THE DESTINY OF EVERY HUMAN BEING
The first created man and woman were given a single commandment not to eat from a certain tree. This is more than just a negative commandment, for it came from the mouth of God. Man’s sole duty at this time was to keep that commandment and not eat but avoid the forbidden fruit. They failed for they were deceived and did eat from the tree, and this brought death and suffering upon them, which would apply to their descendants the entire human race. Their disobedience to God and obedience to the Evil One gave him an advantage which he did not have previously. Now he was better able to perform his additional dirty work against God and man as he stoked them to go against God.
It is important to show the error prevalent among many writers who claim that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God which was not possible. For a man in the image and likeness of God would be exactly like God and could not be deceived as was Adam. Adam was a figurative and shadowy man in the image only: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” The contemplated man in the image and likeness of God is Jesus Christ the Godman, who is perfect God and perfect man. In the fulness time He, the Logos of God, was born of the Virgin Mary and became the Godman. He is the man which all Orthodox Christians must recognize and in obedience and place their total faith in, emulating Him as their own Savior, High Priest and the ultimate goal of this present life.
After the tragic action of Adam and Eve, and their death sentence, for they had neither repented or expressed sorrow, Adam and Eve had two children named Cain and Abel. They learned from their parents who had been taught by God the proper way to offer worship to Him in the form of sacrifices. God being all-good and loving the man he had created, had given them a means to again draw near to Him and to honor and love Him by their sincere and willing offerings.
Adam did not know good or evil, thus being imperfect in knowledge he could not see the plot of the evil one against God, nor could he repel the deception of the Evil One. In the beginning the man who would be in both the image and likeness of God was contemplated but not yet created. St. Paul confirms: “The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However is not the first that is spiritual but that which is natural and then that which was spiritual”
Starting with the first pair, over the years and centuries the race of man was over much of the earth. Abraham due to his faith, received a covenant from the Lord, and his descendants became the Hebrew race. Moses received from God on Mt. Sinai, a covenant between God and the Hebrews. This covenant was filled with prophecies concerning the coming of the messias or Christ. It was the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ that blessed us with the New Covenant and the purpose of this is the salvation and sanctification of all human beings, with a promise of everlasting life to those who remained faithful and obedient. But to those who do not faithfully live as Christ requires and fail to keep all his commandments, there is no promise but the threat of eternal condemnation.
The Gospels distinguishes two types of men: the man of heaven and the man of earth. The man of heaven is made in the image of God and according to His likeness, and is equal to God in wisdom, power and glory namely our Lord Jesus Christ. The man of earth, which are al men without Christ, is a figure and shadow of the heavenly man, made for sure, in the image of God, but being able only by his free choice to acquire the attributes of the divine nature and to become also the likeness of God. This is what Orthodoxy is all about. The wonderful good news of the Gospels filled with holiness. divine wisdom, and promises of eternal joy in a life that will never end. The joy and happiness of this life is the potential destiny of every human being that so desires, but the disinterested and those who reject Christ’s commandments will die in their sins and be condemned.
The leaders of the Church ought to be teaching these things to all Orthodox Christians and the Church should today be growing in leaps and bounds, which is not the case and it seems to be shrinking in many cases. The Gospel needs to be preached more frequently and loudly as the best good news ever heard or ever will be heard.
The only real joy in this present life is the joyful struggle to begin here our eternal life, which will continue in the next world and which we will enter through the door of death which death was transformed by our Lord. Although it has been recorded herein previously, repetition is most necessary as the knowledge of salvation and sanctification is just the beginning, so putting everything into action is critically important to each of us, for our destiny is to inherit everlasting live in the heavenly kingdom. It takes time and effort, but the struggle is heavenly and joyful.