Conformity through identification

We tend to identify with our heroes; we seek to share in their substance. Through identification we assimilate some, often many, of their characteristics, and so our views, and opinions and actions, are formed through identification.

There are several passages which speak of our being conformed to the likeness of Christ, or our identification with Christ.

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, … them he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30 ASV).

Among the goals of man’s redemption in God’s purpose is conformity to the image of his Son. Glorification consists of being made Christ-like, the perfect image of God in human nature. His people “are transformed into the same image (Christ’s image or “likeness”) from glory to glory” [or “ever-increasing glory” – ISV(2 Corinthians 3:18), so glorification is both present and progressive as we grow more and more into the likeness (image) of Christ.

The root of our response to God’s redemptive work is one of identification, not just as an intellectual / emotional exercise, but one of substance. We were created to live in a physical environment, and God has chosen the realm of substance for us to live and to have our being. Our thoughts and words must be embodied in our lives, and our actions spring from our existing as a physical being. Godliness that is not embodied is merely a concept. Godliness which is put in action is taking on the likeness of Christ.

Through the various aspects of our lives, we form our core selves. Our occupations, activities, friends/families, all contribute to the formation of our identity. As we associate ourselves with these various aspects, we share in their substance. As we are changed through these associations we change our identity, our substance. In identification with Christ we change our attitudes and actions and are thus being re-created achieving a new substance.

As our interests are joined with Christ’s, we identify with him and his agenda. We become the recipients of his good will and the instruments with which he exercises his will. We work to achieve his ends.

“…he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

Everything relates to Christ, either properly or improperly; righteousness exists in relation to Christ. The greater our identification with Christ, the more our ethics and actions conform to his. By identification with Christ we practice what he practiced, we share in the substance of his teachings, his attitudes and his character; we conform to his nature.

We also share in his rejection of those things which are contrary to his nature and will. If there is that which is Christ-like, then there is also that which is un-Christ-like. We disassociate ourselves from that which is not like Christ.

“The person who practices sin belongs to the evil one, … No person who fails to practice righteousness and to love his brother is from God” (1 John 3:8-10).

We have children of God vs. children of the devil. The practices of our lives draw us closer to the one with whom we conform.

Identification suggests that morality/ethics is conformitory, meaning we put into practice Godly morality. The content of morality is due to his holy nature, to which we conform. Morality flows from his nature. Godly morality then becomes part of the active process by which we take on more of his nature by practicing it.

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Scott Wiley

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