A PERFECT INNER IMAGE

When God created man, He created a perfect triune man. Man had a perfect spirit and a perfect soul (the seat of the intellect and the emotions), which dwelt in a perfect body. It was the plan of God that man's perfect spirit, created in the image of God, would be the reigning force in man.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed the word of God, sin entered this perfect man and woman and marred their perfect spirits, minds and bodies. As a result of sin, three things happened to mankind.

Mankind now had:

1. A spirit that was no longer alive unto God. The mantle of authority which was theirs under God was no longer theirs, they had given it to a new Master.

2. A mind (soul) that was filled with a sense of shame and unworthiness, a mind that no longer understood the nature of God. A mind that was filled with fear of God instead of love of God.

3. A body that was subject to disease and death.

Ever since the Garden of Eden, humanity has been arguing about how the happy state of affairs that existed prior to the fall of man could be restored. Sin had dethroned the perfect spirit that was made in the image of God and the war began. Would man's spirit, without the image of God, rule or would the mind or the body rule. During various times in history, mankind has placed emphasis on first one and then the other. Occasionally there have even been those who have said that it is all three. They have reasoned that we should have a balanced whole man, a triune rulership.

In the past fifty years we can trace the various attempts to regain Eden in America. I recall, when the GI's came home after World War II, the push was to get things. Everybody wanted a house, cars, and membership at the country club. If we could just get all these things, then we would be happy. So education became the way to happiness. Go to college and get a lot of letters after your name, then you could make a lot of money and have things and be happy. It was during this period that everyone seemed to live in the same kind of houses and wear the same kind of clothes. Every house had to have silver tea pots and china. No one desired to be different from anyone else.

Books were written and movies were made depicting the men in the gray flannel suits. They carried brief cases, and rode the trains to work, while the wives with two point three children each remained in the suburbs in their identical houses. But even though many people had much education and many things, not many of them were happy. Divorce and Alcoholism rose to a new high. They had built their lives on the wrong foundation.

The two point three children per family grew into their teens. Since it is very hard to fool children, they knew that something had gone wrong. It was evident to them that their parents were not really happy. Taking a long look at their parents lives, the children decided that education was not the answer. So they became school dropouts, rejected the materialism of their parents and decided to be spiritual. Hundreds of young people sat on hillsides waving flowers and chanting. We called them the flower children. Seeking happiness, the flower children entered into a false euphoria, smoke a joint of marijuana or pop a pill and life could be endured. But they were not happy either. They were building on the wrong foundation. Meanwhile their parents were back home thinking, if only their children had gone to college, then everything would have been all right.  

In the midst of this there were some who realized that man was triune. They decided to go to church, go to school and take care of their bodies. Many families went to church on Sunday, but not many of them made Jesus the Lord of their lives. They gave God little, if any thought during the rest of the week. They didn't understand that it took more than just going to church to gain a recreated spirit. As a result, they were reasonably healthy, well educated, nice people, who were not unhappy, but were not happy either.  There seemed to be something missing. It all seemed so empty and hollow even though they looked so successful. They wondered, "Why is it that we feel so unworthy when we have accomplished so much?"

Perhaps you have been in a situation where it all seemed to be wrong even when you thought you had done everything right. I imagine those folks felt that way. The problem was, they had built  their lives on the wrong foundation.

Lately there has been this beautiful body theme. Everyone thinks, if we can get healthy and beautiful our problems will be solved. Everybody has special kinds of shoes. Running shoes, aerobic shoes, basketball shoes, bowling shoes, golf shoes, deck shoes. We used to call them tennis shoes and use them for everything except church. But now that exercise has become a God in our land, there is a shoe for every activity.

Temples to the body beautiful have sprung up in every little town across the land. We call them gyms and many are spending half of their waking hours at a temple of the body beautiful.

Advertisers have jumped on the bandwagon and they are telling us that the way to happiness and success is to use their product and you will be healthy, wealthy and have a gorgeous body.

No harm in having money and a healthy body, in fact I recommend it, but it does not guarantee happiness. To seek happiness on the foundation of wealth and a healthy, beautiful body, is building on a wrong foundation.

Psychologists have discovered in recent years that having an education and a beautiful body, that is surrounded by beautiful things, does not satisfy people. People who appear to have it "all" still feel unworthy, and unfulfilled.

Studies have led psychologists to believe that the problem stems from waiting to late in life to build self esteem. so now in grade schools, children are being led in verbal exercises of, "I'm somebody, I'm good." This is positive confession, it is good and it works. Did you know, when there is a copy of something in this world, that means there is the real thing in the spiritual world. Positive confession originated with God, not the world system. This effort at building a good self image into the children is good, but it has a major flaw. It does not have a good foundation. Houses that are built on poor foundations have structural weakness and when the storms come, the building collapses.

