While the Old Covenant is all about rules, regulations and obedience to laws, the New Covenant is God’s invitation for us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Through the life and death of Christ, we are restored to God’s eternal purpose for man—to manifest His nature. His death was the means for our redemption, but by His life as a man, He showed us how God intends for us to live. John says of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). His life—His character and His example—is the “light of men.”
This does not mean we just imitate Christ. Many people, such as Mahatma Gandhiji, imitated Christ.
It is not to be like those who join the army. They come in with long bushy hair and their own look. But soon, they end up in the barber’s chair, and their long curly hair is gone. Their fancy civilian clothes are replaced with an army uniform, and all the soldiers now look the same. As long as they are in the army, they will behave as they are told. They are just copying behaviors. On the inside, however, they may still be something else.
As followers of Christ, we cannot copy behavior, imitate and therefore become godly. Godliness, becoming like Christ, is not an objective list of rules. In fact, a purely intellectual knowledge of Christ will leave us proud and self-centered still. Rather, godliness is born out of a growing and alive relationship with our Lord. Hence, we read in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” In Ephesians, the phrase “in Him” is repeated again and again.(1) Our life only makes sense when we understand that our very identity and source of life come from Christ. We are not on the outside. We are on the inside. It is no longer our life, but Christ’s life manifesting itself in us and through us.
(1) See Ephesians 1:4, 1:7, 1:10–11, 1:13, 3:12.