A friend once correctly stated that Christlike character could powerfully impact family, church, community, and workplace. While true, he didn’t go far enough.

It is not only Christlike character that we need, but Christlikeness in its totality. Rom. 8:29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image

[likeness] of His Son”. The theological term for Christlikeness is sanctification. The Bible speaks primarily of three types of sanctification:

  1. Positional Sanctification. Salvation from the penalty of sin This is the spiritual birth.
  2. Progressive Sanctification. Salvation from the power of sin. This is spiritual growth.
  3. Perfective Sanctification. Salvation from the presence of sin. This is spiritual perfection, also known as glorification.

Romans 8:29 refers to progressive sanctification when it discusses becoming conformed to the likeness of Christ. Hence, Christlikeness is God’s overarching purpose for us. He “predestined” this for us.

But how many ways are there to be like Christ? Many struggle endlessly devising ways to be like Christ, creating endless legalistic, unbiblical rules to follow.

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23.

This naturally has the effect of negating the freedom in Christ that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to achieve.

All that you are is expressed in thought, word, and deed. There is simply no other way for you to be you other than in thought, word, and deed. Thus, there are only three ways to be like Christ—thought, word, and deed.

So, how are you doing in these three areas? Most who have a sincere desire to grow into increasing Christlikeness put adequate effort into Bible, worship, fellowship, and prayer. However, there is one area that is neglected more than the others: deeds.

Too often we neglect the deed part, but that’s like reading Eph. 2:8-9 and neglecting verse 10. This passage makes it clear that we’re created and saved to serve, but if we neglect serving (the deed part), powered by our spiritual giftedness, sanctification will be necessarily incomplete. Incomplete! And then we end up wondering, “What’s missing?” in our Christian lives. What happened to “joy made full” and “life abundantly”?

Strive to be like Christ in the totality of your personality for sure, but don’t let it stop there. Bring God glory by serving Him (John 15:1-8), and discover purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in the process (John 15:11)…

…because that’s what’s missing.