Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way Of Doing Theology" by Dennis F. Kinlaw. Part III

Earlier, we have looked at Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw's treatment of three metephors which explain God's relation to His created world and His purposes for a redeemed mankind.  The Royal/Legal metephor, which is the contextual background for the development of the Protestant doctrine of Justification by faith, dominates Reformed soteriology.  Kinlaw, in "Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way of Doing Theology," convincingly argues that this metephor alone does not give a full picture of God's relation to His created world nor adequately explain why God sent His Son to die for all humanity upon the Cross.  In chapter two, "The Level of Intimacy God Desires: Three Metephors Illustrate God's Purposes for Us," examines the three metephors in greater detail.  In the process, Kinlaw points us to a new understanding of two portions of scripture: the Covenant between God and Israel at Mount Sinai in Exodus and Paul's letter to the Romans.

The first metephor which describes the intimacy God wants with us is the Royal/Legal metephor.  This metephor denotes both a royal court where the sovereign reigns as well as a legal court where judicial decisions are made.  God is both king and judge; the ruler who announces judicial decrees and enforces them.  God is responsible for both justice and order; He protects the weak and the vulnerable and punishes evil doers.  These two roles of God are developed throughout scripture.  Ps. 93: 1-2 declares the unchallenged royal rule of God in the universe; Ps. 99: 1-5 does as well, also declaring God's love of justice.  Ps. 23 portrays God as the shepherd king, guiding those under His rule.  When God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 18, God is fulfilling His role as judge, guarenteeing righteousness.  Abraham comments on God's nature: "...Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?...Far be it from you to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike.  Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen 18: 23,25)  Sure knowledge of God's unequaled sovereign power and His righteousness in judgement should produce fear and confidence in those who believe in Him: "Say to the nations, 'The Lord reigns.' The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.  Let the heavens rejoice, he comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth." (Ps. 96: 10-11, 13)  In the New Testament, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul develop the theme of God as king through the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  Revelation tells us that all humanity will face the creator-judge.

As stated earlier, the Royal/Legal metephor provides the contextual framework for the development of the Protestant doctrine of Justification by faith.  Justification by faith can be explained briefly.  Man, God's greatest creation, violated God's law, bringing eternal condemnation upon all humanity.  Sinful Man's greatest need is salvation, but Man is powerless to earn salvation.  The good news is that Jesus has taken upon Himself the judgement against us, satisfying divine justice.  By accepting Jesus' sacrifice for humanity by faith, we are forgiven and redeemed.  Salvation is not given to us for what we have done; it is God's gift.  It is this truth that sparked the Reformation and it still dominates Reformed soteriology today.  Augustine laid the foundation for this doctrine through his articulation of the unity of God.

Kinlaw points out that in gaining a complete picture of God's relationship to creation and His purposes for Man, the Royal/Legal metephor is inadequate.  It defines human personhood solely in legal terms; it is solely concerned about whether a man or a woman is a legal citizen in God's kingdom.  It views Christ's saving work only in terms of a change in status for the sinner.  The problem of sin's penalty is dealt with, but no answer is given for the problem of human sin.  An exclusive focus upon the Royal/Legal metephor has lead the Calvinist Reformed tradition to define justification as declaring a sinner righteous, but not making that sinner righteous.  Kinlaw quotes Louis Berkhof to illustrate the Reformed tradition: Justification as a legal act "applies to all sins, past, present, and future, and therefore includes the removal of all guilt and every penalty." Berkhof states that this act does not admit of repitition.  Kinlaw responds: "In other words, justification is an answer to the problem of the consequences of my sins but not my sinfulness.  Righteousness is imputed but not necessarily imparted to the believing sinner.  A lost legal position is restored, yet the problem of a rebellious or a divided heart is not adequately addressed.  More than imputed righteousness is required if one is to walk joyously in fellowship with the Holy One." (Kinlaw, p. 51)

