Have you made the decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you want to be used by God in a powerful way? And are you committed to expanding His kingdom in your everyday walk everywhere you go?
So many men have made salvation the ultimate goal; “get your ticket to heaven, get in, get your insurance, and then you're all set!”
I want to tell you, salvation is the door. It is just the beginning.
There is a breaking process that God uses in the lives of all men, in the lives of all of His followers.
God Breaks the Man Before He Makes the Man
What I mean by that is He breaks you before He uses you. In fact, God breaks everything before He truly uses it.
Salvation is just the doorway into this new life in the kingdom of God.
And as we walk through that door, we are entering into a process, and the process is something that we will experience until we are conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
“For those He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son that we would be the firstborn among many brothers.”
It's all about being conformed into the image of Jesus, to look like Him, to see like Him, to understand Him, and to know Him. And this does not happen through an event. It's not one singular event that brings you into this fullness of maturity and being conformed into the image of Jesus (1 Pet 4:13).
It is a process, and part of this process entails suffering.
That’s not something we want to hear, but there is some suffering involved for us if we are to look like Jesus, if we are to represent Him well, if we are to be conformed into His image.
There is an obedience that has to happen; a suffering and a breaking that equals a maturing that all real Christians must go through. Just because you're a Christian, just because you're a man, doesn't mean you mature and have arrived.
I'm sure right now you can think of another guy in your life that you know who is immature. Just because he is a male, and just because he is of a certain age bracket, doesn't guarantee that he's reached maturity for where he should be for that phase of his life.
Maturity is Not Guaranteed
It is the same way with your spiritual development. If we are to be conformed into the image of Christ, what actually is being conformed, and how are we conformed? Where does this conformity take place within us as men?
And if you understand His process in the lives of men that we can read about through Scripture, then you will be more equipped to see His process and understand His hand at work in your life.
Moses went through a preparation phase of 40 years in Egypt. And then after he's called out of Egypt, he's separated and goes through a preparation phase for ministry that will be another 40 years.
Forty is a Number of Testing
We see Moses being conformed to what God needs him to be, fit as an instrument to be used in the hand of God to bring a deliverance to the people of Israel.
So in Moses' life, we see 40/40/40; forty years in Egypt, forty years in the wilderness, which is also a very significant process and typology for us that God brings men to the wilderness over and over throughout the scripture.
It signifies a place where he gets alone with you and where you submit your ways and surrender your ways as you are being conformed and prepared in the process that he has for you.
And then the last forty years of Moses' life spent fulfilling his assignment and destiny that God has called him to.
We see this same stripping where Joseph has to give up on his dreams. He's thrown into a pit, unjustly accused and put into a prison until finally his appointed time comes. Now God can use him after he's been broken, but from the time of the dream to the time of his destiny in the palace, 13 years will have passed.
Before King David was king, he was a shepherd boy on the back hills watching sheep where he was being conformed and prepared for his purpose. It will be a total of 17 years from the time that David received the prophecy that he will be the King of Israel until he sees the fulfillment of that. He will go through periods of trials and go through testing.
In the life of Jesus we see “30 for 3”; thirty years of preparation for three years of public ministry. As Son of Man, we know he was fully human. He was 100% God and 100% man at the same time. And in his humanity, he lowers himself and he goes through a process of obedience and preparation, driven by the will of his Father.
He's in a preparation process until the Father says it's time to step on the stage in his public ministry.
If You Love Your Life, You Will Lose It
So let's go back to our original question: what is being conformed? And if God's breaking us before he's making us, what specifically is he breaking?
Jesus says in John 12:24 unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. And then Jesus says this; he who loves his life loses it. And he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal (v. 25).
There is a death that must take place within us; a breaking of an outer shell around this kernel of wheat that we have in a word picture from Jesus here.
And then he says, if you love your life you lose it. The word life there is translated as “suki”. It's where we get the word psyche from; the soul of man, mind, will and emotions. It's where self ambition comes from. And if that's the realm you're living from, you're living from the wrong place. That is the part that needs to be broken in us.
And if we flip a few pages over in the book of John to chapter 15, we will have Jesus telling his disciples that he is the true vine and his father is the vine dresser. And every branch in him that does not bear fruit, he takes away and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
What is This Pruning?
It's to cut away. It's to cut back. It's to expose. It's a picture of death to self, of this soul realm that needs to be broken if you're going to be used in a powerful way.
If we are to be conformed into the image of Jesus, there must be a breaking that takes place within our soul. That selfish center within us that's consumed with self, consumed with self ambition, wanting to accomplish things on our own will and our own energy -- that must be crucified and be pruned. It must be cut away and that must be broken.
How does this happen?
Through the cross within our life. We know that Jesus said to all of his disciples, “if you want to be my follower, you must pick up your cross and follow me (Matt 16:24).”
Can you recognize a cross in your life today? Are you being squeezed somewhere in life? Is there something around you that's putting pressure on you and you have a choice to make?
Is there a form of suffering there that you can embrace? Is there something that you can give to the Lord and say, "change me through this situation"?
As you go through those processes in life, that brings about that suffering, that obedience brings about maturity.
Maturity Brings Forth Fruit
Jesus is looking for trees that bear good fruit. The righteous man of God is like a tree, an oak of righteousness that in his season brings forth fruit.
Can you recognize the cross in your life today? Do you see a cross and how can you cooperate with it? How can you cooperate with what God is doing in your life? This is part of the process. This breaking is part of your preparation.
If you want to be used by God in a powerful way, you must cooperate by submitting, by yielding and by total surrender to the cross in your life.
“God's number one concern is your conformity to the image of his son above everything else.” T. Austin Sparks
Think about that for a minute; above your destiny, about all the things that you can accomplish for God in your life, The number one concern, the number one goal of God in your life is conformity to the image of his Son.
Being physically and spiritually strong is important, but so is being strong in every area of life. Maybe you have some patterns, some cycles, some things you need to shift away from and change and get stronger in.
And to support you I've created the Unfair Advantage email challenge.
Discover internal as well as external strength by accessing your unfair advantage, grow deeper roots and become stronger in every area, including mental, spiritual and physical.
If you do what you learn in these email challenges, check out this link to get started.