Faithlife Sermons

Growing Christ-like Character

The Good Book  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:37
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While Jesus loves you right where you are, His love won't let you stay where you are. Those who KNOW Jesus are expected and empowered to GROW in Him, and GO to those who need to know Him. Today we discover what that looks like in real life.

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We’ve covered a lot of Bible over the last 7 weeks; from the beginning of creation through the Teachings, Writings, & Prophets. Then when crossed from the Old Covenant/Testament into the New Covenant/Testament, where God-in-skin shows up to teach the truth, touch the sick, offer Himself for sinners, raise from the dead, and ascend to heaven. Just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit indwells the lives of believers and empowers them to walk in purity, love one another, & take the Gospel to the planet in the power of the Spirit.
And while Jesus loves you right where you are, His love won't let you stay where you are. He loves you with all of your sin, but Jesus didn’t die to leave you in it. Those who KNOW Jesus are expected and empowered to GROW in Him, and GO to those who need to know Him. And that’s what our last stop in the New Testament - the epistles or letters -are all about - Growing Christ-like Character. .
VIDEO: Christy’s Story [Let’s watch a video where we see the whole process of developing Christ-like character]


The first step of Growing Christ-like character is making sure you KNOW the One true God.
The Scriptures were given to us so that we could KNOW who God is and what God says. Without the Scriptures we would be blindly following a god we have made instead of boldly following the God who made us. The God of "The Good Book” wants you to KNOW Him!
One of the most asked questions I hear from folks goes something like this: “How can I know that I know Jesus? One of the best ways is to answer 2 questions:
What do you believe [about Jesus]? That is, do you follow the Jesus of Scripture or your "Build-a-bear” version where you build a version of Jesus that makes you happy?
How do you behave? If Jesus is King of your life, there should be some spiritual fruit in your life. Do you have a desire to walk in purity & share your faith? Or are you just resting on your ‘blessed assurance’ of some decision you made years ago because you felt guilty? Biblical belief in Jesus is more than an intellectual ascent of knowing Jesus existed. Biblical belief, as we have said many times before, is total trust.
Biblical Belief = Total Trust
Sadly, much of ‘Christian culture’ within America has swallowed an unbiblical lie from the enemy that says, “Just believe in Jesus. You don’t have to live holy. In fact, you CAN’T live holy, so why even try.” And yet that’s the opposite of what the writers of the New Testament epistles/letters say.
Here are a couple of examples:
James/Jacob, the half-brother of Jesus didn’t say it was enough to believe. He taught that real faith/belief led to good works.
James 2:18 CSB
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works.
James/Jacob says blows up the myth that all that it’s just about ‘having faith’. Real faith or total trust LEADS to works, actions that show what you believe. People don’t do good works to BE made right with God; they do good works because they ARE right with God. As we often say here, you have to put feet to faith.
Paul agrees. Look what he writes to Titus, his young apprentice.
Titus 1:16 CSB
16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
It’s one thing to claim to know God, but our works demonstrate whether we really do or not. This week you will read from Romans, a letter where Paul writes these words:
Romans 12:1 CSB
1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.
Here is Simon Peter’s take, one of 3 closest of disciples of Jesus.
1 Peter 1:13–16 CSB
13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
One of the evidences to make sure we KNOW Jesus is a desire and pursuit to live HOLY lives.
No desire nor pursuit of holy lives? John, one of the 3 closest disciples of Jesus, addresses that with these heavy words.
1 John 2:3–6 CSB
3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: 6 The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.
Wow! That’s super-clear, huh?
QUESTION What is the evidence how we know that we know Him? Answer: Simply, obedience to Jesus. To know Jesus means we trust Jesus. To trust Jesus means that we obey Him. Lack of obedience indicates lack of trust.
QUESTION So, based on these New Testament letters from the first followers of Jesus, would you say, “Just believe in Jesus. You don’t have to live holy. In fact, you CAN’T live holy, so why even try”?
Of course not.

BIG TRUTH: Christians are empowered & expected to be growing in and going in Christ-like character.

We must first KNOW Jesus, having turned from our sins and having putting total trust in what HE has done for us. He finds us right where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He loves us too much.
Now it’s time to GROW in Christ-like character.


