MAN BEING A PICTURE OF WHAT GOD IS
Genesis 1:26 clearly tells us that God created man in His image. Here, the word image refers to what God is. That God created man in His image means that He created man according to what He is. He is love, light, holiness, and righteousness. Therefore, the man that He created had the image of love, light, holiness, and righteousness.
Upon hearing these words and after examining yourself, you may say, “I do not have love. I strike and scold people; how can I love? Furthermore, I am not in the light; rather, I have done many things in darkness. Moreover, I am not holy; rather, I am impure, my heart is unclean, and my whole being is filthy. And I am not righteous; my conduct is improper, and I like to take advantage of others.” Your assessment of yourself is correct in that your conduct is altogether the conduct of a fallen man. However, in the silence of the night, when you examine yourself, you will sense that in the innermost part of your being there are love, light, holiness, and righteousness. You hate to be corrupt; rather, you like to be pure, holy, and noble. You do not like to do evil, to cheat, or to act craftily; rather, you desire your conduct to be upright and full of righteousness. This is reflected in the theory of “men being born naturally good.” According to man’s created nature, this is correct. Indeed, within man there is the God-created goodness.
God created man in His image. Just as God is love, so there is also love in man. Therefore, man does not like to strike or scold people. Just as God is light, so there is also light in man. Therefore, man does not like to do the things of darkness. Just as God is holiness, so there is also holiness in man. Therefore, man does not delight in being corrupt. Just as God is righteousness, so there is also righteousness in man. Therefore, man likes to be just and fair. The love, light, holiness, and righteousness in man are all created according to what God is. Therefore, human virtues are a picture of God’s image. However, although a picture shows the appearance of the object, it is not the real object itself. In the beginning, man was created perfect, having the image of love and light but without the reality. Man was only an empty shell. God had not yet entered into him to be his content and reality.
THE EXPOSING LAW AS A PORTRAIT OF WHAT GOD IS
God’s original purpose in creating man was for man to contain and express Him. But before man took God in, he was tempted by Satan and became fallen. Because of man’s fall, God gave the law to expose man’s true condition. The law was enacted according to what God is. Hence, the law is a portrait of what God is. If you carefully study the Ten Commandments, you will realize that the essence of the commandments is love, light, holiness, and righteousness. Because God Himself is love, light, holiness, and righteousness, the law that He made is the expression of love, light, holiness, and righteousness.
CHRIST AS THE EMBODIMENT OF WHAT GOD IS
Due to the fall, man’s condition no longer corresponded to that which was portrayed by the law. Therefore, God in Christ had to become a man. In other words, Christ is the God of love, light, holiness, and righteousness who put on man.
In the four Gospels we see that the life which Christ lived on earth may be represented by four words: love, light, holiness, and righteousness. His walk on earth was the expression of love, light, holiness, and righteousness. He became a man to fulfill the law. Therefore, as a real man, He lived God completely. God was fully expressed through Him, and the image of a true man was also manifested, thereby fulfilling, and even exceeding, the requirements of the law.
CHRIST BECOMING THE SPIRIT TO ENTER INTO MAN FOR MAN TO LIVE OUT WHAT CHRIST IS
In order to enter into us to be our life, Christ died for our sins to resolve the problem of our sin and then resurrected from among the dead to become the life-giving Spirit. When Christ enters into us as the life-giving Spirit, it is God entering into us. Since God is love, light, holiness, and righteousness, when He enters into us, it is love, light, holiness, and righteousness entering into us. However, as fallen people, we are corrupt and unclean. Therefore, even though we have a little measure of love, light, holiness, and righteousness within us, it is distorted and deficient. Hence, our expression of Christ is so inadequate. Although we have been saved, we are still so unbecoming. We still need to let Christ grow in us daily that He may be completely lived out through us. Thus, within us Christians, not only do we have God and Christ, but we also have the human virtues that correspond to the law.
In Romans 8:4 Paul said, “That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.” Because all the requirements of the law have been fulfilled in Christ as the life-giving Spirit, when we walk according to the spirit, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled. However, some Christians, even though they have Christ in them, revert to religion just as the Galatians did. Once religion comes in, it confuses people so that instead of the expression of God as love, light, holiness, and righteousness, all they have are rituals, practices of worship, and ordinances. Religion cannot express God; rather, it is a hindrance. Moreover, like the Colossians, some Christians pursue philosophy. Religion plus philosophy bring in even more confusion.
We must be clear that we are not speaking about the moral principles in human relationships commonly taught among the Chinese people. Rather, we are speaking about the biblical virtues that God desires. The virtues that God wants are God Himself lived out through us as love, light, holiness, and righteousness. The morality that we work out is at best that which Paul referred to as “the righteousness which is out of the law” in Philippians 3. We know that before Paul was saved, all he pursued was the righteousness which is out of the law. The ancient Chinese sages taught people to practice filial piety, brotherly subordination, honesty, shamefacedness, benevolence, justice, propriety, and prudence, all of which are tantamount to the righteousness which is in the law that Paul pursued after. Paul pursued the righteousness which is in the law according to the law, whereas the Chinese pursue the morality taught by the ancient sages according to the philosophy concerning human relationships. Both have the same results; both are not what God wants.
Therefore, the virtues that we speak about are the expressions of God in humanity. They are not the ethics taught by the Chinese. Rather, they are Christ revealed in the Bible. Christ is our life within, and He is also our living without. In this way what we live out are our virtues. Therefore, we should use the word virtues instead of ethics. When we mention ethics, we always correlate it to the conventional ethics taught by Confucius and Mencius. But the virtues of Christians are the expression of God as love, light, holiness, and righteousness.
(The Subjective Experience of the Indwelling Christ, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)