"In the Image and Likeness of God, Part 2"

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"In the Image and Likeness of God, Part 2"

Post by Romans » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:26 am

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In the Image and Likeness of God, Part 2: by Romans


Last week I started this Series on our being in the Image and Likeness of God. It was inspired when I saw Evangelist Ravi Zacharias answering a question at a College Forum. He brought up the account in Luke 20 of a man trying to catch Jesus in His words regarding paying taxes to Caesar. We pick up the story in verse 23, “But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.”

Ravi commented: “There ought to have been a follow-up question. The high priest should have asked, 'And what belongs to God?' If he had asked that, Jesus would have replied, “Whose image is on you?'” Tonight, I ask myself, and I ask all of you: “Whose image is on you?” Last week I used Ravi Zacharias' insight by going back to the Book of Genesis, to the beginning, to the Creation of man.

I am going to continue tonight regarding Whose Image we are from a very different perspective, but also one that I hope you find edifying and enlightening. If I were to ask you to fill in the blank with just one word, how would you respond to this? “God is _____.” I suppose there are many, many ways we can respond to that... there are indeed many single words to fill in that blank. I would like to ask you to fill in that blank now. Share some one-word answers with the room: “God is _______.” You can answer more than once, but with only a single word.

Very Good. I am going to select this answer. As I write this earlier in the day, I cannot know if it were one of the answers provided. I hope it was. The word I choose, tonight is “love.” God is love, as we read it in the Word of God, and in so many words as it appears in two verses: 1 John 4:8 & 16. God is love. If we are made in the Image of God, and if we are the adopted children of God, should not love, in this case the Greek word is agape` meaning God-love, be a characteristic of us both individually and collectively? Yes, it should.

In researching for this Series I came across something that I would like to share with you. It is something I never saw before, and I was somewhat taken aback when I first saw it last week. I saved it for tonight because it is a better fit with my message this week than it was last week. It is also found in the Book of Genesis. It is the second time where this phrase “image and likeness” appears regarding a human being. We find it in Genesis 5:3: “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:” I find it interesting that Adam did not use that description for the births of Cain and Abel. I am not sure why.

Adam Clarke comments, “It is impossible that he {Adam}, being impure, fallen from the Divine image, could beget a pure and holy offspring, unless we could suppose it possible that a bitter fountain could send forth sweet waters, or that a cause could produce effects totally dissimilar from itself. What is said here of Seth might have been said of all the other children of Adam, as they were all begotten after his fall; but the sacred writer has thought proper to mark it only in this instance.”

Matthew Henry's comment is also interesting: “Many other sons and daughters were born to Adam, besides Cain and Abel, before this; but no notice is taken of them, because an honourable mention must be made of his name only in whose loins Christ and the church were. But that which is most observable here concerning Seth is that Adam begat him in his own likeness, after his image. Adam was made in the image of God; but, when he was fallen and corrupt, he begat a son in his own image, sinful and defiled, frail, mortal, and miserable, like himself; not only a man like himself, consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. Even the man after God's own heart owns himself conceived and born in sin, (as we read in Psalm 51:5).

This was Adam's own likeness, the reverse of that divine likeness in which Adam was made; but, having lost it himself, he could not convey it to his seed. Note, Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.”
The words image and likeness appear five other times in Exodus and Deuteronomy, but always in regard to God's forbidding the making and worshiping anything in the image and likeness of “any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4).

Let's return to our main thought: We, human beings, unlike anything else God has created, are in His Image and Likeness.
I completed the phrase “God is _____” with the word “love.” This is my focus for tonight. How love, agape`, or God-love is perhaps the most important way in which we can be in God's Image and Likeness. If we go through the occurrences of agape` love as we encounter them beginning in Matthew's Gospel, God-love first appears in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies...”

I suppose the closest such command similar to this in the Old Testament is found in Proverbs 25:21: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:” Israel was in a state of near-perpetual war from the time they lift Egypt with few breaks or rests. This, as I recall only occurred during the reign of Solomon as it was prophesied in 1 Chronicles 22:9: “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.”