The 2nd step in Growing Christ-like character is making daily decisions to develop spiritual disciplines.
So, how in the world can we grow Christ-like character? You ask great questions! Today I want us to focus in on 2 last passages for this series. One is Peter’s version of Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22).
Let’s read the passage and then dig deeper.
2 Peter 1:3–5 CSB
3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge,
In other words, God empowers & expects us to live different than our Christ-less culture does. And here’s how that happens and what that looks like.
2 Peter 1:5–7 CSB
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Each characteristic in the passage is perfectly demonstrated by Jesus Himself. Consequently, followers of Jesus are to make every effort to supplement your faith, that is, give your best to grow in these additional Christ-like characteristics.
First believers are commanded to supplement their faith (trust) in Jesus with goodness [NET excellence, NAS moral excellence, ESV virtue]. Our faith must be lived out. We must convert what we believe into how we behave. And the behavior of the believer is to be moral excellence - PURITY.
90 Day Fiancé and Sexual Purity I’ve been watching a show called “90 Day Fiancé” where people from overseas travel to United States with a “K-1 Visa” and must get married within 90 days to stay and get a green card. Sadly, it seems that every couple, even those who claim to be Christians, are sleeping together; that is EXCEPT for the Mormons. They are EXPECTED to walk in moral purity and wait for marriage. Thankfully, 2 Christians on the show made the commitment to walk in moral purity, what Peter calls goodness.
Then we must add knowledge to our goodness. God wants you to grow to know WHY you believe WHAT you believe. You must READ and LEARN from the Scriptures and from OTHERS. Ask your questions. Dig deeper. Become a student who grows in knowledge. Don’t stay in spiritual infancy. Don’t give God your leftovers! Pursue knowledge of who God is and what God says!
We must also grow in self-control & endurance. These 2 attributes are essential parts of growing to maturity. When we are tempted to sin or strike back when treated poorly, we step back and do what’s right…over and over again. The more you respond with self-control, the more endurance is developed. Rather than failing over and over again, we learn from our poor decisions and get back up to conquer the mountain that once conquered us.
Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide were the first humans to successfully ascend Mount Everest. Hillary, having failed to reach the summit on a previous attempt, addressed the mountain in the presence of a crowd. He reportedly said, “Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow … but I’m still growing!” A year later, Hillary proved himself larger than the mountain.
Spoo, Deron. The Good Book: 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible's Biggest Ideas (Kindle Locations 4482-4486). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
Don’t wallow in your past. Get up! Keep GROWING! Develop self-control and endurance in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you!
Further, we are pursue godliness.
Michael Green defines godliness as “a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of life” (Peter and Jude, p. 70).
Of course this is exactly how Jesus lived, a human being practicing the Presence of God every minute of His life on earth.
How might that impact your thoughts, attitudes, & actions this week? Paul wrote Timothy, “Train yourself in godliness” (1 Tim 4:7). (1 Tim 4:7).
QUESTION: What are YOU doing to train yourself to be aware of God in every aspect of your life?
Finally, the believer is to model the Master by showing brotherly affection, & love. Jesus treated those who obeyed God as family (Mark 3:35), with a warmth and willingness to have the other person’s best interest in mind. Further, Jesus modeled the ultimate picture of sacrificial love, as the ultimate servant gave His life as a ransom for others (Mark 10:42–45).
2 Peter 1:8–9 CSB
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.
The person who grows in these Christ-like characteristics with be useful and fruitful. Those who refuse to pursue these Christ-like characteristics is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Obviously, that is NOT acceptable in the life of those who claim Christ.

BIG TRUTH: Christians are empowered & expected to be growing in and going in Christ-like character.

We are to KNOW Jesus and GROW in Him. Finally we must GO to our Christ-less culture.


In case you haven’t noticed, our culture is not in real good shape. God is still at work and lives are still being transformed by the good news of Jesus, but culture is becoming more and more apathetic to what is true, good, and pure. Many claim Christ, but very few obey Christ.
Why is that? There are at least 3 reasons:
Some people don’t want to be confronted with their sin. They dilute their guilt with alcohol & other drugs. They don’t like to be around people who walk in purity, because it shows them people CAN actually control their sinful impulses.
Some people don’t see the difference in Christians. People who aren’t living healthy who try to sell health products or encouraging others to join their gym usually aren’t very successful. You know why that is? If we’re gonna make a difference, there’s got to BE a difference.
Some Christians don’t care enough to share. Somehow, some of us have convinced ourselves that either a) God is going to show everyone mercy b) somebody else will share with them, so we don’t have to. But what if that’s not the case?
Elaine in car accident: This past week my sister was in a bad accident. Thankfully, outside of a little soreness, she and my nephew are okay. My sister and nephew are both committed followers of Jesus. But what it they weren’t, and what if my loved ones were badly hurt or worse? What if that were the case with one of OUR family members or friends?
We must be prayer & careful when we get the opportunities to share our faith in Jesus. Paul writes it this way.
Colossians 4:2–6 CSB
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, 4 so that I may make it known as I should. 5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Pray and stay alert for what? Paul is talking about Himself as well as the church being prepared to act wisely and use gracious and savory (salty) speech toward those who don’t know Jesus yet - outsiders. May the Lord use US to SHOW & SHARE the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. May we not be hypocritical nor apathetic as we GO to our Christ-less culture.

Christians are empowered & expected to be growing in and going in Christ-like character.


KNOW who God is and what God says by staying in the Scriptures daily. Take the 10-minute challenge & pray throughout the day.
GROW by doing what God says and doing life with other believers. In your discussion groups you have talked about what you have learned, how you have been challenged and encouraged. You have shared what you have read & prayed together.
Write down the name of another believer that you WILL contact this week to talk purposely talk about spiritual growth.
SHOW your friends & family who Jesus is. (Pray, serve & share why).
Bill Bright: One of the greatest examples of someone who demonstrated what it means to grow in Christ-like character is the late Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Bill came to KNOW Jesus and wanted to GROW in Jesus. But he didn’t want to stop there. Bill wanted to SHOW Jesus to others which led him to start Campus Crusade for Christ, focusing on developing devoted disciples of Jesus across college campuses.
Just weeks before his death, Brent Crowe and his father in law, Jay Strack, of Student Leadership University, went to see Bill Bright. Sitting across from his friend, Jay and Bill chatted. Brent Crowe recalls when Jay asked Bill about that yellow tablets on one side of him and the books on the other. Bill responded, “These are books I’m writings and these are books I’m reading.”
Why? This man, even days before death, was still GROWING and SHOWING Jesus to others. Oh that we would take the task we have been given with this kind of purpose & drive.

Christians are empowered & expected to be growing in and going in Christ-like character.

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