In Genesis 1:26, 27, we are told that God originally created mankind in His image. Adam and Eve were pure and holy, without a sin nature. The serpent was placed in the garden by God to test them, whether they would obey the only Law they were given. Without the serpent to test them, they simply would not have ever eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Eve listened to the serpent and ate, then gave to Adam who was right there, and he ate, too. Their willful sin resulted in the development of a sin nature within them – a tendency to sin. This manifested immediately in their need to cover their nakedness, and passing the blame when God confronted them. This created a separation between them and God, and they lost the holiness aspect of the image of God, and took on the image of Sin, instead.
Since that time, all mankind has been sold under sin. We are all born with a sin nature, which manifests from a very early age.
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came and paid the penalty for our sin, and crucified that sin nature in His body when He was hung on the cross. The price He paid opened the way for every person to be able to approach God through Him. Upon true salvation, we are born again of the Spirit, and become a new creation. Among other things, we become partakers of the Divine Nature, our spirit taking on the very nature of God. What Adam and Eve lost in the Garden, we begin to gain back.
As believers, we need to learn to recognize the Divine Nature in us, and to develop that nature. But that sin nature is not going down without a fight. Just as the serpent deceived Eve into believing she was not already like God – was lacking – so our sin nature will keep us in defeat through temptation, if we let it. It will keep us from seeing that Christ is in us, and that we can grow in spiritual maturity to continue becoming more and more like Him.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us what we call the Be-attitudes, in Matthew 5:2-12. These attributes are what we must develop to grow in spiritual maturity. They are called the BE attitudes because the goal is not to act like them, but for them to become our very nature. The rest of this Sermon are real life applications of the Beattitudes, examples of opportunities we can look for to develop our spirit and put to death our old sin nature.
Now, the Beattitudes are often counter-intuitive; they are typically the opposite of the attitudes the world values. Just consider the stuff the entertainment industry puts out. They often ridicule meekness, making it look weak. They present revenge instead of mercy or being a peacemaker. They glorify sin rather than true righteousness. And, sadly, we Christians all to often eat it up with the rest of the world.
The Lord willing, in the coming lessons we will look at the Beattitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and learn some of the ways we can develop God’s image in us.