“…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)
When we set our minds upon what Jesus has done for us (and who we are now, in Him) we can live as transformed people. When we set our thinking, in accord with God’s thoughts about us, we ARE transformed.
The Bible declares that to be “born again” means we are new creations in Christ.
But what is this new creation like? How shall we describe it?
The apostle uses as an amazing description… the new self (the new creation) has been “created to be like God!”
Take a moment to let that thought sink in.
The word for “created” in the original language describes an action completed in the past that may be continually applied in the present. It is a work done for us… for our benefit. But it is not automatic – it is a work that we must apply, by our faith (it is a pattern of the New Covenant with God… everything is by grace [God’s part] through faith [our part; as a gift from God])!
The word “created” also has direct ties to the concept of God’s original act of creation – when He created everything out of nothing. God is in the business of making something out of nothing! This especially applies to us. Jesus came to make something out of the nothing of our lives – and that something is always “like God.”
What God creates is always a reflection of Himself.
This is the perfect description of the new creation that we have become.
But the apostle takes it even further still… he describes what being “like God” entails – the new self is: “like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Righteousness, most generally, refers to right actions. The kind of actions that God does – always right, always out of love, always with justice in Mind… always.
Holiness, most usually, refers to right “being.” The kind of Person that God is. Always good, always committed to what is true and just… always.
If all this is too difficult for us to grasp, all we need to do is look at the life and ministry of Jesus. He WAS true righteousness and holiness. He was God with us – so we could actually see righteousness and holiness for ourselves. We no longer had to imagine (or try to conceptualize) the righteousness and holiness of God – Jesus came to make them known. He came to make HIM known.
Jesus not only came to be our Savior but to show us what the new creation was supposed to look like… it was to BE like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is not something we gain through years and years of faithful Christian ritual, training, and/or living. This is something we ARE because of what Jesus did for us. Immediately…. upon receiving what His work has done for us.