This Reformed view of salvation has its roots in the Reformed interpretation of Romans, neglecting what other Biblical writers say concerning salvation, especially John.  Reformed soteriology is laid out in terms of the Law.  But Paul's Old Testament model of salvation in Romans (and Galations)is Abraham and the Law was not part of Abraham's world.  Abraham's relationship was with God Himself, not with God's commands.  "The failure of Israel to understand the difference between relating to God himself and relating to God's law lay at the heart of Paul's charges against Israel in his Roman letter, a failure that ultimately led to Israel's rejection of the Messiah.  For Paul, Abraham is the prime picture of the justified person, so one gets the feeling that justification for him includes more than a change of legal status." (Kinlaw, p. 52)

The Familial metephor begins early in the Old Testament and takes center stage in Jesus' ministry.  God commands Moses to tell Pharoh, "...This is what the Lord says: Israel is my first born son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me..." (Ex 4: 22-23)  In speaking of Israel as His first born son, God was indicating that His family will extend beyond Israel's borders, that Moses' call was the development of God's promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.  The Old Testament is filled with references to Israel as God's offspring:  Dt. 32:6 (Is this the way you repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?  Is he not your father, your creator, who made you and formed you?"), Hosea 11: 1-2 (When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me...), Ps. 2:7, 2Sam 7:14. The New Testament declares that Jesus is the Son of God and the purpose of the Incarnation and atonement was so we can be sons and daughters of God.  Our relationship to the Father and the Son is analogical to the ontological relationship existing between the Father and the Son within the Godhead.  Paul in Romans speaks of our adoption, John in Revelation 3:21 writes, "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."  To become a member of God's family requires a change of heart.  The promises of such a change in the Old Testament provides the framework for the New Testament description of this change.

In the Familial metephor, human personhood is viewed as who we are and what God intends for us to be, not just a legal person, but a human person.  In familes we learn how to relate to others in intimacy.  We learn about personal obligation, respect, love.  We develop moral and ethical sensibilities.  We learn self-giving love and experience the mingling of our lives with others.

Kinlaw gives us further insight concerning families.  The roots of the family are not in biology or sociology but in theology.  To fully understand the family, one must know it in terms of God's nature and eternal purposes.  This leads me to state an insight of Kinlaw's I have not included in these posts thus far.  In our falleness, our human families are not a perfect model of the Fatherhood of God and how a father relates to his children.  The Heavenly Father's relationship with His only begotten Son serves as a model as to how our families are to be.

The Nuptial metephor is the most intimate of the three metephors.  Kinlaw tells us that we can find this metephor's roots in the Mount Sinai Covenant. The Covenant is not just a legal covenant, but a marital one.  While there is some justification for analyzing this Covenant in the context of other ancient covenants from Israel's pagan neighbors, we do not arrive at our understanding of God through alternative ancient concepts of diety.  We gain our understanding by consulting the understanding of the Prophets, Jesus and the New Testament.  The Prophets spoke of Israel as an adulterous woman, forgetting her marriage covenant. (Ezk 16)  As a husband, God, through the Prophets, beseeches Israel to remember her covenant and return to the one she is betrothed to. (Jer. 2: 2-3, Is 54, 62: 4-5)  Hosea is commanded by God to marry an immoral woman and to take her back when she has been unfaithful.  In obeying God, Hosea was modeling not only God's forgivness but God's pain at being forsaken by the one He was in covenant with.  The New Testament writers assumed that their readers would be familiar with this Old Testament background. (Mt. 22:2, Jn 3:27-30, Rev 19: 6-8, 21:2, 9, 22:17)  The sin of Babylon is identified with adultery.  (Rev 18: 3, 9) References to Babylon's adultery makes it  evident that God wants a nuptial relationship with all humanity.  God's judgement against Babylon is spoken of in marital terms. (Rev. 18:23)  As the starting point for understanding the family is not biological but theological, the same is true for the understanding of human sexuality, says Kinlaw.  In the Song of Solomon, there is no mention of offspring, but there is a celebration of intimacy.  As human sexuality is a model of the Church's union with Christ as His bride, God has a claim on human sexuality, how it is to be exercised.  The relationship of Christ and His bride is to a union of personal choice in which both view the covenant between them as no restriction upon them, as it should be between husband and wife.  The human sense of betrayal when a spouse is unfaithful witnesses to us that the two who entered the covenant were made solely for each other.  And this is the model of the Church's relationship to the Son; the Church is being prepared to be Christ's bride.

