To be like Christ is to actually displace our own human nature with the nature of Christ. Analyzing with our minds “what would Jesus do” in a situation is not being like Him. Neither is taking on a religious persona or trying to be a good person. The only way to be like Him is to actually become Him.
The Old Testament contained various laws that the Jews were to follow in order to please God. Although the Israelites tried to follow the laws, they failed over and over again. They were conquered many times because they were disobedient, following after other religions and worshipping idols among other things. The point of the Old Testament laws was to make man aware that even though he had God in his midst, he could never fulfill the law in himself. Thus Jesus Christ became necessary to fulfill the law for us.
Jeremiah 31:33-44 and Hebrews 8:7-13 state how the New Covenant under Christ differed from the Old Mosaic covenant.
“BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD,
WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT
WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS
ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND
TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT;
FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT,
AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS,
AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
And when He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear”.
No longer does Israel (spiritual Israel of Christ’s time) have to obey God’s laws by their own strength or stamina. Now the laws will be written on their hearts. With this new nature they will no longer sin because it will no longer be in their nature to do so. A majority of Christianity today seems to cling to the old and obsolete law that was if you do certain things, works and actions, God will be pleased. God is not pleased with anything done on the human level. He is only pleased by His Son and those who are becoming like Him. Any works that please Him come from the Spirit and are not man’s works but Gods.
There is no question scripturally that we are to be like Him.
1 John 3:2 says:
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be LIKE HIM, because we will see Him just as He is”.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Jesus Himself said that we are to be made perfect. “Therefore you [you shall be] perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). We have already shown that man can never, in all his efforts, be perfect. The only way to be perfect in the Father’s eyes is to possess His nature, as Christ did.
How do we accomplish this? Many look at scriptures such as the Sermon on the Mount and walk away saying “I could never do these things”. How can I never judge another, even deep in my heart? How can I never look on another without lust or even think it? How can I never be anxious? Never be self-righteous? Or angry, or unbelieving? Many try to walk in these teachings and walk away discouraged because they realize they can’t do them.
Those who walk away with that feeling are right; they can never do them in themselves. Christ says that righteousness has to be an impartation and a change of nature.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6, KJV).
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:20–24).
2 Peter 1:4 states:
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust”. Only be being partakers of the divine nature may we become righteous.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
By seeing the Lord, a little or a lot at a time, we are changed into the same image (nature) as He is. Therefore it is our spiritual relationship with God that changes us, not our great works. When we see Him, we change much the same as the Old Testament example of Moses. After Moses met the Lord on the Mount, he had to put a veil over his face to hide the glory because the Israelites could not look on him.
How do we see Him? We seek Him. We hunger after Him. We cry “Lord, show yourself”. We pray and are persistent.
Jeremiah 29:12-14 says:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD”
Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 11:5-10 as part of His lesson to the disciples on how to pray. The parable was: A man went to his friend asking for bread to feed his guests. The friend was asleep and would not get up. But because of the man’s persistence in asking for the bread the friend finally got up and gave him what he needed. Of particular interest is verses 8-10:
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
“So I say to you, ask [keep on asking], and it will be given to you; seek [keep seeking] and you will find; knock, [keep knocking] and it will be opened to you.
“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened”
So we seek and keep on seeking with persistence and we will receive His nature and meet Him and change.
Matthew 7:11 states:
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ASK Him!”. The “good gift” we seek is His righteousness.
Finally, this promise is not for the sweet bye and bye when we die and go to Heaven. It is for now, right here, right now. Jesus said it straight out in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN” (Matt 6:9-10).
His will is already being done in Heaven, the spiritual realm where He lives. He wants that same will to be done on earth. If it is only being done by those who are dead and in Heaven, then how is it going to be done on earth? We on earth, who seek, cry and hunger for righteousness, will find it here. We don’t have to wait for death or some kind of rapture to be perfect. Christ was speaking to those on earth, not to those who were dead. His will is that perfection is available here and now for those who seek Him.