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Whose Image

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. “Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?”Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Matthew 22:15-22

Man was created in harmony with God

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and He created it out of His love and for His glory. At each step of His creation He looked at His work and He saw that it was good. His creation was perfect and in harmony with His will and purpose. On the sixth day from the dust of the earth He created man and placed him in the paradise of the Garden of Eden. Of all that God had created only man was created in His image, man was created in the likeness of God. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) Man was created with the ability to reason, to think and make judgments, and to appreciate all that God had created. Man was also created with an eternal spirit and a conscious; he was cognizant, aware, and able to premeditate his actions. Man had a will and was free to do as he would choose. Man also was in harmony with the will and purpose of God.

Man was created holy and was righteous before God and was able to stand before God and speak to Him as I am able to speak with you face to face. All the animals of the earth and the birds of the air were brought before Adam and whatever he called them was their name. What a privilege God had given that man could name the creation of God. God and man were likeminded and Adam knew the intention of God in naming His creation and therefore God trusted the judgment of Adam to be in unison with His will and purpose. God gave man dominion over the animals and rule over the earth. This is a very impressive responsibility for man; a creature himself would be given charge over all that God had made. I am sure that God and man spoke often in fellowship and man knew only the good that God had given him and remained obedient to his maker.

Man was not created as a machine, he had the ability to choose, he had the ability obey God or to disobey God, and man could decide for himself which government he would live by, that of God or that of himself. Man as he was created, was certainly able to sin against God. But man had no knowledge of evil and therefore those thoughts did not enter into his mind. So man was also able to not sin. Adam had only one command from God as we read in Genesis. “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

 

The fall and rebellion of Man

Then that fallen angel, Satan, the father of lies, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies,” (John 8:44) entered into the Garden of Eden to deceive man with his crafty deceptions and half truths from what God had commanded. “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:9) “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!” For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-6) When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Death was not immediate after this violation of God’s command but death was now a future reality. “A time to give birth and a time to die;” (Ecclesiastes 3:2) Spiritual death was a sure fire fact, as man’s spirit was now separated from God’s. Before man was in perfect harmony with God and had an intimate relationship with Him. Sin, going against the will of God, had entered into his life. Adam knew what was good but now Adam also knew what was evil. Man had lost his goodness, his holiness, his righteousness, and had lost his harmony with God. Adam knew he was naked before God and was ashamed because God could see that he had disobeyed. He knew he was naked before Eve and they had lust in their hearts and they covered themselves in their shame. As Satan had said they gained the knowledge of evil but they had lost the purity of goodness and they and all the generations to follow would carry their new sin nature and the lustful desires for the world. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1John 2:16) Man had lost the image of God and now bore the image of this world.

Adam and Eve made their choice to which government they would fallow. Once they were living in peace with God but now that peace was lost with their new government of choice, that of the new ruler of this world Satan himself. Once Adam and Eve were able to sin if they chose but now they were unable to not sin because of their new sin nature from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As time passed man continued to become corrupted and depraved of mind until a point of anger filled God with regret that he had created man. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7) In all the earth God found only one man, Noah, and his family that was worth keeping. God commanded Noah to build an ark and to place his family and two of every kind of animal in the ark. Noah was faithful and followed the command of God and when the ark was ready he filled it with the animals as God had commanded. When this was done God shut the door and sent the rains flooding the earth and destroying all living creatures. Even this did not change the wickedness in the hearts of men. Today we are as the times of Noah and man’s heart is so wicked who can know it. But God does.

Man continues to forsake God and live in his self greed for the pleasures of this world. Man has created all kinds of gods out of graven images and worships them in place of the true God. Foolishly thinking that he will find his salvation in the created rather that the creator. Man is never satisfied, and never will be, as he searches for love and happiness in a place that will never provide that which he searches for. Why search for life amongst the dying when it can only be found with the One who gives life? “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24) Man has no excuse for his rebellion against God. Even today when all science points to the reality of God the creator still man rejects God. Is man so much in love with this world that he refuses to see beyond into the next? Man should, we all will pass from this world into eternity. “Since the creation of the world we live in it has been no secret of God His handy work. His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:20-21) Man is so caught up with himself and what he wants now to satisfy his want of power and possession that he has blinded himself to the truth; neither does man want to know the truth because it reveals what little he is. Never with sincere heart does the natural man bow before God and thank Him for the abundant blessing poured upon him each and every day. Man lives after his vanity and has allowed his heart to live in the darkness of his depravity. “The ways of this world are plain for everyone to see, nothing is hidden anymore from the sight, there are no secrets, as we are in the information age where everything is instant and man has lost all patience. “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:28-32)

