“We dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12).
God’s standard for humanity is the Lord Jesus Christ. We exist to be like Him in character, nature, and way. Our Heavenly Father will be satisfied with no less than the forming of Christ in us, and no higher purpose exists to which we can aspire.
“Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord… When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (II Corinthians 3:18; I John 3:2).
This dynamic process of change by "beholding" and "seeing" the glory of the Lord Jesus is the reason He must occupy the forefront of our determination to further godliness and overcome sin. We must offer hope to the unbelieving sinner and the wayward saint before challenging their unbelief and waywardness. Necessary change must first be presented in terms of possibility, and the gospel of the Lord Jesus is the only hope for both sinner and saint. Who is He? What has He done? What is He doing? What does He promise to do forevermore? We either begin here with the Beginning in our presentation of Truth, or we do not legitimately begin at all.
Beginning with Christ also presents the standard to which we are called. Indeed, we are not proposing to our hearers that God wants to make them merely a better version of themselves, or of some other fallen human model. Paul writes that "we dare not" do such a thing. Our message is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the version and the model. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. A Christ-originated and saturated gospel avoids the error of minimizing the challenge to which we are called, and thus avoids the further error of implying that the sinner or the saint can somehow meet the challenge by their own devices. Only God can change us into the image of the Lord Jesus. This is our hope. He calls us to fully devote ourselves to His determination, seeking conformity to Christ alone by the power of Christ alone. This is our challenge, and this is the divine order of grace whereby "we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."
"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."