, and those around us can watch and imitate.

1. Community (Hebrews 13:1) – Literally (brotherly love, let it remain)

  1. Deep fellowship is not based on race or relationship, or nationality alone, but on the spiritual life we share together in Christ. Koinonia is all about sharing this common life in Christ.
  2. Fellowship based on anything else but the love of Christ will not last.
  3. When we “let love of the brethren continue,” (meno) it means that love must remain, abide, last, endure.

2. Callers (Hebrews 13:2) – I use the word callers (for someone who makes a short visit), basically, the command is to NOT neglect to show hospitality for strangers.

  1. Where there is love, there is hospitality; a great biblical example is the found in the times of the NT, travelers, no inn, dispersion (sent away from Jerusalem), itinerant preachers.
  2. An OT example of entertaining angels is in the story of Abraham (Genesis 18) where he welcomed the strangers who were said to be angels (meaning messengers).
  3. The command here is the word neglect. This word indicates the subject does the action to itself. So, you all remind yourselves to show hospitality. (There is the same use of remember in Hebrews 13:3).

3. Convicts (Hebrews 13:3) – We are to show compassion and concern for prisoners.

  1. Back in the day, Christians were arrested and imprisoned for their faith, so while identifying with prisoners may be dangerous, Christ’s love demands that we minister to them (Matthew 25:36, 40).
  2. “Remember” is the command in the sentence (you all).
  3. While we are not jailed for our faith, there are many parts of the world where Christianity is outlawed; so pray for the body of Christ around the world.

4. Companion (Hebrews 13:4) – Purity for spouse and other relationships

  1. The home is the first place where Christian love should be practiced.
  2. This text tells us to hold marriage in honor, but our nation has taken a path that does just the opposite.
    1. The first point is that marriage must be in the will of God; so, not to be unequally yoked, and that fornication and adulterous relationships have no part in marriage.
    2. Secondly, children watch mom and dad to learn how marriage works, and they will watch how you treat each other. While no one is perfect, and no marriage is perfect, in general, your daughter will grow up seeking a man like her father, and your son will grow up to be like his father.
  3. Beware of other sexual sins that kill relationships; we live in a culture of tolerance and acceptance of all types of behavior that cannot be described as pure or undefiled.

5. Contentment (Hebrews 13:5-6) – Our character must be free from the love of money; be content with what you have.

  1. When we love God and others as we should, then we will have a right relationship with material possessions.
  2. Covetousness actually means the love of money, or a love for MORE of anything, whether we need it or not. What does it take for a person to be satisfied? Usually the answer is, “little bit more.” We are able to earn money, but we are not to love it (Hebrews 13:5b-6).
  3. God promises not to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b). Contentment cannot come from material things that can never satisfy the heart, but God…
  4. God promises to be our helper (Hebrews 13:6). This verse comes from Psalm 118:6, a messianic psalm that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, which is a source of great peace to the early believers. During persecution, what can they do to me?

6. Conduct (Hebrews 13:7) – Imitate their faith, those who led you, the result of their conduct. The point is that we have the potential to impact others for the kingdom’s sake.

Ok, now let’s look at some OBSERVATION that is Practical; notice the acrostic W.A.T.C.H…

W – Worship

Corporate Worship: Kids are watching to see if you are involved in the…

  • Singing – are you singing or just standing there?
  • Reading – do you open up the Bible to follow along?
  • Praying – are you engaged, with head bowed, or checking your watch and smartphone?
  • Listening – How do you actively listen, taking notes to make comments later during the week, perhaps at dinnertime?
  • Giving – Parents, do your kids see you giving during the offering time, or is it always just passing the plate? Do they have something to put in the plate so they can practice giving?
  • Opening up to the Holy Spirit – How does the message move you, or the worship experience? Are you open to the movement of the Holy Spirit? Are you sensitive to the Spirit moving in your children? Are you able to guide them in spiritual matters?

Personal Worship: The times at home, in private.

  • Do they know about your person devotional habits?
  • Do they see you reading, praying, listening, pouring out your heart to God, seeking him, seeking his direction in your life, confessing, cleansing, adoring God, and thanksgiving?
  • Or perhaps your faith is just for Sunday mornings at 11:00. When our faith is not that big a deal to us, how can we expect the faith of our children be any stronger?

A – Actions

  • Do people see in your life the evidence of the Holy Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
  • What about in service to other people? Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.
  • I believe that our world is seeking authenticity in what we say we believe and how it affects our behavior and attitudes.

