and the exact image of his essence…
So, understanding the theology of this passage in terms of the divine nature of Christ, what does that mean for us as humans apart from the theology of salvation? We are told in scripture that as human beings we too are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Yet in the fall of Adam and Eve, while the image of God within us was not lost, it was severely twisted and warped by sin. Living as sinful men and women, that sin nature distorts the image of God, making it difficult to see or understand and impossible to experience. Yet, Christ is the exact image of God (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15), and Christ, in all his being and glorious work, did so without sin (Hebrews 4:15). In other words, if we want to look at a picture of what our lives ought to look like were we not marred by sin, Christ provides that picture!
Thus, that is why, when we talk of our sanctification, we often use the language of being made more like Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 5:1). Or, perhaps to put it in another way, as we grow in grace, our lives should more and more reflect Christ and less and less reflect our old, sinful man. People should be able to look at your life and at mine, as believers in Jesus Christ, and see Christ reflected in us.
So how do we engender that in our lives? Certainly the process of our sanctification is a process driven and empowered by the Holy Spirit, but there are also many passages in scripture that exhort us to labor alongside of the Spirit as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:10). In other words, the way in which we order our lives either resists or compliments the sanctifying work of the Spirit. So how do we being the process of what Peter refers to as “supporting” or “reinforcing” our faith (2 Peter 1:5-7)? To begin with, we need to go back to the Ten Commandments, the Moral Law of God, and seek to apply that to our lives. Why is this the place to begin? First of all, Peter says as much in 2 Peter 1:5, for the very first attribute that is to be added to faith is that of ajreth/ (arete), or “moral excellence.” Where else would we find God’s standard of moral excellence other than in God’s moral law? In addition, the moral law itself is a reflection of God’s perfect and holy character, thus, if we are being remade into the image of Christ who is the perfect image of God, then ought not we strive to instill within our lives the moral excellences as taught by God and demonstrated by his very character?
Loved ones, how important it is to apply God’s law to our lives and seek to live it out. Indeed, we cannot do so in our own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit, these character traits may be worked out in our lives. Through the process of sanctification we are being made ready for glory—we won’t ever be fully glorified here in this world, but as we grow in faith, we should be more and more reflecting Christ and less and less reflecting our old, fleshly, sinful selves. How deep and wide is the chasm that Christ bridged between sinful men and God himself, let us walk along that bridge, not resisting the movement of the Holy Spirit, but participating with it, so that our lives reflect the reality of the Spirit’s work in us and on us in every way. Look to your lives, beloved, and apply God’s perfect law so that you may reflect Christ to a sinful world—Christ who is the exact image of His essence.