Are you made in the spittin’ image?

By Leonard Lauriault

Often when a baby is born, people try to connect facial features with the parents or some other close relative. Sometimes that’s easy because the baby is the spittin’ image of her mother.

Other times, it’s not so easy and you know there’s a stretch when someone says, “He’s got George’s nose. You remember George, his father’s fifteenth cousin twice removed.”

In the spiritual realm, there are only two images we can bear. These are alluded to in Mark 12: 13-17, and reflect our chosen ancestry and pattern of life, being described as either “of Christ,” or “of the world.”

In New Testament times the world was represented by Rome. The image we bear is recognizable by outward appearances, but it’s defined by inner qualities (1 Peter 3: 3, 4; Matthew 7: 16-20; 12: 33-35).

Mankind was created in the image of God, even having God’s Spirit, to reflect that image in daily living (Genesis 1: 26, 27; 2: 7). Mankind sinned, however, and we’ve tarnished our ability to accurately portray ourselves in God’s image (Romans 3: 23; Genesis 6: 3-8; 1 Samuel 15: 22, 23; 16: 14; Hebrews 10; 26, 27).

God knew this would happen before he created the world. So, at that time and in his great mercy, he also planned the means for us to become restamped in his image by putting his Spirit back in us (Ephesians 1: 3-14; 2 Timothy 1: 9, 10; 1 Peter 1: 17-21; 2 Peter 1: 3, 4; Romans 8: 9-11). The rest of Mark 12 describes some aspects of how we’re to live in God’s image.

First, because God is the God of the living, we must be alive in Christ rather than dead in sin (Mark 12: 18-27; Ephesians 2: 1-10). That there would be a resurrection was a foregone conclusion to Jesus, regardless of what the Sadducees thought, and it should be for us as well. Everyone will be at the resurrection to face judgment for their pattern of life on earth (John 5: 24-29; Matthew 25: 46; 7: 21-23).
We’re only guaranteed eternal life (as opposed to eternal punishment) if we do God’s will in becoming alive to the God of the living in Christ (Romans 6: 1-11; Colossians 2: 9-13, 20; 3: 1-4). Baptism is when our renewal in God’s image begins – when we put to death our sinful self (2 Corinthians 3: 17, 18; Titus 3: 3-8; Acts 2: 38, 39; 22: 16; 1 Peter 1: 22-25). Our re-creation won’t be complete until Jesus returns because we’ll continue to tarnish the image we’re to project. Still, we have the guarantee that God will complete the work he began in us if we let him (Philippians 1: 3-6; 2: 12, 13; 1 John 1: 5-9; 3: 1-3; Revelation 2: 10; 2 Peter 1: 10, 11).

We’re to give our allegiance to whoever has control over our lives (Psalm 24: 1, 2; 1 John 2: 17). Realizing that he’s the God of the living rather than the god of the dead (who happens to be Satan) and wanting to be alive, it should be our desire to serve only God with all our capabilities (Mark 12: 28-34; Exodus 20: 1-3; 1 Corinthians 8: 5, 6; Colossians 3: 17). Consequently, we cannot live like the devil sometimes and try to be godly at other times, having one foot in the world and the other foot in the church, because we can serve only one master (Matthew 6: 24; Romans 6: 16).

When we yield ourselves to God on his terms, we become his children, and he elevates us to a much higher position than any worldly person could ever attain (Mark 12: 35-40; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Luke 14: 7-11; 18: 9-14; Ephesians 2: 6). This also causes his image to be reflected clearly, encouraging others to want to come to life as well (2 Corinthians 4: 5-15; John 10: 10; 12: 32).

Unlike the Jewish teachers, we need not worry about attaining a righteousness of our own because God extends his righteousness to us when we come to him in obedient faith (Romans 3: 10, 21-24; Acts 6: 7; Romans 2: 6-8; 2 Thessalonians 1: 8). Then, we become alive in Christ to serve the living God (Hebrews 9: 14; 1 Peter 3: 21, 22, revised and standard versions).

Paul calls this total submission to God offering ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12: 1, 2; Philippians 3: 7-11; Mark 12: 41-44). Jesus died for us so we need not die. Rather, when we put to death our sinful self in baptism, because we recognize God’s grace and mercy toward us, we become united with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection and will eventually become his spittin’ image.

Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