There is no greater truth than this: We are the posterity of Adam and Eve. Through them, we have the understanding that a Sovereign God created them after His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Perfectly innocent and with harmonious fellowship with God. Both, men and women, have a beginning. We did not merely evolve, we were created, fashioned, and designed by a Sovereign God who desires to have a meaningful and intimate relationship with each one of us.
In the last two articles: Christian Men Shouldn’t be Afraid to be a Man of Valor and Christian Men of Valor are Called to Awake and Arise, we explored what a Christian man of valor is and how we are to awake and arise. This article focuses on how we are to transform our lives into one that exemplifies the principles and virtues.
We begin by understanding the very heart of truth – our own divine heritage and nature.
What does it mean to be created after God’s image and likeness
The first principle truth, that comes to mind, is the idea that Adam was created with an impeccable nature and disposition. The Latin impeccabilis means “not to sin”. In the dawn of human history, prior to the fall of Adam, Man was created without a sinful nature. He was not prone to illness, plagues, or even death. Man existed with God and was given dominion to care for the creation (see, Genesis 1:26).
A second principle truth is provided by the following observation J. I. Packer makes:
Image means representative likeness—which tells us at once that we should be reflecting, at our creaturely level, what Genesis 1 shows God is and does. Therefore we should always act with resourceful rationality and wise love, making and executing praiseworthy plans just as God did in creation. He generated value by producing what was truly good; so should we. We should be showing love and goodwill toward all other persons, as God did when he blessed Adam and Eve (1:28). And in fellowship with God, we should directly honor and obey him by the way we manage and care for that bit of the created order that he gives us to look after, according to his dominion mandate (26, 28).
As men of valor, who come to awake and arise to the simple truth that we are created after God’s own image and likeness, we recognize how we are to be reflecting who God is and what God does. This is accomplished as we begin to:
- Act with resourceful rationality and wise love
- Making plans that are not only purposeful, they are executing praiseworthy plans
- Generate value by producing what is truly good
- Showing Godly love and compassion, and goodwill, toward other persons
- Honor and obey God through our own act of stewardship over what He has given us
This begins with us returning to a nature and disposition that is impeccable before others and God. And, it is the most difficult aspect to accomplish. As, J. I. Packer further observes, we may still bear God’s image formally, we have essentially lost the divine image and likeness of our Sovereign creator substantially. We have lost our impeccable nature because of the fall of Adam:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:12-14).
Adam was transformed from a divine spiritual nature and being to a mortal man who now is succumb to sin, diseases, and death. We have become subject to judgment, criticism, and compliance with specific laws. Where we once enjoyed direct fellowship and intimacy, we are now suffering real spiritual intimacy and connections with our Sovereign God.
Yet, the fall was not a travesty in God’s sovereign design and plan. As we read in the early pages of Holy Writ, we discover something that separated Adam from immortality and mortal existence. In the Garden, there were two trees that stood in direct opposition to one another. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God’s only commandment to the man and woman were to not partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A spiritual law was established in direct opposition to another command – for Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth. To bring forth posterity.
In ancient cultures, The Tree of Life is prominent feature of mythology, legends, and traditions. In the Latter-day Saint tradition and teachings, there is a passage recorded in the Book of Mormon that has the Tree of Life as a central theme. In Christian tradition, the tree of Life is typology of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
The importance of understanding the opposition between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is simple, and yet complex and profound. Satan deceives the woman into partaking of the fruit of the forbidden tree. She, then, offers it to her husband. The passage reflects the instant transformation that has occurred. Awareness of their own nakedness. Shame and Guilt is experienced in their disobedience to the Law of God. Hiding self from their creator. Judgment and blame from the man to the woman, and from the woman to the serpent. Punishment for violation of the direct command of God.
What is interesting to note is the response the Sovereign creator provides in Genesis 3:22:
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Yes, it is simple and profound truth man was substantially created after the divine image of God. In His likeness were we fashioned from the dust of the ground. What was missing from this is the attainment of knowledge. With knowledge, also comes wisdom. Had man not partaken of the fruit, we may not have the knowledge and wisdom we have. We may not have no understanding of opposition.
