Let’s look at some more ideas of how we put God’s promise of a new identity into action.
Promise in the unseen world: God’s Spirit now lives inside you (Rom 8:11). Application to the seen world: Because you believe the promise by faith, you act like His Spirit is living inside you. You can’t see it, you probably can’t feel it, but you know God lives in you. So you begin to live as if it were true. What does “living as if it were true” look like?
For starters, you believe that your body is God’s dwelling place (I Cor. 6:19). So you change some habits that you know God would not do dwelling inside you. In the face of temptation, you literally ask yourself, “How would God act or react to this situation if He was living here inside me? O wait, HE IS!”
You also begin to understand that God is not only dwelling inside you, but is speaking to you as well. So you start to seek God’s voice. You develop an ear to hear His guidance and direction. Is the direction always clear? No, there are often loud and competing voices. But we believe by faith that He is speaking, so we keep listening…and following.
Another promise in the unseen world: You have joined God’s family; God’s seed dwells in you (I Jn 3:9). Application to the seen world: You now have a family resemblance to God and His Son, Jesus. It is not a physical resemblance, it is a moral resemblance; a likeness in righteousness and character (I Jn 2:29).
Think about how resemblance works in your physical family. When our daughter Elizabeth and I were working in the same downtown building, I got on the elevator one day with her and her co-workers. She immediately introduced me around, but before she got very far, her friends exclaimed, “Of course, we know that is your dad. You can see the family resemblance.”
God intends it to work the same in the moral world. As a new creation, He has created me to look like Christ in character and righteousness. So I check myself. How am I doing at living into the resemblance; at looking like Christ? In the small town where I grew up, I was known as Adrian’s son. And a desire to keep my father’s reputation intact was one element of my effort to stay on the straight and narrow. Likewise, one of my motivations to resist temptation and to imitate Christ is to keep my Father’s reputation intact. People will judge what God’s character is like by how His family members conduct themselves.
The important thing to remember is that this is not a family resemblance that we earn through some probationary period of good works. The resemblance is already planted by God’s seed. It is now up to us to live, in the seen and temporal world, as if it were true; which, of course, in the unseen and eternal world, IT IS!