Transformation Begins with Abiding ~ blog
There are a number of passages where Paul teaches us that if we are to grow into godlier and more Christ-like people we are going to have to work at it. In writing to the Corinthians, he says;
“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1Corinthians 9:26-27)
He is using an illustration of athletes and how they compete in the games. They do not compete just for fun. They compete to win. They work out and work out hard. They push themselves to become faster and stronger. They exercise self-control in all things like their diet, their sleep, who they hang out with.
They do it to get a perishable wreath or today people compete for a gold medal. However, what we should be training for and working hard to attain are eternal rewards that are imperishable. God is going to reward us when we get to heaven for everything we have done that glorified the Lord in our life.
Now I know that most of us are not interested in eternal rewards. They are too far in our future and we really do not know what they will be. We tend to think more about are we going to get into heaven and that will be good enough for us … not what will God be giving us when we get there.
However, what we need to know and focus on is what do we need to do today so that we are abiding in Christ moment by moment every day and being transformed by the Spirit while we are in the process of abiding.
The first step of abiding in Christ is that there must be a connection. Are you connected to Jesus like a branch is connected to the vine? We are all connected with Christ through our faith in Him. We are part of His family. We know God is our Father, the Son of God is our Savior and Lord, and the Spirit is our counselor and comforter. We have been sealed with the Spirit who will remain in our bodies forever.
So, there is a very strong connection between us and God. It is eternal and maintained by God Himself. However, the question is not are we in the family of God but are we drawing from God what we need to live a life of godliness? Are we receiving the life-giving input we need every day? Are we experiencing Him and His power to change us and help us overcome temptation?
I have to admit that for years my answer to that question was NO! I did not make a concerted effort every day to strengthen my relationship with Him. I did not take my spiritual growth seriously. I figured I had learned enough in seminary and was studying the Bible every week to prepare sermons. So, I was having a professional relationship with God to be able to do my job as a pastor … but my heart was far from Him.
So, maybe that is where abiding begins. God having your heart. That we are working on this every day giving our heart and mind to Him. Abiding requires a surrendering of our heart and mind to Him so that He can fill us with the Spirit and begin to change the things we feel and the thoughts we have.
Our actions are the result of what we believe and what we feel. This is so critical. Notice what we learn from Peter in 2 Peter 1:
“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
What a powerful passage for us. It tells us that God has given us everything we need to live a godly life through our knowledge of Him. And in learning His precious and magnificent promises we can become partakers of the divine nature while escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Do yourself a favor and memorize that verse. We have everything we need for living a holy life through having a true knowledge of Him. The problem is we are not having a true knowledge of Him by learning His precious and magnificent promises. We can talk a lot about our favorite Netflix shows, how our favorite sports teams are doing and even what is going on with the impeachment process currently unfolding.
So, obviously, a central and critical part of abiding in Christ is to have His word abiding in us. We need to stop being conformed to the image of this world by immersing ourselves in trivial entertainment of our day and otherworldly pursuits and begin to daily being transformed by the renewing of our minds. This we are told to do in Romans 12:2;
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
More on this tomorrow …