The sure foundation for a life that will stand, is not found in school, or in a gym, or in things. Though none of these things are bad, they are not a sure foundation for a life that will stand. A foundation that will endure is found in God's plan for changing the inner image of man.

God's plan begins with the new birth of our spirits, when our spirits become alive again unto God, but it does not stop there. God's program is one of continuing education, and that is where God's people get into trouble. Hosea records the Lord as saying, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge."   Isaiah received a similar message, "My people are led into captivity by a lack of knowledge." Poor teaching or no teaching at all will stunt the growth of a new born, God like inner image.

The plan of God for continuing education is called, renewing your mind. Romans 12:2 says, "don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." When we accept Jesus as our savior, our spirits are reborn, but our minds are not. Our minds must be retrained to think the way God thinks, instead of the way the world thinks.

For many years before becoming a Christian, we are taught by the world system that there is nothing sure but death and taxes. We are told we must accept that some are luckier than others. We are programmed for problems, instructed that into each life some rain must fall. Winners are exalted as heroes, because there are so few of them.

Then after we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord,  "dead theology" comes along and tells us it will all be better by and by. Religion, NOT THE BIBLE, tells us that the best we can hope for is a win now and then. For we are, after all, just marching through this veil of sorrow, barely hanging on, praying to make it through till the end.

Father, forgive them for such blindness.

When the church does not fulfill it's mission, which is to teach people to see themselves as God sees them, then, we, the people, get into lots of trouble. In the past, Satan has enlisted the aid of the world and often the church to convince the people of God that we can't win in this world. But now, he has been found out. At long last, many churches are teaching that we must have a renewed mind, as well as a recreated, new born spirit.

To renew our minds, we must bring our thoughts in line with the Word of God, so they will agree with our renewed spirit. As a result of renewing our minds, our inner image changes from loser to winner. It is a well known fact that whatever is on the inside will eventually make it's way to the outside. When you KNOW you are a winner, you will behave like a winner.

We have viewed the problem and man's solution to the problem. Now, lets look at God's solution and His method for changing the inner image of man from loser to winner.

When Abram was ninety nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." Abram fell face down, and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you." Genesis 17:1-6 NIV

Let me give you a little background to this portion of scripture. In Genesis chapter twelve, we have the record of God speaking to a man named Abram. He said, "I want you to leave this place and I am going to make you the father of a great nation." Abram is seventy five and is married to a lady named Sari who is sixty five. Abram, whose name means high father, and Sari whose name means princess, do not have children.

In the thirteenth chapter of Genesis, God said to Abram, "look at the dust of the earth. Abram, your seed will be like the dust, so many that they won't be countable."

In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, God brought Abram outside of his tent at night and said, "Abram look at the stars. If you could count them your descendants will be as many as the stars."

Try to imagine how difficult that might have been for Abram to believe. Both he and his wife, were getting along in years and still there were no children. Perhaps, once in awhile he thought, I must have dreamed that God spoke to me.

And yet, each time he kicked up the dust he must have remembered that God had said, "So shall your descendants be." Each time he stepped out of the tent at night and looked at the beauty of the heavens, he, no doubt, recalled with wonder. God says that, "I shall have as many descendants as there are stars."

He probably talked to Sari about it. Sari, do you know what God told me: God said, that I'm going to have as many descendants as the stars. Sari may have thought he was getting a bit strange as he grew older. Still, each night as the stars came out, the words of God must have come once again into their thoughts. God said, as many descendants as the stars. WOW!

Now in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis it is twenty four years since God first began speaking to Abram. For twenty four years Abram and Sari have been looking at the dust and the stars and thinking about what God had   said, and still, Abram and Sari do not have children.

There was Ishmael, the son who was born of Hagar, Sari's handmaid, after Sari and Abram had decided that God needed their help. But God said, "No Abram, the child will come from Sari." Genesis 17:16.

For twenty four years God planted faith seed in Abram's heart. Then, when Abram was ninety nine, God changed Abram's name from Abram to Abraham. Back in those days everyone was aware of the meaning of names. Names were very important. When God changed Abram's name from exalted father, or boss in our current language, to father of many nations, He also changed Sari's to mean mother of many nations and told them that by the same time next year, they would have the son of promise.

The thing that I want to point out here is that Abraham had to go out the next morning to talk with his employees and when they called him Abram, he had to say to them. "My name is now Abraham."

Can you picture this ninety nine year old man with his eighty nine year old wife going out before his three hundred eighteen servants and saying, "I have an announcement to make. Our names have been changed to mean that we are the father and mother of many nations." Here he was, with one son who was not counted as an heir. I can imagine the employees gathered there trying to keep the smiles off of their faces, nudging one another and thinking, the old man has really flipped.

