CREATED IN HIS IMAGE
Originally, man was created by God in His image and likeness:
Genesis 1:26 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
However, that image and likeness was lost via the treachery initiated by the enemy in the Garden:
Genesis 3:7 - And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.
As a result of sin man is no longer in His image and likeness. It is God’s image and likeness that was lost due to sin:
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
The word Glory as used in this verse comes from the Greek, doxa which means dignity. Dignity refers to one’s character and nature. It was the image and likeness of God that was lost – God’s character and nature. His character and nature is listed in scripture as the Fruit (produce or product) of the Spirit, (listed in Galatians 5:22-23); that which is born of the spirit within us; this can also be referred to as “quality of spirit” or one’s character.
So what kind of image and likeness does man have since he lost God’s character and nature in the “garden” experience? Try to consider what Adam was like before sin, and then afterward; can you see the complete change in character and nature? Jesus was addressing that fallen nature when He was speaking to certain Jews:
John 8:44 - Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Man has since had the character and nature of the beast, the devil, Satan; to whom he submitted himself in the garden in defiance of God’s command as a result of the devil’s craftiness and subtlety. (And people have the nerve to blame God for the evil on earth.)
John 8:38 - I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost! What was lost? ….. the character and nature of God – His glory that was in Adam before the fall:
Matthew 18:11 - For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
To be born of the Spirit means to receive the character and nature of God - His image and likeness, which is received when the Spirit of His Son enters our hearts:
Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
The Spirit of His Son (Christ) brings the eternal life of God into us – a spiritual birth.
John 10:10- The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly; (life is translated here from is the zoe which means life as God has it; spiritual life that is eternal)
John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (Saved, as used here, means rescued, delivered from a corrupt state, to be redeemed or restored to the original state).
What is referred to in scripture as the “old man” and the “old nature” is the character and nature of the devil; and this nature needs to be put off, repented of:
Ephesians 4:21-24 - If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (after His own image and likeness).
Romans 13:14 - But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Colossians 3:8-14 - But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Notice charity, or love, the principle Fruit of the Spirit).
Galatians 5:22-24 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified (died to) the flesh (selfish old nature of the devil) with the affections and lusts.
This does not occur automatically when a person believes in Jesus as savor and Lord. Just believing does not change a man. Believing unto salvation brings forgiveness of sins, but change begins with repentance, the acknowledgement of sin and a need to change – putting off the old nature and its ways. True salvation requires repentance; salvation without repentance changes nothing. The old carnal nature, the sinful flesh nature of selfishness and pride (1 John 2:16) must be put away (Colossians 3:1-12):
Romans 8:11-13 – But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell
in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
If this has not occurred, or start to become evident in life of the one professing to be a believer, then he may not be a true believer since nothing has changed; there has been no real repentance. When a person believes in Jesus Christ, and accepts the fact of His death and resurrection, then he is to begin the path of discipleship – becoming an obedient follower, learning of Him and growing to maturity as a child of God. Then he can profess the following very important factor showing the new life of a true Christian:
Galatians 2:30 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ
liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
The true Christian life starts at re-birth, being born again; then comes the growing up and maturing into His image. This requires seeking to conform to the new nature of Christ that is received. In order for this to happen, the old nature or way of living, thinking, acting and doing things must be done away with. It’s called dying to self (the flesh). Then allow the new nature His image and likeness to come forth from within you; being conformed to His image – the likeness of Christ: (the zoe life and its accompanying Fruit of the Spirit).
Romans 8: 29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Colossians 1:27 - To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Galatians 4:19 - My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Ephesians 4:13 – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Colossians 3:10 - And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
The character and nature of God is like a precious seed planted in each believer who is His spiritual garden. That seed needs to be watered with the Word of God; nurtured with obedience and servitude; cultivated and pruned to remove that which hinders growth; and weeded, removing the things of the world that choke the life out. Then that seed, which is the Word of God (Jesus), can grow and produce its fruit – Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus spoke of it this way:
Matthew 13:37-39 - He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Matthew 13:3-9; 20-23 - And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. ……(Parable explained)…When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
The harvest occurs when the fruit is ripe; that fruit is ripe when the image of Christ is formed in His believers. The best fruit is when 100% of Christ is seen in one of His; however, He accepts 60% of His image formed in a believer; and even just 30% is still ready to be harvested.
Those who are not believers cannot identify with Christ or the true saints; also they do not respond to, or are even able to hear and receive the word of God:
John 8:47 - He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
The true saints, sons of God, are no longer part of this world, but aliens to it, and its ways:
John 15:19 - If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
John 8:47- He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
When that fruit is matured it produces the likeness Christ; we appear as the Sons of God:
Romans 8:18-19 – For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
God’s children have separated themselves form the world and its way of living, while the unbelievers continue to live like the devil in the selfishness of their lusts.
