LCN Article
May Christ Be Formed in You

November / December 2023

Gerald E. Weston

Dear Brethren,

Jesus told His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed, “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am” (John 13:13). Other translations rightfully translate “Lord” as “Master,” a word that may sound antiquated and foreign to those of us raised in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

In religious circles, we often hear people refer to Jesus as Lord. How many mindlessly call Jesus “Lord” without knowing what they are saying? You have no doubt heard the question, “Do you know the Lord?” We are all familiar with what the Apostle John has to say about that. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3–6).

The One whom people call their Lord asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). He furthermore declared, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). There is a principle here, regarding two masters, which goes beyond the matter of “mammon,” or money.

Mr. Herbert Armstrong often spoke of the two trees, two different ways of life—we might call them two “masters”—representing God’s way or Satan’s. God put it another way, showing two very different outcomes for the choices made. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

“Choose Life” was the theme of our Christian Living classes at the teen camp in Texas this past summer. It was a good topic for teens; but, no matter our age, how well do any of us understand what it means to choose life? It is easy to parrot “choose life”—even quoting Deuteronomy—but, as Dr. Meredith often asked, do we get it?

A Closer Look

Let us go back a few verses to better understand the choice before us. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil” (v. 15). That is the choice, the two options. But what does it mean in practice? Verse 16 explains what we must do if we choose life and good: “I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments….” Sounds simple enough—love and obey God. But is it? It is easy to focus on this part of the passage without putting it in the context of what follows; “But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them…” (v. 17).

Not only are life and good contrasted with death and evil; we are shown what these diverging ways look like—obedience to God, or worship and service to other gods. No doubt, the choice does not seem difficult until we look more carefully. The Apostle John instructs, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16). Being the flawed human beings that we are, we can read these words, even memorize them, and still miss the point. Why?

It boils down to how we define the world. What is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? The heart truly is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). There truly is a way that seems right to our human minds (that includes you and me), but that way ends in the wrong option of the two ways (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). The problem from the beginning is that we as human beings have a strong tendency, even if called by God, to do whatever is right in our own eyes.

The Apostle Paul spoke to the brethren as a father does to his children. So did Mr. Herbert Armstrong and Dr. Meredith, and as Dr. Meredith’s successor, it is my responsibility to do all I can to keep us on track. God warned Israel, “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 12:8–9).

Dear brethren, it is evident that we don’t always get it. We know this because of the immodest dress styles some choose. We see it in the kind of dancing that sometimes shows up at weddings—usually after the pastor leaves. We hear it in some conversations about the ways in which people entertain themselves. We see it in some of the pictures, videos, and words that members post on social media.

Faithful Servants of Our Master

Not only do we represent the Church—even more importantly, we affect how the world views true Christianity. Do we understand what it means to be ambassadors for Christ? Are we properly reflecting Jesus Christ in our words and actions? Or are we trumpeting this current evil world? Are we wrapped up in politics, or do we look to Jesus Christ as our Master and soon-coming King? Do we assert trust in guns or “our rights”—or in the living Christ?

Everything we know, we see through the lens of the world into which we are born. We had no control over that, but with the Holy Spirit and life experience we are better able to filter out that corrupt world and choose the better way. Paul wrote that “the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).

Yes, we are to put to death the old man, as Paul told the Roman brethren. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). And to the brethren at Colossae he wrote, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Note that in each of these three letters Paul is speaking to brethren, not outsiders. Is there a message here for us? Have we put to death the old way of looking at things and replaced it by feeding on Christ?

Also note that Paul expressed doubts about some brethren in the congregations he raised up in the region of Galatia. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you” (Galatians 4:19–20). Is Christ being formed in you? Are you sure? How are you sure? Walking in the footsteps of our Creator is not just about avoiding “big sins.” It’s also about the small decisions we make daily, the conversations we engage in, and the things we allow to occupy our minds. Every choice, big or small, matters in our journey of faith—so it is vital to continuously examine ourselves and strive to align our actions and thoughts with God’s word. Just as a small rudder can guide a large ship, so can our daily choices guide the course of our spiritual journey. 

Paul explained that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17, 20). Brethren, let us be faithful servants of our Master—ambassadors for Christ in word and deed!

signature of Gerald E. Weston