Last time I shared that Christian character is developing the characteristics ofJesus. His was the only perfect life. The best of us throughout history have had character flaws—except Jesus. So, when Jesus saves us, He saves us completely—body, mind, and spirit. Our salvation has three tenses. When we are born again, our sins are forgiven. That’s justification. When we get to Heaven, we will be free from the presence of sin. That’s glorification. As John says in his first epistle, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that whenHe appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just asHe is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3) The last sentence implies that in between justification and glorification there is another stage in our salvation—that’s sanctification. Sanctification does not determine our worthiness to get into heaven—that’s taken care of by our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Sanctification is the process of developing our character to be more like the character of Christ. The following chart gives a visual of the tenses of salvation.
Having received Christ, we are assured of the completion of our salvation in the presence of Christ in Heaven.In the meantime, God is working in us to make us like Christ.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to usHis precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4
What is our part in that process?
Last time, I stated, “Consecration is an Old Testament word that means to dedicate something or someone to God for service and worship. In the New Testament, the equivalent concept is sanctification. Sanctification means that God sets His people apart—they areHis. When a person is born again, he or she is set apart for God’s purposes.”
I see at least three areas where consecration effects our character.
Cooperation is a word we use to describe how people help each other succeed. A mother and her young daughter each had an ice cream cone. As they walked, the little girl dropped the ice cream off her cone onto the sidewalk. The compassionate mother placed her ice cream on her daughter’s cone. The girl said, “That’s cooperation.” Well, maybe.
The Bible talks a lot about obedience. What if we looked at obedience not only as a challenge, but more so as an opportunity to cooperate with God’s plan for our lives. When we obey God’s commands, we are cooperating with His plan and purpose for our lives. Even more, we are cooperating with His plan for all mankind. Here are three areas where cooperation changes us.
Collaboration is simply working together. Webster defines collaboration as “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” For our discussion,I will change one word—intellectual to spiritual. Again, I will address three areas where collaboration helps us develop Christian character.
As Christians we are called to be salt and light in our world. In other words, we are to be influencers. In order for that to happen, we need to become like Christ.Obviously, we are not to look like a first-century person physically. Our clothes and physical appearance will be much different than Jesus. So, what does it mean to “be like Christ?” The New Testament describes the born-againChristian’s actions and characteristics repeatedly. Galatians 5:22-33 sums it up like this: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Richard Stearns is president of World Vision. He began a devotional on FaithGateway.com with the following statement:
As followers of Christ, we bear the responsibility of demonstrating to the world what Jesus might look like were He to walk the earth today. Those who will ever enter the door of a church or read a Bible or hear a sermon can still know Jesus by watching us!
Christian character is summed up by being like Jesus. That’s healthy for us and critical for those around us. It’s also pleasing to God. In the following blogs, I will expand on what I believe it means to develop Christian character. For now, I will leave us with the following prayer from the ApostlePaul:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Colossians 1:9-12
 Richard Stearns and ReneeStearns, You May be the only Jesus Some People Ever See.Faithgateway.com, October 16, 2014.