In the Image of God
February 10th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-10-88 7:30 p.m.
We welcome once again the great multitudes of you who share this hour on radio. You are a part this evening of our wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas. In our series on the creation of man we have come to a subject that is most interesting to me. It is entitled In the Image of God. And practically all of the message will be from the Word of the Lord. It will be Scripture. The background text is the one that you just read, Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.”
Number one: there is no doubt but that God made man a creature of the dust, with a body out of the earth.
- Genesis 2:7, “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground.”
- Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.”
- Genesis 3:23, “Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”
- Genesis 18:27, “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.”
- Job 33:6: Elihu says to Job, quote, “Behold, I am toward God even as thou art: I am also am formed out of the clay.”
- Psalm 103:13-14, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”
This is our experience, looking upon what we call death and looking upon a creature, a creation that is turning back to the soil.
However, number two: this is not all, there is something else and a mighty something else.
- First Corinthians 15:47, “The first man is of the earth, earthy,” made of the dust of the ground, “but the second Man is of heaven.”
- Second Corinthians 4:16, “Though our outward man perish”—is decayed, turning back to the dust—“yet our inward man is renewed day by day.”
- Ephesians 3:14-16, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father. . .That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that you may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man.”
- In Romans 7:18, 22, 23, 24, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing . . . I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see a different law in my members, warring . . . O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
- Second Peter 1:13-14, “And I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle”—this human body—“to stir you up . . . Knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle cometh quickly.”
Here are two men, an outward man, made of dust, and an inward man, the real me, the real you. Returning to the story of creation, we find it just like that. There are two of you: one made out of dust that goes back to the soil [Genesis 2:7, 3:19], and one created like unto Him who is in heaven [Genesis 1:27]. Genesis 2:7, “And Jehovah formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Zechariah 12:1, “Jehovah formed the spirit of man within him.” A creative act, two of them: one that you see with your naked eye, one made of the dust of the earth [Genesis 2:7]; and one that you cannot see with your naked eye, the real me who lives on the inside of this house of clay [Zechariah 12:1]. In Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said that, He gave up the ghost, He gave up the spirit.” Acts 7:59, “And they stoned Stephen, calling on the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Number three: which man, the one of dirt [Genesis 2:7], or the one of spirit [Zechariah 12:1], is in the image of God [Genesis 1:27], or is it both? All right, according to the Word of the Lord the outward man, the body of dirt is not in the image of God. Genesis 1:26, “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them”—now listen to this—“and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” [Genesis 1:26]. Now, there are ten thousand things in nature that have a decided ascendancy over our bodies, these human frames. Any bull has ten times as strong a neck as the best tackle on the best football team in America. Any deer is many times as fleet as the fastest runner in the Olympics. And any bird can rise to the height of a mountain many times quicker than that of the most agile Alpine climber. An ordinary ape, any ape, can crush in his arms the mightiest wrestler that ever lived. But, nothing has ascendancy over our spirits, the inward man. Our conceptions, our inventions, our thoughts, our discoveries, in this the man rises like to God Himself. Great and glorious as the sun in the sky, it cannot think God’s thoughts after Him, but I can.
Weak and feeble and consequently insignificant as I am, I am like God. Isaiah 40:18-19, “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?” An image, an idol; is God like that image, like that idol? “A workman hath cast it, and the goldsmith overlaid it with gold.” You can make an image of man, made out of the dust of the ground, but God in Isaiah 40 scorns the pagan heathen thought of making an image like unto Him [Isaiah 40:20-30]. That’s the violation of the second Commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” [Exodus 20:4]. You can’t make a likeness of God. In Romans 1:18-23, Paul’s indictment against the pagan world is this, “They changed the glory of the invisible, uncorruptible God, they changed it into the likeness of an image of corruptible man,” and he adds, “the birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things” [Romans 1:23]. All you have to do is to look at those things they dig up from ancient Assyria and Nineveh, or from ancient Babylon, and see all kinds of creatures to which they liken God. Acts 17: 29 to the Athenians, Paul preached, “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is likened to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and the device of man.” God cannot be created in an image by human hand.
Philippians 2:6-8, listen, this is a classic passage. God changing form:
Christ Jesus; Who, existing in the form of God, counted not that being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,
But emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men.
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient, even unto the death, the death of the cross.
Our Savior was in the form of God, the morphē of God. We don’t know what that is. I have never seen a spirit. He is spirit. God is Spirit [John 4:24]. “Being in the form of God, He humbled Himself, and took upon Him the form of a man” [Philippians 2:6-7]—different from the form of God, the form of a man.
May I speak of the inward man, the man of the spirit, the man that is made in the image of God? John 4:24, “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Luke 24:36-40:
Jesus stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Shalom.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit.
And He said unto them, Why are you troubled? And wherefore do questionings arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold Me having.
