The Beginning - Part VI
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” —Genesis 1:26
If the believer doesn’t understand God’s prescribed order of victory, in other words, how to live this Christian life, he will try to do it the wrong way, even as Romans, Chapter 7, outlines. This guarantees failure and the ascendancy of the sin nature once again. In fact, this is the great struggle of the Christian.
There is only one way that the believer can maintain ascendancy over the sin nature, in other words, the divine nature ruling rather than the sin nature (II Pet. 1:4). If the believer doesn’t function God’s way, his situation will be, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).
In fact, Romans, Chapter 7, is the example of the believer attempting to live for God but trying to do so in the wrong way. It is Paul’s own personal experience.
After Paul was saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit, and even called to be an apostle, which means that at the time in question, he was an apostle, not knowing the victory of the Cross, he set out to live for God in the only way he knew. That way was the effort of trying to live for God by his own strength and ability, which he came to refer to as “the flesh.”
In his defense, there was no one else in the world at that time who knew of the victory of the Cross, for the explanation of the new covenant had not yet been given. In fact, it was given to Paul. Actually, the explanation of the Cross is the explanation of the new covenant. To simplify the issue, one need only look at the emblems of the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:24–25).
So, if the great Paul couldn’t live this life by his own strength, how do you think you can?
God’s Prescribed Order Of Victory
The Lord has devised a means and a way for the believer to live a holy, pure, and godly life, meaning that sin will not have dominion over him (Rom. 6:14). As stated, it is the victory of the Cross, which refers to what Jesus did there.
Some have said that all revelation is preceded by desperation. Perhaps that is true. I know it was with Paul, and I know it was with me as well!
The Lord gave to the apostle this prescribed order, which he gave to us in Romans, Chapter 6. Someone has well said that Romans, Chapter 6, is the mechanics of the Holy Spirit, which tells us how He works. Romans, Chapter 8, is the dynamics of the Holy Spirit, which tells us what He does after we understand how He does it.
The apostle explained to us that at the time of conversion, we are literally baptized into the death of Christ. Now, of course, we were not there when Jesus was crucified; however, when the believing sinner evidences faith in Christ, in the mind of God, Jesus Christ becomes our substitute in all things. When He died, we died with Him and were literally baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3). This is all done by faith on our part. In other words, when the sinner expresses faith in Christ, we are placed by God into the death of Christ.
Now, please understand that when Paul said that we are baptized into His death, he was not speaking of water baptism, as many think. He was speaking of the crucifixion of Christ, but it didn’t stop there; it continues.
Paul then said, “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death,” meaning that when Jesus was put in the tomb, in the mind of God, we were placed in that tomb with Him. This means that all of the old man is not only “crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed,” but buried with Him, meaning that the old you is gone forever (Rom. 6:4, 6).
However, it doesn’t stop there. When Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we were raised with Him that “we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4–5).
This which I’ve just explained to you is the bedrock of the Christian faith. It is what Christ did for us at the Cross and is the very reason that Paul also said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).
The believer is to ever understand that everything he receives from God comes to him exclusively by and through the Cross of Christ. While everything that Christ did is of utmost significance, still, it is what He did at the Cross that redeemed us. In other words, we live “in the likeness of His resurrection” only as we understand that “we have been planted together (Christ and ourselves) in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5).
The Object Of Our Faith
The idea is that the Cross of Christ must ever be the object of our faith. This is so very, very important! While everything that God has and does is, of necessity, of vast significance, still, it is what He did at the Cross for us, by the giving of His only Son, that “deliver>/(ed) us from this present evil world” (Jn. 3:16; Gal. 1:4).
In fact, the Holy Spirit works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ. Paul tells us that in Romans 8:2. He said, “For the law (a law made by the Godhead) of the Spirit of life (Holy Spirit) in Christ Jesus (what Jesus did at the Cross) has made me free from the law of sin and death” (The Expositor’s Study Bible).