But this phrase, “Love your enemies,” was, at the very least, radical and revolutionary. Who, under what other possible circumstances in all of recorded history ever uttered such a phrase to their followers? I can think of none because there are none. But these are Jesus' instructions... no... commands to us. We are to God-love our enemies? Our first response to such a command is to recoil in disbelief. Love our enemies? Why would Jesus require such an unthinkable and unreasonable thing of His followers? Because it is exactly how He responded to us. Jesus did not give His Life for His friends or even His servants. We read in Romans 5:10: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Christ demonstrated His love, and died for us when we were living in rebellion and defiance.

Next we ask, “HOW???” How are we supposed to love our enemies? We do not know how to do that! Well, as our Savior and Shepherd, He just didn't speak words without also explaining to us the “how” of loving our enemies. Let's read the whole command, again, this time including the “how” of the command: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

How do you love your enemies? By doing good to them. By blessing them. And by praying for them. Does anyone not know what doing good looks like? Do you know what blessing is? Can you figure out how to pray a prayer that includes something positive toward the person who is your enemy? If you can't, can you ask God to help you pray that prayer? Do you think He will not help you? Jesus died for that person. He shed His blood for him or her on the cross with the same love directed toward your enemy as He did for you and all of your family members and friends.

Matthew Henry writes of this command, “God said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour; and by neighbour they understood those only of their own country, nation, and religion; and those only that they were pleased to look upon as their friends: yet this was not the worst; from this command, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, they were willing to infer what God never designed; Thou shalt hate thine enemy; and they looked upon whom they pleased as their enemies, thus making void the great command of God by their traditions, though there were express laws to the contrary. It was true that God appointed them to destroy the seven devoted nations of Canaan, and not to make leagues with them; but there was a particular reason for it - to make room for Israel, and that they might not be snares to them; but it was very ill-natured from hence to infer, that they must hate all their enemies; yet the moral philosophy of the heathen then allowed this.
II. See how it is cleared by the command of the Lord Jesus, who teaches us another lesson: “But I say unto you, I, who come to be the great Peace-Maker, the general Reconciler, who loved you when you were strangers and enemies, I say, Love your enemies,” Mat_5:44. Though men are ever so bad themselves, and carry it ever so basely towards us, yet that does not discharge us from the great debt we owe them, of love to our kind, love to our kin. We cannot but find ourselves very prone to wish the hurt, or at least very coldly to desire the good, of those that hate us, and have been abusive to us; but that which is at the bottom hereof is a root of bitterness, which must be plucked up, and a remnant of corrupt nature which grace must conquer. Note, it is the great duty of Christians to love their enemies;
we cannot have complacency in one that is openly wicked and profane, nor put a confidence in one that we know to be deceitful; nor are we to love all alike; but we must pay respect to the human nature, and so far honour all men: we must take notice, with pleasure, of that even in our enemies which is amiable and commendable; ingenuousness, good temper, learning, and moral virtue, kindness to others, profession of religion, etc., and love that, though they are our enemies. We must have a compassion for them, and a good will toward them. We are here told,

1. That we must speak well of them: Bless them that curse you. When we speak to them, we must answer their revilings with courteous and friendly words, and not render railing for railing; behind their backs we must commend that in them which is commendable, and when we have said all the good we can of them, not be forward to say any thing more. This is reiterated in 1 Peter 3:9, where we find, “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
2. That we must do well to them: “Do good to them that hate you, and that will be a better proof of love than good words. Be ready to do them all the real kindness that you can, and glad of an opportunity to do it, in their bodies, estates, names, families; and especially to do good to their souls.”
3. We must pray for them: Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. Note, (1.) It is no new thing for the most excellent saints to be hated, and cursed, and persecuted, and despitefully used, by wicked people; Christ himself was so treated. (2.) That when at any time we meet with such usage, we have an opportunity of showing our conformity both to the precept and to the example of Christ, by praying for them who thus abuse us. If we cannot otherwise testify our love to them, yet this way we may without ostentation, and it is such a way as surely we durst not dissemble in. We must pray that God will forgive them, that they may never fare the worse for any thing they have done against us, and that he would make them to be at peace with us; and this is one way of making them so.”
Jesus goes on in His Sermon to tells us WHY we should love and bless and pray for our enemies: Mat 5:45: “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:45-48). We, and we alone, are in the image and likeness of a loving and forgiving God Who sends sunshine to the evil and the good, and rain to the just and the unjust. If we, in kind, do good to our enemies, Whose Image and Likeness will be reflect?

