Slaves only obey their masters, but sons act on what has been modeled in their household. Sometimes we can live like a slave waiting to be commanded rather than like a son who understands the values and vision of a healthy, holy household. As believers, we are called to be about our Father’s business!
What event happened just before Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness? He was baptized in the affirmation of His Father in the Jordan River. The last event before Jesus’s first showdown with Satan was the remarkable scene we studied in the last chapter—when the voice of God pronounced the words that have always been and would always be true about the Father’s affection for and acceptance of Jesus: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17) It was as if the Father was preparing Him for the temptation He was about to face. So not only did Jesus know what was true: It is written. He also knew it was true for Him: I am the Son of God.
Long looking with admiration produces change. From your heroes you pick up mannerisms and phrases and tones of voice and facial expressions and habits and demeanors and convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.
Many Christians thinks it’s all right if they pattern after Jesus in a sort of way. They imitate Him, and they do the things which He did; that is, they outwardly do them. They perform kind acts, and they do other things which Jesus did. But the secret of Christianity is not in doing, the secret is in being. Real Christianity is in being a possessor of the nature of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is being Christ in character. Christ in demonstration. Christ in agency of transmission. When one gives himself to the Lord and becomes a child of God, a Christian, he is a Christ man. All that he does, and all that he says from that time on, should be the will and the words and the doings of Jesus just as absolutely. just as entirely, as he spoke, and did the will of the Father.
The caterpillar, a worm, goes into the cocoon — a chrysallis, in which the root word, appropriately, is “Christ.” And it emerges a butterfly, completely transformed. The old has passed. The new has arrived. It was once weighed down by gravity; now it can fly. Christians are once under the reign of sin, but now we can live in freedom. And you can also see why it’s so painful to me that so many Christians don’t understand this? When I hear a Christian say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” I want to say, “that makes as much as a butterfly saying, “I’m just a worm with wings.”
Christ our Lord revealing himself by the Holy Ghost is not like a human master impressing his own personality upon another to the other’s annihilation. Only in Christ, only as filled with the Holy Spirit and in completest surrender to him, do men really find themselves.
God’s affirmation doesn’t condone our sin, and it doesn’t acquiesce in our mediocrity. He calls us to repentance and holiness and discipleship. But he begins with a simple, unconditional affirmation: I love you. You are my daughter. You are my son. With you I am well pleased. When we embrace that affirmation, we make a good start. We don’t start falteringly, hesitantly, guiltily, waiting for rejection, or wondering when we will get cut from the squad. We start on the right foot, embraced and embracing the God who loves us and has an eternal salvation for us.