Counseling from Genesis, Part 4

Genesis 1:26—2:25 presents the counselor with a biblical view of man.  Genesis 1:26 is one of the most significant transitions in the entire Bible!  In Genesis 1:1-25, the plural form of Elohim is used 21 times to emphasize the Godhead.  Multiple times the phrase Then God said, ‘Let there be . . .’ is used as God was speaking things into existence.  In Genesis 1:26, where the transition occurs, the phrase Then God said, ‘Let Us. . .’ places the emphasis on the personal aspect of God’s involvement in creation. The phrase also articulates the personal aspect of the Trinity’s creative act, Then God said, ‘Let Us make man . . . in Our image.’ The words Us and Our are plural pronouns which reinforce the doctrine of the Trinity.  The Spirit of God is mentioned in Genesis 1:2, and later, John included Christ (the Word) as part of the Godhead’s act of creation (John 1:3).

You might be asking, “What’s the big deal?” The Scripture deliberately stress God’s intimate connection and establishes a personal relationship between God and man that does not exist with any other aspect of His creation!  The two phrases Our image and Our likeness are parallel expressions.  The repetitions are not to distinguish between the spiritual and physical similarities, but the repetitions are for emphasis.  The phrase clearly deals with man’s spiritual attributes – our self-consciousness, our moral consciousness, and our consciousness of others, and especially our consciousness of God.

A Short Summary

PERSONHOOD is a good word to summarize the statement in Genesis 1:26.  We are persons – our lives involve relationships.  Man is capable of fellowship with other people; we can develop friendships and trust.  We are able to love other persons in a God-like manner.  We understand communication, have a capacity for languages, and are able to understand ideas and concepts presented to us.  We know what it is to share thoughts, and convey and discern attitudes.  We know instinctively the difference between good and evil.  Physically, we are made of earthly elements (dirt – that will do a lot for one’s self-esteem!), and we return to dirt.  However, that is not to say that our bodily form is utterly devoid of anything relevant to the divine image.  John Calvin made the following statement: “The image of God extends to everything in which the nature of man surpasses that of all other species of animals …. and though the primary seat of the divine image was in the mind and the heart, or in the soul and its powers, there was no part even of the body in which some rays of glory did not shine.”

Implications: Use of the Body

What are the counseling implications to how we treat our bodies and the body of others? Genesis 1 & 2 establishes the truth for the counselor to help the counselee deal with such things as obesity, rape, murder, spousal abuse, child abuse, masochistic acts, and sexual sins such as masturbation, homosexual acts, adultery, and other forms of fornication.  To misuse the body or to neglect it, or to misuse or neglect the proper care of the body of another attacks the One in whose image that person is made! This truth connects with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Implications: Purpose of Life

The implications of Genesis 1:26-Genesis 2:25 go as far as stating our purpose for life. Since God is the Creator, He determines our purpose of life.  Genesis states that God created man to propagate life – to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Doing so would bring Him further glory and allow man to worship Him.  In addition, God’s counsel or instruction is a direct hit on the concept of a homosexual relationship in which there is no way to fulfill that directive. While it is understood that not every married couple is able to have children, the directive still stands as one of the purposes for man’s creation and the purpose of marriage between a male and female.

Implications: Rule Over Creation

God also created man to rule over creation – not to worship creation, nor to have creation rule over man.  There are endless examples of man worshipping creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1 warns us of this problem).  Created things are not wrong in and of themselves, but a counselor needs to help the counselee ask two questions to determine wither or not he/she is making something more important than glorifying God:  1) How do I respond when I don’t get what I want? and 2) Am I willing to sin in order to get what I want? The counselor needs to help the counselee see that nothing else but the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is to control him/her (Ephesians 5:18). Examples of failing to rule over creation would be drunkenness and drug abuse – man is failing to rule over creation, but rather allowing creation to rule him.  Covetousness, which can lead to financial disasters, is part of allowing creation (things that pass away with time) to rule over us instead of us ruling over them.

Summary

In reality, our theology (what we believe about God) drives our anthropology (what we believe about man).  Since God is the Creator, and the Potter, as stated in Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand, God is also the Moral Law Giver.  Because of that, we are obligated to do things His way and fulfill the purpose(s) for which He created us.

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