In Genesis we read God created "Adam"..."Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. ...In the image of God created he male and female created he them." - Genesis 5:2, 1:27 We also read the story of how they fell and sinned against God by disobeying his one commandment to them, to not eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then God said "...Behold, man is become as one of us, to know good and evil..." - Genesis 3:22. This may seem like a paradox...first God said he created them in his image, then after they fell, he said they became "as one of us" to know good and evil. But the words "as one of us" here, speaks of them becoming their own God or another God with their own understanding.
The carnal mind and self will that Adam and Eve fell to that day when they went their own way, has led man to do what was right in their own eyes...deciding for themselves what was good and evil. God said "...in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17). Their union with God was broken and their spirit life died that day. They had been covered with the Glory of God, (which is the image of God) but it could no longer rest upon them, they had gone their own way. Without union with God, they were now naked and sought the covering that only union with God could give them. Man has tried everything imaginable since that time to substitute that covering. Every pleasurable thing the world can offer has been tried to fill that spot, but it all leaves them empty in the end and looking for the next "covering"
But Paul knew what he was looking for and it could only be found in the spiritual ream with spiritual life in union with God: "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
In Genesis...God said they were going to create men in their image, and that is what he has been doing these last six thousand years. God is creating Sons of God, a people who are just as he is. Like a mirror, the image has no separate life of its own; it only reflects the life in front of it. It doesn't seek its own will; it only does what it sees life in front of it doing. This is what the Sons of God will be like.
Everything that has transpired since God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground has been to this end. Giving Adam and Eve the opportunity to fall, giving man the law, yet allowing man to do what seemed right in their own eyes. In one form or another every law and every commandment has been a picture of what union with the father should be. It is the evidence of whether we are in union with him or not. The law was our school master. But without the spiritual life from God, we could not be in union with him. We could have forgiveness of sins through the sacrifices of the lambs and fulfilling the rituals of the festivals, but they could not give us back the life that was lost in the garden and the Glory that rested on them. Without this life there is no union with the father. It took Jesus death for forgiveness of sins, and his resurrection life in us to make it possible to be once again in union with the Father.
God is not looking for just modified behavior that is able to keep the law, but desires to impart a new life in us, born of an incorruptible seed by the Holy Spirit that will grow up into a perfect man made in his image.
We have to understand that not everyone born into this world or even those who call themselves Christians will summit themselves to God to be formed into the image of him and become true Sons of God. 2 Timothy 2:20 speaks of vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour. 2 Timothy 3:12 says "...all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." If any desire to follow the Lord and live their life through him will suffer loss. The words "in Christ Jesus" in this scripture is Christ living in us, giving us the power to live Godly. In order for that new life to be formed in us, we must die to ourselves. Any good works done in our own strength apart from the power of God working in us is only self righteousness, and God HATES self righteousness. It is still the same thing that Adam and Eve did in the garden, apart from God, they had a knowledge of good and evil.
Why do I speak so much about unity or union with God? This is the part he has shown us of himself and he is requiring that of us. Philippians 2:5 says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" As we study the words of Jesus, he says things like...I and my father are one...I can do nothing apart from my father...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
John writes: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." 1John 5:7
Jesus prayed "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." John 17:21
Since no flesh can glory in God, our flesh must die.
We can know these things; we can quote the scriptures and talk about it. We can have a sincere heart that desires to live this way, but until it is worked into us by God though trials and tribulations, it can not be formed in us. Scriptures tell us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
If we have a true desire to be a vessel of honor for our Lord, to be conformed into his image, if we belong to him, we have to believe he is working in us. No matter what happens or comes our way, it is for our good and his purpose in us. We must believe he is sovereign in every part of our lives. As Roman 8:28 says: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
People like to rebuke the Devil when persecution comes, but we need to get that out of our minds, there is no solid scripture for it. Quite the contrary, persecution is an instrument by which we are conformed into the image of Christ. As our flesh is being crucified with trials and tribulations, our will, pride and our own sense of what we feel is "right" and "wrong" is being nailed to the cross. This is how we are blessed when Jesus spoke of it in Matthew 5:11, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." All of this is necessary to burn away our old "life" so the new life in Christ can grow up into a new spiritual man and his glory can be revealed in us. Everything that Adam and Eve "learned" at the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is carnal and fleshly...it is the enemy of God and we must leave it behind. Our ways are not God's way.
Peter wrote: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Let us read the words of Paul who knew much about suffering:
"...there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
How may we have the power of Christ rest upon us? By taking "pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions." If we do not have faith or trust in a sovereign God, that all things that come against us are not only known of God, but are ordained of him for our good...and that his grace will be sufficient, we have no real faith in him at all!
We are here for His purpose, and his purpose is to conform us to his will. The only part we can play in this is to say to the Lord, "not my will but thy will be done" and obey him. When we have done all...stand. If a battle is to be fought, let the Lord fight it. Only speak or do as the Lord leads. Don't try and figure things out with our own understanding, be led daily of the Lord. He is able to keep us when we hold on to him.
As we do this, more and more of our old self dies away and the power of Christ rest upon us!
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