Alexander MacClaren writes of this: “The last of the five instances of our Lord’s extending and deepening and spiritualising the old law is also the climax of them. We may either call it the highest or the deepest, according to our point of view. His transfiguring touch invests all the commandments with which He has been dealing with new inwardness, sweep, and spirituality, and finally He proclaims the supreme, all-including commandment of universal love. ‘It hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour’-that comes from Leviticus 19:18; but where does ‘and hate thine enemy’ come from? Not from Scripture, but in the passage in Leviticus ‘neighbour’ is co-extensive with ‘children of thy people,’ and the hatred and contempt of all men outside Israel which grew upon the Jews found a foothold there. ‘Who is my neighbour?’ was apparently a well-discussed question in the schools of the Rabbis, and, whether any of these teachers ever committed themselves to plainly formulating the principle or not, practically the duty of love was restricted to a narrow circle, and the rest of the wide world left out in the cold.

But not only was the circumference of love’s circle drawn in, but to hate an enemy was elevated almost into a duty. It is the worst form of retaliation. ‘An eye for an eye’ is bad enough, but hate for hate plunges men far deeper in the devil’s mire. To flash back from the mirror of the heart the hostile looks which are flung at us, is our natural impulse; but why should we always leave it to the other man to pitch the keynote of our relations with him? Why should we echo only his tones? Cannot we leave his discord to die into silence and reply to it by something more musical? Two thunder-clouds may cast lightnings at each other, but they waste themselves in the process. Better to shine meekly and victoriously on as the moon does on piled masses of darkness till it silvers them with its quiet light.

So Jesus bids us do. We are to suppress the natural inclination to pay back in the enemy’s own coin, to ‘give him as good as he gave us,’ to ‘show proper spirit,’ and all the other fine phrases with which the world whitewashes hatred and revenge. We are not only to allow no stirring of malice in our feelings, but we are to let kindly emotions bear fruit in words blessing the cursers, and in deeds of goodness, and, highest of all, in prayers for those whose hate is bitterest, being founded on religion, and who are carrying it into action in persecution.

We cannot hate a man if we pray for him; we cannot pray for him if we hate him. Our weakness often feels it so hard not to hate our enemies, that our only way to get strength to keep this highest, hardest commandment is to begin by trying to pray for the foe, and then we gradually feel the infernal fires dying down in our temper, and come to be able to meet his evil with good, and his curses with blessings. It is a difficult lesson that Jesus sets us. It is a blessed possibility that Jesus opens for us, that our kindly emotions towards men need not be at the mercy of theirs to us. It is a fair ideal that He paints, which, if Christians deliberately and continuously took it for their aim to realise, would revolutionise society, and make the fellowship of man with man a continual joy.

Think of what any community, great or small, would be, if enmity were met by love only and always. Its fire would die for want of fuel. If the hater found no answering hate increasing his hate, he would often come to answer love with love. There is an old legend spread through many lands, which tells how a princess who had been changed by enchantment into a loathsome serpent, was set free by being thrice kissed by a knight, who thereby won a fair bride with whom he lived in love and joy. The only way to change the serpent of hate into the fair form of a friend is to kiss it out of its enchantment.

