Author: Paul A. Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
Humanism places man at the center of human values and thinking. The reason that humanism is able to do this with intellectual integrity is because it is based on evolution. Evolution places man at the point where he is the highest being in the universe – and there is no one over him to tell him what is right, wrong, good, or bad. In one form, humanism insists, therefore, that society, man as a group, determines the values of right and wrong, as well as the goals to be reached. But humanists also stress that for this to happen each individual must be free to do and act as he pleases, seeking his own goals – without regard for right and wrong, which to the humanist is an artificial limit imposed on people. In the humanist system, only when one’s individual freedoms remove the freedoms of other individuals can society step in and limit those freedoms. On this basis, then, the state becomes the ultimate authority which dictates which values are good and which are bad, and which goals individuals should seek. Biblically, this entire world view rests on unreality, and therefore it cannot work – which is why it is opposed by God in His Word.
Many Christians are enticed by some of the initial positive aspects of humanism’s view of man, citing that Genesis 1:27 teaches that man was created in God’s image. Most Christians forget that the children of Adam are not described in Scripture as being created in the image of God, but says that they (and therefore we) are born in the image of sinful Adam. This condition is first described in Genesis 5:3. If you will turn to Psalm 17:15, you will see how the Psalmist, recognizing this fact, seeks the restoration of the image of God.
There is only one passage in Scripture which speaks of the image of God in man after the fall, without reference to the restoration in the image of Christ. This passage is found in Genesis 9:6, where God, speaking to Noah and his sons, forbids the killing of human beings because man was made in the image of God. It is important to note the words here. A man’s blood shall be shed by man if he first sheds man’s blood because God made (past completed action) man in His image. This passage is not saying that man still has the image of God but that he was made in the image of God. The reasoning here is very simple. Since man was made in the image of God he is not just another animal (the killing of which is allowed in the verses immediately preceding this passage); and on top of this, the image of Christ, the promised Savior, is available to any man, should he repent and come to faith.
There are also other passages in Scripture which offer a very contrasting view of the image of man. Passages which speak of the image of man after the fall clearly show us that this image is very different from the image of God. Psalm 37:10-20 speaks of the wicked, and verse 20 specifically says that God hates the image of those who are wicked. Romans 1:23, which speaks of the image of corruptible man, also demonstrates a sharp contrast between man as he was created in the image of God and his image now that he is in sin.
The restoration of the image of God is part of what God promised in Genesis 3:15 and following verses as He describes what the promised Savior would accomplish as He reversed the effects of sin which had now been added to man’s nature. And the fulfillment of this promise is carefully noted in the New Testament. For example, Romans 8:26-30 notes that those who are called in Christ will become conformed to His image – which would not be necessary unless we had lost the image of God. 2 Corinthians repeats this same thought.
But we should not get the idea that this restoration of the image is something which has little to do with this life. Colossians 3:5-11 tells us how we are renewed in this life to begin to live according to the image of Christ. As in the other places in Scripture which discuss the image, these verses stress our attitudes and behavior.
To begin with, it is important to note that these verses are written within the context of saving faith in Jesus Christ. We never want to get the idea from any Scriptural passage that the Bible anywhere teaches that we are established in a good relationship with God through our own efforts or good works. But once we are in fellowship with God because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, God encourages us toward sanctification – the development of the new image we have been given in Christ. This is what these verses are all about. Colossians 3:5 begins by saying that in our new image in Christ we are to consider ourselves dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed. This is the beginning of a description of actions which we are to take. But we are not to think about ourselves as dead to sin so that we can be in a good relationship with God, but because we have been placed into such a relationship through the gift of faith in Christ. Verse 6 tells us why we are to consider ourselves dead to sin: because God’s anger against these sins is coming. You see, it is foolish to talk about having fellowship with God, even one which is a gift of grace, if we continue to throw our lot in with those activities which are by nature against God!
So verse 8 continues to list the types of things that we are to put aside, and verse 9 repeats why these should be put aside. Verse 10 continues to explain why we can do this and why we are to do this. Just as Adam and Eve in perfection found the will of God to be their highest joy, so, now that we are renewed in the image of Christ – the answer of God’s grace for the lost image of God – our deepest desire and joy is once again the will of God. Note the use and application of the term “image” in this section.
Our efforts in response to God’s work of grace in us are never perfect in this life. We must daily struggle with the desires of our flesh which raise their ugly head every time our guard is down. But our encouragement is to daily reliance on the grace of God in His forgiveness of our daily sin because of the work of our Savior on our behalf. With His help and power in grace we can grow in this life in His will and the joy which results from it.
Copyright © 1984 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839 Foley, MN 56329 800-422-4253 www.creationmoments.com