CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Called to Conform
A Heart Like Jesus
By Denise M. Kohlmeyer
Called to Conform
An in-depth series on the practical outworkings of Christ-like Conformity
A Messianic Mindset
A Heart Like Jesus
The Obedience of Christ
A Life Poured Out
Conflict and Suffering
Prior to the age of 21, I was already getting into bars with the help of a fake driver's license. I went to the DMV when I was 19 and lied that I had lost my driver's license. Then I used my older sister's information (she was 22 at that time) to get a new license, one that would enable me to get into bars. That act of deceitfulness actually cancelled out her valid driver's license and she could've gotten into serious trouble had she ever been pulled over.
But I didn't care. I wanted what I wanted. My heart's desire was to have fun, and I wasn't averse to using deceitful measures to get what I wanted, regardless of the cost to others. (Ironically, I came to the Lord at the age of 21, and then I did not care to get into bars, such was the transformation of Christ in my heart!).
Yes, the heart is deceitful (mirmah, "treacherous, false, dishonest") because it is desperately sick. Sick with sin. And this sickness afflicts every soul born on this earth. Every heart carries the "spiritual DNA" of deceit, thanks to Adam and Eve and that rebellious choice they made together in the Garden of Eden. Every unregenerate heart, therefore, is capable of great treachery (i.e. murder, rape, adultery, sexual immorality, violence, stealing, etc.) and committing every kind of false and dishonest behavior (i.e. lying, gossiping, backbiting, slandering, bullying, etc.).
A great deal of our lifelong conformity, then, is allowing Jesus, the Great Physician, to perpetually perform heart surgery on us, allowing Him to transplant our desperately-sick hearts with healthy, holy ones: ones which seek after God's good and godly ways, which pursue truth, integrity and honesty, and which live, as a result, in Christ-like righteousness.
A Heart that Seeks After Good in Order to Do Good
Once we have appropriated God's free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the Cross (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are then called to forsake our former evil, deceitful ways and instead seek (zéteó, "search for, strive after, desire, demand") after the opposite: that which is good (agathos, "agreeable, excellent, distinguished, what originates from God and is empowered by Him in their life, through faith").
• "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil" (Isaiah 1:16);
• Seek good, and not evil, that you may live..." (Amos 5:14, ESV);
"Depart from evil, and do good..." (Psalm 34:14, ESV);
• "...put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires..." (Ephesians 4:22, ESV);
• "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness..." (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV);
• "...let him turn away from evil and do good..." (1 Peter 3:11, ESV).
Jesus had this heart, 1 Peter 2:22 tells us, "He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth." Jesus did not speak deceit because He did not have a deceitful heart. His was a good heart which sought after the good of others. Always! From the moment he began His ministry, He pursued nothing but good and the good of others, by:
• Coming to earth to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10);
• Proclaiming the Good News (Luke 4:43);
• Teaching God's ways and the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:1-48; 6:14; Luke 8:1);
• Forgiving everyone who asks, even His enemies (Luke 23:34; 1 John 1:9);
• Expressing love to everyone (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:8);
• Praying for His disciples and the world (John 17:1-26);
• Healing people's physical afflictions (Matthew 9:1-8, 20-22; Luke 8:1-17) ;
• Serving others and not Himself (Mark 10:45);
• Pleasing God and not Himself (John 8:29);
• Fellowshipping with sinners (Matthew 9:10; Mark 2:13-17);
• Showing compassion (Matthew 9:36; Luke 7:13);
• Raising the dead (Luke 7:11-15, 8:41-55; John 11:1-44);
• Feeding the hungry (Matthew 14:13-21, 15:29-39);
• Speaking truth (John 12:49).
This was the heart, and heartbeat, of Jesus. And such should ours be too!
As Jesus' adopted brothers and sisters, we must follow His examples and do the same, as far as it is humanly possible and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Our conformity calls for us to cultivate this kind of heart, one that seeks after the good of others, like Jesus did, and then do it. We too must:
• Preach the Good News and teach God's ways (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8);
• Please (glorify) God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31);
• Love others with the love of Christ (John 13:35; 15:12);
• Pray for others, even our enemies (Luke 6:28);
• Forgive others (Ephesians 4:32);
• Serve others (Galatians 5:13);
• Feed the hungry (Matthew 25:44);
• Take care of orphans and widows (Psalm 82:3; James 1:27);
• Speak truth with love and grace (Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 4:6).
And so much more! There are innumerable ways in which we can seek after good and then do it. We only have to be prayerful, watchful, intentional, and then obedient to do it. Otherwise, God says, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them" (James 4:17).
It is when we do good — borne out of the goodness of our Christ-conformed hearts — that we ultimately express Christ in all His glory, and beautifully demonstrate that Christ is truly in us.
Image Credit: nwisth0; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Jesus-Christ | Sin-Evil
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Published on 4-17-17