I Want To Be Just Like You!
By Minister Raymond D. Sopp
I cannot think of any more precious words in the human language than, "I want to be just like you," when the words are directed to a father from the lips of his children. Although my Lord has never blessed me with children, it will in no way disqualify me from knowing how precious -- even priceless -- those words would be to hear from my child. Likewise, I also know in my heart of hearts it would be just as precious to our Father in heaven to hear these words, "I want to be just like you" from His children. These words would be as precious to God as the fragrance of a rose in the cool and stillness of midnight. A fragrance of such delight -- of such preciousness -- would cause us to have an involuntary impulse to expand our lungs to a point our lungs would feel as if they were about to burst within us. We would not be willing to allow one precious molecule of that fragrance to escape from us. And when we finally exhale, it would be accompanied with a sigh of inexpressible delight.
On the other hand, these same seven innocent words have the potential to become so corrupt that the only fragrance which would be emanating from the words would be akin to rotting flesh. In fact, the words have the potential to become so offensive that the only impulse you would have is to exhale, not willing to allow one molecule of that corrupt fragrance to invade your senses. What could cause these seven innocent words to have such a profound dissimilarity, i.e., to be so precious or so corrupt? It is the yearning in your heart at the time you say, "I want to be just like you" which will produce this profound dissimilarity. In other words, what god-like attribute are you actually seeking after? What is the yearning of your heart which produced those seven innocent words to fall from your lips?
There are times in my life when a subject matter is of such significance that mere words seem totally inadequate to convey its seriousness; so it is with this subject. Therefore, would you just take a moment and pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon you and become your teacher? That He would go beyond the total inadequacy of my words and ability to give to you a personal revelation of this subject's profound significance. Nevertheless, I will do my best to explain to you how the yearning of your heart could have such a profound effect on seven such innocent words.
I will begin with the yearning heart that truly makes the words, "I want to be just like you," both fragrant and precious to our Father in heaven -- the God of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. So what is this yearning which produces such a precious fragrance, a fragrance that God could take such a delight in? It is the yearning which seeks the inheritance of His glory; a yearning within our hearts so great that it supersedes -- even supplants -- our own desire and self-will in order to secure His glory!
But now we have a problem. We must establish an accurate definition of God's glory because it is this definition of God's glory which will cause the profound dissimilarity. For example, if someone tells you they love you, it could just mean that the person finds you attractive and merely wishes to have an affair with you. I'm sure you would agree that such a definition of the word "love" would dreadfully corrupt such a precious and fragrant word. Unfortunately, you and I need both time and experience before we would know what was on the person's heart when he spoke this most fragrant word, "love", whereas, God knows what's in our heart before we even say a word. That being the case, would it not be prudent for us to first judge our own heart by defining His glory even as God Himself defines His glory? Of course it would!
First, it would be beneficial for us to understand the symbolism the Hebrew language gives to the word we translate into English as "glory". In Hebrew it symbolizes a weightiness, something which is esteemed, something which is majestic, something which is awesome, something which is superior, something worthy of all consideration. In Scripture, God's glory is described to be so brilliant that heaven itself has no need for a sun to give it light (Revelation 21:23), a glory so powerful -- so awesome -- that no man can look directly at it and remain among the living. When Moses asked God to see His glory, God only allowed Moses to see His glory's afterglow, as it meant sure death for Moses to look directly at it; a glory so fragrant and precious it would instantly bring extreme delight to God's heart, causing Him to deeply inhale, not willing to allow one precious molecule of glory's fragrance to escape. What could this breathtaking glory be? Actually, in the Holy Scriptures, God answers this most significant question directly from His own lips.
In Exodus 33:18-19, "Then Moses said, 'I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!' And He said, 'I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.'" Notice that what Moses calls God's "glory" and what God calls "His goodness" are one and the same. We know both God and Moses are speaking of the same thing when God switches back to the word "glory" in Exodus 33: 20-23, "But He said, 'you cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!' Then the Lord said, 'behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My GLORY is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.'" Once again we see this glory as being so powerful, so awesome, so brilliant, that in order for Moses to remain alive he was only allowed to see this glory's afterglow.
Now we get from God's own lips His definition of glory. Exodus 34:5-7: "And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'the Lord, the Lord God, is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'"
God's glory consists of both compassion and grace. God, through His compassion, has the ability and will to empathize with us, to fully understand and feel our pain. He has the ability and will to both cry and rejoice along with us. As a matter of fact, our tears are so precious to Him, He saves them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). But God does not stop there! He then applies His grace to our wound as a fragrant balm for our healing. He pledges His favor when no one else will even approach us. And even if all abandon you, His grace allows Him to meet you with peace in His left hand and acceptance in His right hand.
In God's glory we can find perfect patience as He is slow to anger. God is willing, for a time, to set aside His anger at a sinful world, wishing for none to perish, but for all to come to repentance and salvation.
God's glory is also abounding in lovingkindness (mercy). God's glory does not just contain mercy; His glory is abounding in mercy; so much so that it becomes an absolute delight for God to envelop us in forgiveness. But the word mercy goes even further. Mercy forgives even when you cannot forgive yourself. Mercy envelops you in more kindness than you could even hope or dream of receiving. Mercy lifts you up when you are so far down that you cannot escape the mud and mire under your own power.
