My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you. – Vs 19
I've always found this interesting. Here is Paul, a hard-nosed, type-A personality, the preeminent apostle of the church of God, a guy who had been stoned and left for dead, flogged, shipwrecked, and persecuted, comparing himself to a mother about to give birth. Not exactly something you'd expect from a guy like Paul. But what is he saying? What's his point?
Paul is obsessed with the spiritual development of the believers in Galatia. He wants to see Christ formed in them. That is, he is passionate about seeing them develop and live outChrist’s nature or character in their daily lives. That is what spiritual formation is all about. It isn't about more Bible knowledge. Sure, we need to study God's Word, but for the purpose of discovering more about Him and His Son Jesus Christ. We are to learn more about Him so that we can become like Him. spiritual formation isn't about activity, no matter how spiritual that activity may appear. It's about Christ being formed or fashioned in you, like a baby being formed in the womb of its mother. His character is growing within you, maturing and becoming increasingly more distinct day after day.
Spiritual formation was an ongoing theme for Paul. Take a look at just a few of the passages that reflect his commitment to spiritual growth and increasing in our Christ-likeness.
And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. – 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. – Romans 8:29
…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. – Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)
Paul's heart was to see heart transformation take place in the lives of those to whom he ministered day in and day out. He wanted them to embrace the reality that they were new creatures. They had new identities. They were children of God. Heirs of God according to Galatians 4:7. He wanted them live out of the reality of who they really were in Christ – a people who had been changed, not being changed. We have Christ's nature within us. Now it is being formed or fashioned so that it grows into full maturity. We are not sinners trying to become saints. We are saints who happen to sin. We have a new DNA, a new nature. And Paul wants to see that new nature become increasingly more apparent in our lives. We won't be completely like Christ in this life. But we should be making progress as the Christ-nature within us grows and matures. Then one day, we are told, we will be like Him. We will be glorified and completely sanctified, with a nature just like His.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. – 1 John 3:2
The day is coming when we will have resurrected bodies, just like His. We will be completely pure, just like He is. We will be sinless, just like He is. And we will be completely and entirely righteous, just as He is. But until that day, Christ's nature is growing inside us and being revealed with us. Do you see it? Better yet, do those around you see it?
Father, Thank You for giving me a new nature. I have Christ living within me. I am not the old Ken I used to be. I'm not even a new and improved version of the old me. I am a new creation! I have a new nature, the nature of Christ. And You are maturing that nature within me. May His nature become increasingly more evident in my life, especially to those around. Let them see Christ in me, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Amen