“When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God….. When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image…”- Genesis 3:1-3
When Adam and Eve were first created, they were made in the likeness of God – formed in His image. Perfect and powerful, every part of them – body, soul and spirit – replicated the glory of their Creator.
But sin entered the human race, and like a disease it infected not only Adam and Eve, but their offspring as well. So it’s noted here that the sons of Adam were born ‘in [Adam’s] likeness’, not in the likeness of God. Sin had contaminated mankind, and every generation of people since that time has lived with the consequences of Adam & Eve’s decision .
There’s a couple of things I take from this:
1) We must be born again. Perhaps you’ve seen a photocopy of a photocopy? With each generation the quality decreases. It’s a lot like that with the human race. In order to walk in the fullness of who we’ve been made to be, we must be born again – a Photoshop touch up is not enough – we need a complete regeneration. This is what Paul talks about when he describes us as ‘a new creation in Christ’. The moment we confess our sins to God, and hand the keys of our lives over to Him, we are born again by the Spirit of God. It’s a whole new page, a clean sheet to start from.
2) As leaders, we must be committed to forming people into Christ’s image, not ours. Even the best, most inspirational leader is still only a reflection of who God is. Every person has been uniquely made, and our responsibility as leaders is not to make people like us, but to make them like Jesus. Paul said “I am in labour until Christ is formed in you”. He wasn’t looking to make a bunch of Paul-clones, but rather like a great father – he was seeking wisdom from above as to how to encourage and form his ‘children’ into the shape that God had called them to be.
Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” – 1 Kings 18:5 (NIV)
King Ahab is in the middle of a natural famine that has a spiritual cause. Israel has turned away from following the Lord, and some guy has started rebuilding Jericho – and in the middle of it all, Elijah the prophet turns up from nowhere and says ‘there will be no rain in Israel except by my word’.
Thus Israel has now endured 3 1/2 years of hard drought. Ahab sends Obadiah out to look through the land to see if he can find some springs or brooks or even some grass to try to keep the animals alive. It’s a practical move, but at the same time he’s ignoring the spiritual reality of what’s going on.
You can’t solve spiritual problems with practical solutions. You have to solve spiritual problems with spiritual solutions. The land is in drought not because of water-cycles or overpopulation or anything – it’s dry because the people have turned away from God. Interestingly, the moment that the nation falls on it’s face and cries out ‘The Lord He is God’ – Elijah hears the sound of heaven rain!
Sometimes the things that are going on for us aren’t just ‘life’. Sometimes they have spiritual origins. In the gospels Jesus often first dealt with demonic powers before healing started to flow. You have to ‘bind the strongman before you can plunder his house’.
Yes, there are definitely times when you just need to do a few practical things. But if you find that your life is in famine, and it just keeps going despite all practical solutions being done… maybe it’s time to get down and look to see what might be spiritually going on.
The great thing is that God is so willing to show us if we will just look. It’s not a coincidence that Obadiah, a righteous man who’d been hiding God’s prophets, was the one who stumbled on Elijah while out looking for water. God brought Obadiah right to the one who could help him. He does the same thing for us today!
Luke 15:17 (NIV)
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! i
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the son has an awakening moment when his money has run out and he’s eating pig’s food! Even the servants in his father’s house have it better than this!
The son is motivated by his own need. He now ponders returning to his father but not because he is motivated to set things right at home, or for restoring relationships or anything. He’s motivated by his hunger. He has nothing to eat – and even the least of the servants have more than enough bread in his father’s house.
This shows us two things:
1) It’s vitally important that we have ‘bread in the house’. Jesus refers to healing as ‘the children’s bread’. When healing and life is prevalent in the house of God, it will make what the prodigals are eating in the world seem very, very second rate.
2) When prodigals return, their motives may be less than noble. They may come back simply because they’re starving. But it’s here that the goodness of God is shown – he doesn’t judge the son, but instead he lavishes even more on him! Our response needs to be the same. It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance!
Joshua 5:2 (NIV)
2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again."
Right before the Israelites moved into their Promised Land, the Lord commanded the whole nation of them to be circumcised. This ‘cutting away’ of the flesh is symbolic for us of embracing the cross, and dying to our agenda, and our way of doing things – to embrace His agenda, and His way.
The Israelites had already been circumcised before, but the entire generation that had been circumcised had died in the desert. This was a new day, and a new generation. But they couldn’t rest on what the previous generation had done – they had to go through the same process themselves.
In our day, God is raising up a new generation that will advance the Kingdom of God far beyond what previous generations have done. To a large extent, we get to ‘stand on the shoulders’ of battles won by the previous generation. But this generation must come to the cross themselves, and embrace the death that leads to life. Only then will we be prepared and ready to enter into the fullness of what God has for us!
Psalms 36:1 – An oracle is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked: "There is no fear of God before his eyes."
The reason for the disobedience of the wicked is that they have no fear of God. They’re not worried or concerned about what God thinks of their actions, nor of His consequences for sin.
We were never designed to be masters of our own destiny, answerable to no-one. Instead, we were made to bring glory and worship to God, and to live in humility and reverence toward Him.
This has a direct practical application too – any area of ongoing sin in our lives is usually an area where we don’t fear the consequences (or don’t care about the consequences). Having a correct view of both the kindness and sternness of the Lord is the key to walking in righteousness.
Hosea 10:12 – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness. Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and rains righteousness on you.
Scripture promises us that when we continually sow to the Spirit, we will reap from the Spirit eternal life. When we choose God’s way, we actually ‘sow to ourselves’.
This is an important part of walking out the will of God – understanding that God won’t do everything for us. There is our part – sowing in righteousness, breaking up our ‘fallow ground’ and ‘seeking the Lord’.
When we do this we reap according to the Lord’s kindness (far in excess of anything we deserve through sowing!) and he comes and rains righteousness upon us.
Deuteronomy 13:10 – You shall stone him to death with stones, because he has sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Death by stoning was the way to deal with sinners under the Old Covenant. But under the new covenant, we no longer stone sinners, but we do need to ‘stone’ sin. This means that we find those areas of our lives that are out of line with what God says and we ‘stone’ them – throwing the rock of the Word of God at it continually until it dies!
Just as Jesus used the Word of God as an offensive weapon against the devil, so it is our offensive weapon against sin in our lives. We are ‘transformed by the renewing of our minds’. Anytime there is ongoing sin for us, it shows an area of untruth that we’re still believing. The only remedy for a plague of lies is a hail of truth!!