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Needed: An Extreme Make Over?

 

Genesis 2:15-25

 

Jim Davis

 

Television is having a heyday with all of its reality programming. Extreme makeover programs have become very popular. A makeover staff moves in doing extreme makeovers to houses and people alike. I saw a very interesting program while visiting my daughter. They did an extreme makeover on this thirties looking fellow with rotten, broken and missing teeth and  a beer belly. Physically he was all out of shape. They gave him tooth implants, capped teeth, put him with a personal trainer and changed his diet to shape him up physically. When they got through with him, he wasnít a bad looking person. He was rather attractive. He was at least able to get a woman to dance with him.

 

The extreme makeover people move in seeing the possibilities a person has lost sight of. They move in doing things the person didnít know how to do. Doing things the made over person couldnít afford.

 

God is also in the makeover business. Looking back through Godís biblical record of salvation history reveals this with extreme clarity. God moved into individualís lives doing extreme makeovers.

 

God moved into Estherís life with an extreme make over team and she won first place as Queen Esther. God used her to do an extreme make over for the kingís palace to save the lives of all the Jews.

 

Godís plan of salvation has to do with his desire for an extreme makeover. Godís plan is so extreme that He calls it a new creation. God sees our possibilitiesóour real possibilities. He can lead us to do what we donít know how to do. He can do for us what we cannot do for our selves. Most important God pays the price we canít afford.

 

Our world certainly needs an extreme makeover that goes beyond cosmetic enhancement. Aesthetic renovation wonít do, surface change isnít enough.

 

Rediscovering Our Identity

 

Godís extreme makeover goes much deeper as he helps us rediscover our real identity. The movie ďMan with an Iron MaskĒ came out a few years ago. The backdrop of the movie was about identical twin boys born to a king, one was taken away at the moment of birth to be reared by peasants to conceal his identity forever in hopes to eliminate any competition for the kingís throne between the twins. As the boy reared by peasants grew older his identity was unmistakable. It was evident further measures would have to be taken to conceal his identity. He was placed in an iron mask and sent to live in a dungeon. He could never understand why he was placed in an iron mask and chained to a dungeon wall. He had no clue that he was the son of a king. Until his evil brother rose to the throne and his enemies sought to replace him with the brother who had been chained to the dungeon wall.

 

The identical twin brotherís iron mask was removed as they began to groom him to be king. It was an extreme makeover. Yet, they were only restoring his royalty. It was his birthright. He was taught the mannerisms of royalty. He was taught how to hold a wine glass, to dance, to greet those desiring an audience with the king. He was taught these things because he was of royal descent. The movie concludes with him ascending to the throne to replace his twin brother who was reigning as a tyrant.

 

In much the same way we are in need of discovering our real identity. We know our identity goes beyond ourselvesówe were greatly created. Our sinful world masks our true identity. We are looking for our roots to discover our true identity. Scientists are searching daily to discover the key to human life and its origin. Many are looking into fossil records for clues.

 

There can be no extreme makeover until we truly understand our origin. The Hebrews leaving Egypt needed to know they were made in Godís image. They had been used and abused for centuries. They only knew of the demonic gods of Egypt who ruled over them with an iron fist. They certainly knew the story of Godís promises to Abraham, but they were experiencing the wrath of Egyptís gods. Egyptís gods had reduced them to slavery wading in the mud of slime pits. Their image was woefully masked. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt there was a dire need for them to understand their true identity. They had been used and abused so many years in the land of Egypt they had no clue. In writing Genesis Moses sought to reveal whose image they truly bore as he pointed back to creation.

 

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

 

27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

 

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." NIV

 

Men and women are made in the image of the God. Satan slithered up to Eve and said, God knows when you eat the forbidden fruit you will be like Him. He blinded her to the fact she already bore Godís image. She bore the image of God and was made in His likeness. Sin continues to tell us we are our own gods with the power to shape ourselves into whatever we wish to be. Satan knows this is the only way to diminish Godís glory and hide our true identity.

 

This is the message of salvation. The Bible is written to give us a true image of the God who created us, and whose likeness we are made. When we lose sight of God we lose sight of ourselves. We lose sight of how life was really meant to be. Christ came to reveal to us the true image of God. Satan seeks to destroy that image.

 

Sin Destroys Our Identity

 

Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. Sin entered into this world distorting the image of our first parents. So much so that they hid under fig leaves. Since that very moment it has been the nature of sin to conceal the fact that we are made in Godís image.

 

Adamís children were born bearing the image of sinful Adam. It wasnít that they were no longer made in Godís image, but they bore the image of their sinful father Adam. How often to we stamp our image upon our children. Of course this is a little different. We all bare the sin of Adam. However, our children often grow up to be a spitting image of us. Sins mask our true identity. God is seeking to unmask us to reveal his image in us.

 

Genesis 2:15-17

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." NIV

 

I would like to bring some verses of Paul alongside these verses in Genesis. They are very relevant. I believe these verses concisely describe the death of which God speaks. In these verses Paul tells us the purpose of the gospel as he gives brief summary of spiritual death.

