“Transformed into the Image of Christ”

1) “Remember” those who led you – It is written in the past tense here. This is one of the later letters of the New Testament. The author here reminds them of their leaders – even those who are no longer alive – who taught them, e.g. Stephen, James, etc. These were martyrs and laid down their lives for the sake of the faith. Remember in what way they died, the lives they lived and try to imitate them.

Even amongst us there are those who have passed away in Christ, like my mother-in-law. When I saw how she died in peace and victory, I said that if that’s death, it’s wonderful. I was preparing my sermon, when I was called to pray for her. When I saw the peaceful way she died, I understood God’s Word, that ‘the death of His saints are precious in His sight’. Also the way my wife died; it will be a crown to me to die like that. Consider the outcome of their lives.

However, we can also consider those who left the faith and see their end and how they died. I saw some die and cried to God that He would spare me from such death. Moses prayed that God would teach him to number his days. When you are young, death is not in your thoughts, but life is like a flower that spring up and wilt away. Here in KZN the youth die at a higher rate than the elderly.

2) “Your leaders”, spiritually – those who spoke God’s Word to you. In the Greek it is – those who had the rule over you. Such language is not acceptable in this evil time. Carnal Christians say that nobody will rule over me; only God! We’re all on same level, they say. There is truth and hell’s poison in that statement, for now they cannot listen to anyone anymore.

2 Timothy 4

3 The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

This verse describes the time we live in today, where people do not want to hear sound doctrine anymore. According to their own desire, they gather teachers that say what their itching ears want to hear, e.g. they will go about from teacher to teacher to hear what will soothe their lust. They go to church for entertainment, but not for godly instruction, correction and rebuke.

You must do the work of an evangelist, discharging all your duties faithfully.

3) You might claim you are the spiritual parent of a newborn believer, but he’s been prepared for a long time, and you’re only the “midwife” who helped with the final delivery. Or maybe you as a newborn takes the ‘midwife’ as your spiritual parent and reject the womb that bare you and the paps that suckled you, because the ‘midwife’ teaches what suits you. Such reasoning is foolish.

There’s a church in Revelations that’s commended for testing and dividing between the true and false apostles. You too need to test what you hear and are taught against God’s Word; not partially, but completely, lest your faith is built on someone else’s idea.

4) ‘Considering the outcome of their way of life’, right to the end. Too many only go half-way! Blessed is the one who has a steadfast heart and spirit – even after 10, 20, 30, … years – he hasn’t changed. Of the twelve disciples, only Judas forsook the faith for money, but all the others remained faithful to the end. When I travel, I’m asked if so-and-so is still with me. It is sad that people ask such questions, but it is wonderful when I can answer, that though so-and-so has many trials and difficulties, he’s steadfast like a rock and he’s faithful.

5) “Consider” – in the Greek it is “looking up to” or “diligently contemplating”. You as a minister and Christian should take heed to live your life above reproach. It must be a life to look up to. Paul commands Timothy in

1 Timothy 4

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Also to the schoolchildren – your life should be as gold and shining as the sun; not rubbish that’s trampled upon. Be an example of the believers firstly, and then to the unbelievers.

Your speech must be an example. Sometimes one is shocked at what comes from some “believer’s” mouth and you ask yourself, “are they blunt, can’t they hear what they say?”

Christians, we must be an example – a temple of God in holiness. Even in your dress, it should be such that it will not arouse the lusts of dogs (men driven by their lusts), but that all might see how the temple of the Most High is clothed. Be an example in purity.

You with TV are destroying your children, by exposing them to the music and filth on TV; you’re sacrificing them on Satan’s altar. You will reap what you sow. Don’t be amazed when they commit gross sins and depart from God. Teach them about the great heroes of the faith, and nurture them in the things of God.

Consider the lives of the heroes of the faith in such a way as an artist studies a model he wants to draw. He studies the object in the smallest detail. So too we must study those gone before us in the closest detail, e.g., Jesus, Paul, etc. until their picture is realised in us. However, if you watch TV, that’s what you study and that’s what will be realised in you – those sins of immorality, homosexuality, foul language and evil thoughts will plague you.

A certain preacher said that the antichrist will write his 666 via TV on people. Although this has not happened physically, the spirit of the antichrist works in those who watch TV.

6) Imitate your leaders. Paul said ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. Those backsliders who say that they only follow God and listen to no one are filled with themselves and their own lusts.

In Ps 73, Asaph describes how his feet almost slipped when he saw and considered the prosperity of the wicked and ungodly.

Just read what Asaph said, while he thought on the prosperity of the wicked, ‘I was a brute beast before You’ – not even like one. Such are those who desire for the prosperity of the wicked.

What is the difference between you and a worldly person if the world and its desires are in you? The people of the world find their freedom in the pleasures of the world, but for us to bear the cross and die to the world is freedom.

Look at the lives of those who bear their cross daily and consider their end. Look too at the lives of those who forsake Christ and consider their end.

Now be doers of God’s Word, and not hearers only.