Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Holy Spirit and the Image - Day #2

Living in God's image is not about us - it's about letting the Spirit live through us.

The Image of God Lifestyle Isn't About Morality
After Day #1 of the new series, you might think that being created in God's image is all about morality; "Live better! Try harder! Represent God more in your actions! Be more loving!" may have been the only thing that you heard while you were reading. Like a child with an overbearing parent, or a man with a nagging wife, or a woman with a husband who yells, maybe you just took the words written yesterday as just another set of commands to live up to. That isn't what that was about. Let me be honest - I hate moralism. I hate the idea of Christianity being about making ourselves into good people, or about "making good men better." I completely despise the idea that we go in and out of favor with God based on good works, because the Bible celebrates the good news that we are saved by faith, not by works, so that no man can boast (Ephesians 2.8-9). And I hate the idea that we can be perfect like God, because -besides it not being true- the Bible warns that If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1.8). So the post from yesterday isn't a command to try harder in order to earn God's love. I don't think that kind of oppressive thinking matches with the Bible. And it isn't a command to be perfect, either - in this life we will always contend a noble fight against our brokenness.

Being Created In God's Image Is About Being Spirit-Led
When God created humans in Genesis 2.7, it says that he "breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life." That word breath can also mean wind, or it can mean spirit, which is why the book of Job says my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils (Job 27.3). Human beings were created with the Holy Spirit in them, guiding them, forming their character, and uniting their hearts with the will of God so that they could fulfill their roles as the visible representatives of God made in his image (Genesis 1.26). Then humanity fell from grace - sin entered the world (Genesis 3) and the original humans lost the Spirit: they had rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them (Isaiah 63.10).

Through a new relationship with God, the Holy Spirit has returned to his children after our original parents' fall from grace. Through Christ, He lives in us like He lived in our first parents. He helps us to live out the Image of God lifestyle that I was talking about in the last post. It is by the fruits of the Spirit, not the fruits of self-discipline or moralism, that we represent God in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5.22-23). When we go to live out the lifestyle that comes with accepting that God made us in His image, we do it not through effort, but by letting the Holy Spirit live through us (Galatians 5.25).

Reflection Passage
Read Galatians 5.22-25. This passage shows us what the Holy Spirit does in us, and how He makes our nature the same as His own. Living in the Image of God is about letting the Spirit live through us, not about doing better or trying harder.

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