Becoming more like Christ is the desire of every believer, and it is encouraging to know that God has the same desire for us. In fact, the Bible says that God “predestined [believers] to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Making us Christlike is God’s work, and He will see it through to the end (Philippians 1:6).
However, the fact that God will transform us into Christlikeness doesn’t mean we can sit back and be carried to heaven “on flow’ry beds of ease.” The process demands our willing cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Becoming more Christlike requires both divine power and the fulfillment of human responsibility.
There are three things which contribute to our being more Christlike: our surrender to God, our freedom from sin, and our spiritual growth.
1) Becoming more Christlike is the result of surrender to God. Romans 12:1-2 says that worship involves a total self-dedication to God. We volunteer our bodies as “living sacrifices,” and our minds are renewed and transformed.
When Jesus said, “Follow me,” Levi left his money tables immediately (Mark 2:14); so do we freely surrender all we have for the sake of following the Lord. As John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30), so we focus more and more on Jesus and His glory, losing ourselves in His will.
2) Becoming more Christlike is the result of freedom from sin. Since Jesus lived a sinless life, the more we consider ourselves “dead to sin” (Romans 6:11) and live a life of purity, the more like Jesus we will be. As we offer ourselves to God, sin is no longer our master, and we are more clearly identified with Christ (Romans 6:1-14).
Jesus invites us to follow Him, and we have His example of obedience (John 15:10), sacrificial love (John 15:12-13), and patient suffering (1 Peter 2:19-23). We also have the example of the apostles, who modeled Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
When it comes to restraining sin in our lives, we have divine help: praise the Lord for the Word of God (Psalm 119:11), the intercession of Christ (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25), and the power of the Spirit who indwells us (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16)!
3) Becoming more Christlike is the result of Christian growth. When we are first saved, we are immature in wisdom and knowledge and inexperienced in grace and love. But then we grow. In each of these things, our charge is to become stronger—and more Christlike. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Right now, God works in us: “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). One day, however, the process will be complete: “When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The promise of being fully Christlike in the future is in itself motivation for becoming more Christlike now: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).