Two ways we Christians think we can become Christ-like.
Our way is from the outside – in.
And God’s way, by His Spirit, is from the inside – out.
Changing from the outside – in, we say if we change ourselves we will be more Christ “like.” Some would say we can become approved by God as we change our ways. So we strive to be better, more loving, etc. than we are currently. We read to prove this point: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12.
Changing from the inside–out, we can walk by faith, led by the Holy Spirit to mature our inside “new man.” As that “new inside man” matures into the likeness of Jesus we change because our desires change, our old outside man loses control and withers.
The method of becoming “godly;” from the outside–in is by our will, our strength. Actually, it is by the Law plus our Christian ideas. It could be called Law 2.0. The outside-in method has a big flaw and that flaw is our involvement in our change. Remember the Galatians. Paul sternly said to them: “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Galatians 3:2-3.
And actually, Philippians 2:12, quoted above is followed by Philippians 2:13 that together say: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” “13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
So actually Philippians 2:12-13 is from the inside–out.
Jesus says about the outside-in and the inside-out.
Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Doing our life from inside-out is also found in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
From the spirit to affect the flesh, inside-out.
As I let God change me; His Holy Spirit changes me from the inside-out, from my spirit than to my flesh I lose the desires of my flesh. What my flesh wants, I’m learning I do not want in my spirit. I can walk by Faith. God is opening my eyes. I am learning by the Spirit about God, my Dad.
Trying to change from the outside-in is a waste of your time and effort. Enter into the “rest of God.”
Remember you are already; Ephesians 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
So changing into the likeness of Christ from inside-out we can be at rest in the Lord. We can enter the Sabbath day.
Hebrews 4:9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—
for He grants sleep to those He loves.