True Christianity does not consist in the observance of religious rites and ceremonies; the Jews did that. Nor does it consist in outward morality and the performance of religious activities; the Pharisees had that. Nor is it the mere acceptance of the teachings and doctrines of Christianity by an intellectual assent to the same; “the devils also believe and tremble.” Nor is it altruism and humanitarianism; secret fraternities claim to practice that. Real Christianity is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27.) The command is, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” (II. Cor. 13:5.) This implies a real, living, present, indwelling personality.
In Heb. 3:14 we read, “We are made partakers of Christ.” And just in proportion as we partake of Christ in that proportion is our Christian life a success. We are not simply to ask “What would Jesus do?” and seek to be imitators of Christ, but we are to be indwelt by Him, so that He re-lives His life in us. Christ in us and we in Christ, even as the branch is in the vine. He said, “Abide in me and I in you. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 15:4, 5.) This implies a personal contact, a reciprocal relation, and a vital union with Christ. Thus
I. Christ becomes our life. Col. 3:4.
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” As the branch can have no life in itself only as it abides in the vine and partakes of the life of the vine, so we can have spiritual life only as we partake of His life. Sin separates the soul from God. The prophet has said, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you.” (Isa. 59:2.) The sinner being thus separated from God by reason of his sins is morally and spiritually dead: “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1.) Life can only be known and perpetuated as a result of contact with life. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (I. John 3:14). “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the son of God hath not life.” (I. John 5:12). Not only is “Christ our life, but we are to be
II. “Partakers of the Divine Nature.” H. Peter 1:4.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The “nature” determines our likes and dislikes. Swine will wallow in filth and mire because it is the nature of the beast to do so; lambs and sheep just as naturally take to a clover patch, seeing it is their nature to do so. A certain bird is ever on the lookout for carrion and delights to alight on a carcass because it is the nature of that bird to do so; the humming bird will just as naturally alight in a flower garden, seeing it is the nature of humming birds to take to flower gardens. As we partake of the divine nature we will naturally delight in those things that Christ delights in and abhor that which is evil. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II. Cor. 5:17.) It is not difficult to give up and turn away from that which we do not want. Not only may we partake of the divine nature, but
III. “We have the Mind of Christ.” I. Cor. 2:16.
While the ‘”natural man” cannot know “the things of the spirit of God,” they who have become “spiritual” will receive the revelations of the spirit, and thus wilt know” that which “eye hath not seen nor ear heard.” While men may learn what was the mind of Christ in respect to some things in the past, by a study of the record left us, no one can “have the mind of Christ” and be like minded, only as that mind is revealed by the spirit to the inner consciousness. In order to know the mind of another, one must be in very close and confidential relations. The “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (II. Cor. 4:4.) “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God. Now we have received . . . the spirit which is of God, that we might know.” (I. Cor. 2:11,12.) ‘To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6.) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5.) Not only have we “the mind of Christ,” but also
IV. “The Spirit of Christ.” Rom. 8:9.
“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” A man may say and do the right thing in the wrong spirit. To have the “spirit of Christ” will effect the motives lying back of the act, the tone of the voice, the tempers or dispositions of the soul, and gives to us in all things the Christ attitude. “It was not what you said nor what you did, but the spirit in which you said or did it that hurt me.” A man may preach, or pray, or give of his money in the wrong spirit. The “spirit of
Christ” is the spirit of humility, of obedience, of compassion, of forgiveness, and of holiness. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (I. Cor. 6:17.) And having His spirit, we are to b
V. Conformed to His image. Rom. 8:29.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” We are to be a facsimile, an exact copy or reproduction of His glorious likeness or image. When God first made man, he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” (Gen. 1:26, 27.) By reason of sin that divine “image” and “likeness” has been marred and lost. But when justified fully and sanctified wholly, we are again changed and restored, until we look like Jesus — morally and spiritually. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” (11. Cor. 3:18.) Holy as He is holy. (I. Pet. 1:15); Righteous as He is righteous. (I. John 3:7;) Pure as He is pure. (I. John 3:3). “Partakers of His holiness.” (Heb. 12:10.) “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” (I. John 4:17.)
“We shall not wait until the glorious dawning,
Breaks on the vision so fair,
Now we may welcome the heavenly morning,
Now we His image may bear.”
Samuel Rutherford, the saintly Scottish Presbyterian divine, said: “Christ is more to be loved for giving us sanctification than justification. It is in some respects greater love in Him to sanctify than to justify, for He maketh us like Himself in His own essential portraiture and image in sanctification.” Then we are to:
VI. Walk even as He walked. I. John 2:6.
“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.” This relates to our activities — our manner of living and service. A man is known by his walk. If we “walk even as He walked,” there will be no “crooked paths” and doing that we ought not to do; it is to be led and guided by His counsels and to regulate and order our whole life according to the rule and direction of His word and spirit. We are commanded to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” (Eph. 5:15.) “Walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4.) “We also should walk in newness of life.” (Rum. 6:4.) ”Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness.” (Eph. 4:1,2.) ”Walk honestly toward them that are without.” (1. Thess. 4:12.) “Henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph. 4:17), but “walk by faith” (II. Cor. 5:7), “in the light” (I. John 1:7), “in love” (Eph. 5:2), “in the spirit” (Gal. 5:16), “worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10.)
So we are not to be mere imitators of Christ, but to partake of Christ, so that He becomes “our life” and we have His “divine nature,” and possess His mind, and manifest His spirit, and bear His image, and “walk even as He walked.”