These three metephors demonstrate that the purpose for the Incarnation and Atonement was not just for freeing us from judgement.  God's ultimate purpose was to bring us into such intimacy with Him that we share in the life, fellowship and love that the three persons of the Godhead share with one another.  Also it was God's purpose that our nature would be changed to be enabled to enjoy Him in self-giving love now and forever.  "Any understanding of the atonement that does not make provision to get us ready for that intimacy with him is inadequate, incomplete, and only partially biblical." (Kinlaw, p. 68)

The next chapter in "Let's Start With Jesus" is called "Personhood and the Concept of God."

All Scriptural passages are from the NIV.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way Of Doing Theology" by Dennis Kinlaw. Part II

From A.W. Tozer in "The Knowledge of the Holy": "...the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentious fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.  We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.  This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church.  Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more elequent than her speech.  She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God."

Dennis Kinlaw, without making any direct references to Tozer, models his theological approach in "Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way of Doing Theology" along the same lines as Tozer's statement above.  In chapter one, "A New Concept of God," Kinlaw describes the two greatest revolutions in mankind's view of God and how these two revolutions enables humans to rightly know who God is and how we rightly relate to Him.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Dt. 6:4)  The first great revolution in man's view of God is that there is only one God, as opposed to many.  An inseperable aspect of this new view of God is that God is transcendant, totally seperate from His creation.  The polytheism of the ancient world viewed God and nature as an unbroken whole.  God was seen as either part of the natural world or made up of the entirety of the natural world.  Polytheists believe that evil is part of nature, therefore, evil and the divine are inseperable. As there is no transcendant being in the polytheistic universe, history is viewed as a repetitive cycle.  There is no possibility of a new world, a new society or a renewed humanity.  In Monotheism, God is not rooted in nature but in history.  God revealed Himself to humanity in time and space as being the only one God, totally seperate from His creation.  Judaism, Islam and Christianity in the strongest terms affirm the oneness of God; all three label the worshipping of nature and the divine as idolatry.

Kinlaw highlights this next important consideration leading up to his examination of the second great revolution in man's view of God.  To understand that God is one is not to understand God's nature, what God is like.  The key to understanding what God is like is what seperates Christianity from the other two monotheistic religions: Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the world's problem with Christianity, Kinlaw states, or as a Japanese student once told me (John Guthrie), "I try to worship God, but this Jesus keeps getting in my way."  The world's problem with Jesus concerns the second great revolution in man's view of God:  Jesus' own understanding of who He is and of His relation to the Father.  Jesus tells the world that He must be honored just as the Father is honored because He is God's own Son.  Jesus claimed a unique intimacy with the Father, more intimate than Moses who saw God face to face.  "Jesus said God is one, as Moses insisted, but in the oneness there is a differentiation that enables Jesus Himself to be distinct from the Father and yet part of the divine oneness." (Kinlaw, p. 24)  This divine oneness, this unity, is conceived of in familial terms.  Jesus is not God's servant, He is God's Son.  The only begotten Son.  And, Kinlaw points out, this second great revolution of man's view of God should lead us to doing theology in a whole new way.

As creatures created by God, it is natural for us to think of God in terms of how he relates to His creation.  Questions concerning God's existence and how God relates to His created order are primary.  Systematic theologions since Augustine begin with questions about God's attributes:  abstract qualities such as omniscience, omnipotence, infinity, eternity, unchangeableness, impassibility.  But these attributes don't tell us who God is, what He is like.  Jesus Himself leads us to a different approach.  "All things have been committed to me by my Father.  No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Lk 10:22)  "...'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep." (Jn. 10:7)  Jesus is the gate, or door, not just to salvation, but also to the knowledge of the one true God.  By being the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), Jesus gives us a window on God's inner self.  We see within the interactions among the Father and the Son a familial relationship.  We see God as Father, not just as King and Judge.  In revealing this familial relationship, God has revealed to us the kind of relationship He wants with all men and women and how all humans are to relate to each other. 