And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
Our Lord was in the form of God, but in His humiliation, He became a man, made in the likeness of a man, made of the dust of the ground [Genesis 3:19; Philippians 2:5-8]. And dust bodies, our bodies, have flesh and bones, spirits do not. Therefore, spirits are not in the form of dust bodies. He became that man with bone and flesh in His incarnation [Matthew 1:20-25; Hebrews 10:4-14]. Roman’s 8:16, “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Our relationship with God is spiritual. Later on He has something to say about Mary Magdalene, who sought to put her hands upon Him after He was risen from the dead, and He forbade her [John 20:17]. Why that—this beautiful, devout, consecrated, born-again, remade, recreated woman, who had seven evil spirits in her [Luke 8:2], and the Lord had miraculously and gloriously delivered her, saved her? [Mark 16:9]. After the resurrection she sought to touch Him, put her hands upon Him lovingly, tenderly, preciously, and the Lord forbade her [John 20:17]. Why? Because in His new and resurrection body, the old relationships had passed away.
Which man died in Eden in the day of the transgression? Which one of them? You heard me say there are two of you. There’s an outward you that I can see [Genesis 2:7]. There’s an inward you that I cannot see [Zechariah 12:1]. Which one died in the day of transgression? Genesis 2:16-17, “And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest therefore thou shalt surely die. In that day thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:16-17].
The physical death of man was caused by his sin [Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12]. But in some sense or other, man died that day in Eden. The day that he transgressed, he died. Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Their hands that took, their feet that walked, their mouths that ate, that died that day; but their wills and their conscience and their minds also were a part of the transgression. It was herein that man first died. He did not die then as to his body, but he died morally and spiritually. He broke the image of God that separated himself from the Lord. He knew it immediately. Something came in between him and God. He was naked before, but he wasn’t ashamed. He is naked now and is ashamed, and he hid himself from the presence of the Lord Jehovah [Genesis 3:6-8].
It is in this sense that a man can be alive and dead at the same time. Alive as to his body, here I am, but dead as to his spirit, broken the image of God. Like 1 Timothy 5:6, “But she that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth.” She’s a live woman, prostitute, worldly, she’s alive; but she’s dead, the woman that is real. The woman that lives inside is dead. Ephesians 2:1-2, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins; Wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, doing of the desires of the flesh” [Ephesians 2:1-3]. You can be alive in your body and dead in reality, the you who lives inside this house.
It is in this sense that a man can live forever, though the body of death wastes away. John 11:25, “He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”—going to preach on that Sunday—“And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never, ever die” [John 11:26]. In Christ, the man, dead in trespasses and sins, becomes a new creation [Ephesians 2:1-6]. The image of God is restored. He is made perfect and complete in Him. He is a new creature [2 Corinthians 5:17]. Colossians 3:10, “Ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed, renewed after the image of Him that created him” [Colossians 3:9-10]. Colossians 2:13, “And ye, being dead through your trespasses, did He make alive, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” And that’s what you saw if you were here a little earlier tonight. You saw a baptismal service of a mother and two darling teenagers. So the administrator says, “Buried in the likeness of His death.” That’s the old man. “Buried and raised in the likeness of His resurrection” [Romans 6:3-5], that’s the new man who someday will have a new body.
And that’s what I’m preaching about this coming Lord’s Day. We have a wonderful, glorious gospel and promise in our precious Savior: the old man created anew and someday raised from the dead [2 Corinthians 5:1], and our fallen spirits recreated and restored to the image of God [Hebrews 12:23]. And when He comes again, both of them, both of them—the resurrected body and the created inward spirit—both of them join together, replaced, as God made us in the garden of Eden [Genesis 1:27]. It was never God’s intention that we die, never. It was God’s intention that we have a beautiful and wonderful and perfect spirit in a beautiful and wonderful body. As it is, because of our transgressions, the body goes back to the dust [Genesis 3:19]. Our spirits await for that consummation and glorious coming of our Lord from heaven [Titus 2:13]. And when that day comes, our resurrected body and our recreated spirit will be once again Edenic, as God purposed in the garden of Eden [Genesis 1:27].
I am through, but I’d like to say a word of wondering on my part. I have often wondered why it is that God wanted us to have bodies. But He does. He created our bodies [Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:13]. It was His thought and it was His workmanship, and sin just spoiled it, ruined it [Romans 5:12]. And that’s the penalty we pay in death. But God has purposed some wonderful thing for us. We shall have a new body [Philippians 3:21]. And that will be the home of our regenerated, recreated spirits [2 Corinthians 5:4]. And we’ll be whole, like our Savior Himself [1 John 3:2]. Think of what that’s going to mean to someone who’s crippled; they won’t be crippled anymore. Think of what that’s going to mean to someone who’s blind; they won’t be blind anymore. Think of what that means to someone who is sick; they won’t be sick anymore. Think of what that means to someone who is aged. They won’t be aged anymore.
As you know, on Tuesday, yesterday, we had this auditorium as a sanctuary for the aged in our communion, in our congregation. Two of them were ninety-eight years old, ninety-eight. A throng of them were over ninety. I face that. All of us do. We won’t be old anymore. We won’t be distressed and discouraged and hurt anymore. “There will be no more sorrow, nor pain, for these things are all passed away” [Revelation 21:4]. That’s God’s purpose for us, and how precious a hope is it to our hearts.
Now let’s sing us a song. And while we sing the hymn, somebody to give himself to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-13], a family to come into the fellowship of our dear church, whatever it is that God would move you to respond, welcome, welcome. From the balcony round and the great group on this lower floor, if the Lord speaks to your heart, answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.