Not an easy thing to do, but Abraham did it. Now he and Sarah not only have the dust and the stars to think about, they also have people calling them father and mother of a multitude.

Each time they called each other, in their minds they heard, "father of many nations" or "mother of many nations." Notice that it was not true at the time it was being said. They still did not have a child, much less many nations as descendants.

Do you see what God did to change the inner image of Abraham and Sarah from loser to winner? He had them meditating on being a winner each time they looked at the dust and the stars. He had them speaking the end result by calling each other father and mother of many nations. Each time they heard this new name, it was being fed into their spirits until one day Abraham could probably say with ease, my name is ABRAHAM and this is my wife SARAH.

I doubt that he started out that way. He probably had to hem and haw quite a bit, at first. "There's something I must tell you, I don't quite know how to begin" standing on first one foot and then the other and mumbling, because it did not seem real to him.

God built a new inner image in Abraham and Sarah by letting them think on what He was going to do and by letting them speak and hear what He was going to do.

There is another example of God's method of changing the inner image from loser to winner.

In the sixth chapter of the book of Judges, Israel had gone away from God. Because they had gone away from God, they had removed themselves from under the umbrella of His protection. As a result they were in a lot of trouble. A multitude of Midianites were rulers over them. The Midianites made frequent forays into Israel where they put into effect a scorched earth policy. Israel would plant crops and raise animals for food, but just as they were ready to harvest, the Midianites would come swarming in and would either take or destroy it.

At this particular time in Israel, the wheat was almost ready to harvest. Not all of a harvest comes in at once, some of the grain ripens prior to the main crop. This is called the time of the first fruits.

Gideon had gone out and gathered some of the early wheat and was threshing it behind a wine press because he was frightened that he would be seen, and the grain taken away from him.  It was while he threshed, in fear of being seen, that the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor." Amplified Bible says, "You mighty man of fearless courage."

Imagine Gideon's reaction. Gideon might have said, "Who? Me? Are you sure you are talking to the right Gideon?"

God was doing again what He has always done, He was calling those things that be not as though they already were. Romans 4:17, He was building an inner image of winner in Gideon.

Good News!!!! The Father sees us as mighty men or women of valor. We may think we are chickens instead of hawks. We may think we are not brave at all, but God see us through the blood of Jesus. He sees us as doing mighty feats of valor. He sees us as victorious and calls us victorious in His Word.

After God finished building the inner image of winner in Gideon by calling those things which be not as though they already were, we read of Gideon and three hundred untrained men who were victorious over an army of one hundred twenty thousand. Gideon, the loser, had his inner image changed and became Gideon, the winner.

John 1:41-42 records the story of Simon, another man who had an inner image problem.

Andrew went to find his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Again we have great emphasis put on what a name means. The name Simon means weak, a reed, one who is blown about with every circumstance. Waves back and forth, never settled and solid.

Someone once described a lady to me as being anybody's dog, which meant that she agreed with anyone who patted her. Simon must have been like that. No settled opinions of his own. Whoever he was speaking with, he agreed with that one. Weak and blown about, a reed, that is what Simon was.

But God spoke to him through His Son Jesus and said, "you are not going to be Simon anymore, you are going to be Cephas, Peter, the rock, one who is strong and immovable." God had always seen Simon as being strong, like a solid rock. But Simon had never thought of himself as being like a solid rock.

Everyone really knows what they are like. We don't need to go around telling people that they are bad, they already know it. The accuser has been telling them 49 times a day that they are no good, hopeless, losers. God never calls people losers, because He doesn't see us that way.

Simon's mind was reprogrammed by God. Whenever he was out fishing and looked to the shore and saw the rocks, he must have thought, "rock, rock, Jesus said, that I'm a rock."  Praise the Lord, Jesus said, "I'm a rock." A new image began to grow and develop in Peter.

Then one day, he saw the risen Lord, and Simon Peter's spirit was reborn in the image of God. At that point, he must have realized who he was. I can hear him saying, "this is what Jesus meant, I'm strong in the power of His might."

God began to give Simon a new inner image by changing his name. Every time someone yelled, hey Pete, He probably thought, rock, solid, strong, immovable. By the hearing and the seeing, his mind was being renewed, until at last his inner image agreed with the view God had always had of Peter.

Do you know what happened to Simon Peter? That previously weak, blown about by ever circumstance man, came down out of the upper room and preached a sermon that caused three thousand people to receive Christ as Messiah. God wasn't surprised. He always knew that Peter was a rock. It was Peter that didn't know.

Some years ago in Hollywood, there was a young starlet who had a soft, sexy voice and a well rounded body.  Pleasant to look at, but not  a spectacular girl.  The Hollywood Movie Studios decided to make her a star. They put her in skin tight clothes, changed her make-up and the color of her hair. Her picture was on every billboard and many magazines. They changed her outer image and made her name familiar in every household.