We see that God is one but that God is not alone.  There is an "otherness" to God that is described in terms of "the Word." (Jn. 1)  Words indicate an interrelatedness; it is in the nature of love to communicate.  The creation came into existence by God speaking in conversation.  Thus we see that God is dialogical; there is communication between the persons of the Godhead.

We see that God is free, that there is responsible freedom within the inner life of God.  Sovereignty characterizes God's relationship to creation, but sovereignty does not reflect the fatherhood of God in God's inner life.  Among the persons of the Godhead, there are not only different roles among them but also perfect equality.  There is no compulsion among them, no necessity.  As Kinlaw states, love is only possible where freedom rules.  The persons of the Godhead reveal an other orientednes toward each other.  In Islam, Allah is accountable to no one.  If Allah wishes to show mercy, that is because he has decided to show mercy, not because his nature is merciful.  Muslims have told me (John Guthrie) that they have no assurance whether or not Allah will receive them into Heaven; whatever Allah chooses is whatever Allah chooses.  This nonaccountability of Allah leads Muslims to emphasize God's sovereignty; salvation is seen to be a matter of performance of a standard set by Allah.  Yet among the persons of the Godhead, there is accountability.  The Father doesn't dispose of His creatures according to His whim, but He responds to the intercession of His Son.  (This last sentence is my own contribution, not a paraphrase of Kinlaw.  The origins of this insight is my Systematic Theology course at Wesley Biblical Seminary taught by a professor who learned from Kinlaw.)

We see that God is not bipolar, He is triune.  The Holy Spirit originates from the Father and the Son; the Holy Spirit was born through the loving relationship between the Father and the Son.  Through the Holy Spirit Jesus comes to mankind in a different way (Jn. 14:18, 28)  The Holy Spirit's primary role for us is to bring us into communion with Jesus Christ.  Kinlaw explains that in the Greek, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as another of the same kind.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us leads us to the final point.

We see that God is holy.  Only He can say "I am," we can only say "we are because of Him."  Holiness refers not just to God's transcendance, but also to His character.  His character is the ultimate absolute.  What is right, what is true, does not originate in a standard God holds us to. Right and truth originate in God's very character.  There is a unity between God's being and God's action, between who God is and what He does.  God is the same in His essence as He is in the revelation of Jesus Christ.  It was God's holiness, not God's soverignty, that caused Isaiah to be undone in God's presence.  And we are called to be holy as God is holy, but in ourselves this is an impossibility.  We cannot effect a change in our conduct unless we have a change of nature.  This requires more than a pardon, more than a change in legal status as articulated in the judicial metephor.  We need a change from the inside.  The reason for the incarnation and atonement was ultimately for this purpose: to make us holy so that we can be in an intimate relationship with the three persons of the Godhead as sons and daughters of God.  For the Church as a whole, this holiness prepares it to be a spouse for the Son of the Father.  As we are made in the image of God, we are capable of responding positively to divine overtures of love.  God seeks those who freely choose Him.  In His image renewed humanity is capable of enjoying communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God became a man and died for all so that all could participate in the other oriented, self-giving holy love which characterizes the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity.

The next post will look at chapter 2 dealing with the Judicial, Familial and Spousal metephors which describes our relationship to God.

All scripture references from the NIV.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Lets Start With Jesus: A New Way Of Doing Theology" by Dennis F. Kinlaw. Part I

Dennis F. Kinlaw, along with Thomas Oden, is one of the greatest Methodist scholars living today. Dr. Kinlaw served 18 years as President of Asbury College, now called Asbury University, and is the founder of The Francis Asbury Society. He has not only taught half of my professors at Wesley Biblical Seminary (WBS) but also taught my first two pastors who I sat under for 13 years. I have had the privilege of hearing him speak at WBS and can testify that he is the one of the best examples of the combination of incredible intellectual ability and Christian humility. His son-in-law is Professor Allan Coppedge of Asbury Theological Seminary, who has written at least 3 books that will be featured on this blog in the future. His grandson Billy Coppedge and his wife Joanna serve as missionaries in Uganda. Both were my neighbors and classmates at WBS.

