BECOMING LIKE JESUS
A. Introduction: We are talking about who Jesus is and why He came into this world, according to the men who
walked and talked with Jesus—the eyewitnesses who wrote the documents in the New Testament.
1. A brief review of points already covered: Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God. Two
thousand years ago He took on a human nature, and was born into this world so that He could die as a
sacrifice for sin. By doing so, He opened the way for human beings to be restored to their created
purpose, through faith in Him. John 1:14; I John 4:9-10; I Pet 3:18; John 1:12-13; Eph 1:4-5; etc.
a. God created human beings to become His holy, righteous sons and daughters—people who are fully
glorifying to Him, and completely pleasing to Him in every thought, word, attitude, and action.
b. Sin disqualified us for this purpose. But when a man or woman acknowledges Jesus as Savior and
Lord, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God can justify that person or declare them not guilty of sin.
1. God then imparts His life and Spirit to that person and makes them His son or daughter. The
Bible uses several terms to describe what happens when God, by His Spirit and life, comes into
our innermost being—new birth, regeneration, and Christ in us. John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5; Col 1:27
2. This inward new birth or regeneration is the beginning of a process of transformation that will
ultimately deliver every part of our being from sin, corruption, and death and restore us to all
that God intends us to be—sons and daughters who are like Jesus.
c. Jesus is not only the one who obtained God’s family through the sacrifice of Himself, He is also the
pattern for the family. God wants sons and daughters who are like Jesus. We don’t become Jesus.
We become like Him in His humanity—like Him in holiness, love, character, and power.
1. Rom 8:29—For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son
(conformed to His image) so that his son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters
2. Jesus, in His humanity, is the standard for God’s family: Whoever says he abides in Him
ought—as a personal debt—to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked
and conducted Himself (I John 2:6, Amp).
2. This process of transformation (conformity to the image of Christ) is carried out by the Holy Spirit.
Remember, God is Triune. God is one God who simultaneously manifests as three distinct, but not
separate, Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
a. These three Persons co-inhere or share on Divine nature. The Father is all God, the Son is all God,
and the Holy Spirit is all God—not three Gods, but one God who is Triune. God’s nature is beyond
our comprehension. We simply accept what the Bible reveals about Him with awe and reverence.
b. The night before Jesus was crucified, He told His apostles that, up to then, the Holy Spirit had been
with them, but He would soon be in them. John 14:17
1. Jesus said that the Father and the Son would come to live in those who love and obey Him.
The Father and the Son live in or indwell the believer through the Holy Spirit. John 14:23
2. When we believe on Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and do in us and through us all
that Jesus provided for us on the Cross, including conforming us to the image of Christ.
3. Becoming like Jesus is not automatic or instantaneous, and we must learn to cooperate with the Holy
Spirit as this process of becoming like Jesus is underway.
a. We must accept and work toward the standard for Christian life—live and walk as Jesus walked.
We must learn to live with an awareness that God is in us to strengthen and empower us to do so.
b. We must exercise our will toward the necessary changes we need to make in our words, thoughts,
attitudes, and behavior. We’re going to begin to talk about these issues in tonight’s lesson.
B. Jesus died to produce a transformation in us. It begins with a change in the direction of our lives—He died
for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead they
will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them (II Cor 5:15, NLT).
1. Because of the effect of Adam’s sin on the human race, we are born with a bent toward selfishness, a
natural inclination toward selfishness—a fallen, sinful nature that puts self first. Isa 53:6
a. That’s why, when Jesus began His public ministry, His first words were repent—change your mind
(Matt 4:17). Turn from sin and from living for yourself to living for me, my way. Jesus said that
those who follow Him must take up their Cross and follow Him.
b. Matt 16:24-25—If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions,
shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But
if you give up your life for me, you will find true life (NLT).
1. Taking up your cross is a word picture for complete submission to the will of God, even when it
is difficult. That’s what Jesus’ Cross was for Him. Note Jesus’ prayer to His Father the night
before His crucifixion: My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away
from me. Yet I want your will not mine (Matt 26: 39, NLT).