Jesus is coming and with each passing day, with each passing event on the world stage reveals the shortening of time, and we are told to watch and pray that we are busy about His work that all who have an ear to hear will have the opportunity for an abundant life with Jesus. In spite of their wickedness we are to give them every change to respond to the gospel message of Jesus. We have the love of God dwelling in us and God loves all people. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

It is now as the days of Noah and the depravity and wickedness of man as he travels down the broad road to destruction that his hour of great distress is now very near. How very sad it will be when our Lord appears in the sky and God shuts the door and no longer will listen to their plea. “We have transgressed and rebelled, You have not pardoned. You have covered Yourself with anger And pursued us; You have slain and have not spared. You have covered Yourself with a cloud So that no prayer can pass through.” (Limitations 3:42-44)

Reborn Man

Still some this day seek the righteousness of God, they seek His Kingdom, and they approach His courts with praise and thanksgiving. They walk not in the way of this world but walk in the way of His Kingdom. Many set off on that journey but fall away and never find that narrow path. They search in the many false religions of this world. They even sit in His church but never surrender their life to Jesus and follow Him in faith, trusting Him and obeying His truths. Some try to work out their salvation or buy it but by the grace of God it is available to them as a free gift from God. How foolish to think one could obtain the price of the blood of Jesus. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14)

Some say yes but cannot let loose the pleasures of this world and continue in their life of ungodly behavior. If they would only repent from their evil practices and seek the righteous life of Jesus who they claim then they would find peace with God. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter into the Gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) We are born once of the flesh but to enter into the Kingdom we must be born of the Spirit. Once we accept Jesus into our heart He sends us the Holy Spirit to dwell within to renew us towards a new life in Him. We no longer live in the perishable flesh which is dead in the judgment but live in the eternal Spirit which is life everlasting. “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1Peter 1:23) Those who are born of the flesh are flesh and will pass away. Those who are born of the Spirit shall have everlasting life in the Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) If we walk in the Spirit, then we will be able to overcome the desires of the flesh. The born again believer is able to sin but as before the fall of man the believer is also able to not sin by living in the power of a Spirit filled life. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

It is not an instant renewal but a growing transforming adventure. It takes studying God’s Word, it takes daily confession and repentance, it takes revival and restating your commitment, and it takes constant discipline. As we grow in maturity we take on the image of Jesus as He lives through us and we abide with Him and the Father. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” (Romans 8:29) Through Jesus we have access to God as Jesus is our intercessor, He is the bridge between us and God and through Him the harmony lost in the Garden is restored to us. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

The Born Again believer is redeemed and reconciled to God and we now can have that personal relationship we have hungered for with God. It is almost as if we were back in the Garden of Paradise lost so long ago. That day is coming when Jesus will return to call out His people and we will join Him in the heavens and share in His glory. We have been purchased not with things of this world but with the precious blood of Jesus the Son of God. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1Peter 1:18-19) There is no power that can take us away from Him, as we are His possession and under His protection. Jesus’ light of truth shines through as we Glorify His Father God Almighty. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Corinthians 6:20)

Render unto Caesar what is his and unto God what is His

This was a challenging word that God had placed upon my heart. It is a message that I needed to hear and now I have to make some correction in the life I live. It may be that some of us here also need to make some corrections as well. Jesus asked what image was on the coin and the answer was Caesars. Of course my point is that this is the image of the world. It is an image that many in this world worship. Babylon is a world system we are moving to and it too will pass away with the world. There is nothing in this world that man can keep as he will leave it behind when he enters into the next. We are born of man from the dust of the earth and have the image of this world upon us.

As we live through our day do we display a spirit of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil, are we full of envy, strife, deceit, and malice. Do we spend our time in gossip slandering the events of other people’s lives? Do we carry on in an insolent, arrogant, boastful manner? Do we practice disobedience to our parents, do we walk forward without understanding, and are we untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Most in this world live their lives in this attitude and this is the image they render for they are of the world. They do not have the Spirit of Truth.

It was not always that way for in the beginning we were created in the image of God. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) Sin entered in and came between us and God and we lost our relationship with Him. God sent His Son into the world to restore that relationship between man and God. When we accepted Jesus as Lord and Master of our life He sent His Holy Spirit and we are sealed by His Spirit. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)

We who believe upon the name of Jesus, who follow Him in faith, and who keep His commandments have the Spirit if Truth living in us. As we study His Word, meditate on His Word, and pray His Word we grow in maturity and transform into the image of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gaussians 5:22) God is Love and as we abide in His love, His perfect Agape Love, will be the image of Him that shines through us. Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love.

After studying this lesson I had to ask myself and now also ask each and every one of you. Which image do you display? Do have the image of the world on you and if so you must be rendering yourself unto the world. If you have the image of Jesus growing in you, then render yourself unto God for you are His. I leave you all with these words from our Lord and Savior, our Master, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, November 28, 2012

Durant Bible College

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