One day around 60 years ago, Dr. Kinlaw took a class at Princeton entitled "The Christian Pattern of Life" taught by Emile Cailliet. The class chronicled the history of the Church's understanding of personal holiness through the ages. When Cailliet came to the classes on "The Reformed Tradition of Holiness," Cailliet stated, "You can only learn one lesson at a time." He went on to explain that during the Reformation, the battle was over the doctrine of Justification by Faith. The Reformers waged a life and death struggle to establish that doctrine in contrast to the Catholic Church's doctrine of salvation through human works. Cailliet said that we do not consult the Reformers concerning the classical development of the doctrine of personal holiness. That was not the Reformers battle. The Church had to wait for the Evangelical awakening of the 18th century in England for the maturing of that doctrine.

What Kinlaw discovered that day was that the Church's understanding of Christian dogma was not completely developed during the time of the Early Church Fathers. Through the centuries the Church has had to explore "the profound implications of the revelation in the Biblical text." (Kinlaw, p.12) Kinlaw's discovery reminded him of the Church's struggle to understand and proclaim such simple truths such as how Jesus could be the son of Mary and the Son of God at the same time. That the Church took three centuries to understand and proclaim the Triune nature of God is only the most prominent example of the Church's gradual understanding of the contents of Scripture.

Cailliet's statement allowed Kinlaw not only to appreciate the struggles of previous generations of Christians to understand and articulate Scriptural truths, but Kinlaw also came to understand that today Christians should "in divine mercy, through the Spirit, be able to see farther, to see some things more clearly" than previous generations of Christians were able to see. (Kinlaw, p. 12) (Those who believe that the Church Fathers provide the most complete and most profound expression of Christian theology should take heed of Kinlaw's insight. This is my comment, not Kinlaw's.)

The Reformers developed the Judicial metaphor to provide a picture of our relationship to God. While Kinlaw sees that this metaphor is thoroughly Biblical and crucial to our understanding of how redeemed men and women relate to God, he also sees that the metaphor does not adequately explain the purpose of Christ's death for us. The judicial metaphor describes the role God plays in relation to His creatures. But another metaphor, the familial, not only sheds further light on the role God plays in relation to His creatures, but also gives insight into the very being of God. A third metaphor, the spousal, is key to God's purpose for human history. "All this," Kinlaw writes, "plus the needs of my own spirit, brought into focus the fact that through grace the cry of the human heart is for personal knowledge of God more intimate than that which the judicial one pictures for us. I began also to realize that the picture of God himself that comes through these additional metaphors is far richer than commonly assumed by believers." (Kinlaw, p. 13) Kinlaw came to the realization that salvation is not just for the purpose of forgiveness and reconciliation, but its ultimate purpose is to bring forgiven ones into participation in the very communion that the three persons of the Godhead know between themselves. The key to understanding this, according to Kinlaw, is not to start with the question of whether God exists, where most Christian theologies start. The key is to start with Jesus Himself who assures us that He is the ultimate revelation of the Father.

"Let's Start With Jesus: A New Way of Doing Theology" is the product of Dr. Kinlaw's meditations on these subjects over the years as well as his interaction with other scholars and students. While some may disagree with him over whether the judicial metaphor is the only Biblical metaphor concerning the atonement, Kinlaw writes in such a way that very few could actually be offended at his presentation of his argument. Dr. Kinlaw's appreciation of the contributions of all the legitimate theologies of the Church is reflected in his writing.

The next six posts in this series will examine Kinlaw's insights chapter by chapter. Part I is based on the preface.

