The word Christian means being Christ-like. Most people have head knowledge of this fact, but I wonder if what many of us have is simply head knowledge or heart knowledge of the true meaning of being or becoming Christ-like. Knowing and doing are not always the same. The scripture states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creature. The old is passed away, and the new has come.
What is the new? Newness in this context is a new nature. Romans 6 clearly explains that the flesh and the spirit are at war against one another, and Paul further teaches what must be done to allow the spirit to be victorious. While this is true, and this is what I teach, there is a little more practicality that I would like to bring into this subject.
Observe the Actions of Christ in Scriptures
Of course, the flesh has to be crucified for Christ to live through us, and this is a process. As with any process, there will be times of victory and times of failure. (Please note that I am not saying that is fine to be comfortable in sin.) The scriptures teach us what we must do when we have sinned and how to overcome that sin, but something that we often fail to do is to observe the true actions of Christ during His life on Earth.
Certainly, we will not be exactly like Him until we are in the eternal state, but we must strive to be as much like Him as possible while on this planet. When you read the gospels, there were several aspects of His life, ministry, and personality, yet, all of these aspects were perfectly balanced.
Christ went about doing good. He rebuked sin, but He loved the sinner. He associated with those that many deemed unworthy, yet He loved and visited the homes of certain Pharisees as well. He kept Jewish traditions contrary to many false teachings. He taught people to lay aside legalism, but He did not teach a free-for-all-anything-goes-gospel. He turned tables in the temple out of righteous indignation, yet, He loved those who were guilty of the abuses that took place in the temple. He was the perfect epitome of social justice. He treated people with love, rebuked people when necessary, and did not compromise the commands of His Father in the process.
Is it possible to be like Christ?
While I certainly do not believe we will be completely perfect in this life, we can live as Christ much more than what we do. Philippians 4:13 clearly states that you and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He came to live, die, and live again to give us what we need to be like Him. When you look at the context of Philippians 4:13, Paul was clear that Christ could and would strengthen us for both wonderful and horrible times as well as what lies in between.
To say that Christ excused sin is a lie. To say that Christ was ready to pound everyone on the head who was not doing everything perfectly is a lie as well. He came to seek and save those who were lost. There were times when He had to speak frankly and boldly. At other times, He spoke in kindness and gentleness.
Finding the Balance
How did Jesus balance these two polar opposite extremes? The answer is quite simple. He spent time with the Father. When reading the gospels, you will notice that He spent time with people, but He also spent time alone with the Father. He and the Father were and are one. He obeyed the voice of the Father.
Jesus gave us the capability to do the same when He sent the Holy Spirit. We can listen to the Father. We can obey Him. He will teach us through the Holy Spirit and His word how to walk in balance and avoid pendulum swings that range from abusing grace to rigid legalism.
We can live as Christ lived, but we will not live this way by accident. It will take surrender–total surrender to the Father. It will take time in prayer and the Word of God. It will take resolve. You can live as He did because He lives in you if you belong to Him, and He gave you just what you need to accomplish the Father’s will.