Consider the harvest as when God sees the ripe fruit appear.
John 15:1-5 - I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Note: the fruit produced is not man’s works because man can produce all kinds of works without Christ – even so-called Christian works. However, this fruit cannot be produced without being intimately tied into the vine – Jesus(John 15:4-5). This fruit is the result of the life of the vine (Christ) flowing through the believer that produces this fruit – the Fruit of the Spirit, which is the character and nature (likeness of) Christ, and God Himself.
This is the harvest that God is so patiently waiting for:
Revelation 14:15 - And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Christianity merely begins at “salvation”, believing on Jesus and accepting what He did on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. (Note: a person can be born-again by simply believing and confessing that Jesus was crucified and rose again; then begins the discipleship process to mature as a Christian.) True Christianity is a growth process unto becoming God’s children, sons of God, restored to His image and likeness as it was in the beginning:
1 John 3:1-3 - Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Proof that godliness, or God likeness in character and nature (image), is sought by God in His children, is clearly stated:
1 John 3:6-10 - Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his (God’s) seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
There is soon coming a time when the true Sons of God and the children of the devil, (including false Christians) will be identified and separated – the wheat from the tares:
Matthew 13:37-39 – He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Which category are you in?
- Is Christ seen in you - 30% or 60% or 100% ?
- Does your life reflect Him - His character and nature?
- Does the Fruit of the Spirit show in your life?
- Are you ready for the harvest?
Galatians 5:22-24 – But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance. And they that are Christ's have crucified (died to) the flesh (selfish old nature of the devil) with the affections and lusts.
Believers need to recognize that the Fruit of the Spirit (the character and nature of God) is what needs to be seen especially in those who minister as preachers, teachers, pastors and evangelists. Many of those who hold such positions or titles depend more on the Gifts of the Spirit as evidence of their ministry, (or just man’s credentials from some man-made organization). Jesus told us not to look for the gifts, but the FRUIT. WHY? Because the enemy can counterfeit the spiritual gifts but he can’t counterfeit the Fruit. Remember the Fruit of the Spirit is the character and nature of God that was fully manifested in Jesus Christ. Satan does not possess any of the character and nature of God; in fact, his character and nature is the opposite, and that is what mankind needs to be set free of and what Jesus came to accomplish.
Matthew 7:15-16, 21-23 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. ….Ye shall know them by their fruits… Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (rebellion or doing your own thing).
The key to understanding this passage and just who it is that is being referred to is found in the remaining verses of this chapter. Ministers are charged with building (maturing) God’s house (temple), the saints. Those that build it God’s way are building His people on the rock allowing them to be able to stand when the storms of life hit them. Those false ministers, the ones that are doing their own thing (called iniquity or rebellion), build on other things, referred to as sand, that will not allow people to stand when the storms of life assail them.
Matthew 7: 24-27 – Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth
them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Believers, you need to really know them that labor among you. Look for the Fruit, not the Gifts. People are too easily deceived by supernatural gifts because they have not been taught how to discern what is of God and what is not of God; and Satan can duplicate those supernatural gifts. Many Christians are just too immature in spiritual things because they do not know enough of the Word of God; this also applies to many in ministry.
Hebrews 5:12-14 – For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Your relationship with God, and your spiritual maturity, is primarily in your own hands. It is required of us all to know God’s Word and be led of His Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
John 8:31-32 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 4:23-24 – But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Romans 8: 19 – For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
That manifestation is when the full image and likeness of our Lord is seen and revealed in His people; just the way God originally made man before the effects of sin; and did not Jesus remove the effects of sin from those who accept Him? So what doth hinder us from exhibiting the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ? We must recognize that it’s the old man/nature that we are told to put off and die to – repent and turn from (as listed previously). That selfish nature of the flesh hinders the Fruit from coming forth.
If the Spirit of the Lord is in you then that fruit is there also, but selfishness and pride, the big “I”, prevents it from coming forth. That is why Jesus said we must “deny self”:
Luke 9: 23 - And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me); or as Paul described it, “die to self”. Thus we have the need to search our hearts and repent frequently because:
Galatians 5: 17 – For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
It’s time for the true saints of God walk in the fullness of the Spirit, allowing Him to be seen. The harvest should be ripening; the fruit should be seen, which is the will of the Father. He that hath an ear, let him hear was the Spirit sayeth unto the churches.