The Obverse Image of God

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They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Matthew 22:21 (KJV)

The Lord Jesus taught us that certain things belong to Caesar and certain things belong to God. One of the things that does not belongs to Caesar is control over what is supposed to go to Caesar and what is supposed to go to God.

Those who are called benefactors are not to be entrusted with that kind of thing (Luke 22:25).

One of the foundational principles of the Roman Empire, from Augustus on, was that salvation was brought to the people by Caesar. The message on their coins was that salvation is only to be found in Augustus, and “there is no other name given to men in which they can be saved” (Stauffer, Christ and the Caesars, p. 88). This gives a new contextual meaning to Peter’s bold declaration about Jesus Christ: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). If Caesar is Lord, follow him. If Christ is Lord, then follow Him.

This is a deep pagan impulse, not limited to the Roman Empire. If it is not to be Christ, then it will be Caesar, or Pharaoh, or the Supreme Leader, or some other posturing clown.

So if Christ is Lord, then Caesar is not. If Christ is Savior, then Caesar is not.

Since God possesses all things, one of the things He possesses is whatever liberties Caesar does in fact possess. It is not that Caesar has no authority, but rather that he has no authority apart from the word of Christ. The civil magistrate is a deacon of God, having no authority otherwise.

Under the word of Christ, what is lawful to go to Caesar is what has his image on it. What goes to God is what has His image on it. So then what bears the image of God? You do. Your wife does. Your children do. So none of you may be rendered to Caesar.

The government school system renders children unto Caesar, by the way.

Secularism in the government school system, built on Darwinist foundations, is a coordinated and systematic attempt to eradicate the image of God. If we evolved from the primordial goo, then it necessarily follows that there is no image of God. Once that image is thought to be gone, with only the base metal remaining, we will be at liberty to replace it with any of our own images, as they occur to us. Or so the delusion runs.

The deception began with unbelievers saying that they only wanted to take the image of God down, not that they wanted to put their own images up. They called this being neutral. An early step in their high revolt is what it actually was. This has been a long war against God.

So once the divine image is thought to be safely gone, and an image of our own devising has replaced it, it will then be legitimate to demand that all of what used to be mankind be now rendered unto Caesar. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. His image is on everything now.

Caesar tolerates no rival images on the obverse. You shall have no other gods before me. You may put whatever you please on the other side.

The battles of our age are all battles over the control of the dictionary. Once they have control over the dictionary, they can define Caesar, coin, Lord, obverse, God, and image as they please. Once they have completed their ghastly revolution, they can also define love and hate as they please, boy and girl as they please, and righteousness and doubleplusungood as they please. This is all part of the deep impulse that rootless man has to somehow secure his assumed right to be worshiped and adored.

In this kind of religion, you are always guaranteed at least one worshiper. Forever and ever.

Human beings are coins, and the obverse of these coins, commonly known as heads, reflects the image of God. That true image can be insulted, vandalized, marred, scraped, defaced, and tarnished, but never successfully removed. The new replacement image must therefore be scrawled on top of God’s ineradicable work.

This side of judgment, no matter what kind of image you scrape on top of it, the image of God remains always still there, hauntingly there.

The fall of our first parents into sin and rebellion did in fact mar the image of God, but our disobedience could not get rid of it entirely. God created us in His image, and male and female was the way He decided to do it (Gen. 1:27). The Fall defaced that image, but the image still remains, and God requires us to honor that image regardless of our fallen condition (Gen. 9: 6).

In the attempts to get rid of the image of God, metrosexual androgyny is one of the chief scraping tools. Darwinism is another. Secularism is another. The mayhem caused by these three lies has been enormous.

The long history of how the seed of the serpent have waged war on the seed of the woman reduces to this agenda: The shattered pieces of the image of God in us must be swept up and thrown away entirely. Even in its broken state it reminds the rebels too much of its original — like an outline of a great cathedral that collapsed in a storm centuries ago, but where you can still tell that it was a church. Even the green grass of the place is still holy, and the residual holiness creeps them out.

What sort of image might they want to use as a replacement for the image of God? Think of a particularly gaudy and grease-painted drag queen, the kind that wants to read to all the kids during the library story hour. The kind who thinks you are some kind of hater for chuckling at that illustration.

The image of God is something we bear or carry in the face. God’s redemption through Christ is secured for us through His vicarious sacrifice on the cross, and its transformative impact is mediated to us through the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another as we worship God with unveiled face (2 Cor. 3:18). Salvation is face-to-face, by design.

According to the third commandment, if we are not to bear the name of God in vain — having the name of Christian as we do — it is equally important that we not bear the image of God in vain either. When it comes to worship, we must not mar our own faces, we must not cover our faces, and we must not look on the faces of any others with contempt. We want to look others in the face so that we might see Christ there (2 Cor. 5:16).

Although the COVID masking is a sideshow to all of this, it helps to illustrate the point. When everyone is masked up, it becomes much easier to forget that we are image-bearers. It makes it much easier to yell at strangers in grocery stores. The remarkable rise in surliness that we have seen is no accident.

And when antifa rioters mask up, it makes it much easier for the rest of us to forget that they too are made in the image of God. The fact that they are engaged in a tragic revolt against who they were created to be is no reason for us to join them in that same contempt. More than one bomb thrower has been converted to Christ. In fact, one bomb thrower, far worse than any antifa radical, wrote most of the New Testament.

And so it is therefore another not whether, but which situation. It is not whether we will be image bearers, but rather which image we will bear. Will we bear the image of the perfect man, growing up into Him as we are transformed from one degree of glory to another, or will we submit to the futile attempts of Caesar to get that image finally scraped off?

If the former, we will at some point in the near future be ushered into joy. If the latter, then at some point, also in the near future, we will be pitched into the chaos that has no bottom.

“This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”

Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ESV)