People—Their Return to God’s Likeness
“Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”—Col. 3:9, 10.
JEHOVAH created the earth to continue forever, to be inhabited forever. He has given it to the children of men, to be inherited by the meek ones of the earth. And as Jesus taught his followers to pray, God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. From the beginning it was God’s purpose to have man serve as earth’s caretaker. It still is his purpose. Only those, however, who return to the likeness of God may enjoy this privilege.—Ps. 104:5; 37:29; 115:16; Matt. 6:9, 10.
Such ones must strip off the old personality with its practices and clothe themselves with the new personality. (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9) How? Through accurate knowledge—knowledge of Jehovah and his divine qualities, and the putting of them into practice. Hence, a beginning in this is to follow the apostle Paul’s advice at Philippians 4:8, 9: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things. The things that you learned as well as accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, practice these; and the God of peace will be with you.”
The advice is to think on these things. Thoughts create feelings, and when feelings become strong enough they move people to act. The Bible writer James indicated this when he said that as we dwell mentally on evil thoughts desire grows and eventually leads to sinful acts. This is stated at James 1:14, 15: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”
Jesus also indicated this regarding adultery: “I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) To keep on looking and thinking may make desire so strong that the adulterous act itself is committed.
The same principle works with good thoughts. They create good feelings that lead to good acts. So use freedom of choice wisely. Think on good things, desire them, do them.
The apostle Paul advised this. He certainly practiced it. But still he lamented: “What I wish, this I do not practice; but what I hate is what I do.” He bewailed his inner conflict of flesh and spirit: “Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me?” He had accurate knowledge, tried to return to God’s likeness, tried to bring into a balance the various attributes of Jehovah that he had. In himself he failed, yet he did gain the victory. His cry tells us how: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”—Rom. 7:15, 24, 25.
We may make a start in balancing harmoniously the divine attributes, but only God through Christ makes the return to his likeness complete.
[Box on page 12]
“The greatest of these is love.”—1 Cor. 13:13.
Justice is harsh
Wisdom is vain