As Christians, we are always striving to be more Christ-like. We try to accomplish this in various ways.
Most of us think to be a better Christian we need to go to church more, read the Bible more, pray more, witness more, go on mission trips and a wide variety of other works. We get so busy with things about Christ that we forget the person of Christ. We are so works oriented we burn ourselves out trying to be more like Christ.
The problem with this way of thinking is it just don’t work.
We can’t work our way into a closer fellowship with God, we can’t work our way into being more Christ-like. Basically, we can’t work our way into anything in regard to relationship and fellowship with our Father.
Christ paid the price, Christ did all the work necessary, Christ took our sinful nature and crucified it on the cross. We can’t do anything to earn it or pay for it. It is by grace that we are saved, and it is by grace that we live day by day.
What Christ asks us to do is decrease. What we can do is let Christ live through us and there is no way for Him to do that as long as we are full of ourselves. No amount of work can empty ourselves of our natural way of acting, thinking, living.
As an example of emptying ourselves, if you want a glass of milk but the glass is full of water, the only way to get the milk in is empty the water. In the same way, if you want to follow Christ as He told us to, the only way is to empty ourselves of our natural way of doing things and let His life increase in us.
The thing that we all overlook while trying so hard to work our way into a close fellowship is that only by truly following Christ, allowing Him to work in us and through us, will anything change. The only way to let Christ do His work through us is to die daily to our natural self, our wants, desires, our way of living and let Christ’s life increase in us.
To me, dying daily means we start each new day asking Christ to live His life through us and daily remind ourselves that because Christ died once for our sins, we are also dead to sin. Christ has defeated the power of sin over us and we need to daily remind ourselves of that fact. Our flesh is always there waiting for a chance to show itself, and we need to daily commit to the fact that the flesh has been defeated. We also daily yield the members of our bodies to God as His instrument and ask for His strength and power to live through us.
We can do nothing on our own, all our works are just as filthy rags in comparison to Him. He is the vine, we are the branches. We can’t live and grow apart from Him.
Stop doing all your works in hope of becoming more Christ-like. Do what He told us to do by dying daily to self and follow Him. Once His life is filling us, the works will happen naturally but they will be done by Him through love, not out of obligation or necessity.
He must increase, we must decrease.