This is the 300th post on this blog.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Monday Morning Devotions

Rom 8:28- "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to God's purpose." (NKJV)

This is a much quoted promise from scripture.  However, I have seen Christians interpret it as if it read "And we know that no matter how bad our outward circumstances get, God will in the end work out our circumstances to our liking."  But for many Christians, their outward circumstances do not improve during their lifetime.  This causes some to become confused, doubting God's goodness, even coming to doubt His existence.

This confussion arises from a failure to read Biblical passages within their proper context.  The preceding verse teaches us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us "according to the will of God."  Verse 29 goes on to say, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many bretheren."

"For," as a result of.  God works out all things for our good that we may be conformed to the image of His Son.  God's conforming us to the image of His Son results ultimately in our final glorification when we are face to face with God in Heaven.  God orders our circumstances for our development as disciples.  He is making us fit for Heaven.  That is why some of our outward circumstances remain unchanged, why certain earthly longings remained unfulfilled.  The message of Rom 8:28 concerns our relationship with God, not God granting our wishes.  As we mature as disciples, we should reach the point where our ultimate desire is to be like Christ.  When we have reached that point, our attitude toward all our circumstances should be shaped by our expectation that Christ is forming us into the person He wants us to be.  And we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us on this very issue.  I'm not saying we should never wish that our circumstances would change.  But as we experience them, we should remind ourselves that we are being prepared to worship God eternally before His throne.  That should be our greatest hope.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Global Church Links

After an Indian doctor survives an attack by Muslim extremeists who cut off one of his hands, his family forgives the attackers.  Here is a link to another story of Christian forgiveness in India

The Gospel is spreading in Indonesia, prompting a backlash from radical Muslims seeking to impose Sharia law upon that nations inhabitants.

The government of Egypt is demanding that the Coptic Church legitimize divorce for Coptic Christians in an attempt to "harmonize" Church teaching with Sharia law, which according to Gene Veith, permits men to have up to four wives and allows them to divorce a wife "by simply uttering 'I divorce you' thrice (even via text messaging.)"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Monday Morning Devotions

(Its been over a year since I have published Monday Morning Devotions which feature brief impressionistic examinations of various scriptures.  At some future date they may be expanded upon to produce sermons.)

IJn. 3:3- "And everyone who has this hope in Him (Jesus Christ) purifies himself, just as He is pure." (NKJV, insert, my own)

Once we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ, we have many things to hope for.  We hope that during times of adversity the Lord will come to our aid.  In times of sickness, we hope the Lord will heal us.  We hope that however the Lord leads us, He will empower us to obey.  When our lives take directions we do not understand, we hope that the sovereign Lord is working out all things for our good.  And of course, we have the hope that when our time on this earth is done, we will spend eternity in the presence of God.

And yet, there is one object of hope we often overlook.  The hope that one day we will be like Jesus Christ.  We won't ever possess divine attributes such as sovereignty, omniscience or omnipresence.  But we shall be like Jesus Christ.  What we shall be when we are like Him I don't know, neither does this scripture's author, John, know.  But we know enough of what Jesus is like that to be like Him is a great hope indeed.  Scripture contains many commands that God's children purify themselves.  Many of these commands demand the forsaking of the ways of the world and our own desires.  But hope also purifies.  And John assures us that the hope that we will be like Jesus will purify us, just as Jesus Himself is pure.

As we mature in our Christian walk, our wants start to line up with our Father's wants.  Why?  If we truly believe, then Jesus lives in our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13)  As more and more of our lives are brought under the control of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit transforms us into the people God wants us to be.  And the Holy Spirit births in us a desire to be like Jesus, which purifies us from sin.

As a believer, do you have this hope?  Do you desire this purity?  If this promise of becoming like Jesus has not become real in your life, ask yourselves how much you have allowed the Holy Spirit to change you.  Seek to have your own wants, legitimate they may be, to be supplanted by what God wants by spending time with Him.  Let the Holy Spirit make you whom He will.  By faith we know that if we allow this, we will be better than even our highest expectations for ourselves.  For we shall be like Christ!