Made in the Image of God

“For whom He [God] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [Jesus Christ], that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29.

This verse tells us that God wants Christians to grow in Christ and become more like Him in the way we live our lives. God wants to look in our eyes and see Jesus.

When men look at us and see the gentleness of Jesus, they will either hate us or they will listen to us, but they will not call us hypocrites.

Let us look at some principles of life before we examine God in Christ more closely.

The Bible urges us to give thanks in all things, because a thankful attitude focuses us on the good things in life. Green grass, blue skies, hot coffee, even the air we breathe, and it makes us look at the things God is responsible for.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17.

That last phrase means God does not change – at all.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Notice it says, “…in everything give thanks”, that would include annoying neighbors, an overbearing boss, or a stopped-up toilet. Such an irrational act of thankfulness will remind us that God is with us and not against us and that we can ask Him for help (Yes, God does plumbing), it is still disgusting work, yet with Him things go smoother.

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19.

Well, we have God here with rolled up sleeves and a plunger in His hand, who is this friendly stranger? I believe we can gain some insight from the book of Galatians.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

Observe here that it is the fruit (or the outworking) of the Spirit working in the Christian. This would indicate that God the Holy Spirit possesses these attributes and being part of the Godhead with God the Son and God the Father, by extension they all have these attributes.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord [Yahweh] our God, the Lord [Yahweh] is one! Deuteronomy 6:4.

“I [Jesus] and My Father are one.” John 10:30.

The New American Standard Bible has a marginal notation stating that this means that they are a unity or one essence.

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “Either Christ was a lunatic on the level of one who claimed to be a poached egg, or He was who He said He was”.

The first attribute of God given in Galatians 5:22-23 above is love. Despite what He has been twisted into through misunderstanding of the Old Testament, God is love. In fact, the Bible says so.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8.

If God were not love why is He so obsessed with this subject? Just the word love occurs more than 166 times in the New Testament.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:14.

Jesus commanded His disciples as follows.

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17.

Be sure that you understand that God’s love is an unconditional one; it is neither erotic nor hypocritical.

If a billionaire said, “I love you with all my heart”, and gave you 5 million dollars, you would appreciate it no end, but they could have given you 20 million dollars and not felt it, is this really love?

God owns everything; you cannot put a value on his riches. If He gave you wealth and material goods, you would appreciate it no end, but is a little out of His plenty really love?

Love, even if it is just fidelity, means little without sacrifice.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

The entire creation would not equal the value of one drop of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is a sacrifice of true love for all of mankind.

The next word in Galatians 5:22-23, joy means cheerfulness, calm, delight, exceeding gladness; the dictionary defines it as, an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying.

And it is an emotion that many of us have rarely felt; moreover, it seems odd for God to have it.

The world sees God as angry, wrathful, livid at the very thought of sin. And yes, He does hate sin; He even encourages us to hate it.

“You who love the Lord, hate evil!” Psalm 97:10a.

God hates sin but not the sinner; this is why Jesus died on the cross, to cleanse all who call upon Him from sin.

Alas, many prefer their sinful ways over God; they will have to bear their own load on judgment day.

God feels joy in heaven because He knows the beginning from the end, and this brings great joy because the battle is already won in God’s eyes.

He rejoices at the salvation that Jesus has purchased for all who will believe, many of whom are in His presence now.

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8.

He rejoices that we will soon be with Him and that this world and its evil works will soon be burned up and righteousness will reign.

The next word, peace, is a state of quietness and rest.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.

We can only have perfect peace if we are willing (and able) to trust God with all our problems and with all our heart in all things.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

God has peace for the same reason he has joy, He knows all and is also in complete control of everything and we can share in this peace!

The word longsuffering explains itself; God is longsuffering with man’s sinful ways and open rebellion against Him.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

Please read all of 2 Peter 3, it is interesting.

The next words, kindness and goodness seem synonymous, yet there are degrees of difference.

The idea of goodness suggests that it is a goodness seen in doing deeds of good, outward expressions rather than goodness as opposed to evil.

Kindness also has a different meaning here; it is graciousness of heart, kind, gentleness. So, God’s kindness/gentleness is shown to the good and the bad. And His goodness draws us to Him,

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4.

The next word faithfulness is self explanatory, yet we see so little of it today it would not hurt to expand it a little. One of the reasons that dogs are so popular today is that they are so faithful. You raise a puppy, and he/she gives you unconditional love.