T – Testimony

  • How did you come to know the Lord? Do your kids or friends know how you came to faith in Christ? What you did to get saved? When it happened? Why it happened?
  • How did you know that God was speaking to you? How do you know when God is speaking to you NOW? How can your kids know that God is speaking to them? How can you encourage it?
  • How can you challenge others when they move in a direction that is contrary to the Bible?
  • How did your kids come to faith in Christ? How can you know for sure that they understand the gospel and what it means to be saved?

C – Church

  • Your attitude toward the church (worshipping, loving, giving, attending, praying)
  • Your activities in the church (serving, teaching, helping, supporting)

H – Holiness

  • How are you becoming more and more like Jesus Christ? We are made into the likeness and image of God, so how does God’s holiness flow out of you?
  • Are you honest with your kids or close friends about your struggles in life? Your disappointments? Fears? Hopes for yourself, for your family, for your children?
  • Are there sins over which you have victory? What about things with which you still struggle (sharing within reason)?

Sticky Faith and Next Steps:

  1. We get what we are – modeling sticky faith, we are the primary guides in our kids lives; they generally become that which we are, including faith, religion, prejudices, preferences, habits. How about anyone you are discipling? Are they imitating you because you imitate Christ? Or are you replicating yourself? Remember that water cannot rise above its source.
  2. We will get what our kids think we are – more important than what parents believe is what teenagers perceive their parents believe.
    1. Right or wrong, this is quite subjective because we can be totally sincere and authentic lovers of God and followers of Jesus and our kids can still think we are judgmental, bigoted, hypocritical, fakers.
    2. We must strive to life with integrity and live above reproach.
    3. If we don’t live in integrity, and we really are not living with authenticity, then student leaders “can’t out-teach what you teach at home (David Fraze). A positive guide can be, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, what evidence would there be to convict you?” Let the evidence speak for itself, the Holy Spirit will convict your kids of the truth.
  3. There are many ways to model and build sticky faith in front of your kids or other people – each parent has to find their own channel to stay in tune with Jesus, utilizing quiet times (in the morning, while jogging, driving to work), and devotional times, and reading.
  4. Who does God want you to invest in and impact?
  5. Why is it so difficult to be content? Honest self-evaluation.
  6. In what ways are you a Christian worth imitating?
  7. In what ways will you encourage a fellow believer this week?

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Complete in Christ

What does it mean when Paul says he aims to present every man complete in Christ?

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all (B)wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)

Sanctification is not something described as an automatic process. Believers need instruction to promote their growth in godliness. This instruction focuses on Jesus Christ, not some counterfeit theology. The authentic Jesus with the doctrines we call Christology and Soteriology… these are truths about who Jesus is, and what he accomplished in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

There are two things we NEED:

  1. Teaching – instruction from others. (positive)
  2. Warning – help in order to avoid wrong behavior and attitudes. (negative)

Think about it… WHICH of these do you prefer to hear?

WHAT should be the ratio in each sermon you’ve heard or Bible study your attended? The KEY is WISDOM, in order to be effective. We need to pray for teachers and preachers, leaders given by God to help mature believers in their faith.

The PURPOSE of all of this Paul writes about is to present every man complete in Christ. This is what Paul mentions in passages like in Colossians 1:22.

Does Paul mean that EVERY person will be presented complete, saved, and transformed? Meaning, does Paul preach Universalism? Here he means everyone (Jew as well as Gentile) rather than everyone, like everybody. The issue of the day meant that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to be Christians.

WHAT were Paul’s means of accomplishing his goal?

  1. Proclaiming Christ (Colossians 1:28)
  2. Preaching God’s Word (Colossians 1:25).

Of all the topics that can be taught in a class or from the pulpit, it is worth nothing without the proclamation of the gospel. If someone is not saved, a good “how-to” or encouraging message is like putting a new suit on a corpse (think about Joel Osteen’s messages). The gospel is what transforms a person from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness into his kingdom of light.

And what IS the gospel? Remember 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

What IS the Gospel Slide

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Human Recall Notice

This is an e-mail floating around; I’ve seen it before, but thought it was appropriate to send out as we approach the new year (after all, the Mayan Calendar’s end is just 12 months away). Let’s set things right before we get to the end! While corny in a way, there is a lot of truth in this “recall notice.”


The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been identified as “Sub-sequential Internal Non-morality,” more commonly known as S.I.N.