God's glory is the embodiment of truth. Therefore, God's glory is inherently faithful. It keeps its lovingkindness for thousands -- faithfully forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Yet, God's glory will not leave the guilty unpunished, but visit the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. In other words, God's glory is so awesome that we may be tempted to use it as a reason to indulge sin, as many now do. Hence, we get the quote, "If God is love, there cannot be a hell." But the fact remains that sin will be judged and there is a hell. However, God's glory was also the very thing which created the door which we use to escape His judgment. And that door is JESUS!
God's definition of glory is awesome, but do you see something which seems to be missing? I'll give you a hint. It's something the world would highly esteem and would readily include in the definition of God's glory. Nevertheless, this something obviously merits no consideration to God as He chooses to completely omit it from His definition of glory. What is so highly esteemed among mankind, but of no consideration to God? It was God's display of power as He delivered His people from Egypt. Therefore, since God did not consider His display of power as part of His glory, should we not also eliminate it from our list? Instead let's reconsider Jesus' words in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." In other words, the "POWER" is inherently found in God's righteousness, goodness, i.e., GLORY, but if we are found seeking power, we end up losing it all. Yes, another biblical paradox!
Which brings me to the corruption which can also be found in the words, "I want to be just like you." If by saying the words "I want to be just like you," you are actually yearning in your heart for power: power to gain personal control over your life and circumstances; power to lord over someone, or to have control over their life; power to exalt yourself in the eyes of mankind; power to determine your own rules, i.e., to determine for yourself what is good and what is evil. If this is the yearning from your heart, then the words, "I want to be just like you" are as corrupt as rotting flesh, and the fragrance is immeasurably repulsive to God.
In Scripture, we are given two very tragic examples of this corruption of the heart in both Lucifer (Satan) and Adam. First we'll take a look at the account of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-17, "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning (Lucifer), son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol (Hell), to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'"
Now let's take a look at Adam in Genesis 2:15-17, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.'" And again in Genesis 3:4-6, "And the serpent said to the woman, 'you surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." Having "power" has always been and will always be extremely seductive! But the real tragedy was that both Adam and Eve were already like God in every way until they lost God's glory in their pursuit of power. God's glory, which was once their covering, was now gone and they found themselves to be naked.
In contrast, we have Jesus as an example as one who is seeking God's true glory. Speaking of the cross and His approaching sufferings, Jesus said in John 12:27-28, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." And again in John 13:31-32, "When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, 'now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.'"
You may ask, "How can we find God's glory in Jesus suffering excruciating pain on a cross?" The answer becomes crystal clear as you come to understand the definition of God's glory. The sufferings which Jesus was about to undergo perfectly illustrated God's definition of glory because it publicly exposed to the world God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness toward mankind. At the same time the glory of God's justice was revealed as the judgment for sin is death. In God's glory, mankind found forgiveness and gained salvation through the sacrifice of His only Son. In God's glory, our judgment for sin was placed upon God's only Son (if you're willing to accept it). And in God's glory, we can also clearly see the inherent power contained within God's glory as the grave could not hold Jesus.
Jesus did not sacrifice Himself on the cross to empower us to arrogantly display all kinds of signs and wonders. After all, even Satan has the ability to display power (Mark 13:22-23). But Jesus died to restore God's glory, God's nature, God's Spirit to mankind. By repenting (turning away from sin) and accepting Jesus' sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, we once again regain God's glory, God's nature, God's Spirit as we are "born-again" into His image. John 17:22-26: "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known Thee, yet I have known Thee; and these have known that Thou didst send Me; and I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them."
2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the GLORY of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." And what is this image, this glory, we are being transformed into? IT IS GOD'S GLORY! God's glory is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin (the glory of God's justice no longer has a part as justice was fulfilled in Jesus' sacrifice. If you're willing to accept it). Yes, as fantastic as it might sound, God wishes to share His glory with us. 1 John 3:2-3: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." Moses could look only at the afterglow of God's glory for fear of dying, whereas, we who are born-again will actually be able to see God as He is, because we will be partakers of that same awesome glory.
It is no wonder that Satan wishes to conceal God's true glory from us. Unfortunately, he seems to be doing a really good job of it. You tell me: what do you see manifested in abundance throughout God's Church, an arrogant display of power or a reflection of God's true glory? And what do the majority in God's Church seem to seek after? Is it the power or God's true glory? Let us no longer be defrauded from our inheritance in Christ Jesus. God forbid that any of us would hear Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. MANY will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
It is the tangible reality of the born-again experience which secures our place in heaven. It is the yearning heart of God's Spirit within us for God's true glory that assures us of our heavenly inheritance. It is the yearning heart for God's true glory which is the earnest -- the down payment -- of our dwelling place in heaven. It is the heart yearning for God's true glory which confirms that this world is not our home; in fact, we are just wandering pilgrims yearning for the redemption, the transformation of our body (flesh), so we can finally be home. And yet at the same time this same yearning heart wishes to stay a little longer so we can share this remarkable heritage -- this awesome glory -- with others. It is this yearning heart within for God's true glory which assures us that now we are the children of God, causing us to cry out, Abba Father. So, what does your heart yearn after when you say to God, "I want to be just like you!"?
We must come to understand what makes heaven, heaven. It is not God's display of power, for even Satan can display power; but it is God's GLORY which makes heaven so HEAVENLY!
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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