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Conformed to the Image of His Son

Conformed to the Image of His Son

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Published by: Rev. J. Patrick Bowman on Oct 24, 2012
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Conformed to the Image of His Son
By Rev. J. Patrick BowmanI want to take us on a journey through several scripture references and two mainconcepts in the Bible as we become better acquainted with God’s eternal purpose forus. I will then use an example of renaissance art to illustrate what I believe we canlearn from our study of the Word. Let’s begin in Romans 8:28-29.And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, tothem who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow,he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that hemight be the firstborn among many brethren.(Rom 8:28-29 KJV)Paul makes a sweeping statement by saying that all things work together for good tothem that love God and are the called according to his purpose. He does not leave usan out to decide for ourselves which events, circumstances, trials, testings, attacks,etc., will work together for good. When he said all, he meant all. Notice he doesn’t sayall things are good, but that all things work together for good. Many people quit reading after verse 28 and therefore fail to see what purpose Paul istalking about. God’s purpose for us is simple: that we are conformed into the image of His son. And if we are called to this state of conformity by virtue of our relationshipwith Him and His loving claim on us, He will use the whole of our lives; the good, thebad, and the ugly, to work for our good in this conforming process. In Hisforeknowledge He saw the whole picture. He saw the who, what, where, why, andhow of each of us and even after that, He stuck to His plan for us. He knew when wewould cooperate with Him and He knew when we would allow our selfish natures torise up in defiance to Him. But the plan was good from the foundations of the worldand will be good for all eternity. We now move on to Romans 12:1-2.I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present yourbodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonableservice. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by therenewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,and perfect, will of God.(Rom 12:1-2 KJV)Paul now urges us to do something no Old Testament sacrifice could do. He asks thatwe willingly present ourselves as a holy sacrifice to God. The animals sacrificed underthe old covenant had no choice in the matter. They were killed without negotiation.But Jesus, God’s own Son, had a choice and made the choice to die on the cross forus. He negotiated with His own will in the Garden of Gethsemane and chose the will of the Father above His own, becoming the ultimate living, holy sacrifice. Paul tells usthis is a reasonable service of worship unto God. He pleads with us to do the same.
It’s reasonable because without the cross and death, there is no resurrection power. Jesus could not bypass the cross and neither can we.God asks us, through Paul, to offer our flesh in a different way. He asks us to rejectthe ways of the world; to stop being fashioned, or do not have the habit of beingfashioned, as the world would press us to be. We have two ways of conformity toconsider. One is to be conformed or fashioned into the image and likeness of His sonand the other is to let the world mold us into its sinful likeness. The cross we bear isto cooperate in the process of conformity. It is a crucifixion of our flesh nature. And ithurts. Our nature is strong and defiant in us. Our mind, will, and emotions must bechanneled, or fashioned to accept God’s eternal plan for us. This is a daily process of letting go of our own way and submitting to God’s rightful rule in our lives.Paul tells us that transformation by the renewing of our minds is the door by which weenter into agreement with God concerning our conformation, that proving out thatGod’s plan actually is good, acceptable, and perfect! The renewing of our minds isessential because repentance is a change of mind that brings a change of heart andactions. It is a paradigm shift that, when it has its full work in us, propels us tocooperate with God. Repentance brings positive action.The other uses of transformation in the New Testament are found in 2 Corinthians11:12-15. These are references to Satan himself being transformed to appear as anangel of light and apostles of darkness, Satan’s ministers, appearing as apostles of Christ. The transforming here is of one fashioning themselves, by their own efforts of disguise, to appear as something they are not. It relates to outward fashioning asopposed to inward change.We have probably all seen, at one time or another, an image of “David”, the iconicsculpture by Michelangelo. Several weeks ago God put that image in my mind andasked me to consider the statue itself and the process it took to produce themasterpiece. It may surprise you to know that Michelangelo was not the first artisanto work with that mammoth chunk of marble. The original commission was given to aFlorentine sculptor Agostino di Duccio in 1464 but his worked stopped two years laterwhen Agostino’s mentor, Donatello, died. By this time Agostino had roughly begun onthe legs and torso portion of the statue. Ten years later Antonio Rossellino wascommissioned to take up where Agostino had left off. His contract was veryshortlived, being terminated shortly after being awarded. The piece then sat exposedto the elements for twenty-five years in the yard of the workshop of the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore in Florence, where it was to have been displayed. In 1500 aworkshop inventory denoted "a certain figure of marble called David, badly blockedout and supine." Because of the vast procurement cost of the marble as well as theintense labor that had been needed to transport it from Carrara, it was then decidedto find an artist to finish the sculpture. Michelangelo was just 26 years old when hebegan to sculpt his statue of David, in 1501, and worked on the project four years.
As I was faithful in my research I came upon the following words by Michelangelo thathelped frame my thinking on our subject of conforming to the image of His son.
"Inevery block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shapedand perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."
What apicture of God’s intent for us to be fashioned in the likeness and image of Christ. Godsees what we can become:
shaped and perfect in attitude and action. That is, ourminds renewed and our actions following suit. Before we are revealed as Hismasterpiece, which is what all creation is groaning for, He uses all things for thegood, hewing away at the rough walls that imprison our loveliness. Were thereregrets on Michelangelo’s part over what he had to chip off to create the finishedimage he envisioned? I doubt it. The rough prison walls we’ve built up around us mustbe razed to expose God’s glory within us. I’m almost sure he reasoned, as Paul did,that the glory of the creation is worth the loss.For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to becompared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnestexpectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.(Rom 8:18-19 KJV) Just as Michelangelo was not the first to work that piece of marble, God is often notthe first influence that tries to shape us. The world, the flesh, and the devil are morethan willing to try and create a graven image from us. When we are conformed to theworld system which sympathizes with our flesh and allows the enemy access to us,the end product will be far from God’s image of what He would have us be. Thus John’s warning in 1 John 2:15-17.Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love theworld, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, butis of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he thatdoeth the will of God abideth for ever.(1Jn 2:15-17 KJV)It is estimated that the ankles on “David” are supporting near six tons of weight. Canyou imagine how much that piece of marble weighed before the hewing began? Thereis far more that was chipped away than that which remains. Our prison walls arethick! Paul tells us in Philippians to forget about what we’ve lost in the process andmove forward to receive that prize of the high calling of conforming to His image.That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I mightattain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained,either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that forwhich also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself tohave apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which arebehind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towardthe mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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