2. Luke 9:23 adds that we are to take up our cross daily. When you bow your knee to Jesus as
Savior and Lord, you make a general decision to follow Him, but it must continually be
reinforced by thousands of smaller decisions to do God’s will throughout your lifetime.
2. We think the will of God means what car I should buy, or which job to take, or what ministry I’m
supposed to have, etc. That’s not 1st century (New Testament) Christianity. These ideas come from a
20th century westernized version of Christianity that is man-centered rather than God-centered.
a. It’s very common to hear teaching that proclaims that Jesus came to give us an abundant life in this
life. He came to fix our problems, make us successful and materially prosperous, and give us the
desires of our heart, as we live a full, satisfying life. He’ll give me the life, the car, the job and the
ministry that I desire, because He loves me and wants me to happy. That’s the will of God for me.
1. All of those ideas are based on Bible verses taken out of context. God’s will is expressed
through His commandments which are recorded in His written Word.
2. Doing the will of God (being in the will of God) means doing what is morally right in every
situation and circumstance—according to God’s will which is revealed in His written Word.
b. Jesus summed up God’s will for you and me in two commands: Love God with all your being, and
love your neighbor as yourself. All His commands are summed up in these two. Matt 22:37-39
1. This love is not an emotion. This love is an action that is expressed through our obedience to
God’s moral will and our treatment of other people.
2. John 14:21-23—Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me…all who love
me will do what I say (NLT).
3. When a person believes on Jesus, God imparts His life and Spirit to that person and they become an
actual son or daughter of God by second birth. The process of transformation has begun.
a. Because of this union with Christ through shared life and Spirit, our identity changes from sinner to
holy, righteous son or daughter of God. John 1:12-13; I John 5:1
1. I Cor 1:30-31—But you, by your union with Christ Jesus, are God’s offspring; and Christ, by
God’s will, became not only our Wisdom, but also our Righteousness, our Holiness, our
Deliverance, so that—in the words of Scripture—Let those who boast, boast about the Lord
2. II Cor 5:21—God made him who knew nothing of sin to be Sin on our behalf, so that we,
through union with him may become the Righteousness of God (20th Century).
3. Eph 2:10—The truth is that we are the handiwork of God. By our union with Christ Jesus we
were created for the purpose of doing the good actions which God had in readiness, so that we
should devote our lives to them (20th Cent).
b. However, although we have received His righteousness and holiness, this new birth doesn’t make us
like Jesus in every part of our being.
1. Despite this infusion of life and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our thinking patterns, attitudes,
and emotions remain the same and our behavior does not automatically change.
A. We must put forth effort to change our attitudes and the way we think. We must get
control of our emotions and actions and bring them in line with God’s will. Paul referred
to this as putting on the new man.
B. Eph 4:22-23—Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is
corrupt through deceitful desires, and…be renewed in the spirit of you minds. And…put
on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (ESV).
2. The Holy Spirit is in us to help us love others, be at peace, be joyful, get control of sinful desires
and unChristlike attitudes and thoughts. But we have to exercise our will (chose to say no to
them), and then He strengthens us inwardly to follow through on that choice.
3. Exercise your will doesn’t mean try to change by sheer will power alone. Exercise you will
means to have a heart attitude of “not my will but your will”, with an expectation and
dependence on God the Holy Spirit to help you follow through.
C. Let’s look at some things that Paul (an eyewitness of Jesus) wrote to Christians. His epistles were written to
explain what Christians believe, what has happened to us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and how
we are supposed to live in light of what has happened to us.
1. Several of Paul’s letters follow a similar pattern. First, he tells believers who and what they are now
that they are born of God and in union with Christ by the Holy Spirit.
a. Then he follows with specific statements about behavior: Don’t lie, steal, fornicate, get drunk,
gossip, or complain. Be kind and compassionate. Serve one another. Forgive, and walk in love.
b. Paul’s message to Christians was: God is in you by His Spirit to help you, strengthen you, and
change you. Now, choose His will over yours. Note how Paul prayed for people:
1. Eph 3:16—And I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner
strength through his Holy Spirit (NLT).
2. Eph 3:20—Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to
accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope (NLT).
2. Paul also made it clear that although God is in Christians to help them, they must make some hard
choices. He challenged a group of believers living in the city of Corinth with the fact that, because God
was in them, they had lost the right to behave any way they wanted.
a. I Cor 6:19-20—Or don’t you know (are you not conscious, Williams) that your body is the temple of
the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for
God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body (NLT).
1. Paul wrote these words in the context of exhorting believers to avoid sexual sin: Your body
belongs to God now, and you have no right to join it to someone other than your spouse.
2. As Paul made his point, he stated two incredible facts: Don’t you realize that your bodies are
actually parts of Christ (I Cor 6:15, NLT). The person who is joined to the Lord becomes one
spirit with him (I Cor 6:16, NLT).
b. God is in you to help you, but you must exercise your will and surrender to this fact: Your spirit
and body (all of you) belong to God now. Because He is in you, you no longer have the right to do
what you want to do.
c. But, the Holy Spirit is in you to help you. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John14:16).
Comforter (in Greek) means someone called alongside to give aid (help). The Holy Spirit is a
Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby (Amp).
3. Paul wrote to Christians living in the city of Philippi: He exhorted them: Dearest friends, you were
always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be
even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence
and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what
pleases him (Phil 2:12-13, NLT).
a. Fear and trembling means fear of God (not as in terror), but reverence, respect, and honor for
Almighty God. This fear of God is a deep and reverential sense of accountability to God.
b. Recognize the weight and seriousness of the fact that Almighty God has indwelled us. This should
inspire us with awe and reverence, as well as gratefulness for what He has done and is doing.
c. Paul followed this statement about God working in us with these words: In everything you do, stay
away from arguing and complaining…you are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a
dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your light shine brightly before them. Hold
tightly to the Word of life…so that my words will not be useless (Phil 2:14-16, NLT).
4. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians while he was in jail for preaching Jesus. When he wrote, he did
not know if he would live or die. At the end of the letter he thanked these people for their help and
concern for him—even though there was a period of time when they were unable to help.
a. Paul’s words give us insight into how he lived his life with the consciousness that God was in Him.
1. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or
little…I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or
empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the
strength I need (Phil 4:11-13, NLT).
2. Phil 4:13—I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me—I am ready for anything
and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me (Amp).
b. Paul knew that Jesus, by His life in him, by the Holy Spirit in him, was an inexhaustible fountain of
life to strengthen and sustain him as he faced the challenges of life in this fallen world. John 7:37-39
c. Paul’s will was set on—not my will but your will—and he experienced God’s help to sustain and
carry through. Phil 3:8; 12-14
D. Conclusion: We have more to say about all of this next week, but consider these thoughts as we close.
1. Our part in this process of being conformed to the image of Christ starts with recognizing that we have a
moral responsibility to live in a way that glorifies God, with the awareness that God is in us.
a. Col 1:10-11—Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every
good work and increasing in the knowledge of him. We also pray that you will be strengthened
with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need (ESV, NLT).
b. The supreme desire of our hearts should be to become increasingly more like Jesus in all of our
thoughts, words, attitudes and actions, our hearts set on—not my will, but your will—in every
situation and circumstances, even when it is difficult.
2. We’re finished works in progress—fully God’s sons and daughters but not yet fully conformed to the
image of Christ. But He who began a good work in us will complete it. I John 3:2; Phil 1:6
a. Note what Paul said about himself: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or
have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward the day when I will finally be all that
Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be (Phil 3:12, NLT).
b. Reading the New Testament is part of this process. God’s Word functions as a mirror that shows us
the wonderful changes in us because we are born of God. And it also shows us what still needs to
change as we surrender to the will of God and look to the Holy Spirit to help us. More next week!