Jesus: How does the Holy Spirit help Jesus and us image God?
Next time you look into a mirror, remind yourself that Jesus Christ was the perfect mirror of God the Father to the world. Jesus alone has imaged God perfectly. Many New Testament Scriptures, and even Jesus himself, declare this:
- Christ, who is the image of God. [FOOTNOTE: 2 Cor. 4:4].
- He is the image of the invisible God. [FOOTNOTE: Col. 1:15].
- He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. [FOOTNOTE: Heb. 1:3].
- Whoever sees me [Jesus] sees him who sent me. [FOOTNOTE: John 12:45]
- Whoever has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father. [FOOTNOTE: John 14:9]
To continue with the metaphor that we have been using throughout this chapter, as sinners (a subject more thoroughly dealt with in the next chapter) we remain God’s mirrors, but mirrors that have been thrown to the floor, broken and scattered into numerous shards and bits. Consequently, we reflect the glory and goodness of God poorly.
The restoration of the image of God, or proverbial collecting of the pieces and restoration of our mirror, is found only in the renewing power of the gospel. Martin Luther says:
The Gospel has brought about the restoration of that image. Intellect and will indeed have remained, but both very much impaired. And so the Gospel brings it about that we are formed once more according to that familiar and indeed better image, because we are born again into eternal life or rather into the hope of eternal life by faith, that we may live in God and with God and be one with Him, as Christ says (John 17:21). [ENDNOTE #1]
This is precisely what Romans 8:29 means, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” To be conformed to the image of Jesus means the Spirit causes the reflection of our life to be increasingly like Jesus Christ’s. The renewal of the image of God in man is a process that God works in is lifelong sanctification by the Spirit. Importantly, this is not merely something passive that God does for us, but something that, by his grace through his Spirit, we have the honor of participating in as an act of mirroring him. [FOOTNOTE: Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:1–10]. Colossians 3:9–10 speaks of the “new self…renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul says, “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.” Admittedly, as Christians we do sin, chase folly, and in our worst moments seem to be breaking our mirror while God is repairing it. Regardless, to image God requires ongoing humble repentance and a fiercely devoted steadfastness to change as God commands and with God pick up the pieces of our life shattered through sin.
As believers, we can work with God if we continually ask, “how can my words and deeds reflect the character of God to others?” This is what it means to glorify, or reflect, God. Because we were made to mirror God, He is glorified, and we are glad when His glory is reflected to others by us.
Amazingly, upon death, this life not only continues but is perfected, and the mirror of our life, along with all of creation, is fully restored and will reflect the light of the glory of God perfectly, beautifully, magnificently, unceasingly, and unendingly. Paul describes this mirroring we will experience to God’s glory and our joy in the resurrected and perfected state: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” [FOOTNOTE: 1 Cor. 15:49]. In addition, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” [FOOTNOTE: Phil. 3:20–21].
- Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis Chapters 1–5,” 1:64.