I am glad to be able to write again tonight. I was wondering throughout the day what I was going to write about, when I was reminded of the following verse:
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 NASB
What does it mean to be "conformed to the image of His Son?" It is not a mystery, although many do not know what that verse means, because they have never been told, or even introduced to it. It means simply this; you, if you believe, will become like Jesus Christ, through the process of sanctification ("become conformed"). Now, you probably knew that, right? But did you know what it really means?
The above verse talks about predestination in the same way that we are predestined to be saved. However, in this verse, it is easier to understand, and easier to swallow, I might add. Being predestined for something means that God chooses it for you, and does it for you. All the while it feels like you are choosing, and I don't have the time here tonight to get into how that works, but suffice it to say our sanctification is not in our hands, through our efforts, at all.
The process and the events of sanctification belong to God. So does all of the effort. Just as Christ died for us a pure and sinless death that we couldn't die, so also God has provided the means of sanctifying us, literally of conforming us to the image of Christ. So many of us get lost in our efforts to obey Jesus that we either forget this truth, or never knew it to begin with.
Satan wants you to try, really, really hard. His temptations are designed to get you to try, and fail. And when you fail, what does that voice in your head tell you? How about a little self-condemnation to go along with all that SIN!!!!!? And would you like some fries with that burger?
Swallow it. That's what Satan tells you. "Buy the temptation so that I can run to God and accuse you in front of Him, and when that doesn't work, I'll be back to whisper in your ear just how rotten you really are." Have you ever felt like this?
I have, and sometimes I go for days forgetting the truth, forgetting grace. Can you imagine how miserable I get? Of course you can, if it happens to you. You know how to feel guilt. And you know how to try really, really hard. This world teaches us that by our efforts, we can make something of ourselves, so why would it be any different in our faith, right? It is different, because God says it is different.
You are predestined to become like the Son of God. You are a "can't miss" prospect. Even by trying to fail at it, still, God will have His way in your life, and you will be conformed to the image of Christ. That is what predestination means. We can try to be good. We can make our checklists, and try to make a plan for stopping the sins we commit so often.
Or, we can submit to God. The very best we can do as followers of Christ is to cooperate. The way we do that is to learn what God has to say about us in His Word, and believe that. The closer we come to believing and knowing who God says we are, the more readily we will submit to the Potter's Hands. Following Christ means following a person, not a set of rules. And we have the Spirit of God within us to make sure that happens. Romans 8:29 is only possible because of grace, not because of effort.
Now, I know that there are many who will say, "Be careful, you don't want to encourage the people to not try to be good." In response I will say this; I have yet to meet the person who once they understood what grace was, and understood that it was all God's doing, who "backslid" into a wretched constant no-good sinner. It is not even a possibility. God says we are predestined for sanctification. Do you believe it?
May the grace and peace of God the Father, and of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you, in your head, your heart, your entire body throughout this next day. You are the Beloved of God, and He will see to it that you are Holy.
Amen to that.