Becoming Mature Like Jesus: #3 "Like Jesus in Character"

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Like Jesus in Character

Becoming Mature Like Jesus #3

1 Peter 1:3—2:3

Refer to Shell survey on “Values”

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey drew a sharp distinction between the Character Ethic and the Personality Ethic.

  It was Charles Reade, English novelist and dramatist, who wrote, "Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny."

D. L. Moody:  “Character is what a man is in the dark.”

Abraham Lincoln:  “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Becoming mature like Jesus in character means that we become holy like He is holy.  John D. W. Watts, in an article on “holiness” in the New Bible Dictionary, wrote that holy is  “A characteristic unique to God’s nature which becomes the goal for human moral character. The idea of ‘holy’ is important for an understanding of God, of worship, and of the people of God in the Bible.”

1. Holy Means WHOLLY OTHER.

(1 Pet 1:15-17 NIV)  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; {16} for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." {17} Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

We march to the beat of a different drum.  We are to be holy because God is holy!

“Holiness is not the way to Christ, but Christ is the way to holiness.”

“You cannot walk with God and run with the devil.”

2. Holy Means WHOLE.

{18} For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. {20} He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. {21} Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. {22} Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. {23} For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. {24} For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, {25} but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

In v. 18, Peter talked about being “redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.”

   R. J. Stewart:  “ Holy has the same root as wholly, it means complete. A man is not complete in spiritual stature if all his mind, heart, soul, and strength are not given to God.”

(Eph 5:18 NIV)  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”  “To be filled with the Spirit” does not mean that you get more of God; it means that God gets more of you!   “To be filled with the Spirit”  means “to be controlled by Christ.”

3. Holy Means WHOLESOME.

(1Pet 2:1-3 NIV)  Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. {2} Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, {3} now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

(1 Cor 1:2 NIV) “ To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--their Lord and ours.”

 (1 Cor. 3:17 TLB)  “If anyone defiles and spoils God's home, God will destroy him. For God's home is holy and clean, and you are that home.”

Christians are called to holy living (1 Cor. 1:2; 3:17). They are saints who lead godly, righteous lives. Being sanctified, or made holy, is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s atonement that calls for obedient submission from those who have been saved. Christians are holy because of their calling in Christ, because of His atonement for their sins, and because of the continual ministrations of the Holy Spirit. They are holy inasmuch as they receive and submit to these saving and sanctifying agents.

“The Christian is not ruined by living in the world but by the world living in him.” 

 F. B. Meyer: “The supreme test of goodness is not in the greater but in the smaller incidents of our character and practice; not what we are when standing in the searchlight of public scrutiny, but when we reach the firelight flicker of our homes; not what we are when some clarion-call rings through the air, summoning us to fight for life and liberty, but our attitude when we are called to sentry-duty in the grey morning, when the watch-fire is burning low.  It is impossible to be our best at the supreme moment if character is corroded and eaten into by daily inconsistency, unfaithfulness, and besetting sin.”

George Munzing:  “If you cheat in practice, you'll cheat in the game. If you cheat in your head, you'll cheat on the test. You'll cheat on the girl. You'll cheat in business. You'll cheat on your mate. Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Romanian rulere Nikolai Ceausescu was one of the crulest dictators of this century.  After years of viciously persecuting Christians and killing  all potential threats to his power, he instructed the National Opera to produce a song in his honor.  Included in this song were to be the words, “Ceausescu is good, righteous and holy.”   He wanted this sung at his seventy-second birthday on Dec. 25, 1989.  Instead, he and his wife were executed a month earlier on Dec. 25, 1989.  God opposes the proud. (James 4:6 NIV)--  “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

CONCLUSION:  Suppose you came to visit me one day and found me working in my greenhouse.  (For this story’s sake, let’s pretend that my thumb is green.)  I explain to you that the greenhouse was a gift from my father.  He used state-of-the-art equipment to create the ideal structure for growth.  The atmosphere is perfect.  The lighting is exact.  The temperature is suited for flowers, fruit, or anything I want, and what I want is flowers and fruit.  I ask you to join me as I collect some seeds to plant.  You’ve always thought I was a bit crazy, but what I do next removes all doubt.  You watch me walk into a field and strip seeds off of weeds.  Crab grass seeds, dandelion seeds, grass burr seeds.  I fill a bag with a variety of weed seeds and return to the greenhouse.  You can’t believe what you’ve just seen.  “I thought you wanted a greenhouse full of flowers and fruit,” you say.  “I do,” I reply. “Then don’t you think you ought to plant flower seeds and fruit seeds?”  I reply, “Do you have any idea how much those seeds cost?  Besides you have to drive all the way to the garden center to get them.  No thanks, I’m taking the cheap and easy route.”  You walk away mumbling something about what a nut I am.

Everybody knows you harvest what you sow.  You reap what you plant.  Yet strangely, what we know when we develop land, we tend to forget when we cultivate our hearts.  Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse.  The similarities come quickly.  It, too, is a magnificent gift from your father.  It, too, is perfectly suited for growing.  And your heart, like a greenhouse, has to be managed.

Consider for a moment your thoughts as seed. Some thoughts become flowers.  Others become weeds.  Sow seeds of hope and enjoy optimism.  So seeds of doubt and expect insecurity.  Like Gal. 6:7 says, “People harvest only what they plant.”

The proof is everywhere you look.  Ever wonder why some people have the Teflon capacity to resist negativism and remain patient, optimistic, and forgiving?  Could it be that they have diligently sown seeds of goodness and are enjoying the harvests?  Ever wonder who others have such a sour outlook?  Such a gloomy attitude?  You would, too, if your heart were a greenhouse of weeds and thorns.

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