Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Image of God

Col. 3:5-11 (ESV)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. [6] On account of these the wrath of God is coming. [7] In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. [8] But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. [9] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices [10] and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. [11] Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

I don’t know who could read this without being cut to the quick. On account of these the wrath of God is coming: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. I am not sure of anyone who could take this seriously and still believe in progressive sanctification. God’s wrath is coming because of passions and evil desires, covetousness? How many of us haven’t harbored and evil desire or two? Anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk? I’m guilty. I haven’t done a great job of putting those things away. Put them to death! Paul commands us to put them to death. These things are earthly. They are sinful. And don’t lie to one another either, not even about your progress in the sanctified life.
Confession and absolution, that is the key to putting these things to death. Confession and absolution returns the soul to baptism where the Old Adam is drowned. Christ puts these things to death when he tells us: “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.” And that is what he says when the pastor utters absolution. Christ speaks and he puts these things to death, kills them with forgiveness, and puts the new self back on you, renews it in the image of its creator.
“In the image of its creator.” I have to comment on this. The image of God has nothing to do with how he looks in the mirror. God is spirit. He has not earthly image. Of Course Jesus has a human body, and would have a reflection in the mirror. But man and woman were created in the image of the triune God, and not the image of the son alone. Christ assumed our image when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. I bring all this up because of the funny idea prevalent in Utah, that God is a man. That the image in which he created us is identical with our earthly image in the mirror. As far as I can tell Mormon’s believe that when God said, let us make man in our image, they take it to mean God pees standing up. But here we see that image doesn’t have to do with a physical reality, but with knowledge, and innocence. God renews this image in us when he forgives our sins.
Knowledge we grow in faith through knowledge. Knowledge and faith are not the same thing. But knowledge informs faith, and allows one to grow in faith. It is a good thing. Today many don’t see the point in studying doctrine. Growth in faith is the point. Don’t disparage doctrine, it is a gift of God.

5 comments:

Steve Martin said...

Amen!

A proper grasp of doctrine is key to a vital and living faith.

It keeps us grounded in Him.

And what else is there when it comes to our faith?

Brigitte said...

Ah, yes. We are ALL "theologians". Theologians of the cross or of glory.

Bror Erickson said...

I see you have been reading Forde!

Brigitte said...

:) Yes, I have. Made a mess of the book. Now, I'm rereading Luther himself.

What I did not catch from Forde right away, struck me in Luther:

"The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God"

This seems to me to be a key. Whether Christian or not (3rd use or no), the doing of the law never avails anything before God (though it may benefit the neighbor. It does not avail because we are simul justus et peccator. Everything is always a big mess, and we are so self-centered it stinks to high heaven. Lord have mercy, is the continual cry.

Bror Erickson said...

Yes, we need to be forgiven even of our good deeds!