Recently, my Facebook friend posted the following on his wall and asked me to comment: (I have done a bit of editing to the post for clarity’s sake):
Brethren, there is this issue I would like you to help me look at carefully. I had a discourse with a fellow believer; we were just sharing about how GOD has been working in our lives. So we came to why salvation in the Bible is stated in some places as something that happens when one first believes in CHRIST, some places as a continuing process and other places as a future thing.
I explained it in terms of justification, sanctification and glorification. But the friend explained it in terms of man being spirit, soul & body. The spirit gets saved at the time when a person believes in CHRIST then the soul is being saved and the body will be saved at last.
But what really raised hair at the back of my neck is when the person said that GOD in Genesis2:7 breathed into man the breath of life, so it means GOD took a part of HIMSELF and put in man making man 100% GOD, 1OO% MAN. This is why JESUS had to come to give life to the spirit and also to show how we were meant to be (100% GOD, 100% MAN). This scared me. Please help!
Following my friend’s post came this comment from another person (whom I believe was the one my Facebook friend was referring to in his post. I have also edited it for sake of clarity):
1 John 4:17 and not from Genesis. It’s from the resurrection. God has given us His very life. Not just a measure of it. Paul says “It’s no longer me who lives but Christ Himself lives in me (2 Corinthians 3:20). It’s indeed 100% God in man. He who is joined with Christ has become one spirit with him (1Cor.6:17). Thus what Christ is, I am. It’s a complete spiritual transaction but the mind needs a complete makeover (Romans 12).
For us to find the truth about this discussion we need to turn to Scripture and begin from Genesis on wards to hear what God has to say about this whole issue. But before we dwell much on the issue of man being “100% God and 100% man” let me say that I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture that man is made up of body and soul and not body, soul, and spirit. In Scripture, soul and spirit are used interchangeably. But anyway, this is a different matter for a different day.
So, I was saying that for us to know whether you and I can be 100% man and 100% God, we need to begin in Genesis. When God created the first man, how did he create him? The Bible tells us is that man was created male and female and in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26, 27).
Now, what does ‘likeness and image’ mean? Does this mean that man was created exactly like God? Absolutely not! Otherwise, man could not have sinned since God cannot sin. But there are some aspects of God that are also found in man. It is these aspects that qualify us to be ‘the likeness and image of God.”
There are so many aspects of our likeness to God but in this article I will just cite some. We are moral beings and we have a sense of right and wrong unlike animals. Our likeness to God is shown when we behave in a holy way and our unlikeness to God is seen when we sin. Man is also a spiritual being. It is because of this that man is able to relate with God unlike animals. I don’t know if any other animal can spend some minutes or hours praying to God. Man is also a relational being just as God is relational. Man’s relational aspect is seen in marriage and family, in church and fellowship with fellow believers. Although animals can also have some sense of relationship with each other in their community, human relationships are unique and greater than those of animals. These are just some of aspects in which man is in the likeness and image of God.
Another important question that should be addressed here is: what happened to the “the likeness and image of God” after man sinned in Genesis 3. Basing on Scripture, the image of God in man was distorted but not completely lost when man sinned. In other words, even though man sinned he still bore some of “the likeness and image of God” in him. This can be seen in the words of God to Noah after man had already sinned. God in Genesis 9:6 reiterates that even after the fall, man is still created in His image.
However, we know that this image is not as perfectly as it was in the beginning. For instance, at first man was sinless just as God is sinless but now you and I, even though we are believers, are no longer sinless. Our moral purity has been lost. Our minds think evil and plan evil. Our speech does not always glorify God. Falsehood and malice comes out of our mouths. This is not the way God created the first man.
For now, let’s highlight the important truths we have seen regarding the creation of man. First, man was created in the image and likeness of God. This does not mean that the first man was 100% God but rather he was like God in so many ways. Secondly, after the fall (sin) God’s likeness and image in man was distorted but not completely lost.
Now, we should move on to see what happened after Christ came to save man. When Christ came, he began the work of restoring the image and likeness of God in man to be the way God created him at first. As a matter of fact, better than Adam because when we will be glorified (go to be with Jesus in heaven ) we will be unlike the first man, Adam , in the sense that Adam in Eden was capable of sinning while when we go to heaven, we will be incapable of sinning. Remember, there is no sin or evil in heaven (Revelation 21:27). Any way, this also can be another topic for another day.
I digressed a bit. Let‘s get back to where we were. I was saying that after Christ lived a perfect and sinless life and died on behalf of those who believe in him and later rose from the dead, he brought salvation to these believers. So, when we believe in Christ, God through the Holy Spirit begins the work of progressively restoring the His distorted image in us (Colossians 3:10). Wayne Grudem puts it better and allow me to borrow his words:
“Throughout this life, as we grow in Christian maturity, we grow in greater likeness to God. More particularly, we grow in likeness to Christ in our lives and in our character. In fact, the goal for which God has redeemed us is that we might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29) and thus be exactly like Christ in our moral character” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Intervarsity Press © 1994, p. 445).
It is important here, in light of our discussion, to emphasize that no where Scripture tells us that when we believe in Christ, God deposits his deity in us. We do not become 100% God. Furthermore, let’s also know that according to Scripture when we believe in Christ, we have two natures in us. The sinful nature (also referred to as ‘the flesh’ in other versions of the Bible) and the spiritual nature (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 7:18-25). The two natures are always at war and when we let the sinful nature rule, we sin and when the spiritual nature rules we live a life that pleases and glorifies God. A true believer will confess of this struggle which is ongoing until Christ comes or when we go to be with the Lord but by praying against temptation and constantly seeking the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives we progressively put to death the sinful nature (Roman 8:13; Colossians 3:5).
Now, consider this: is it right, I mean biblical, to say that man is 100% God and 100% man yet he possesses a sinful nature in him? Can the sinful nature and the deity dwell in one body? For Christ, it was different. Yes, Christ was 100% man and 100% God because he was sinless and there was no sinful nature in him. When you consider this biblical truth, the whole argument that the friend of my Facebook friend made crumbles. You and I do not reach a certain stage where we become 100% God and 100% man. This can’t be and we will never be.
Let me finish the discussion with what will happen when we go to heaven. When we will go to heaven, we will be glorified. The complete ‘likeness and image’ of God will finally be restored in us. We will be in every way like God but not God himself (1 Corinthians 15:49). We will never sin just as God is sinless. We will never hunger just as God never hungers. We will never fall sick just as God never falls sick. We will never grow old just like God never grows old. In short, Scripture says: We shall be like him (not him) (1 John 3:2). Therefore, man cannot be 100% God and he will never ever be. Not even after he has been saved. This is the teaching of Scripture.
Postscript: 1 John 4:7 says: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (ESV). Does this verse teach that we are God? Absolutely not! “Born of God” in the verse does not refer to “becoming 100% God” rather it means that we have become God’s children (John 1:12, 13).