I listened to a sermon on Christlikeness today and afterwards felt the urge to reflect more on the topic and write down my thoughts.

First, there is no doubt that Christlikeness is God’s goal for us; it is that to which he has predestined us.

Romans 8:29 KJV

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

But what does it mean to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Jesus Christ)? Is Paul referring to Christ’s physical image or his spiritual character? This is important because we don’t really know what Jesus looks like since we haven’t seen him in the flesh.

1 Peter 1:8 KJV

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

The verses preceding Romans 8:28 seem to indicate that conformity to Christ’s image means first of all possessing glorified bodies someday similar to that which the Lord now possesses.

Romans 8:23 KJV

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

This is corroborated by Philippians 3:10-11, 20-21.

Philippians 3:10-11 KJV

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; [11] If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Philippians 3:20-21 KJV

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

But other portions of Scripture tell us that conformity to Christ’s image (or Christlikeness) does not merely mean having a body fashioned like unto his glorious body; it also refers to moral and spiritual purity – being pure or holy as he is holy.

1 John 3:2-3 KJV

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

To be sure, this passage also seems to refer to physical glorification, but at least the element of purity is also involved.

In any event, election in Ephesians 1, which I think is related to the predestination mentioned in Romans 8:29, is unto holiness.

Ephesians 1:4 KJV

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Thus, being predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image is equivalent to being predestined to experience redemption of the body, which is equivalent to being predestinated unto adoption as sons, and which is connected to election unto holiness.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to write down my reflections on how we ought to pursue Christlikeness based on Philippians 3: 13, 14.

(Photo by Emre Can from Pexels)

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