According to the standards of the world system, she was a real winner. Swathed in furs, dripping with jewels, living in a mansion and riding in a limousine. Her name was in lights and her outside looked very good. Everyone thought she was a real winner. Then, one day, Marilyn Monroe killed herself. The problem was, she didn't have a sense of self worth. Her life was built on the wrong foundation.

Being a winner must come from the inside and work it's self out. You can't just put on an attitude of winner and have a lasting victory.

By contrast, there was a man in the nineteenth century who was raised by a godly mother and was taught of God. This man had an inner image of winner, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In 1831 he failed in business.

In 1832 he was defeated for the legislature.

In 1833 he failed in business for a second time.

In 1836 he had a nervous breakdown, Satan almost got him then.

In 1838 he was defeated for speaker of the House of Representatives.

In 1840 he was defeated for elector.

In 1843 he was defeated for congress.

In 1848 he was defeated for congress a second time.

In 1855 he was defeated for the Senate.

In 1856 he was defeated for the vice-presidency.

In 1858 he was defeated for the Senate a second time.

Twenty seven years of public failure. Few of us would have continued, but he knew that he was a winner on the inside. He kept chipping away at the mountain until his inner image made it through to the outside.

Then 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States of America. He was a vessel of God, with a life that was built on the right foundation.

For nearly two thousand years God has been calling His Church glorious. The Church often hasn't looked very glorious, but it will be. It will happen when each one of us, who are called by His name, finally realize that God sees us as winners. God has always seen us with a recreated spirit, a renewed mind and a healthy body. Restored to the pre fall life.

We can be winners because God has given us the method whereby we may change our inner image from loser to winner. He wants us to meditate and speak what He says about us in His Word.

In His Word He says we are:
Redeemed from the curse of the law, the righteousness of God in Christ, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, justified, a new creation, overcomers, and more than conquerors.  We are His workmanship, complete in Him and seated in heavenly places with Him. We are not junk and we need to see ourselves like the Father sees us.

He says we are His Ambassadors, an Ambassador is an empowered representative of the country where his or her citizenship is located.

I once heard someone tell about visiting the American embassy in a poor third world country. The Embassy was a lovely place. In the courtyard; outside, everything was painted white and beautiful flowers were growing. Inside there was fine furniture and fine food. The best of everything. Even though there was abject poverty right outside the Embassy grounds, the American Ambassador lived in the same manner as the country he represented. If we have been born from above, by accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord, then our citizenship is in heaven and we are God's ambassadors on the earth. That being the case, we should be living in the same manner of our home country.

Our home country of heaven has no sin, no sickness and no poverty.  In His Word, God says we are blessed and free, present tense, and if we are, THEN WE AM, and we ought to be living like it. We need to tell ourselves that. We need to meditate and speak, that we are made in the image of God, created to be winners.

Do you know how you learn your name? You take a little baby and you say, this baby is named Susie. Then every time someone looks at Susie, that is what they call her. They say, "Susie you are a sweetie, Susie come here. Susie eat this, Susie don't eat that. Susie do this, Susie don't do that," and pretty soon Susie knows that her name is Susie. Then when someone says, "Susie" she says, "That's me." She knows it.

Let's just suppose that God had laid it on your mother's heart to name you winner. Suppose that all your life you had heard, winner come here, winner do this, winner don't do that. You would know that you are a winner. If someone came in the room and asked if there were any winners in the room, your hand would shoot up without even thinking about it. You would never doubt that you were a winner because it would be ingrained in your inner image. You would say it easily. I am a winner.

A God like inner image is built in us by meditating, speaking and hearing what God calls us in His Word, then acting on it.

Elephants are trained when they are small, by chaining them to a huge stake. As young elephants, they try to get away. They struggle against the stake, and it hurts them. Gradually, because of the pain involved they quit struggling. The stake, over a period of time, has become their master. As they grow older and bigger, the trainer gradually exchanges the stake for a smaller one, until at the grown up stage of an elephant's life, they are anchored by a chain and a small stake. These elephants are very powerful animals and could easily uproot that small stake, but they don't. That tiny stake is their master because in their minds it is still large and able to hold and hurt them.  In reality, there are new circumstances. The stake is no longer able to hold them, but the elephant's mind does not comprehend this. The elephant is still in bondage because his mind tells him that he is in bondage.

That same sort of thing has happen to us. The enemy of God, Satan, used to hold us with a big stake, but Jesus pulled it up and tossed it away, into the depths of the sea, never to be remembered again. We the people of God are set free from the bondage of that stake.

Retrain your mind with the Word of God, meditate on it. Speak the Word of God, keep it in your mouth, always. Do the Word of God, act upon it.

Acts 20:32  And now, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.