The Beauty and Fragrance of Godlike Character
Good character speaks of how well we comprehend, and interpret the image and likeness of God with which we are called to be partakers of His divine nature. In Genesis 1:26-27, God begins His origin of man with these words,
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them".
Immediately following God making man in His image and likeness, He gives him dominion over the works of His hands. God really believed in the man He made to give Him dominion, man didn't believe in himself or God.
What does this mean to be created in the image of God and after His likeness? The term image in verses 26-27 is the Hebrew word tselem which is pronounced tseh-lem and it means to shade; a phantom, illusion, resemblance, a representative. The Bible informs us of what His image should look like in and through us. Sin mars that image but Jesus brings the image alive in and through us by the power and ability the Holy Spirit gives us to conform into God's image. It is not a physical image, but rather a spiritual manifestation of characteristics which personify God and can only be found in Him alone.
The term likeness found in verse 26, is the word demuwth, pronounced dem-ooth and means a resemblance, model, shape, fashion, manner and similitude. The premise of both terms carry the idea to compare. This image and likeness is something we discover, determine and must qualify in order to contrast the difference. We must compare ourselves to the paradigm and standard set by God. We are counseled to try the spirit by the Spirit to determine if what we are perceiving, understanding and discover about ourselves is mirroring and imaging God.
Character is a trait or distinguishable combination of traits. The fruits of the Spirit comprise the compilation and distinguishable combination of traits which assist us in resembling God in character. There are good and bad characteristics. We as Christians are called by and into good and godly character. Good character that produces the image and likeness of God in every conceivable way is our goal and ambition. God's will has a potent fragrance that extinguishes all odors. Thy will be done is most perfumed of determination. Jesus Christ is the fragrance of God and He is sweet I know.
Good character is embedded with fragrances which sweeten our lives, paths, atmospheres and environments as we become refreshed by His glory. Good character can smell just as sweet to the nose as roses, figuratively and spiritually. We can smell character, good character has a fragrance and bad character has an odor. Arise and establish your legal and lawful position in managing the territories that God has given you jurisdictional authority over in the name of Jesus Christ. Self control and discipline are parts of the package. God centered qualities erect a set of values we operate by. Values are things of worth. The value you place on something means you deem it worthwhile. God ordained qualities and attributes are what point and direct us to image and likeness found in God. Values are attributing factors we have the unction to function in.
Our soul is being transformed and is changing continuously. What we do and how we do it has to be the result of the mind of Christ working through us in order to be in alignment with how God wills and wants things done. Jesus Christ is the exact express image of God the Father, and if you have seen the Son, you are looking at an exact replica of the Father. As we learn about Jesus Christ we then can see His character manifested throughout Scripture. We have never seen Jesus face to face, however, the Word of God reveals Him to us, thereby giving us the true image and likeness of God. We then come to understand his mind and nature and desire to have the same mind and nature which was in Christ Jesus to live in and through us. The features of God are manifesting in us as we study our script for living and rehearse and practice it.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).
Now ask yourself this question, don't the things above have an odor? They have been smelling up society and the world for eons. Moreover, we all have to come to the cross individually and take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ. He is the path to good character. We stink until we get to the cross, we had all kinds of sin odors. Sin really does stink and is a stench. It is only when you have really smelt your life reeking of sin, that you will be able to smell the fragrance and see the beauty of God in, upon, around and through you.
The works of the flesh produce odors, and the fruits of the Spirit produce fragrant characteristics. The works of the flesh are attempts of human nature to control, dominate, and manipulate its external world. Control is never really external, but internal, from the inside out. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control simply put, the ability to control oneself.
Next time you behold your sisters and brothers in Christ as they bear the fruits of the Spirit, discern how sweet the atmosphere really is. Your joy will be the scent of mirth. Take notice and smell the fragrance of God's will, that He desires that His children should walk in and the glory we are called to in Christ Jesus. Look for the beauty of God in others and not the ugliness of sin. You will discern to the point of actually smelling fragrances of the spirit. The portrayal of divine character is likened to wearing the finest linens, silk and satin or the best quality fabric available. Each thread magnificently blended together into a beautiful and fragrant garment.
