Recalling Our Purpose

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (v. 27)

- Genesis 1:1–2:3

Having explored the obstacles of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, we will finish our brief study of how life in the Spirit applies to our sanctification with a look at the purpose for our existence. We do not use a sledge hammer to drive nails into drywall — the proper use of this tool is tied to the end for which it was designed. Likewise, the right use of our gifts and abilities for spiritual growth is inextricably bound to the goal for which our Father has created us.

Question one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism informs us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This is apparent from many biblical passages, including 1 Chronicles 16:24 wherein Israel was commanded to declare God’s glory to the nations. But if the glory of our Creator is the end for which we were made, then the account of our creation in Genesis 1:1–2:3 is perhaps the best text to examine in order to see how we might glorify Him.

Most important for our study is Genesis 1:27, which tells us that we are made in God’s image. It is impossible to plumb the depths of this verse’s meaning, but theologians agree that being the image of God means that we are in some sense a reflection of Him. Of course, the Almighty does not have a physical body and is restricted by none of our limitations as created beings. Nevertheless, we do reflect His nature in some ways. Like Him, we are rational beings who have the capacity for language and personal relationships. We have a mind, a heart, and a will like our heavenly Father, but ours are finite while His are infinite.

Paul ties our imitation of God to our glorification of Him (Eph. 5:1). Simply put, we bring our Creator the most glory when we reflect His character. In living a holy life, we witness to His holiness and glory, reminding creation of who He is. When we show mercy and forgive, we manifest His graciousness and compassion. Fighting for justice, we glorify God as the only perfectly just Judge.

Sin has marred this image, but it is being restored in our redemption. As we progress in sanctification, we increasingly reflect our holy Creator’s glory. At the consummation, we will glorify Him to the fullest extent, when, in our glorification, we bear the image of Jesus — the Man of heaven (1 Cor. 15:49).

Coram Deo

We may not often think about it, but when we do good to others we are doing more than just obeying the Lord’s command. Since God is the one who pours out His common grace upon all creation, every good deed we do is actually an imitation of His goodness to us. How have you imitated the Lord this week? Have you shown mercy to someone? Have you provided for someone in need? What good work can you do today in imitation of Christ?

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 9:6
Leviticus 20:7
Matthew 5:21–26
Colossians 1:15

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