Crafting Your Jesus
I think we can all agree that if one was to make a copy of something, the copy is not the original. Likewise, if one was to alter an original, the original would no longer be the same as its initial state.
We were not made a copy of our former selves, rather, we were made new. We are not clones. We were altered as we were born again. We were changed by the power of God, and we were re-established in the proper relationship with God which He intended for us from the beginning.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 ESV
What was the change? For the one who has been born again, the spirit of the person has come alive, taking the lead over the body and the soul. The previous state of the person was to satisfy the body and soul, with all its lusts and desires, rarely giving consideration to the spirit. This produces a seismic shift in one’s world view. The spirit, having come alive, seeks first the ways of God as the mind is renewed, and the soul takes its proper place under the spirit, followed by the body which is also brought under subjection to the spirit. The spirit of a person is to take the lead under the guidance of Holy Spirit, whom God gave to us for our benefit.
This can be a battle to bring oneself into proper order as the mind is being renewed. This is due to strongholds which must be torn down and cast away. We looked at this specifically in episode 31, Tearing Down Strongholds. We must destroy the strongholds in order to be conformed to the image of Christ. Being conformed to Christ is one of the goals to strive for after being born again. It is the plan of God.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be called the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:29 ESV
What happens if the image of Christ one has is in error? What if the beliefs and impressions are not the same as the truth? Will an initial warped view cause a warped result? Of course it will. How can one imitate truth when the truth is unknown or changed through misunderstanding. What if one had believed a lie, being indoctrinated through deception?
The errors in thinking need to be corrected. The lies believed need to be overcome. In order to be successful in doing so, one must humble oneself, admitting the error of one’s ways, rejecting the lies, and through such repentance seek the truth. The first lesson may well be to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Holy Spirit, I believe, provides saving faith which leads to our being born again.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
God saves us from suffering the penalty due to us because of our sinfulness. This is not done through anything we do so as to earn salvation, but by faith which is also a gift from God. We must win the warfare which begins in the mind and grow into the faith which enables us to live righteous lives.
A common argument for some who resist the love of God and reject some of the truths of God, or worse, reject salvation altogether, is, “I could never have a God who would …” – fill in the blank. This comes from a misunderstanding of the true nature of God.
We all have some baggage that weighs down the soul. This could be in how one was raised as a child; or not raised. This could be from one’s education or lack of education. This could be as a result of trauma or abuse that has not been dealt with to bring deliverance or healing. Whatever the source, our culture, our society, our indoctrination has formed the beliefs we hold onto as we enter the new life of a personal relationship with God. The misguided beliefs will restrict the depth of the relationship we can enter into. This is one of the battles we must fight and overcome. This war is won through humbling oneself to change those beliefs and come into agreement with the truth of the matter in question.
If one chooses to hold onto beliefs concerning God that are not in line with the truth, the person will have a warped view of God. Unfortunately for us, most of the misconceptions we hold onto have emotional triggers. If the solution was to simply consider a logical argument, then anyone who is being intellectually honest would receive the truth. The emotional component, however, does not like to let go of something so easily. There may be a need for emotional healing before a truth can be received. There may be a need for deliverance from a lying spirit, some form of deception, or something else before a belief can be changed. There may be a need for forgiveness for oneself or for another person to bring freedom from the stronghold in question. See episode 31, Tearing Down Strongholds.
One part of being conformed to the image of Christ is to bring one’s beliefs into alignment with the mind of Christ. Christ is the Savior who delivers one from the penalty of sin. Christ is also the Lord who has all power and authority. If we are not aligned with the mind of Christ, how can we call Him Lord? If we are unwilling to bring our will and beliefs into alignment with Christ, therefore not being able to call Him Lord, can we still claim Him to be our Savior? How can we put our faith in someone with whom we have fundamental differences in beliefs? This is something we need to ponder as we consider our relationship with God.
We need to determine the basis of truth for our life. Is the baseline current knowledge? Is it what we have been taught? Is it the traditions under which we were raised and have lived with? Is it the popular opinion of the day in which we live? Can a disciple have any basis of truth other than Scripture? I do not believe there can be any other final truth as Scripture is the written word of God. We cannot be conformed to the image of Christ while simultaneously, and knowingly, holding beliefs in opposition to the word of God. To knowingly oppose Scripture is rebellion. To oppose the word of God is akin to opposing God himself. It is to basically call God a liar.
This is where I call the behavior, “Crafting Your Jesus.” Rather than accepting Jesus for who He is, and for who Scripture says He is, and the word of God which He has given to us, the “Jesus” of one’s mind is something other than the original. A Jesus altered or manufactured is not the original Jesus at all. When we alter God as such, that becomes a lower “g” god, or an idol. When we worship something other than God, that is the God according to Scripture, the practice is idolatry.
We must seek truth if we are to have an intimate relationship with God. That is why it is so important for us to determine what we will consider to be the baseline for truth in our life. The basis for truth I used to have was the doctrine and tradition of the religion in which I was raised. When I received salvation, I began to compare what I had been taught to what is written in Scripture. After seeing a number of discrepancies, I determined in my heart that the Scripture was the baseline of truth for my life from then on.
When encountering the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus told her:
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those
who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:23-24 ESV
We are to have a spiritual relationship with God, and we are to do so in truth. See episode 41, Pursuing God.
What is the definition of God?
God: the supreme or ultimate reality: such as
a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped (as in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) as creator and ruler of the universe
god: to treat as a god : idolize, deify
God is the supreme reality on which all else depends. As we see in this excerpt from episode 14, A Matter of Position:
Almighty God is the ruler over the realm of mankind. There are many lessons here, but for our current study we are looking at the Most High. There are not many gods, but one God.
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord].
Deuteronomy 6:4 AMPC
For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5 AMPC
God is above all. By definition, according to Merriam-Webster, God is the supreme or ultimate reality. If there were to be equal or superior, God would no longer be supreme or ultimate, and therefore, not actually God. Thus, Almighty God would not be the Most High. Our faith, however, does assert there is one God, the Most High, and so we do not acknowledge other gods.
As we refer back to previous episodes, we can see how all these thoughts and things in the Christian life are intertwined. This is why we are to consider the whole counsel of Scripture, not individual verses alone.
Seeing that God is sovereign and above all, as well as there being only one God, who are we to define Him, and who He should be, and how He should act? We ought to work to discover who God is in truth and change our misconceptions to come into agreement with that truth. If we refuse to do so, we continue in the deception of the world and of the father of lies, the devil.
The first of the ten commandments can be a promise of truth that brings confidence to our faith.
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Deuteronomy 5:6-7 ESV
While there is a command here to have no other gods, small “g” gods, this is also an assurance that our personal relationship is with the supreme, sovereign Creator, capital “G” God. The omnipresent, or ever present, the omniscient, or all knowing, the omnipotent, or all powerful, God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, desires to have a personal relationship with us, His creation. That is amazing and we have no need to go elsewhere to serve other gods. There is none higher than Almighty God, and we have access to personal contact with Him.
God created man and woman in His image. We learn this in the creation account in Genesis 1.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the
earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26-27 ESV
There are a number of lessons here, but the one we are interested in is that mankind was created in God’s image. That being the case, we cannot manufacture a god that is in the image we desire to have as god. Creating a god in the image we desire breaks a number of commandments. First there is the commandment we just looked at which told us, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The second commandment, in my opinion, is also broken in this case; idolatry.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow
down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing
steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Deuteronomy 5:8-10 ESV
Though one may not have a carved idol of the image of god created in one’s mind, is it really far off? That image is bowed down to in one’s heart and is served through one’s actions. The point is that an untrue image of a god is placed before the true image of God Almighty. If one thinks there is no other god served, but simply a rejection of the true God, then the rebellion, which is a form of hatred for God, is warned against in the second commandment.
The deception of this world is that one can be free from serving anyone, however, apart from Christ, all are slaves to sin. Jesus told a group of Jews who their father was.
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies,
he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 8:44 ESV
The question is, who do we believe? The God of truth and love, or the devil who lies and hates? It is one or the other, and as much as we would like to believe we can be independent of it all, we are slaves to sin or free in Christ.
Earlier in that same chapter of the Gospel According to John, Jesus told the people, who claimed to have never been enslaved, that they were slaves to sin or set free by the Son.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36 ESV
In the sixth chapter of the book of Romans, Paul talks about death in sin and life in God. He asserts that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. The result of each, he writes, is quite different.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 ESV
A few verses earlier he warns that we are obedient slaves to something or someone.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to
righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set
free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:16-18 ESV
The choices we make concerning our life, our behavior, and our eternity, are all a reflection of the image of God we hold to. The image we create is false and leads to idolatry, rejection of God, and death. The true image of God, when we trust in Him and accept the truth of God, leads to righteousness and eternal life.
I do believe we have free will which is a gift from God born out of His love for us. Rather than force us to obey and serve Him as if we were puppets, He gives us the choice as to whether we will love Him and enjoy the rewards of that relationship, or if we will reject Him and reap the fruit of our sinfulness.
I also believe the free will He gives us is limited to a couple of things. The first thing is what I just described. We are free to choose whether or not we will follow Christ and receive eternal life. The second thing is for those who do follow Christ which is the freedom to choose whether or not we will be obedient in love. Those who reject Christ remain subjected to sin and the penalties that come from serving oneself and sin. (More on this in episode 24, Obedience in Love; episode 45, Renewing the Mind; episode 48, Sin No More.)
How does one know the true image of God? Primarily through the Word of God, Scripture. God tells us who He is and what He wants to be for us. In episode 30, Who God Says He Is, we look at the verses that have the various names of God. I believe the name of God is Jehovah or Yahweh. Both of these names mean “I AM”, “The Self-Existent One”, which basically describes God as the supreme or ultimate reality, as we looked at earlier as the definition of God. He is the creator of all things seen and unseen. All the other “names” describe the attributes of God and their relationship to us, His creation, created in His image.
In episode 16, Identity in Christ, Who God Says I Am, we look at the verses that describe what God says about those who love Him, His children. The combination of the verses in these two episodes paints the picture of who God is, who we are in Christ, and the relationship between the two. Learning these things from Scripture paints the true image of God upon our heart. This leaves only the third leg of faith to be dealt with, which is, trusting God to perform all that He said.
Remember what I refer to as a working definition of faith. To have faith and to operate in faith, I need to be able to answer yes to these three questions.
- Do I believe that God is who He says He is?
- Do I believe that I am who God says I am?
- Do I believe that God will do what He says He will do?
If I can answer yes to each of these three questions, I can mature in a loving relationship with God, with both God and myself in the image He states to be the truth; the true image of God and self. If I cannot answer yes to any of these questions, I am subject to continuing on with a false image of God and self.
That false image is how we craft God, and Jesus, the Son, in the image of our own imagination. There are reasons for this, the main reason being we have not humbled ourselves before God and have not received forgiveness for sin and deliverance from our slavery to sin. It may be due to a case of deception and believing the lie. It may be due to a lack of information or of hearing the good news of the gospel of salvation. Whatever the case may be, it can be overcome by those who are seeking truth and are willing to remove the error in preconceived ideas, replacing them with the truth of Scripture.
This may be more difficult in some cases than in others. We all have baggage that we bring into relationships, and the relationship with God is no different. Many factors in our upbringing can negatively affect our view of parents, of authority, of love, or any number of things. These things can only be overcome by humility and reception of the truths of Scripture. This is the only way to be set free from the bondages and strongholds that have been established in our sinful life. (episode 25, A Relationship With God; episode 31, Tearing Down Strongholds) Disciples of Christ are set free from the bondage of sin, and the law of sin and death.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 ESV
Paul reiterates this in his epistle, Romans.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 ESV
The image of God, whether Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, must progressively be transformed to come into alignment with Scripture. Scripture is not bent to our beliefs. God is not conformed to the image we hold onto in our mind. We, being born again, are to reject the falsehoods we have believed, and replace them with the truths of Scripture. We need to unlearn some things that we may learn and accept truth.
If there is something in our heart that causes us to say, “I could never have a God who would …” – fill in the blank, it is incumbent upon us to search out the truth on the matter, to humble ourselves, and believe the truth.
- Believe that I am who God says I am.
- Believe that God is who He says He is.
- Believe that God will do what He says He will do.
There is a great reward of peace and salvation, eternal life, for those who believe. Jesus tells of this in His own words.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved
John 3:15-17 ESV
This is a matter of a loving relationship and deliverance from sin and death unto eternal life. It is available to all who will believe. The important aspect here is to believe the truth and to reject the lies and deception in the world today. Craft your Jesus in the truth of Scripture, not in the vain imaginations and falsehoods of man and the devil.