“God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth’” (1:26).- Genesis 1:1-2:3
Our consideration of Ephesians 4:17–5:2 has examined our call not to walk as the Gentiles but instead to manifest the characteristics of the true Israel. In other words, we are not to live as those enslaved to sin because Christ has broken sin’s power, enabling us to serve Him gladly (Rom. 6). This gives us a good opportunity to pause our study of Ephesians and consider the topic of spiritual growth more broadly. A few lectures from Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit will help us better understand the process of sanctification.
It is helpful to have a goal in mind in any endeavor; otherwise, we might put our efforts in the wrong place or work inefficiently and ineffectively. Understanding our original purpose helps us stay on track in our sanctification so that we can be sure we are progressing, albeit slowly, in personal holiness. The answer to question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is helpful here: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Sanctification is fundamentally about making us into people who glorify God and imitate Him in all things.
To understand how we might glorify God, we need to go back to the beginning of Genesis, which alludes to many of the ways in which our Creator is glorified in us. Genesis 1:26–27 is a key text, explaining that all human beings are made in God’s image. Simply put, this means that we are somehow a “copy” of the Lord. This may be somewhat hard to conceptualize, for God does not have a physical body like we do, and He also lacks our limitations as created beings. Nevertheless, like our Creator, we are rational beings who are able to communicate in words. We possess minds, wills, and hearts, all of which are analogous to God’s own inner life, although unlike Him our knowledge is finite and we are not laws unto ourselves.
Since we are made in His image, we bring the Lord the most glory when we reflect His character — when we truly image His goodness, love, and holiness. Our ability to do this is hampered by sin, but our Savior, by His Spirit, restores our ability to reflect God’s image truly over the course of our lives (2 Cor. 3:18). At the consummation, we will reflect the divine image to the fullest extent, glorifying Him forever in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).
If our original purpose is to shine forth God’s image to creation, then the importance of our obedience to His will takes on new significance. When our goodness and mercy align with His standards, we reveal His pure character to the nations. As we pursue justice, we glorify Him as the only just Judge and remind people that they have no choice but to repent and serve Him. It is a great privilege to bear God’s image, so let us do so gladly.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 15:49