Some of the symptoms include :

  1. Loss of direction
  2. Foul vocal emissions
  3. Amnesia of origin
  4. Lack of peace and joy
  5. Selfish or violent behavior
  6. Depression or confusion
  7. Fearfulness
  8. Idolatry
  9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect. The Repair Technician , JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.

The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R .

  1. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure.
  2. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus .

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!

P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by Knee mail.

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Becoming Holy, Becoming Ourselves

The primary passage for today is from Ephesians 1:3-6, focusing in on holiness. I listen to K-Love radio here in town and I love this song by Jason Gray. Here are a few lines from his song:

Now I won’t deny the worst you could say about me.
But I’m not defined by mistakes that I’ve made,
Because God says of me

I am not who I was, I’m being remade; I am new
I am chosen and holy and I’m dearly loved, I am new

Too long have I lived in the shadows of shame
Believing that there was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn’t see me the way that I do

Holiness is not talked about much these days, but the Bible is clear that God is the holy One who desires for us to be holy as well (Ephesians 1:4) and even Peter gives an imperative to, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). In many people’s minds, holiness is more associated with an attitude of superiority, like saying someone has a “holier than thou” attitude, which is actually found in the Bible (Isaiah 65:5), where in the King James says, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” The NLT puts it this way, “Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you.”

Perhaps the single most important attribute the Bible gives for God is his holiness. The most familiar may be found in Revelation 4:8, where “each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” So what does it mean to become holy?

First: I read recently that to be holy in a Christlike way, is in fact to become more truly ourselves.

  1. The point is that we should become the person God intends for us to become; no masks, no deception, no hypocrisy.
  2. We are to be people of integrity, be the same person on the inside and the outside, always being real and authentic.

Second: When we use Jesus as our example, we discover that he was a holy servant who relates to others.

  1. He mingled with people
  2. He hung out with sinners
  3. He knew lost people
  4. He made outcasts feel relaxed
  5. He accepted people unconditionally

The relationships he had developed with others were characterized by awareness, insight, and responsiveness:

  1. He noticed Zaccheus hiding in a tree (Luke 19:4, 5)
  2. He heard the passionate cry of a blind beggar in a noisy crowd (Matthew 20:29, 30)
  3. He took time for a foreign woman in distress over her daughter being cruelly possessed by a demon (Matthew 15:22, 28)
  4. He felt power leave him as a hurting woman touched the hem of his robe (Matthew 9:20-21, 22).

To become holy is to be less concerned with self, and more focused on the needs of others around us.

Third: Jesus also has a devoted closeness with the Father, and his single passion was the kingdom of God. The Bible teaches that Jesus was concerned with one thing, to do the will of the Father.

  1. Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house (or about my Father’s business)? (Luke 2:49)
  2. I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30)
  3. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24)
  4. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
  5. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:4)

Without developing our intimacy with God, holiness will always be out of reach. Holy people are the ones who have made God and his mission first place in their lives.

How to Become Holy:

H – Heaven

  1. Presence: we will live in God’s presence. Focus on the spiritual discipline of solitude.
    1. Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2)
    2. Spent the night in prayer before making a huge decision (Luke 6:12-13)
    3. Sought the Father in a time of stress (Luke 22:41-42)
  2. Preparation: for heaven. Focus on the spiritual discipline of Bible study.
    1. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
    2. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. (John 17:17)
    3. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:13)
    4. Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. (Luke 11:28)
    5. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
  3. Pursuit: being blameless and spotless. Focus on a bride being presented to her groom.
    1. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14)
    2. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)
    3. I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2-3)
  4. Paul: he called himself the chief of sinners. Focus on the worst person, yet still forgiven and made ready for heaven.
    1. No one is perfect, yet we have a new motivation for right behavior.
    2. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)
    3. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

O – Obedience

  1. Commands: of Christ, his conditional statements: Here are some awesome results for our obedience.
    1. Showing Our Love for Christ: If you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15)
    2. Abiding in God’s Love: If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love (John 15:10)
    3. Perfecting God’s Love: But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:5-6)
    4. Having God Live Within Us: If a man loves me, he will keep my words (John 14:23)
    5. Experiencing God’s Love: Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them (John 14:21)
    6. Knowing Christ Intimately: And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments (1 John 2:3)
    7. Being a Truthful Witness: If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth (1 John 2:4)
    8. Being a Friend of Jesus: You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14–15)
    9. Having Prayers Answered: And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him (1 John 3:22)
    10. Bearing Much Fruit: When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father (John 15:7–8)
    11. Loving One Another: We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2–3)
    12. Being a True Disciple: I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:34–35)
    13. Demonstrating Ultimate Love: This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:12–13)
    14. Obeying the Great Commission: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19–20)
  2. Confirmation: evidence of a changed life. Focus on metamorphosis, like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly (Romans 12:1, 2).
    1. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
    2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

L – Lordship

  1. Confidence: about Christ. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws. (Matthew 7:21-23)
  2. Crucified: with Christ. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  3. Compassion: of Christ. Think of a heart transplant. Jesus had compassion:
    1. On the multitude without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
    2. On the hungry (Mark 8:2)
    3. On the ill (Matthew 14:14)
    4. On the blind (Matthew 20:34)
    5. On the demon possessed (Mark 9:22, 25)
    6. On the lepers (Mark 1:40-41)
    7. On the bereaved (Luke 7:12-13, John 11:33)
    8. On the lost (Luke 15:20, 1-2)
  4. Conviction: fire insurance in one’s spiritual life may be when we say yes to escape hell but are not really that interested in the things of God. Check out these lyrics by Jason Gray.
    1. More like falling in love, than something to believe in. More like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance. Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now, It’s like I’m falling in love…
    2. Remember that we do not make Jesus Lord of our lives, he is already the Lord; will we submit to his lordship?

Y – Yourself

  1. Conversion: Take off the old self, put on the new self. Make sure that you add this part to your story. Become the person God intends for you to become. He doesn’t save us for us to go right on living the same old way we did before encountering Christ.
    1. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    2. Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)
    3. In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted (Ephesians 4:22)
  2. Conforming: to the imitation of Christ. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son (Romans 8:29)
  3. Conduct: yielding to the Spirit’s leadership. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. (John 14:17)

Self evaluation is an essential component as we live the Christian life, to always make sure we are of the faith (1 Corinthians 11:28, 31).

There is security in Christ because our salvation does not depend upon our own efforts, but there is an element of being in partnership with God. Check out this verse:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Our challenge today is to become holy. At the beginning I mentioned that when we become the people that God created us to be, we become like Christ, and therefore please him beyond anything else, that we are walking in the truth (2 John 1:4, 3 John 1:4).

MercyMe has a song called, So Long Self:

So long self
Well it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else
So long self
There’s just no room for two
So you are gonna have to move
So long self
Don’t take this wrong but you are wrong for me farewell
Oh well, Goodbye, don’t cry
So Long Self

Become the person God has meant for you to be. Look over the list in the bulletin again. Decide today that your goal is holiness.

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Becoming Holy

One of my passions is to encourage people toward higher levels of commitment to Christ and His church. The Bible says we are to become holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). But what does that really mean?

The holiness we are to exhibit is not our own, but the holiness of Christ in us. We are not holy, not will we become holy humans. Christ in us can manifest His holiness only if we will yield our flesh to Him. This is not a human operation; it is a spiritual one. Jesus lives out His holiness in us by grace. It is not a once-for-all-time transaction; it is a daily, moment-by-moment striving to live more by the Spirit and less by the flesh.

Becoming holy is a process that includes God’s part and our part. On one hand, our part is to stay out of God’s part—to yield, to surrender, to stop seeking God on our own terms. But our part also is to obey. It is to enter His rehabilitation program.

When you put yourself under a doctor’s care, he cannot help you if you don’t follow his instructions. As the patient surrenders his own good ideas and obeys the doctor’s prescription, he becomes well. The same is true in sanctification. If you and I want to be made holy, then we must willingly surrender ourselves to His care, and we must also actively obey His instructions.

We have no more power to make ourselves holy than a dying man has to save himself. We are weak and tired, and we cannot offer much help. However, we can submit to His rehabilitation program—sanctification. The key to our part is faith—to seek Him in obedience.

(From Walking with Christ in the Details of Life by Patrick Morley)

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The Growth of Faith

In my Bible study class, this week we began Second Peter, which involves much less suffering, more practical application; dealing with developing faith, denouncing false teachers and God’s design for the future! Here’s a little outline I noticed so far:

  1. The proclamation of the righteousness of God (2 Peter 1:1-2)
  2. The multiplication of the virtues of God (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  3. The additions by the people of God (2 Peter 1:5-9)
  4. The examination of the calling of God (2 Peter 1:10-12)
  5. The revelation to the apostle of God (2 Peter 1:13-15)
  6. The transfiguration of the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-18)
  7. The inspiration of the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21)
  8. The deviation of the enemies of God (2 Peter 2:1-3:4)
  9. The condemnation of the former world of God (2 Peter 3:5-6)
  10. The destruction of the present world of God (2 Peter 3:7-12)
  11. The creation of the future world of God (2 Peter 3:13-18)

The Place of Faith:

  1. What spiritual disciplines have helped you the most in your Christian walk? Some responses were prayer, personal study, worship, solitude, and even fasting.
  2. What are some things that we have received from Christ (2 Peter 1:3, 4)? The point is that God has given us everything we need pertaining to life, and godliness. He does not withhold things from some people to fending for themselves. There are precious promises given to us so that we can become more like Jesus Himself.
  3. We listed all the character traits that God wants us to develop (2 Peter 1:4-7), which are faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The Progression of Faith:

  1. Faith is the foundation upon which everything else is based.
  2. Moral excellence is the first step or confessing sin and getting rid of the things that the world and the flesh want us to do. We are changed people and do not need to behave like those around us. It answers the question, “What are we to do?”
  3. Knowledge is the “Why?” we strive for moral excellence.
  4. Self-control may be the “How?” Since moral excellence can be difficult, once we understand why we are to live differently, self-control allows us to say no to sin, and yes to God every time. Singer/songwriter Mylon LeFever had a song decades ago, “Love God, Hate Sin.” Pretty Good credo to live by.
  5. Perseverance allows us to stand strong while we exercise self-control. Hold on to the end, endure, and be steadfast in your walk with Christ.
  6. Godliness is the goal, to become more like God. We will never become a God (like some religions profess) but we are to be like Him (1 John 3:2, Romans 8:29).
  7. Brotherly kindness is the byproduct of our growing in godliness. When God invades your heart, the Fruit of the Spirit becomes evident (Galatians 5:22-23).
  8. Finally, love is the quality that defines who Christians, are. The world will know that we are His disciples by our love (John 13:35).

The Purpose of Faith

The goal is growth. We must possess these qualities in increasing measure (2 Peter 1:8), so if they are not, make sure that He has really called you, or adopted you into the family (2 Peter 1:10), because this is the way into His eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).

Commentary:

Peter portrayed the nature of the Christian life with its challenge to spiritual growth and maturity. His readers’ spiritual safety lay in their understanding the nature of their new life in Christ and in their spiritual growth and maturity. Appreciating these realities is the best antidote against succumbing to error.

The Believers’ Resources (2 Peter 1:3–4)
To rekindle an appreciation for the resources God had given his readers, Peter reminded them of God’s power and promises. Many Christians have forgotten how much God has forgiven them, or they have appreciated His forgiveness only superficially. This appreciation is the key to growth in the Christian life.

Grace and peace are possible since God has given all Christians everything they need to lead godly lives. These resources are available through knowing Jesus Christ more personally. To make progress in godliness no believer can get along without God’s Spirit and His Word. These become ours as we appropriate His worthy and excellent promises in the Bible that enable us to overcome our temptations.

The Believers’ Needs (2 Peter 1:5–9)
Having established the believer’s basic adequacy through God’s power in him and God’s promises to him, Peter next reminded his readers of their responsibility to cultivate their own Christian growth. This was to correct any idea they may have had that they needed to do nothing more because they possessed adequate resources.

Since believers have resources that are adequate for a godly life, we should use them diligently to grow in grace. Escaping the corruption of lust takes effort (see 1 Timothy 6:11–12; 2 Timothy 2:2). We must apply all diligence, our most basic responsibility for experiencing Christian growth (2 Peter 1:10, 15, 3:14). To their faith, as a foundation, believers need to add seven qualities with God’s help. Each virtue contributes to the total growth of the saint. Peter arranged the virtues in a random order but presented them so each one receives emphasis. Failure to work on these virtues will make us “ineffective” and “unproductive” as demonstrators of His life (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). The absence of these virtues gives evidence of spiritual blindness to the realities connected with relationship with God, in particular, shortsightedness.

The Believers’ Adequacy (2 Peter 1:10–11)
Simply practicing what Peter had just advocated would prepare his readers adequately for the future. They had no need for the added burdens that false teachers sought to impose on them.

Other people could see the divine nature more clearly in the Christians who added the seven virtues named. This would make God’s calling and election of them clearer to everyone. Also by adding them we can walk worthy of the Lord without stumbling along the way. By pursuing Christian growth we give evidence that God really did call and choose us. One of the greatest motivations for purposing to grow in grace is that when we go to be with the Lord He will welcome us warmly.

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Do You Want to Grow Up?

The purpose of today’s lesson is to desire spiritual growth. When have you wished, at least for a moment, that you were not an adult? What people and events has God used to move you toward maturity? Make a list or create a timeline. As much as you are able, re-enter those events, and thank God for what happened then.

The apostle Peter opens this section of his letter by insisting that his readers “grow up in your salvation.” Read 1 Peter 2:1-12. What is it that made 1 Peter 2:4 especially important to the first century Christians?

1. What characteristics of spiritual maturity do you find in this passage?
This question leads to an overview of the passage. Notice characteristics inhibiting spiritual maturity in 1 Peter 2:1. Note that our maturity begins with God; he chooses us (1 Peter 2:4). The implications of being chosen by God become more fully evident in our relationships with other believers, as described in 1 Peter 2:9-10, and are lived out in particular ways that point to an eternal future (1 Peter 2:11-12). Maybe we can rephrase the question, “What forces do you see in this passage that lead a person toward spiritual maturity?”

2. Peter speaks here of two aspects of Christian growth: individual and corporate. How might the five inner sins of 1 Peter 2:1 damage our relationships with other believers? When have you seen this kind of damage?
Don’t settle for a mere recitation of the sins listed in verse. Discuss how each one corrupts Christian relationships.

3. What does the metaphor in 1 Peter 2:2-3 suggest about how we should nurture spiritual growth?

4. How does belief or unbelief influence the way a person understands Jesus, the living Stone (1 Peter 2:4-8)? What are some of the effects of these differing points of view?
Find several phrases that represent the two opposing points of view. Discuss the differing effects of belief and unbelief. 1 Peter 2:8 raises the question “Does God destine some people to be eternally lost?”

5. What would you expect to see in a person who had imitated Jesus and become a “living stone”?

6. What reasons do the people here have to praise God (1 Peter 2:9-10)?
What is the “royal priesthood” mentioned here? The New Bible Commentary points out that throughout Old Testament history a division existed between kingly functions and priestly functions. In fact, King Saul received severe condemnation from Samuel when he attempted to combine the two roles (1 Samuel 13:5-15), but believers in Christ are both royalty and priests before God.

7. As you look more carefully at 1 Peter 2:9, think of Christians you know. What steps could you take in these Christian groups to live up to this description?

8. What inner and outer battles do you see in 1 Peter 2:11-12?
Consider both what we are together as well as what we do.

9. 1 Peter 2:11 repeats a now familiar theme in this letter, that Christians are aliens and strangers in the world. How might living up to the description of 1 Peter 2:9 cause a Christian to be alienated from the world?

10. The New Bible Commentary interprets 1 Peter 2:12, “the day [God] visits us,” as “the day God will visit the earth and search out man’s hearts in judgment.” If this were to occur in your lifetime, what evidence would you want God to find of your own spiritual growth?

11. How could today’s passage help you overcome a tendency to be a spiritual Peter Pan?
Thank God for specific forces he has brought into your life that have drawn you toward spiritual maturity. Ask for his care in further preparing you for the time when you will meet him face to face.

Going Deeper
Take a prayerful look at spiritual maturity as Peter describes it in his letter. Place this alongside several areas of your life and evaluate your progress in that direction. Where appropriate, give yourself spiritual goals, noting a date when you will look back at your notes and evaluate your progress. These questions below may help guide your thinking and praying.

  1. Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander keep me from growing to spiritual maturity (1 Peter 2:1). I need to root these out of my life by …
  2. God calls me to spiritual maturity by joining me with other Christians as a “spiritual house” 1 Peter 2:5), “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). I need to work on this spiritual connection with other Christians by …
  3. Christian maturity means that I am never quite at home in this world. I am an alien and a stranger (1 Peter 2:11) who wants to live in a way that causes even current non-Christians to “glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12). I will express my alien status in this world by …

An adult Peter Pan is only a shadowy shape of an adult. In what ways would it be tempting to follow Peter Pan’s approach to life? What happens when a person refuses to grow up? Why might some Christians intentionally limit their spiritual growth?

How do you respond to Peter’s description of you (1 Peter 2:9)? In what dark rooms in your life has God turned on the light? How does 1 Peter 2:11 encourage you and relieve your anxiety about temptation, or make you feel defeated? What war or struggle are you facing that only Jesus can overcome?

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