Church of God, New World Ministries

What Is Your Image Of God?

In the beginning, God who became the Father said to God who became Jesus Christ, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26). And it was so, that man was put in the process of becoming like God. And God intends that we become like Him “Spiritually,” in “Character” so we may be born into His own eternal Family, His Kingdom. God plans for us to become like Him totally.

Now we have to accept that while we look like God in our physical image, our physical entity, we are not spiritually like God. We are not eternal, and our thoughts and our ways are not naturally God’s thoughts and ways. They have to become like that. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Eternal and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Eternal. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:7-9).

If we are going to become like God, we have to forsake the way that is human, and the way of Satan, implemented through human nature, that is selfish, lustful and greedy.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us we are to become like Christ, because He is like God the Father. We are to become perfect as He is. But we first have to know what and who God is. We have to have that right fixed image in our minds or it can’t help us. But man’s image of God is very imperfect. Pagans pictured God via their dead idols as a bird, or fish, or snake, or ox, etc. And professing Christians have been given a mental image of a weak-appearing “Christ.” Satan has created false images in all of our minds in the past.

Let’s say that you have a “blue Monday,” a bad day, and things aren’t going well. Do we think that “ God is out to get me”? If so, your image of God is altered daily by the circumstances in your life and that is not the right image of God. If we are ever going to mature spiritually, our image of God has to be growing and developing and maturing. We just can’t, with the circumstances in our lives, capriciously alter our image of what God is or is not. That’s not the fixed image of God.

God is the most stable fixed quantity in the whole of the universe. That’s something that we have to know. God just is. He says, “I change not” (Mal. 3:6). We don’t ’ change God by what we think God is. We change our minds, but that doesn’t alter God.

Once a lay member of another church wanted to know why I keep Saturday instead of Sunday. And I told him: It’s the day God created in the beginning to be kept. It’s also the day that Christ kept, and I don’t feel I have the right to change that. And this person said, “Yeah, but what’s wrong with Sunday?” And I said, “ Nothing’s wrong with Sunday,except it’s not the Sabbath, that’s all.”

His image of God was totally different. To him it didn’t and couldn’t make any difference which day one should keep. But it makes a difference to God. He commanded obedience to His instructions and has not changed!

We humans continually try to alter the true image of God to conform to our justification, our self, our own desires, what we think are our needs. It’s what we want to believe is God, but it’s not God. And because we have not seen the right image of God, we don’t know and have faith we can rely upon Him and what He will do for us. We cannot call upon a God whom we do not really know, whose true image is not solidly fixed in our minds, and then have the assurance about His response.

Ancient Israel, coming out of Egypt, had a tremendous elation, excitement and encouragement. For the first time, as far as that generation was concerned, there was freedom. But they came upon severe problems. Because their image of God was little more than their image of a man, Moses, they complained about the bitter water at Marah, and about not having flesh to eat with their manna. When they went to spy out the land, they didn’t see that God would give them victory over the giants. Their image of God was very poor. They had not grown to know God. This should tell us something about ourselves, or at least it should.

Even after they crossed the Jordan River with Joshua into the Promised Land, and after God gave them Jericho, their success didn’t last very long. Too often our right images of God never reach very far, only until the next problem. Then we draw a wrong conclusion, or we doubt again, or we wonder.

We know that Christians are to become like Christ. But do we know what Christ is really like? Do we have a true image “fixed” in our minds? We know Christ had the right image of His Father because He knew what His Father expected. He knew why He was here upon this earth and He pursued that diligently to the depths of His being, and to the end of His life.

Paul expressed his great wish, “That ye might walk worth of the Lord (Eternal) unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (That is, into the overall image and perspective of God) (Col. 1:10-17).

This gives us quite an image of Christ, of what He was and what He is now, right there at the right hand of His Father, the One whom we too are to become like. “And he is the head of the body, the church (is that our image of Christ?): who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell. (Just like the Father)” (Col. 1:18-19).

Unfortunately it’s a very human tendency, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to create God in our image than to become even more like His image. That’s not what God wants. Remember it is absolutely impossible to become like anyone, and particularly God, if we don’t know what He is, who He is, what He stands for, or what He believes.

Now this should give us a purpose for prayer, because that’s the way to develop a right relationship with God: and a purpose for studying His Word, which gives us the facts about God. The Holy Spirit then increases our understanding, wisdom, and ability to do what God expects.

Faith and good works are impossible otherwise. Is it possible that a lot of times we get the idea that prayer, Bible study, and fasting--all those things are theoretically great, but we don’t really see the need for them? They are an absolute need, or we’ll never have the right image of God! It takes God’s mind and God’s spirit. There’s just no way otherwise.

Sometimes it’s very hard to accept the true image of God. But this is what Jesus Christ tells us. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down form heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:57-58.)

Then in verse 60: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear (understand) it?” We run across things like that. It isn’t that we don’t perceive the word, it’s just that in our own human minds, because we have a wrong image of God, we think, ‘Oh no, that can’t be,’ or ‘I just don’t get that,’ or ‘I don’t believe that.’

Read John 6:62-63. Would you believe then? Would the image of God or Christ you hold then correspond to the reality? “ It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. ” If we are trying to discern God just humanly, with our own human reasoning, we will never get it.

Do our prayers sometimes seem to fall on deaf ears? Read Isaiah 59:1-2. The only reason God wouldn’t hear us is if we have an erroneous image and we are worshipping that false image rather that the true God, and are living in sin.

Let’s not allow our image of God to be warped by our own weakness, our own infirmities, our own inability to fully serve Him and conform to the image that God has established, the image of Christ. Let’s recognize our weakness and say, ‘Yes, I have a problem there.’

We can’t alter God. He doesn’t change. We have to have in mind and conform to His image, not the image in which we make Him.

 
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