The words “in Christ Jesus” tell us how the Spirit of God works within our lives. In other words, all that He does for us, to us, in us, and of us is done totally and completely within the parameters of the sacrifice of Christ, which gives Him the legal right to do these great things. There’s only one law in this world that is greater than the law of sin and death, and that is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. In fact, Paul uses this term “in Christ Jesus,” or one of its derivatives, such as “in Him,” etc., 170 times in his 14 epistles. More than any other short phrase, the words “in Christ Jesus” define the Christian faith.
The Holy Spirit is the only one who can help us to live this life as we should. For Him to work within our lives and to do so on a constant basis, which alone guarantees us victory, we must evidence faith in Christ and what Christ did at the Cross. Paul said, “Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin (dead unto the sin nature), but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (what He did for us at the Cross)” (Rom. 6:11).
We are to reckon ourselves, or to account ourselves, according to what Jesus did at the Cross. We are to understand that He did it all for us, and for us exclusively, and that when He died, we died with Him, were buried with Him, and were raised with Him in newness of life (Rom. 6:3–5).
When this is done, we have the promise that “sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law (that having been satisfied by Christ at the Cross), but under grace” (Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:14–15).
Perhaps the following, which abbreviates all that I have just said, will be of some help. To live a holy life, this is what the Christian must continually do:
We must understand that Jesus Christ is the source of all things that we receive from God (Jn. 1:1-3, 14, 29; 14:6, 20).
We must understand that the Cross of Christ is the means by which all of these wonderful things are given to us. In other words, it’s the Cross that made it possible (Rom. 6:1-14; I Cor. 1:17, 18, 23; 2:2; Gal. 6:14).
Understand that Jesus is the source, the Cross is the means, and the object of our faith must be Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Col. 2:10-15).
Understand that Christ is the source, the Cross is the means, the Cross of Christ is the object of our faith, and that the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ, i.e., the Cross, will work mightily on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is God, and that means He can do anything. However, we must not forget that He works exclusively through and by the Cross of Christ. So, this means that our faith must ever rest in Christ and the Cross (Rom. 8:1-11; Eph. 2:13-18).
Faith is the key to the great treasure house of God. Most every Christian would agree with that statement; however, beyond that simple statement, most have very little understanding. In other words, most Christians don’t have the foggiest clue how to put faith to work.
I suppose that if most Christians had to give a definition of what we’re talking about here, their minds would go to various Scriptures, thinking that quoting them by rote would somehow generate faith, etc.
While quoting the Word of God is always good, that within itself, at least as we have stated it, will never build faith. While faith definitely “comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17), we must know what that means for it to be effective within our lives.
To make it brief, we must understand that the Word of God is actually the story of man’s redemption. This redemption was carried out by the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did at the Cross. That’s why Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified” (I Cor. 1:23).
Faith Anchored In Christ
In the gospel according to John, we are told:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). This tells us that Jesus is the living Word.
John said, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). This speaks of the incarnation, and then we are told what the incarnation was all about.
Then, as he introduced Christ, the apostle said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
In abbreviated form, we have here the total picture of the Word of God. We are introduced to Christ, who is the living Word. We are told that this Word was made flesh. We are then told what it was all about, which was the Cross.
So, our faith must be anchored in Christ, but for it to be properly anchored in Christ, we must understand that it is Christ crucified. We must never separate Christ from His finished work or the finished work from Christ. Of course, we know that Jesus is no longer on the Cross. In fact, He is presently in heaven, seated by the right hand of the Father (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 1:3). What we are actually talking about are the results of the Cross.
The total meaning of the crucifixion is something that happened in the past, was done so well that it will never have to be repeated, and has continued results. In fact, the results will never be discontinued. It’s those results of which we speak.
It’s like the Constitution of the United States. We don’t go back and rewrite the Constitution constantly, but we do constantly enjoy its benefits.
It is the same with the Cross! It does not have to be repeated because what Jesus did there will eternally suffice. That’s the reason that Paul referred to it as “the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20).
So, when we speak of faith, we must always understand that Christ and His Cross must ever be the object of our faith. If it’s not faith in Christ and what He did for us at the Cross, then it’s faith that God will not recognize.
