175 – THE IMAGE OF GOD - 5
“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’” (Gen. 1:26-27). This is the man created by Elohim. This man had two natures: ANIMAL and INTELLECTUAL.
The question we ask is the following: Is the man created in Gen. 1:26-27 of a heavenly or an earthly nature? If he is of a heavenly nature, he is image and likeness of God, but if he is of an earthly nature, he cannot be image and likeness of God; for man, to be image and likeness of God, has to have heavenly characteristics, even if in miniature. Only Jesus Christ had both natures in the incarnation. If man also had both natures, he would be like Jesus, and he is not.
We read that the animals created in Gen. 1:20-21 were living souls, which in Hebrew is NEFESH HAIA. The man of Gen. 2:7 also is NEFESH HAIA. This is the animal nature of man. But in Gen. 2:7, man received NISHMAT HAIM, too, which differentiates him from the animals, and this is translated by “to blow more life.” In the Bible we read BREATH OF LIFE. We read in the book of Job that this breath of life, or “to blow more life,” is connected to the intelligence of man, the rational part. “Na verdade há um espírito no homem, e a inspiração do todo poderoso (El Shaday) os faz entendidos.” “In fact, there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the almighty (El Shaddai) makes them understanding” (Job 33:4). The Nishmat haim of man is his rational part, which differentiates him from the animals. And Job tells us,“Who among all these does not know that the hand of Jehovah has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:9-10). Now, the spirit of the flesh is the intelligence of man, and all have intelligence. The natural man does not have the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul declares, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:11-12).
And Job goes on to say, “I listened to the reproof which insults me, and the spirit of my understanding makes me answer” (Job 20:3). Men are guided by their own intelligence and understanding, which are in their brains, that is, they are part of the animal nature of man. Animals are irrational, and man is rational, because he thinks and learns. The very Bible states that when man dies, his thoughts perish with him. “His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps. 146:4).
If the spiritual part of the natural man is his intellectual part, and the intellectual part perishes, for it is connected to the physical part, there is nothing from heaven in the natural man, and therefore he cannot be image and likeness of God. The natural man kills when he wants to, and does not kill when he does not. He steals when he so desires, and does not steal when he does not. When he decides to do evil, he does it through his reason, and that is the free will. He does not sin when it is of his interest not to sin, but if it is, he sins. This behavior is proper of men in general. The proof of this is that Christians affirm to be subject to sin, saying that there is no one who does not sin (Eccles. 7:20). Paul calls this type of man “Old Man.” The Old Man is the descendant of Adam and Eve. All are intellectual animals, according to the Bible. The old Christians, called “fathers of the Church,” who lived during the first three centuries, affirmed that man was animalic and psychic. The animalic is the carnal, and the psychic is the rational, who is able to refrain from the excesses when it suits him.
The new man comes to light only through Christ. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). If any Christian is guided by his own thoughts, that is, decides what is sin and what is not sin, decides what is right and what is wrong, this Christian is just like the old man that comes from the first Adam, and has nothing of heaven in him.
Paul says that the old man has to be crucified with Christ in order to do away with the body of sin (Rom. 6:6). The new man is spiritually seated in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:5-6). How do we understand the new man seated in the heavenly places? He is the Christian, whose interests are the same as those of Jesus Christ, that is: not to waste their time in running after the things of this world, for this is what the old man has always done. The new man goes after the heavenly treasures (Matt. 6:19-24).
When this new man does not sin because it does not suit him, as the old man does, he is like the old man. The new man is above sin, just as the sun is above the earth. This is why Jesus calls him “light of the world” (Matt. 5:14-16). There are Christians who do no sin in public, but sin in private. The new man does not allow the thief to steal his soul in the hidden place.
The new man receives a third nature. He is the spiritual man par excellence. This spiritual man does not mingle with the corruption of this world because he is already spiritually risen. “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4). Paul goes on, “But now you also, put them all aside; 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. 3:8-10).
If to be image and likeness of God the Father man has to be created by Jesus Christ, receiving a nature which is like his nature (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:13; Rom. 8:29), the first Adam was image and likeness, but not of Jesus or the Father. It is appropriate to remember that Adam and Eve had the desire of the flesh before they ever sinned, for they desired the malignant fruit (Gen. 3:1-6). Paul brings the subject to an end with the following explanation: “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthly, so are those who are earthly; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And so as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45-49).
In this explanation of Paul, the first man created was an image of the earthly things, and therefore he could not be the image of God. The image of God came forth with Christ Jesus.
by PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA