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“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
1. What a Christian should be – 3:44
2. When should Christians be this? – 21:54
3. Why should Christians imitate Christ? – 30:55
4. How can Christians imitate Him? – 38:15
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I do not, when I say that a believer should be a striking likeness of Jesus, suppose that any one Christian will perfectly exhibit all the features of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; yet my brethren, the fact that perfection is beyond our reach, should not diminish the ardour of our desire after it. The artist, when he paints, knows right well that he shall not be able to excel Apelles; but that does not discourage him; he uses his brush with all the greater pains, that he may at least in some humble measure resemble the great master. So the sculptor; though persuaded that he will not rival Praxiteles, will hew out the marble still, and seek to be as near the model as possible. Just so the Christian man; though he feels he never can mount to the height of complete excellence, and perceives that he never can on earth become the exact image of Christ, still holds it up before him, and measures his own deficiencies by the distance between himself and Jesus. This will he do, forgetting all he has attained, he will press forward, crying, Excelsior! going upwards still, desiring to be conformed more and more to the image of Christ Jesus.
But no one feature will give a portrait of a man; so the one virtue of boldness will never make you like Christ. There have been some who have been noble men, but have carried their courage to excess; they have thus been caricatures of Christ, and not portraits of him. We must amalgamate with our boldness the loveliness of Jesus’ disposition.
None have hurt thee, O Christianity, so much as those who profess to be thy followers. Who have made these wounds in this fair hand of Godliness? I say, the professor has done this, who has not lived up to his profession; the man, who with pretences, enters the fold, being nought but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such men, sirs, injure the gospel more than others: more than the laughing infidel; more than the sneering critic, doth the man hurt our cause, who professes to love it, but in his actions doth belie his love.
There is a wondrous power about the character of Christ, for the more you regard it the more you will be conformed to it.
Lastly, as the best advice I can give, seek more of the Spirit of God, for this is the way to become Christ-like. Vain are all your attempts to be like him till you have sought his Spirit. Take the cold iron, and attempt to weld it if you can into a certain shape. How fruitless the effort! Lay it on the anvil, seize the blacksmith’s hammer with all your might; let blow after blow fall upon it, and you shall have done nothing. Twist it, turn it, use all your implements, but you shall not be able to fashion it as you would. But put it in the fire, let it be softened and made malleable, then lay it on the anvil, and each stroke shall have a mighty effect, so that you may fashion it into any form you may desire. So take your heart, not cold as it is, not stony, as it is by nature, but put it into the furnace; there let it be molten, and after that it can be turned like wax to the seal, and fashioned into the image of Jesus Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon