Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"The Same Image"

   Immediately after meeting and responding to the Lord's command to leave his homeland, Abraham (then known as Abram) builds altars of confirmation and consecration to God (Genesis 12:1-8).

    Famine drove him into Egypt, however, where in fear for his life, he lies about Sarah (then known as Sarai) his wife, declaring her to be his sister (Genesis 12:9-20).  Exposure and trouble ensue, leading Abraham back to the first altar he built, and to a renewed calling unto the Lord (Genesis 13:1-4).  Subsequently, strife occurs between Abraham's herdsmen and those of his nephew Lot.  Abraham thus unselfishly offers to Lot the choice of the land: "Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee?  Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (Genesis 13:8-9).

    Note the difference between the self-centered fearfulness concerning the matter of Sarah, and the unselfishness expressed in the offer to Lot.  What accounts for the change in Abraham's character and behavior?  The Apostle Paul answers the question in his second epistle to the Corinthians:

    "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

    Fellowship and communication with God leads to likeness with Him.  The more we prayerfully approach Him in His Word and relate to Him in the opportunities for faith and obedience that life affords, the more we think, speak, act, and relate in conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Early in his experience with God, Abraham acted like, well, like Abraham.  Further communion with his Lord, however, elicited the change whereby Abraham began to be "changed into the same image" of God.

   The same process occurs in the lives of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The more we humbly, faithfully, and submissively relate to our Heavenly Father through the merits of His Son and the enabling of His Spirit, the more He conforms us to the image of the Lord Jesus.  The process is ongoing in this life, and growth will be required.  Setbacks will also occur, but as we return to our altar, as it were, our Father works out His sublime purpose of revealing the love of Christ in us.

   Any supposed relationship with God or experience of Him that does not progressively make us more like Him fails to meet the test of spiritual authenticity.  Again, the process involves growth rather than perfection in this life.  We must nevertheless seek and expect progress, the progress of grace whereby God makes us like Himself by drawing us to a life of fellowship with Himself.  He could give to us no greater gift, and we glorify Him in no greater way as we more and more bear "the same image."

"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

(Romans 8:29)

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

(I John 3:2)

Weekly Memory Verse

    The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

(Psalm 24:1)

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