CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
It is God’s full intent to conform, or mould into the image, and share the inward likeness, of his dear Son for all of those whom he fore-loved and justified. For He is the pattern of perfection unto whom the Father has set forth for all believers to be conformed. And that perfect image is that to which every professing believer should strive to imitate. 1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
The Lord God will enter into the effort with every true believer to attain to this conformity. For he will work it into them, in order for them to work it out. Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Therefore it will be worth our efforts to seek to find out how our Lord Jesus reacted to various persons and events, so that we can seek to pattern our mindset in like manner. 1 John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
First, let us see that Christ was surprised at spiritual ignorance in those to whom great spiritual revelations had been made! Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
He was astounded at his parent’s having sought him sorrowing. He said that there should not have been any question as to where he was; that there should never have been any situation wherein he was thought to be lost!
In those verses 40 through 42, listed above it is clearly shown that for twelve years his parents had witnessed the Holy Spirit’s anointing of him. He was “strong in spirit, and filled with wisdom.” And by this time Mary and Joseph had come together and had other children born to them. And just the comparison of these naturally born could never have reached these rich qualities of spirit which he evidenced! John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
And also none of these born of Joseph’s seed had been announced into the world by the mighty angel Gabriel, who stood before the Lord! And none of them had shepherds witnessing of a multitude of the heavenly hosts appearing to them, announcing his birth. And to none of them had a mysterious star shown forth to bring kings from the orient to trouble all Jerusalem, and present him rich gifts! And concerning none of their birth’s had an angel warned Joseph to flee with the young child into Egypt until Herod, who sought the child’s death, was dead. And due to the births of none of their other children were scores of children murdered, giving widespread and harsh grief to their parents, who saw their babies slaughtered before their eyes!
And yet! Here they were, accusing him of their sorrowful search, which, if they had known who he was they would have realized that he was about this Father’s business! (Take careful note of the two words, “father” in verses 48 and 49 listed above. One is in lower case, referring to Joseph, and the other capitalized, speaking of God!)
But this was not done by him in a rebellious spirit, for we read they even though they continued in their ignorance, he went home with them in submissive obedience. And the Holy Spirit continued his workings with him as before! Luke 2:50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
He truly was “a root out of dry ground.” For there was no emotional nourishment, no encouragement from human relations for our dear Saviour! His only source of encouragement was drawn from his heavenly Father’s reality to him. John 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
And here we are in the last days of human history, with every awareness of God’s involvement with mankind clearly made known to us. The scriptures have been fulfilled; “wars and rumors of war”; and true ‘revivals’ documented, with multitudes of God’s elect souls brought into the kingdom; and the issues of our own prayers having been dealt with by the abundant mercies of God. Yet we are living in a generation of whiney religionists blaming God for every discomfort! We don’t really know that many true believers! May God have mercy!
John 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
John 12:42 ¶ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Therefore it must not have been a true, spiritual “belief!” For had it been so, confession would have been made “unto salvation!” Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
And in this regard we must also examine the Lord’s dealings with the spiritual leader, Nicodemus, as recorded in the third chapter of the gospel of John. For there we see his disapproval of a religious leader with a definite lack of spiritual understanding. And this should also be included in our spiritual mindset! For too many carnal-minded lecturers occupy our pulpits, having no mind of the matters of the Holy Spirit.
Consider Christ’s question to Nicodemus: John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? And you then must realize that the Lord expected Nicodemus, with only an “Old Testament” Bible, to know about the new birth. And this was also shown in his rebuke of other Pharisees and religious offices of His day. Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Anyone with a “Bible College” education can be consider as a “candidate” for becoming a pastor in any of our religious groups. But a Bible course cannot equip a man to handle spiritual matters. And that is a great and eternal danger to our souls! 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
2 Peter 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Christ’s words are spiritual and must be spiritually conveyed. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
They cannot be effectually conveyed by those with just gifts of persuasion, nor by any with just emotional power, but only by the Holy Spirit! Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
But how could Nicodemus know of the new birth with only the Old Testament available to him? Consider these passages: Isaiah clearly speaks of a change of nature and of the Serpent’s defeat! Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And Jeremiah and Ezekiel reveal the Lord’s intent to invest the Holy Spirit into the hearts of lost sinners! Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: Ezekiel 36:25 ¶ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
And just how shall we come to know the spirituality of the truth set forth to everyone by the Bible? John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Spiritual truth is conveyed by the Holy Spirit to those who love and obey the Lord Jesus! John 14:22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But unthankfulness for previous goodness will dull our hearts towards Him. Mark 6:49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
Pastor Gene Breed
October 3, 2021