There are characteristics and attributes which God shares with us and through the life of Christ which help us to comprehend these traits better. The Old Testament has always highlighted and pinpointed that God is merciful, and that His mercy endures forever. Do we really understand what that means and entails? Forever merciful, that is a challenge for the finite being, when we can decide whether we will choose to be merciful and whom we will be merciful to.
Jesus instructs us to be merciful just like our Father is merciful, it is not optional. We are created in His likeness which means we have the ability to be forever merciful to others. It really isn't until you appreciate the mercy God has for you individually, that you can choose mercy over judgment and conform into the image of God you are created in. No one can ever tell me that they truly understand God's mercy and is always judging others and wanting them to be excluded from the gift of mercy. If you have received mercy and when it is time to exhibit it to others all you can conjure up is judgment. That attitude is liken to the story of the unjust servant. He was forgiven of his debts, and no sooner he was forgiven, he went and grabbed someone who owed him a debt and demanded payment. Mercy leads to the forgiveness that releases debtors, it doesn't demand payment be made for offences. Besides judgment will never triumph over mercy. If we would judge ourselves we will not be judged. Don't be intimidated by judgment, judge yourself, and the fruits you bear, fruits must be fresh to be enjoyed.
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3).
The breakdown of Old Testament Law are basically three categories. There was, and still is a standard for living the Godlike life:
- Moral Law which comprises a standard of conduct that God's people should walk and live by that reflects the holiness and righteousness of God. We should be walking in His divine nature.
- Civil Law which consist of rules and regulations of how God's people should treat each other. Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Ceremonial Laws which are rules and regulations on how God's people should relate to God and that was the framework He gave Israel in the body of the law. All of these principles are applicable for the Body of Christ.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
It matters if we are willing that our conduct is moral and that it reflects the holiness and righteousness and the character of God. It matters if we are willing to exercise extreme care as to how we treat each other, and the approach and posture we take in relating to God is of the utmost importance of the will. Jesus fulfilled the law in full, He didn't do away with it. The principles of this framework are still applicable today. Good conduct is essential in building and producing good character. The willingness to do is of God and we align ourselves with His will and by choosing it, we out of a good conscience are purged towards making the right decision. This is a continual part of our transformation process, choosing the will of God over everything else. This is a Ouch place! Nevertheless, there will be beauty and a fragrance of grandeur emanating from our beings. Following the biblical framework of the Scriptures it then frames our lives and puts it on display for the whole world to see. Your character will speak loud and clear that it is fruit filled.
Ideals are like stars the poet, "Helen Steiner Rice" declared. Meaning ideals are just as high figuratively speaking, as the stars, but ideals are reachable. We can't reach or touch stars, but we can obtain, acquire and manifest ideals. Ideals are not imaginary and hard to acquire, there is just a standard of excellence that sets the bar high. The way of a transgressor is hard. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God has set and raises a standard. Godlikeness requires an excellent spirit which is ready to leap over walls. The Holy Spirit turns the flood the enemy purposes into floodgates of the divine nature we are called to walk in.
There are floodgates open upon each of us, which are pouring out the nature of God into our lives, because we are partakers of His divine nature. The Word of God are keys opening locks, and portals to and in the soul to teach and empower us to be renewed in every aspect of our souls. These waters called floodgates are pouring down and must reach and cleanse every part of us; our minds, emotions, wills, reasoning, imaginations, memories of all the soil which seeped in under the reign of sin. The glory of God is on display, His beauty for ashes, His fragrances which smell of purity and peace.
God's sinless love is continually undoing the reign of terror sin plagued us with. The Word of God is continuously washing our souls to produce a value system which honors God. The Holy Spirit is purifying our souls as we submit to His authority. We must desire the character of God so that we can experientially become the partakers of His divine character. Godly character is an ensemble of wealthy attire we are given to relate and communicate with our Father and others. We have ideals which must become reality and not theory or hypothesis. It is an ideal to be created in the image and likeness of God. Every thought about God is higher than a star spiritually.
The desire for good character should be what we are seeking to exhibit everyday and in every way. Can you smell the character of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Yes, there is a fragrance that is so powerfully pure, holy, righteous, glorious and special which can only be experienced in His presence and in relationship with the oneness that our union with Him produces. The Holy Spirit is the fragrance of our character, apart from Him our characters have an odor of sin and are not a clean fragrance.
How do and can we discover, determine and distinguish between a spiritual fragrance from an odor? We can discover our spiritual smell by knowing the characteristics of God and when we perceive and understand His nature. When someone is exhibiting good, excellent or grandiose character and behavior, we are generally happy and experience being blessed by them, it is as if they are wearing expensive fragrant perfume, and we like and love what it smells like as they are passing through our lives. If we constantly belittle, put down, and gossip about their inability to in a moment show us progressive good character, and we respond negatively and we articulate that to others, this attitude is the equivalent of an odor or like wearing cheap perfume. Fragrances and odors alike are transcendent. The difference is we can't smell them with our physical nose, but we discern them with our spirits and souls.
Discernment gives us the spiritual sensitivity and the ability to sense and determine what is an odor and fragrance in ourselves. We must be enabled to discern what we smell like. Is my attitude, intentions, motives right within me? I must ask myself questions pertaining to my own stance and activity. This must be done to incorporate considering the beam in my own eye. You have to hear Jesus talking directly to you, why are you looking at the mote in someone else's eye and you have a beam in your own? What do I smell like? If I am properly following the cleansing process there should be discernment operative in my life, which allows me to ascertain and know when I do not smell correctly. I shouldn't have to wait for someone else to say I have an odor, if I am living responsible and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It can be said that discernment is like all of our natural senses rolled up into one, but in the spirit realm. Discernment is to the spirit, what smell is to the nose, absolutely essential! We need discernment in everything.
Jesus said, wherefore we would know others by the fruits they bear, are we judging ourselves to determine whether the fruit we are bearing is good or rotten, and producing an odor? Nothing worst than the smell of rotten fruit. How can you tell without judging between good and bad? You know what good fruit smells like when it is fresh and you have a working knowledge of what rotten fruit smells like. Discernment helps us know when our attitude is souring, and beatitudes are necessary. Be sensitive to your self and to your own self be truthful of the good, bad and the ugly to the point of repentance and changing into the good you really are in Christ Jesus. You are stamped and blueprinted with good, be the good God has called you to be. Resist the capacity and it will flee from you.
Take the verse that says, "taste and see that the Lord is good" for instance, we cannot taste the Lord with our natural mouth, but we can discern and therefore decipher that the Lord is good based on what the Scriptures tells us and by everything we have assessed ourselves. How about a sweet smelling and tasting piece of fruit? We can see God's goodness in making the fruit sweet and tasty, and now we can discern good on a higher level. Jesus retorted to one that called Him "Good Master" He said why do you call me good? there is none good but God. This man didn't even believe in the God that Jesus is, He is the goodness of God? The Father told the three disciples "this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Hear ye Him. The Father and Son are interchangeable and always function as one. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. This is the oneness we are called into, this is the image and likeness we've inherited. Jesus knew that it would be more needful for all of us to look to the Father and to understand and be able to recognize His character to make conformity into His image and likeness truly experiential. He always pointed to His Father and the Father always pointed to Him.
Repentance will perfume your life
We as humans, physically know what is necessary to make daily cleansing successful and beneficial for us as well as for others. We need soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, and we need to launder our clothes, etc. We can't leave home without all of these measures being in operation. How can we go before the Father without the fragrance repentance provides and forgiveness of sins offers? Some prefer fragrant detergents and some prefer none. Some like perfume and cologne and some do not. Whatever your conviction is concerning gussying up to greet the day. Make no mistake about it there is a daily spiritual and natural cleansing ritual we must perform daily.
First, there is our approach to God, secondly there is self to please and prepare for the day at hand. Then we must think of others as well and if we fail to cleanse ourselves, what the consequences of that will be. We must always and in everything consider the cost, not just with regard to buying something of monetary worth, but on every level.
Spiritual cleansing was designed to be first and foremost because sin had packed a nasty punch. The same things we need naturally are needed for spirit and soul too. The process has been reversed, the spiritual is first and so is our relationships with God. The same way we would not forsake cleansing our natural bodies, we cannot forsake daily cleansing our souls through the washing of the Word of God, because it is our spiritual soap and it perfumes us to face the Heavenly Father and a new day.
We need the soap of the Word and Spirit of God, we need daily cleansing and refreshing, we need spiritual mouth washing so that we don't pollute our mouths with speaking contrary things against God, ourselves and others, which can make us have bad breath by not speaking life. We need to cleanse our garments everyday and put on more righteousness and holiness then we had on yesterday. Who washes our spiritual garments? We do by being mindful of the boundaries we have crossed called trespasses and asking forgiveness, forgiving ourselves and others and by having godly sorrow and repentance to clean our spiritual garments everyday and night. Who is responsible for our spiritual wardrobes? Even though our spirituality is one size fits all, we have attire that we can only put on ourselves. These values comprise every good, righteous, and holy characteristic in which we can resemble God by putting them on and wearing them and the world and the members of the Body of Christ will see the Godhead shining through us.
Good values produce fragrant character
It is our values that emit fragrances through our character traits. A biblically informed value system is the framework and the core and essence of the image and likeness of God. Do I value God's image and likeness, is a question that places me at a place of responsibility. We have learned all about self-image and the value we placed on having a sound and good self image. Self image being the transmission of character and qualities which allowed others to know we had a self image which we chose to exhibit and project but as it pertained to self.
The image of God is mammoth in comparison to self-image. Today people take pictures of them self via cell phones and call it a selfie. This selfie is a image they captured of themselves at a particular moment in time. Selfie is eradicated when viewed in the light of who God is because selfie contains the contaminates of sin. The image and likeness of God doesn't and will never contain sin.
Comparatively we can see the difference between the image of God and the self image we may have acquired. Try it by the Spirit of God and there lies the answer. Undone am I. Get back up! Proceed with the developmental stages and established standards the Word of God is articulating. The Word of God is a live wire and our image maker. Image produces character and that is a value call. What is the image of God you see? God is morally beautiful, wondrous, glorious we want to be like Him. The Word of God grants us morals that line up with the image God desires for us. Morals are beautiful, a moral life is a life of excellence. Self didn't embrace morality under sin, the image of God is moral excellence. God teaches us how to walk in excellence and beauty. This beauty has the fragrance of God.
Have you ever put on too much perfume or cologne, and people noticed it and spoke negatively about it? The idea of too much perfume is interesting in that the difference being quality perfume versus cheap perfume. Have you ever heard someone say of a good person, they are too nicey nice and I don't trust them or they are just too good to be true. How can anyone be too good? I think we can possess a lot of good, but we can always be better and there is always room for improvement. The comment they are too good to be true is liken to the one they are wearing too much perfume or cologne. Good character should not offend us, it should quicken us to perform it in all righteousness. There are negative words that are spoken which are full of odors, yet most negative people can't smells their words. Words we speak against others are full of odors and the good conscience can smell them. Good words are like a breath of fresh air, like being in a room full of fragrant flowers emitting scents that edify and build up.
Identifying and then distinguishing worth and value are essentials. A fragrance and an odor provide us the essentials to judge between good and bad characteristic scents and grants us the ability to identify between them. One is favorable and the other is unfavorable. Unless you like odors you will cleave to what is most fragrant. The same assessment and judgment is necessary in distinguishing and determining good and bad behaviors and characteristics. The good behavior and character postures, shifts and aligns us with the image and likeness of God and then the value we place on possessing and exhibiting the good determines the worth we put on them.
Good characteristics are good only because they represent the good that God is. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil gave us a choice, we can always choose good and shun evil. This is the mercy God has that the tree was not completely the knowledge of evil. Bless the Lord, Hallelujah! Good character is the treasure we have in earthen vessels representing our God and Savior.
It is time for decontamination from the world and to work out every equation we are faced with, good and bad. We are in this world, but we most definitely are not of it. Can I get an Amen and Hallelujah! Glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Put on the new garments of good character which are fruitful and put on the image and likeness of God in and through Christ Jesus.
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Ephesians 5:1-2).