In this manner and this manner alone—and I speak of functioning according to God’s prescribed order of victory, which is the Cross—can the believer live a victorious, overcoming, Christian life. In this manner alone can the human body be a proper temple, overcoming every power of darkness (Eph. 2:13–18; Col. 2:10–15).
Faith In The Cross
That’s the reason that we must never allow anything else, no matter how holy it might be in its own right, to come between us and our faith in the Cross. Concerning this, Paul said,“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (I Cor. 1:17).
Was Paul denigrating water baptism? No, he wasn’t! He was merely stating that we must not allow anything to be preeminent, in other words, to take the place of the Cross.
Fallen From Grace
If we do this, the apostle then says, “Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2).
We must remember that Paul was speaking to believers. He plainly tells us in Chapter 5 of Galatians that if we place other things ahead of the Cross, claiming those other things as the way to victory, “Christ is become of no effect unto you” (Gal. 5:4).
That’s the terrible problem that affixes itself to most Christians. They are trusting in things other than the Cross, making Christ of no effect. This guarantees spiritual failure. In fact, when the believers do this, they fall from grace. In other words, the goodness of God, which, in effect, is the grace of God, can no longer be extended to such Christians. The end result of such a position is bleak indeed!
However, if the Christian doesn’t understand the Cross, which means that he is placing his faith in other things, the grace of God simply cannot come to him. In other words, as Paul also said, such a position “frustrate(s) the grace of God” (Gal. 2:21). The sadness is, most Christians know almost nothing about the Cross. Actually, almost all Christians think they do, but the truth is, they don’t! As a result, they are trying to live this life in all the wrong ways, which frustrates the grace of God and guarantees failure.
When the focus of Christians is on works, with the object of faith being their performance, which means the power source is self, this guarantees defeat.
Total and complete trust in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross guarantees a continued flow of the grace of God, which guarantees victory. There is no other way, as there doesn’t need to be any other way.
Image And Likeness
The phrase, “In Our image, after Our likeness,” refers to true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 says, “And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
The Pulpit Commentary says that the precise relationship in which the nature of the "<em>Adam” about to be created should stand to “Elohim” was to be that of a tselem, which means “shadow.” It denotes the shadowy outline of a figure.6
The image and likeness also enable us to have fellowship with God, but it does not mean we are gods or can become gods. We were created dependent beings (Ps. 8:5), and even in the new heavens and the new earth, we shall continue to be dependent on the light and energy that God provides through Christ as we both serve God and reign with Christ (Rev. 21:23; 22:3–5).
Man created in the image and likeness of God makes him totally different from the animal creation and, in fact, light years ahead of that creation in every capacity. The Bible nowhere links man with animals. In fact, man is not an animal. He is a human being, created, as stated, in the image and likeness of God. This is not said about any of God’s other creations. In fact, we blaspheme when we put man in the category of animals because in so doing, we have placed God in the same category.
Exactly How Is Man In The Image And Likeness Of God?
Man created in the image and likeness of God pertains to the spiritual and not the physical. In fact, the human body is but a tent or a tabernacle that houses the soul and the spirit, which are indestructible and eternal. While the human body is to be looked at as a temple, even as we’ve already explained, it is the least of man’s triune makeup of spirit, soul, and body (I Thess. 5:23).
This image and likeness of God in man, and created that way, pertain to man’s ability to reason, to love, and to serve. These amazing faculties were meant to function entirely in the realm of service to our Creator. In this image and likeness, man is given an amazing degree of latitude. He was created as a free moral agent, but the fall ruined all of this. Man died spiritually, and as such, at the fall, he lost the image and likeness of God.
We must understand that at the fall, man was not merely wounded in a spiritual sense, or even wounded severely. Spiritually, he died, and we must not forget that dead is dead. This means that man has nothing left in him that pertains to God. He has fallen all the way from total God-consciousness down to the far lower level of total self-consciousness. As a result, he has little regard for others, only that for himself.
This article is an excerpt from the book 'The Fall Of Man' by Jimmy Swaggart.