No doubt, partial anticipations of this precept may be found, buried under much ethical rubbish, elsewhere than in the Sermon on the Mount, and more plainly in Old Testament teaching, and in Rabbinical sayings; but Christ’s ‘originality’ as a moral teacher lies not so much in the absolute novelty of His commandments, as in the perspective in which He sets them, and in the motives on which He bases them, and most of all in His being more than a teacher, namely, the Giver of power to fulfil what He enjoins. Christian ethics not merely recognises the duty of love to men, but sets it as the foundation of all other duties. It is root and trunk, all others are but the branches into which it ramifies. Christian ethics not merely recognises the duty, but takes a man by the hand, leads him up to his Father God, and says: There, that is your pattern, and a child who loves his Father will try to copy his ways and be made like Him by his love. So Morality passes into Religion, and through the transition receives power beyond its own. The perfection of worship is imitation, and when men ‘call Him Father’ whom they adore, imitation becomes the natural action of a child who loves.
A dew-drop and a planet are both spheres, moulded by the same law of gravitation. The tiny round of our little drops of love may be not all unlike the colossal completeness of that Love, which owns the sun as ‘His sun,’ and rays down light and distils rain over the broad world. God loves all men apart altogether from any regard to character, therefore He gives to all men all the good gifts that they can receive apart from character, and if evil men do not get His best gifts, it is not because He withholds, but because they cannot take. There are human love-gifts which cannot be bestowed on enemies or evil persons. It is not possible, nor fit, that a Christian should feel to such as he does to those who share his faith and sympathies; but it is possible, and therefore incumbent, that he should not only negatively clear his heart of malice and hatred, but that he should positively exercise such active beneficence as they will receive. That is God’s way, and it should be His children’s.
The thought of the divine pattern naturally brings up the contrast between it and that which goes by the name of love among men. Just because Christians are to take God as their example of love, they must transcend human examples. Here again Jesus strikes the note with which He began His teaching of His disciples’ ‘righteousness’; but very significantly He does not now point to Pharisees, but to publicans, as those who were to be surpassed. The former, no doubt, were models of ‘righteousness’ after a rigid, whitewashed-sepulchre sort, but the latter had bigger hearts, and, bad as they were and were reputed to be, they loved better than the others. Jesus is glad to see and point to even imperfect sparks of goodness in a justly condemned class. No doubt, publicans in their own homes, with wife and children round them, let their hearts out, and could be tender and gentle, however gruff and harsh in public. When Jesus says ‘even the publicans,’ He is not speaking in contempt, but in recognition of the love that did find some soil to grow on, even in that rocky ground. But is not the bringing in of the ‘reward’ as a motive a woeful downcome? and is love that loves for the sake of reward, love at all?
The criticism and questions forget that the true motive has just been set forth, and that the thought of ‘reward’ comes in, only as secondary encouragement to a duty which is based upon another ground. To love because we shall gain something, either in this world or in the next, is not love but long-sighted selfishness; but to be helped in our endeavours to widen our love so as to take in all men, by the vision of the reward, is not selfishness but a legitimate strengthening of our weakness. Especially is that so, in view of the fact that ‘the reward’ contemplated is nothing else than the growth of likeness to the Father in heaven, and the increase of filial consciousness, and the clearer, deeper cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ If longing for, and having regard to, that ‘recompense of reward’ is selfishness, and if the teaching which permits it is immoral, may God send the world more of such selfishness and of teachers of it!
But the reference to the shrunken love-streams that flow among men passes again swiftly to the former thought of likeness to God as the great pattern. Like a bird glancing downwards for a moment to earth, and then up again and away into the blue, our Lord’s words re-soar, and settle at last by the throne of God. The command, ‘Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,’ may be intended to refer only to the immediately preceding section, but one is inclined to regard it rather as the summing up of the whole of the preceding series of commandments from Matthew 5:20 onwards. The sum of religion is to imitate the God whom we worship. The ideal which draws us to aim at its realisation must be absolutely perfect, however imperfect may be all our attempts to reproduce it. We sometimes hear it said that to set up perfection as our goal is to smite effort dead and to enthrone despair. But to set up an incomplete ideal is the surest way to take the heart out of effort after it. It is the Christian’s prerogative to have ever gleaming before him an unattained aim, to which he is progressively approximating, and which, unreached, beckons, feeds hope of endless approach, and guarantees immortality.”
As we move ahead in Matthew's Gospel, we read a lawyer's question to Jesus beginning in Mat 22:36, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love {agape`} thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
We are to love and do good to and bless and pray for our enemies, but I believe that God-loving our neighbor asks even more. We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That goes beyond even doing good and praying for them. If, with God's help we love our enemies, we still are apt to keep a fairly tight leash on just how good we are, and how fervent our prayers for an enemy might be, at least as we begin to try to do that. That is my personal opinion on the matter.
Adam Clarke writes of this, “The love of our neighbor springs from the love of God as its source; is found in the love of God as its principle, pattern, and end; and the love of God is found in the love of our neighbor, as its effect, representation, and infallible mark. This love of our neighbor is a love of equity, charity, succor, and benevolence. We owe to our neighbor what we have a right to expect from him - “Do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you,” is a positive command of our blessed Savior.
By this rule, therefore, we should speak, think, and write, concerning every soul of man: - put the best construction upon all the words and actions of our neighbor that they can possibly bear. By this rule we are taught to bear with, love, and forgive him; to rejoice in his felicity, mourn in his adversity, desire and delight in his prosperity, and promote it to the utmost of our power: instruct his ignorance, help him in his weakness, and risk even our life for his sake, and for the public good. In a word, we must do every thing in our power, through all the possible varieties of circumstances, for our neighbors, which we would wish them to do for us, were our situations reversed.
This is the religion of Jesus! How happy would Society be, were these two plain, rational precepts properly observed! Love Me, and love thy Fellows! Be unutterably happy in me, and be in perfect peace, unanimity, and love, among yourselves. Great fountain and dispenser of love! fill thy creation with this sacred principle, for his sake who died for the salvation of mankind!”
Matthew Henry adds to the discussion, “To love our neighbour as ourselves is the second great commandment (Mat_22:39); It is like unto that first; it is inclusive of all the precepts of the second table, as that is of the first. It is like it, for it is founded upon it, and flows from it; and a right love to our brother, whom we have seen, is both an instance and an evidence of our love to God, whom we have not seen, from 1 John 4:20.
[1.] It is implied, that we do, and should, love ourselves. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified: but there is a self-love which is natural, and the rule of the greatest duty, and it must be preserved and sanctified. We must love ourselves, that is, we must have a due regard to the dignity of our own natures, and a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies.
[2.] It is prescribed, that we love our neighbour as ourselves. We must honour and esteem all men, and must wrong and injure none; must have a good will to all, and good wishes for all, and, as we have opportunity, must do good to all. We must love our neighbour as ourselves, as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves, and in the same instances; nay, in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour, and must make ourselves servants to the true welfare of others, and be willing to spend and be spent for them, to lay down our lives for the brethren.
2. Observe what the weight and greatness of these commandments is: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets; that is, This is the sum and substance of all those precepts relating to practical religion which were written in men's hearts by nature, revived by Moses, and backed and enforced by the preaching and writing of the prophets. All hang upon the law of love; take away this, and all falls to the ground, and comes to nothing. Rituals and ceremonials must give way to these, as must all spiritual gifts, for love is the more excellent way. This is the spirit of the law, which animates it, the cement of the law, which joins it; it is the root and spring of all other duties, the compendium of the whole Bible, not only of the law and the prophets, but of the gospel too, only supposing this love to be the fruit of faith, and that we love God in Christ, and our neighbour for his sake.
All hangs on these two commandments, as the effect doth both on its efficient and on its final cause; for the fulfilling of the law is love (from Romans 13:10) and the end of the law is love, (from 1 Timothy 1:5). The law of love is the nail, is the nail in the sure place, fastened by the masters of assemblies, on which is hung all the glory of the law and the prophets, a nail that shall never be drawn; for on this nail all the glory of the new Jerusalem shall eternally hang. Love never faileth. Into these two great commandments therefore let our hearts be delivered as into a mould; in the defence and evidence of these let us spend our zeal, and not in notions, names, and strifes of words, as if those were the mighty things on which the law and the prophets hung, and to them the love of God and our neighbour must be sacrificed; but to the commanding power of these let every thing else be made to bow.”
Let's take a closer look at one of Matthew Henry's cross-references: 1 John 4:20-21: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Matthew Henry comments, “As love to our brother and neighbour in Christ; such love is argued and urged on these accounts: - 1. As suitable and consonant to our Christian profession. In the profession of Christianity we profess to love God as the root of religion: “If then a man say, or profess as much as thereby to say, I love God, I am a lover of his name, and house, and worship, and yet hate his brother, whom he should love for God's sake, he is a liar (1Jn_4:20), he therein gives his profession the lie.” That such a one loves not God the apostle proves by the usual facility of loving what is seen rather than what is unseen: For he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? 1Jn_4:20. The eye is wont to affect the heart; things unseen less catch the mind, and thereby the heart. The incomprehensibleness of God very much arises from his invisibility; the member of Christ has much of God visible in him. How then shall the hater of a visible image of God pretend to love the unseen original, the invisible God himself?

2. As suitable to the express law of God, and the just reason of it: And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also. As God has communicated his image in nature and in grace, so he would have our love to be suitably diffused. We must love God originally and supremely, and others in him, on the account of their derivation and reception from him, and of his interest in them. Now, our Christian brethren having a new nature and excellent privileges derived from God, and God having his interest in them as well as in us, it cannot but be a natural suitable obligation that he who loves God should love his brother also.”
Let us consider another of Jesus' Commands to His followers: This time from the Gospel of John we read in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Has it occurred to you all the ways that various denominations have attempted to demonstrate that they are God's only “true church.” One claims that they, and only they address God by calling Him by the only Name He will accept: “Jehovah.” They go on to teach that everyone else is lost. Another church claims that they are accepted as God's only “true church” because they worship Him on the only correct day of worship: the Seventh Day. They also go on to teach that everyone else, including the church which has claimed exclusive pronunciation rights, is lost. I have never read of such proofs of identity being pronunciation or specific days of worship. What I have read regarding proof of discipleship, I just read to you. Let's read it, again:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
John Gill writes, “A new commandment I give unto you,.... As parents, when they take their leave of their children, in their dying moments, give them proper instructions and orders, and lay their dying injunctions on them, so Christ taking his leave of his disciples, gives them his; which were, that they
love one another: as brethren in the same family, children of the same Father, and fellow disciples with each other; by keeping and agreeing together, praying one for another, bearing one another's burdens, forbearing and forgiving one another, admonishing each other, and building up one another in faith and holiness: and this he calls "a new commandment"; that is, a very excellent one; as a "new name", and a "new song", denote excellent ones; or it is so called, because it is set forth by Christ, in a new edition of it, and newly and more clearly explained, than before; and being enforced with a new argument and pattern, never used before.”
In the same way Jesus explained to us how to love our enemies, by doing good to them, blessing them and praying for them, Jesus also provided us with the “how” of how to love each other: John Gill continues,
as I have loved you; and to be observed in a new manner, not "in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit": besides, though this commandment, as to the matter of it, is the same with that of Moses, Lev_19:18; yet it takes in more, and "new" objects; since by "neighbour" there, seems to be meant "the children of their people", the Jews; and so they understood it only of their countrymen, and of proselytes at furthest, whereas this reaches to any "other" person; see Rom_13:8; and as the measure, as well as the motive is new, for it is not now "as thy self", but "as I have loved you", the Jew has no reason to object as he does, to its being called a "new commandment": and its being "new", carries in it a reason or argument, why it should be observed, as does also the following clause;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another; than which, nothing can, or should, more strongly engage to it: as Christ has loved his people freely, notwithstanding all their unworthiness and ungratefulness, so should they love one another, though there may be many things in them observable, which are disagreeable; as Christ loves all his children without any distinction, so should they love one another, whether poor or rich, weaker or stronger, lesser or greater believers; and as Christ loves them not in word only, but in deed and in truth, so should they love one another with a pure heart fervently, and by love serve one another.”
Let's look at Adam Clarke's insight into this New Command Jesus gave us: He writes, “John 13:34
A new commandment I give unto you - In what sense are we to understand that this was a new commandment? Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, was a positive precept of the law, Lev_19:18, and it is the very same that Christ repeats here; how then was it new? Our Lord answers this question, Even As I have loved you. Now Christ more than fulfilled the Mosaic precept; he not only loved his neighbor As himself, but he loved him More than himself, for he laid down his life for men. In this he calls upon the disciples to imitate him; to be ready on all occasions to lay down their lives for each other. This was, strictly, a new commandment: no system of morality ever prescribed any thing so pure and disinterested as this. Our blessed Lord has outdone all the moral systems in the universe in two words:
1. Love your enemies;
2. Lay down your lives for each other.”
Albert Barnes writes, “A new commandment - This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Lev_19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known.
But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other. This was to surmount all distinction of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare... The first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
So in 1 John 3:16 it is said that “We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for Christians, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-
denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.”
The Apostle John confirms this as the identifying characteristic of those who are true followers of Christ. We read his words in 1 John 3:10-11: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
In his comments, Albert Barnes also provided a list of other instances in Paul's epistles as to how the disciples applied this New Command to love each other to their lives as followers of Christ: Let's review some of those instances:
1 Peter 1:22; 2Th_1:3; Gal_6:2; 2Pe_1:7.
1 Thessalonians 4:9: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
Albert Barnes writes, “For ye yourselves are taught of God - The {Greek} here rendered “taught of God” - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is correctly translated, and must refer here to some direct teaching of God on their own hearts, for Paul speaks of their being so taught by him as to need no special precepts in the case. He probably refers to that influence exerted on them when, they became Christians, by which they were led to love all who bear the divine image. He calls this being “taught of God,” not because it was of the nature of revelation or inspiration, but because it was in fact the teaching of God in this case, though it was secret and silent. God has many ways of teaching people. The lessons which we learn from his Providence are a part of his instructions. The same is true of the decisions of our own consciences, and of the secret and silent influence of his Spirit on our hearts, disposing us to love what is lovely, and to do what ought to be done.
In this manner all true Christians are taught to love those who bear the image of their Saviour. They feel that they are brethren; and such is their strong attachment to them, from the very nature of religion, that they do not need any express command of God to teach them to love them. It is one of the first - the elementary effects of religion on the soul, to lead us to love “the brethren” - and to do this is one of the evidences of piety about which there need be no danger of deception.”
Our final cross-reference for tonight is 1 Peter 1:22: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”
Matthew Henry writes, “It is not to be doubted but that every sincere Christian purifies his soul. The apostle takes this for granted: Seeing you have, etc. To purify the soul supposes some great uncleanness and defilement which had polluted it, and that this defilement is removed. Neither the Levitical purifications under the law, nor the hypocritical purifications of the outward man, can effect this. (2.) The word of God is the great instrument of a sinner's purification: Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth. The gospel is called truth, in opposition to types and shadows, to error and falsehood. This truth is effectual to purify the soul, if it be obeyed. Many hear the truth, but are never purified by it, because they will not submit to it nor obey it.
(3.) The Spirit of God is the great agent in the purification of man's soul. The Spirit convinces the soul of its impurities, furnishes those virtues and graces that both adorn and purify, such as faith (as in Acts 15:9), hope (in 1 John 3:3), the fear of God (in Psalm 34:9), and the love of Jesus Christ. The Spirit excites our endeavours, and makes them su ccessful. The aid of the Spirit does not supersede our own industry; these people purified their own souls, but it was through the Spirit. (4.) The souls of Christians must be purified before they can so much as love one another unfeignedly. There are such lusts and partialities in man's nature that without divine grace we can neither love God nor one another as we ought to do; there is no charity but out of a pure heart. (5.) It is the duty of all Christians sincerely and fervently to love one another. Our affection to one another must be sincere and real, and it must be fervent, constant, and extensive.
2. He further presses upon Christians the duty of loving one another with a pure heart fervently from the consideration of their spiritual relation; they are all born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, etc. Hence we may learn, (1.) That all Christians are born again. The apostle speaks of it as what is common to all serious Christians, and by this they are brought into a new and a near relation to one another, they become brethren by their new birth. (2.) The word of God is the great means of regeneration. The grace of regeneration is conveyed by the gospel. (3.) This new and second birth is much more desirable and excellent than the first. This the apostle teaches by preferring the incorruptible to the corruptible seed. By the one we become the children of men, by the other the sons and daughters of the Most High. The word of God being compared to seed teaches us that though it is little in appearance, yet it is wonderful in operation, though it lies hid awhile, yet it grows up and produces excellent fruit at last.
(4.) Those that are regenerate should love one another with a pure heart fervently. Brethren by nature are bound to love one another; but the obligation is double where there is a spiritual relation: they are under the same government, partake of the same privileges, and have embarked in the same interest. (5.) The word of God lives and abides for ever. This word is a living word, or a lively word, Heb_4:12. It is a means of spiritual life, to begin it and preserve in it, animating and exciting us in our duty, till it brings us to eternal life: and it is abiding; it remains eternally true, and abides in the hearts of the regenerate for ever.”
God is love. We were made in the Image and Likeness of God. In the Greek, love is the word, “agape`.” It is the same word the Apostle Paul used (translated in the King James as “charity”) in 1 Corinthians 13, when he wrote that if even we have all faith, and all knowledge, and understand all prophecies and mysteries, even if we give all we own to the poor, and give our bodies to be burned, but we have not agape` love, we are nothing. To be followers of Jesus Christ is to follow His example of agape` love toward each other, toward our families, toward our our neighbors and toward our enemies. We can accomplish this, but only through the Gift of the Holy Spirit Who indwells us, and Guides us, and enables us to live a life that brings glory and honor to God: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
This concludes this evening's Discussion, “In the Image and Likeness of God, Part 2”

This Discussion was originally presented “live” on March 7th, 2018.

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