You come home tired from work and there is old Shep waiting at the door for you. He licks your hand when you arrive, and you hold him and pet him.

Or you come home from work, and he licks your hand and you give him a swift kick, after cowering in the corner for a while Shep comes over and licks your hand.

How many heart-rending stories are there of Shep’s faithfulness: saved from fire, saved from drowning, saved from attackers, leading the blind.

In a nation with so many broken homes there is a longing for faithfulness.

In divorce there is the unfaithful father who leaves the children and does not look back, or the unfaithful divorced mother who constantly drives a wedge between father and children.

Unfaithful stepparents who feel it is not their job to show parental affection to the stepchildren. Worse yet, the stepchildren are sometimes molested by someone who should be trustworthy.

Remember this you fathers who walk away from your children, you are not just deserting their mother, you are leaving them vulnerable for someone to molest them! Not just a stepfather, but an uncle or boyfriend might be a pedophile.

“Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.” Proverbs 17:6.

Fathers are the glory of children; they idolize their dad they revere him because there is no one like him in their world. Fathers have no one who will so slavishly hang on to their every word or follow them around just to be with them.

No, no one, not your wife, your parents or siblings, yet there are so many children who are verbally, physically and sexually abused by the one person who needs their love and affection the most.

And yes, there are self-centered mothers who play selfish mind games with their children, not once concerned for the welfare of the child, even separating them from their grandparents. These people do these things because they can.

And what of old Shep? Well, he lives with the family until it becomes inconvenient, then often, too often; he is deserted or left with a shelter, or if he is lucky, he is euthanized. Such is the danger of living in a faithless world.

Not so with God, He tells us in Scripture:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b.

Nor will He change His mind.

“For I am the Lord [Yahweh, the covenant keeping God], I do not change…” Malachi 3:6a.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

God is faithful, trustworthy and through His Spirit, He wants us to be faithful in a dying world.

Gentleness, this word is rendered meekness in the old King James Version which is a better word to my thinking.

It signifies not just gentleness, mild, meek, but it is foremost a meekness toward God in acceptance of His guidance in your life even though you may not understand what is happening.

This is obviously very difficult and is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30.

Christ Jesus is asking nothing more from us than of Himself, He too is meek. And even more startling, God the Father is also meek, for Jesus tells His disciple Philip during the Passover supper that if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father John 14:6-9.

A meek and humble God, how staggering is that? Yet, why not, He is omnipotent, what does He need to prove?

Earthly rulers feel the need to vaunt their power to keep people in line and often for good reason; someone stronger may take it away from them.

But there is no one stronger than God, there is no need to show off or boast.

“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the balance; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.” Isaiah 40:15.

Who is like our God?

Self-control is thought of as managing anger, eating in moderation, not drinking too much, or even things like staying on a budget, or punctuality, or sticking with a hard job until it is done.

Though those things are worthy, self-control is a state of heart that abides in Christ always and responds in a godly way no matter what the provocation, it is someone controlled by the Holy Spirit and is closely related to meekness.

It is obvious that God has self-control, yet it is not something that folks normally consider. For instance, people will speak of the sovereignty of God, which basically means, He can do anything, as though He is controlled by it.

In a way they have God trapped by His own omnipotence.

This is all wrong, God is all powerful yet that power is in subjection to His personality.

Just as you would never, in your right mind, strip naked and go swim in a sewer, so God’s character dictates that though He could do anything, it is limited by who He is.

And herein we have His self-control. Though we sin continually, He remembers that we are but dust. God has anger, He has wrath, yet they do not burst out like the breaking of a dam.

“As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14.

How often have we been angered and said vile things to someone that we regretted later. God has self-control and by His Spirit we too can have self-control.

Finally, though I have shown God as one with His sleeves rolled up and a plunger in His hand, He is the same One who created all things and is all powerful and worthy of our trust and praise. Isaiah records this incredible sight in Isaiah 6.

“In the year that King Uzziah died [740 B.C.], I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4.

All powerful and balanced, God is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kind, good, faithful, meek, and self-controlled. And He wants us to call Him Papa.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God [having accepted Christ as Savior], these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:14-15.

“He came to His own [Israelites], and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” John 1:11-12.

Made in the Image of God taken from posted on 12-27-18, updated on 2-18-24 ck.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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