174 – THE IMAGE OF GOD - 4
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27). As the Bible is an allegorical and figurative book, it is dangerous to take it literally. God said: “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old” (Ps. 78:2). The word of God, that is, the Bible, is hidden in mystery. Paul said, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7). Paul reveals that Hagar is Mount Sinai, and also the Jerusalem of the earth, while Sarah is the Jerusalem of heaven. Ishmael symbolizes the children of the flesh, which are slaves, and Isaac symbolizes the spiritual children, that is, those born of the Holy Spirit, whose flesh has been mortified. All of this is in Gal. 4:21-31 and Rom. 8:13. Jesus never spoke literally, but he spoke only in parables. “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He was not talking to them without a parable” (Matt. 13:34).
It is obvious that the narrative of creation in Genesis, chapter 1, is involved in mystery, for the earth could not be created on the third day and the sun on the fourth day, for the grass of the third can only grow in the presence of the light of the sun, and it is written that the earth produced grass on the third day, before there was sun (Gen. 1:11-17).
Therefore, the narrative of the creation of man is not literal either. Man could not have been created in the image and likeness of God, for only Jesus Christ is the image of God, and man would be, in this case, like Jesus (Heb. 1:3). Man is flesh and Jesus became flesh through love. Theology, though, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, fiercely defend that chapter two of Genesis, that is, the history of Adam and Eve, are an extended and detailed explanation on the creation of men and woman. Supposing that this is the truth and that the Adam of chapters 2 and 3 is the first man created by God, we are faced with the first problem. In Gen. 1:26-27, Adam and Eve were created in the image of God at that same moment. This image can only be spiritual, not physical, for God is Spirit (John 4:24), and because there are spiritual flaws, man is not the image of God. Adam fell because he was spiritual flawed, and so he could not be image of God. In Gen. 3:1-6, Adam and Eve were spiritually blind, for they did not discern between good and evil, and for this reason they were enticed by the serpent, so proving that they were not image of God. Besides, God does not repent from his gifts, and man could not lose the image and likeness, but they lost it, so this gift was not given by God, that is, the Father of Jesus Christ, but by another more similar to man, that is, one capable of hating, persecuting, hurting, keeping anger for centuries, showing preferences between people and vindicating the fathers’ sins on their children, etc.
The serpent told them: “In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Before they ate it, they did not know good or evil, and therefore they were not image and likeness of God, for they were irrational and irresponsible like children. After they ate the cursed fruit, the eyes of their understanding, which were closed, were opened, that is, they discerned between good and evil, and sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings(Gen. 3:7). The very Jehovah declared: “‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ —therefore Jehovah God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Gen. 3:22-23).
Men became like Jehovah god only after he ate from the prohibited fruit, for the very Jehovah declared this truth. When Adam and Eve became like Jehovah, they turned into sinners and guilty, and then they were condemned. It is easy to conclude that, if to become like god Adam and Eve ate from the deadly fruit, and by eating it they became guilty of trial, the god of whom they derived their likeness is also a culprit. We can draw the following comparison from this fact: If a servant committing a misdeed deserving punishment becomes like his master, it is obvious that his master also committed misdeeds deserving punishment. And this master, when he condemns the servant, makes himself a thousand times guiltier.
If in the biblical narrative, to be like god is to eat from the tree of science, and to eat from the tree of science is mortal sin, and when they committed mortal sin they became like god, this god is king of mortal sin.
The Gospel of Grace, revealed by Paul, consists in ceasing to be like Jehovah through conscious sin, in order to be like Jesus Christ leaving sin. This is why John says, “And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (1 John 3:5-6). And Paul tells us, “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). The old man referred to by Paul is the old Adam, whose righteousness and holiness were not true before sin.
Also, the true image of God comes only through Christ; therefore that image was not true. Paul goes on teaching: “Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all side: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:5-10).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira