Proverbs 31 5-31-22

What does it mean to be dead to the world, but alive to God in Christ? Dead how? Alive how?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute. —
God speaks for us.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.
–We are poor and needy.

There are two truths that shed light on Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” One is that we are made in God’s image. The other is that in Christ, we are counted as dead so that death no longer holds power over us. Let’s look at what Athanasius (296-373 A.D.) had to say about being made in God’s image:

5. Once again, a merely human king does not let
the lands he has colonized pass to others to serve them, nor
go over to other men; but he warns them by letters, and often
sends to them by friends, or, if need be, he comes in person,
to put them to rebuke in the last resort by his presence, only
that they may not serve others and his own work be spent for
naught.

Athanasius takes liberties with two parables in his illustration. One is the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-41) and the other is The parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). He takes the king from one and makes him the landowner. He then gives the reasoning for sending his son to correct the situation in the vineyard. Lest his work and his investment be for naught, he takes back control of the vineyard and places it in the hands of willing tenants. The difference in Athanasius’ illustration and Jesus’ parable of the Tenants is that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders whereas Athanasius was referring to mankind in general.

6. Shall not God much more spare His own
creatures, that they be not led astray from Him and serve
things of naught? Especially since such going astray proves
the cause of their ruin and undoing, and since it was
unfitting that they should perish which had once been
partakers of God’s image.

WE are the work and investment of God. It is we who He does not want to lose. We had once been partakers of God’s image, but chose to believe the devil, who told us that we are not worthy of His image. In Genesis 3:8-10, we read that Adam and Eve hid from God; they hid in the garden because they thought themselves unworthy to stand in His presence–this is the lie of the ages. I love God’s response: “Who told you…?” I can almost hear Satan say, “Mmm, mmm, mmm. You ate of the fruit against the command of God. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame! You’ll never be good enough to be His children.” It’s still one of his best lines today.

7. What then was God to do?
Or what was to be done save the renewing of that which was in
God’s image, so that by it men might once more be able to
know Him? But how could this have come to pass save by
the presence of the very Image of God, our Lord Jesus
Christ? For by men’s means it was impossible, since they are
but made after an image; nor by angels either, for not even
they are (God’s) images. Whence the Word of God came in
His own person, that, as He was the Image of the Father, He
might be able to create afresh the man after the image.

Jesus is the Image of the Father. He came to create afresh the man after the image of God. WOW!

8. But, again, it could not else have taken place had not death
and corruption been done away.

Jesus entered Hades through death and wrested the keys of the power of death away from the devil, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

9. Whence He took, in natural fitness, a mortal body, that
while death might in it be once for all done away, men made
after His Image might once more be renewed. None other
then was sufficient for this need, save the Image of the Father.*

There it is: “men (mankind) made after His Image might once more be renewed.” Our rightful place as His children has been restored. Romans 8:15 says, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Tomorrow, we will look at being counted as dead to this world.

Abba, thank You for such great wisdom from Athanasius. Knowing that we are Your children, and, as Your children, are deserving of Your name makes me appreciate all the more what You, through Christ, did for me. Jesus, thank You for restoring Your image in me. Amen.

*Athanasius, On the Incarnation, pg. 36

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