God’s great mystery revealed in the New Testament is to bring all things in heaven and on earth under one head, even Christ (Eph. 1:9-10). God saves and sanctifies us in Jesus Christ to bring us under Him, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2Cor. 4:11). God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (5:21). Now see how these connect: Christ’s life itself is revealed in us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Christ IS the Righteousness of God, and we are to become of Christ.
God blesses us tremendously when He reveals this vital distinction between “becoming of Christ” and “becoming Christ-like” – the veil of deceit is removed! The glorious truth is so much better than “becoming Christ-like”! We participate in the divine nature (2Peter 1:4) – we are of it! Hallelujah! Worship Him with me now…
I think that Christians speak of “becoming Christ-like” because we still try to do so: as Watchman Nee noted, our (already crucified!) sinful self will always desire to have a righteousness of its own. Of course, our lives bear testimony right along with the Israelites of the OT that sons of Adam cannot please God of our own, no matter how hard we try or will it! In Romans 7, Paul described our plight as we try to become like God, culminating in this liberating confession: I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (vv. 18, 24). Progressively renouncing our old self, the sinful nature, Christians live more fully in and through God’s one and only Way to Him: Jesus Christ Himself. Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ, our Lord! (7:25).
The bottom line is that our loving heavenly Father would not have crucified His only begotten Son (and us with Him) if the sinful nature could be improved. God’s verdict was that it must die. And die it did at Calvary, two thousand years ago, praise Jesus! We who believe no longer live from that sinful nature, but Christ personally lives His resurrection life in us (see Romans 6:2-8). From the moment God saves us, He graciously proceeds to sanctify us; that is, through the outward discipline of the Holy Spirit and the inward separating of soul from spirit by His powerful word, God progressively transforms us from being soul-based to being spirit-based (see Heb. 4:12; Gal. 5:16-18). The battle is the Lord’s!
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal.2:20) He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30)
Counting myself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus with you, your sister deanna