 

Romans 1:16-32

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."  

 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities ó his eternal power and divine nature ó have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator ó who is forever praised. Amen.

 

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

 

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. NIV

 

Paul explains our identity crisis. These verses reveal the death sentence God revealed to Adam and Eve in Eden in capsule form. God said, ďThe day you eat of this tree you shall surely die.Ē When we die to God we lose our identity.

 

Our natural world seeks to recreate us with a new identity. We were created to live according to Godís supernatural order of things. We live in a supernatural world. We certainly have natural instincts, but we are called upon by God to govern these natural instincts as we uphold his supernatural decrees.

 

God made us male and female. Many have been led to deny how God made them sexually. Paul says this is the result of refusing to acknowledge God. It doesnít feel like itís wrong because God turns us over to our own choices. When this happens, it begins to feel natural. It is the natural way to live.

 

Jude 17-19

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. NIV

 

It is easy to exchange right for wrong. Just do wrong long enough until it seems first nature. This is where fleshly instincts lead when Godís supernatural laws do not govern them.

 

The stories of the Bible become powerful as we allow them to shape and mold us. We love to just teach propositional truth, but stories often reveal truths in more powerful ways than simply stating facts.

 

ďBible narratives tell us about things that happenedóbut not just things. Their purpose is to show us God at work in his creation among his people. The narratives glorify him, help us to understand and appreciate him, and give us a picture of his providence and protection.Ē[1]

 

Ultimately the narratives create the image of God formed in our minds. ďOld Testament narratives do not always teach directly. They emphasize Godís nature and revelation in special ways that legal or doctrinal portions of the Bible never can, by allowing us vicariously to live through events and experiences rather than simply learning about the issues involved in those events and experiences.Ē[2]

 

This is the design of Bible narratives. Bible narratives give you a kind of hands on knowledge of how God works in our world.[3] These stories do not always teach directly. They are more of an implicit kind of teaching designed to illustrate what is explicitly taught. The story of David does not contain such a statement that says, ďIn committing adultery David did wrong.Ē You are expected to know that from what is explicitly taught elsewhere.[4]

 

It is surprising how many truths are taught through a simple story or movie. It is a powerful way to educate. This is what the television and movies are doing to our world. They are molding the world into the images seen on the screen. They get us to laugh at dirty jokes, as they make ungodly living more appealing through the use of comedy. It is unbelievable how powerful Hollywood movies are in shaping our lives. Nothing has shaped our moral values more than Hollywood.

 

Hollywood is doing an extreme make over of our world. We are vicariously drawn into the story through laughter, sympathy, empathy, anger, eroticism, etc. We are drawn into the plot to embrace the feelings of the characters of the story as we identify with the story. As we do, we often find ourselves embracing the implicit and explicit ethical teaching.

 

Holly has brought the unmentionable of a couple decades ago to be common practice. We have been bought into it so deeply that it only seems natural. In fact we relish its entertaining allurements.

 

The Need of Transformation

 

Our world is in need of transformation.

 

Romans 12:1-2

12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God ó this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is ó his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

 

The voices of our sinful hearts often pit us against one another in order to assert our sinful identity. Listen to Paul again.

 

Romans 8:28-32

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. NIV

 

I understand our legislators are seeking to pass a law where the left lane on all interstate highways in Florida can only be used for passing. The reason is to prevent road rage. People get outraged when driving on an interstate with someone in the left lane actually doing the speed limit. Now it seems as if the four lane interstates may be reduced to two lane roads, except for passing. It seems those subject to road rage may seemingly justified in what they are doing.

 

This is how the world presses us into its mold as it seeks to accommodate all the angry people who have not been able to get their way.

 

James 4:1-5

4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? NIV

 

Conclusion:

 

It is amazing how our sinful world seeks to stamp its image deep on every heart. Godís desire is much different. A better me does not begin with a better self-image. It begins with reclaiming our original imageóGodís image. There is an old song we used to sing that describes how we claim our original identity.

 

O to be like Thee!

O to be like Thee!

Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;

Come in Thy sweetness, come in thy fullness

Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 

This is Godís plan for salvaging every life. Jesus came to recreate you anew. You must be born again. To be born again you must die the death of Christ.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.      What do you think of all the extreme makeover television programs?

2.      What did God do for Esther?

3.      How does Godís extreme makeover differ from our make over plans?

4.      What is the key to understanding the makeover we need?

5.      What affect did the gods of Egypt have on the Hebrew slaves?

6.      What does Genesis 1:26-28 say about our original identity?

7.      How were Adamís and Eveís identity marred by Satan?

8.      How does Paul explain the death we suffer because of sin? (Romans 8:16-32)

9.      What is the design of Bible stories? How do they teach us?

10.  How does Hollywood use their stories to give us a new identity?

11.  How does Godís transformation differ?

 


 

1 Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth, A Guide to Understanding the Bible. Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1981, pg. 79

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, pg. 82, 83.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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