Are You Christ-Like? Restoring the Image of God in Man
If you’re trying really hard (and failing) to be a Christ-like Christian, I’ve got a whole lot of good news for you!
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Heb. 10:14
For how much time have you been perfected? Until the next time you sin? Nuh-uh! Until the next time you confess that sin, cry at an altar and beg for forgiveness? Nope! For all time.
Do you act perfect? Probably not! Does that prove you aren’t perfect? Not quite! (and it doesn’t change scripture either!)
Growing Up Into A Christ-Like Christian
When you were born, you were as human as as you will ever be for the rest of your life. Yes, you grow and mature into a more capable person, learning how to be more efficient and productive in your human role, but you never do (and never can) become more of what you already are—a human.
There are stages of humanity, and each stage provides wisdom to bridge the way to the next stage. The infant grows into to the toddler, into the child, into the teenager, into the young adult, into the adult. But you aren’t becoming more human, you are becoming more mature as a human. It’s not Darwinian evolution (you changing from one thing into an entirely different thing over the course of time). However, it is evolution in that you are growing and developing into what you’ve been all along—Christ-like!
The same is true when you are born-again. You are immediately reborn as Christ-like as you will ever be. Born-again isn’t merely the act of exchanging old beliefs for new ones, it is the supernatural spawning of a new creature. No longer the offspring of degraded man, but, like Jesus, you are now a Christ-like offspring, directly descended from God himself (John 1:12-13).
You do not become more Christ-like because you do or don’t do certain things. But you are “growing up into him,” maturing into the full potential of the perfect person you’ve been all along, and the natural result is that your behavior changes along the way. You put childish ways behind you, not for rule-keeping obligations, but because you recognize His image in you. I don’t say no to lustful thoughts “because the Bible says so!” but because I am Christ-like, having the very mind of Christ, and he doesn’t gratify himself at the cost of another person’s image.
Law-Keeping Can’t Make You Christ-Like
Many Christians try to be Christ-like by their Christian performance, thinking they can self-sacrifice their way to higher levels of spirituality, and gain new anointings and outpourings through their starving and begging rituals. But the design of God for holiness is to simply behold Jesus, and then you will be like Him. In realizing that you are like him, and you already have the fullness of him in you, you mature into that fullness and your behavior naturally becomes Christ-like as a result.
How much did Adam do to attain the image of God? Not a thing, right? It was already decided before he was born, “Let us make man in our image!” Likewise, your Christ-likeness was already decided before you ever decided you want to be Christ-like. You were “predestined to be like Christ.” (Romans 8:29)
The Revealing of Your Christ-Like Nature
We’re not trying to become somebody we aren’t, instead we are growing up and being revealed as the one we’ve been all along. Who we are has already been decided and created by Him, we are growing into the full realization of his fullness in us. It isn’t a becoming, in the sense that you’re currently one thing and gradually changing into a different thing, or that you currently don’t have something and you are striving to get that thing. Instead it’s a revealing of who we are and what we have already. It’s the discovery that you’ve already been changed, not by your determination to behave better, but by his determination to reveal his image in you at any cost.
Romans 8:19-21 doesn’t say creation is waiting for you to become the sons of God, but that it’s waiting for you to be revealed as the sons of God. The whole creation groans and cries in frustration. “Where is God? Where is the creator? Why are all these bad things happening to us?” But in the revealing of the sons of God, God himself is revealed and his promise is reiterated, “I’m here! I will never leave you or forsake you!”
This revealing cannot happen by our trying. In fact, our trying hinders our Christ-likeness more than it helps it. Like Abraham, we often end up trying to birth out of the flesh what can only be birthed out of the spirit. Everything happens by beholding Him in Spirit and Truth. It’s all by grace.
The Veil and The Blueprint
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Cor. 3:12-18
- The word “transformed” there is the same word used for when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. Jesus transformed, but not a transformation in the sense that he was one kind of thing, then he suddenly turned into a different kind of thing (a cat that suddenly turns into a fish). He didn’t become something he wasn’t, but was revealed for who he had been all along.
- Why does the veil lie over their hearts? Because they are beholding the law (Moses).
- The Law is the strength of sin (2 Cor. 15:56),
- The Law is a distorted image of God, but the reality of God’s image is found in Christ. (Col. 2:27)
- Why is the veil removed only through Christ (by turning to the Lord)? Because only in the person of Christ are you beholding the light of God in all of its glory, the clear image we were created in. You aren’t looking at distorted duplicates and wannabes, or viewing the light through a veil that diffuses the light and creates shadows, but you are seeing the image of God in its fullness without any obstacle in the way. The image of God is the original image of man.
- “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Why? Because there is truth, and when you know the truth, it sets you free. Jesus is the truth about God and humanity. He is the master copy by which all copies can be made without losing quality.
The Master Copy of Humanity
When you do film, audio, or graphic design (any form of digital creation, really!), you always want to make copies directly from the master copy—the original file. The reason why is that every time you make a copy from a subsequent copy, the image loses quality.
For example, if you were to save a picture from Google, bring it into a photo editing program, save a copy, then open that copy and save a new copy, then open that copy and save a new copy, each time you do that the image loses quality. It’s called generation loss. You can see an example of that in the picture to the right, the numbers corresponding to how many times the image has been copied.
We also see it in communication, if you’ve ever played the “telephone” game. The further you get from the original word, the more twisted the word becomes.
With images degradation starts to appear in the form of jpeg artifacts, and after awhile the original image gets lost in blurriness and distortion… as if looking at it through a veil. But if you were to make a thousand different copies from the master copy of that same image (the original file), it wouldn’t lose quality.
The same is true for audio. Each time you make a copy from a copy, the quality degrades. You start to get distortion, and if you do that enough, pretty soon you have an inaudible track full of static and high frequencies that just give you a headache to listen to! On the other hand, you could make a thousand copies of the audio track from the master copy, and each would retain its quality.
Jesus is the master copy, the original image of God and humanity, the master audio track of God’s Word. Religion tries to produce copies of God through distorted copies of his image (using man-made traditions, rituals, and trying to replicate people and things like Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and the Law), This is why Christians that try to attain Christ-likeness by their own efforts always seem to lack the clearly visible and audible quality of Jesus. They may be genuine about their effort to reproduce him, but they can never truly accomplish that goal by those means. If you look or listen closely, you might get glimpses of the original image, but religion can never produce Jesus in lossless quality because its image isn’t copied directly from him, but from copies of him that have already been degraded.
We can not determine to make ourselves Christ-like, because He has already determined that we are. Our only determination is to offer ourselves as students to our Teacher so he can teach us, as sons to our Father so he can help us, as branches to our Gardener so he can grow us, as clay to our Potter so he can form us, and, maybe as a blank CD to our Engineer so he can press the master copy of his image onto us in lossless quality. Only then will his image be clearly revealed to creation without degradation.
You will look like that which you behold! If you want to be Christ-Like and look like Jesus, quit beholding the law and the prophets, and behold the one they all all point to!
For a deeper revelation of Christ-Likeness, check out my book: