God created man in His own likeness. This statement has been iterated much too often in the Christian world, but not necessarily the substance of it. To comprehend the substance of God creating man in His likeness, two questions, ‘why create in His likeness’ and ‘what is His likeness’ must have significant answers in every believer. Only then he who believes in God will attain to His glory. The answer to ‘why create in His likeness,’ comes from carefully understanding the intent of God. It is to have many sons and daughters for His glory. More over, it is not in the interest or in the nature of God to have anyone unholy for Himself. For this reason, it is written, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God” (Gen. 5:1). The intent of God to have many people for Himself and His nature has already been emphasized strongly through my earlier writings. Nevertheless, it is only those who have a clear understanding of ‘what is His likeness’ that can truly rejoice for becoming a part of God’s intent. For only the likeness of God in man provides him complete joy and an effective spirit.
Sin takes away the very good things of God from man, the very good things present in the likeness or the image of God. All must possess them to attain to God’s glory. In the case of those who do not possess the good things of God, the saying ‘what is His likeness’ in man inevitably becomes ‘what was His likeness’ in man. The reason they lose the likeness of God is the sin that works in them. Conversely, those who are of God possess the likeness of God in them. They returned to their former glory i.e. the image with which God first created them. When God created man and since He cannot create anyone unholy to Himself, He created him holy i.e. in His likeness. His holiness is the fulcrum for the very good things that come from Him. But, by nature all men lose the likeness of God in them to sin and hence, the saying ‘what was His likeness’ in man applies to all. It is because of this predicament that the presence of a phenomenal Being is required to restore the likeness of God in man. And, those who possess Him are without the image of sin. This Being was made a requisite for man by God. God began dealing with man, nation and eventually the church through Him.
It is very foolish on part of men beginning from Eve and Adam to lose their likeness of God. I am sure some of us, if not all, by now have realized our former nature. Nevertheless, what was not required for man before sin entered him, by the sin of Adam and Eve, now became the utmost requirement to him. This requirement is the phenomenal Being with which one obtains his former glory. Though the necessity of this Being and His involvement in the aforetimes was not explicitly revealed to us, everything that God performed toward man was through Him. And, the signs for His inevitability in men appeared during the times of the Law. Since then His prominence in those whom God has chosen was constantly felt. He became pivotal for God to fulfill His intent. It is through Him that God was and is able to once again create a people for Himself in His likeness and perform works toward them. “Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry” (1 Sam. 11:6).
Unless the likeness of God is sealed upon man he cannot perform the very good things present in it. This is made possible only through the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upon a man not only demonstrates God’s choice of him, but also the likeness of God in him. When the Spirit of God mightily came upon Saul, he performed a very good thing of God i.e. His righteousness. Saul’s anger was not his own, but of God that was sealed upon him through the Spirit. Hence, his anger was without sin. He carried out the justice that God desired. It is for this reason God sends His Spirit, the phenomenal Being, upon men and women that they perform His righteousness, and makes known His likeness. The Spirit seals them to perform the will of God. Or else, the likeness of God cannot remain in them and each time God labors to bring a person to His likeness, it becomes futile. God will fill them with passion to fulfill His intent. When one is chosen by God, he or she is chosen, since God carefully searched for them through His Spirit to imprint on them His likeness; the Spirit will reveal His choice. “When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly” (Esth. 4:1).
Of all the Jews present in those days it was the man Mordecai that became one of the two significant choices of God to save His people. To us who read about his nature and works, the Spirit of God has validated God’s choice of him. What God had done through Saul to perform His righteousness was very different to what He accomplished through Mordecai. There, Saul was filled with God’s anger; here, Mordecai was filled with great sorrow and bitterness; two different emotions, but one God. Yet, both had in them one thing in common – God’s passion and love to have many sons for His glory. One can only be astonished by the way God goes about working in His people. A time for the way of sword and a time for the way of weeping! And, in both cases He triumphed in saving His people. God seals His likeness in man according to times and works out His righteousness. What man weeps for the life of a nation that belongs to another, in this case God, unless he himself is of God? Therefore, the likeness of God with which Mordecai was sealed made him strive for the glory of God, which was Israel.
Not only did the righteousness of God prevail in both cases, but equally His wisdom which is the source for righteousness. It was not just the anger of Saul or the weeping of Mordecai that gave the victory, but the wisdom of God that appeared through their emotions. This is a testament to the manner in which the Spirit of God works mightily upon the chosen. He who sealed the likeness of God in them led them to take the path that God chose for them. While Saul was led to gather the sons of Israel for battle, Mordecai who wept for his nation was led to summon his people to beseech God’s help. For this reason, “To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding” (Prov. 1:2) in God’s word is highly imperative. They are a monumental asset. If one does not have them, he cannot perform the righteousness of God. Then, God too cannot imprint upon him his likeness. Again, the Spirit of God will not work mightily in him. He would not even be aware of such Spirit of God. Neither Saul nor Mordecai were without the instruction of the Lord. The reason for their emotions to flare is the presence of the wisdom in them pertaining to the Law of God. God did not call nor will He call those who do not know His instructions and wisdom, and discern His sayings. Those who rightly receive God’s word will be chosen by God to possess His likeness. To these He gives His Spirit to mightily work in them.
It is a pity that many present day churches ignore this truth. They did not understand God’s choice. Therefore, they neither know how the Spirit of God goes about working in men nor comprehend the need of Him in everyone that belongs to God’s name. They do not care which way they proceed. Yet, they speak in the name of God; one in this manner and another in that manner. They do not care to know that God in the past did not let them escape that falsely invoked His name, but prophesied saying, “This will be the sign to you, declares the LORD, ‘that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm’” (Jer. 44:29). God has various ways to accomplish His righteousness in which also are hidden the ways to perform His justice upon those who do not discern His sayings. For those that were punished in the aforetimes were punished for their lack of discernment toward God’s word and churches that now display the same, will they escape? If they do not cease from their ways, God will even allow them to add to His word or subtract from it that they would not return to His likeness. Dear brethren, remember, for not even Saul, who was once made in the likeness of God, escaped his disobedient ways. Such is the danger in not knowing the instruction of the Lord or discerning the sayings of understanding. When even the chosen that lost the likeness of God in them are not spared, where is the respite for those who did not understand God’s choice? And, if you are like them, consider this mind of God. “Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 1:3).
It is the lack of understanding that compels many churches to live in the likeness of sin. Those that lead them have not regarded the ways in which God works. The manner in which they perceive God and His word is quite the opposite of what God has planned for His glory. Sadly, some even reject the work of the phenomenal Being while others continue to grieve Him. The very good things in the likeness of God are not in them. They did not regain their former glory. If the Spirit of God is not mightily working in them for the intent of God, they do possess the answer to ‘what is His likeness’ in man. Their works are sin. But, you brethren accept the traditions which God has given to the church through the apostles and prophets, if you have grasped the truth. For they too having been astonished by the manner in which God works in the saints did not negate the sayings and instructions of God toward them, but received them by having in them the likeness of God and praised those who did the same. “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2).