A Return to our Divine and Impeccable Nature
We are not destined for destruction and punishment. As Christian men of valor, we understand and know that through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we are “born anew”. Paul expounds upon the “new creation” in the Book of Romans in an eloquent manner. Through Adam, sin and death reigns. In addition, so also does knowledge and wisdom.
Packer reflects that we all suffer because our natural disposition is one that …drives us all the time to be self-centered and self-seeking, and so robs us of the power to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. We struggle to be without sin.
The only means by which we are able to transform ourselves is to experience the transformation of Christ’s atonement in our lives. We are “born again” by the Holy Spirit. We are to do well to begin living our lives toward a substantial means of restoring our divine and impeccable nature through Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.
Through God’s sovereign Grace, we come to reflect the image of Christ. This is accomplished by how we learn to be impeccable with our word. Meaning, we come to understand that what we say has significant impact on not only our own lives, it has a significant impact on the lives of others. It also means we come to be bold in our speech and actions.
Being impeccable with our word means
… we don’t use our word against ourselves indulging in guilt or shame. We also don’t use our word against others in blaming, criticizing, or gossiping. We also honor our commitments and only make commitments we intend to follow through on. (Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements)
In the confrontation between Christ and Satan, Jesus Christ responds with the simple truth: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
God’s word is contained in the Bible. It is also contained in personal revelation as we come to reflect upon the scriptural truths gleaned from the pages of Holy Writ. For, the Spirit speaks to our hearts as we read from the pages and learn the truths of how to become Godly men of valor.
We come to learn that through God’s divine word, we are blessed, we are provided for, we are protected, and we become resilient in our faith. Through our word, we become bold.
How to become bold and impeccable
Paul provides insight in that we are to be transformed by the renewing of of our mind by which we offer ourselves up as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God (see, Romans 12:1-2). We are fearless in that we are free from the entrapment of our own shame and guilt. We are free from our own prejudices and biased perceptions. We are confident in our own strength because we are confident in the strength and grace that is provisioned through Christ. We are confident in our relationship with Christ, and with our Sovereign God. Through obedience to God’s commandments, we come to honor him through our commitment.
Here are some key truths to become bold and impeccable with our word and commitments:
- We understand the power and strength our word has (James 3:1-12)
- We honor our commitments by following through on what we say
- We are not engaged in blaming, judging, criticizing, or complaining
- We strive to discover our own personal power and learn to live with clear purpose and intent through the Grace of God
We learn through God’s word that we are to take responsibility for our own actions in a manner that is mindful (meaning, without judgment or criticism). When the crowd brought the woman before Christ, His response reflects the very character of the crowd, “he who is without sin”, meaning any one of you who are impeccable in your own actions and manner of living pronounce judgment and criticism. When the crowd dropped their stones and turned away, only the woman was left with Christ. Addressing the woman, Christ asks, “where are your accusers?” He then requests the woman to depart and to go and sin no more. Meaning, to become a woman of virtue with a nature that is contrary to that which she previously disposed herself in being.
Christ says to us, “where are your accusers?” We sit in the seat of the scornful and judgment and cast stones in judgment and criticism. More so toward self, as well as toward others. As men of valor, we are bold and fearless in not being critical, judgmental, or even holding any biased suppositions. There is no pretense toward self or others.
Becoming Christian Men of Valor begins with awakening and arising. It moves toward understanding our divine nature and heritage. Whereby we are to become Men of impeccable and boldness through the transformation of God’s divine grace. We are born anew, through Christ’s atonement, and strive to become living sacrifices to have intimate and rich fellowship with our Sovereign God. We learn to move past our own judgments, our own shame and guilt, and move into the light of God’s divine truth. We understand this takes time as we cultivate a new way of living our lives. It is through our commitment in honoring God, we learn to honor ourselves and honor others. We come to live out Godlike character and come to realize that we are progressively transforming our hearts and minds into the image and likeness of Christ.