The Man of Dust; the Man of Heaven
Today’s reading: Proverbs 11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:33-58
28 In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death. Proverbs 12:28
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:47-49
Thoughts of life and death are never far from the minds of mortal men. In Scripture, we are instructed in how to have not only the best possible life now, but, more importantly, how to have eternal life through “the second man,” Jesus Christ.
Proverbs talks about life, but life in this world, for the most part. There are numerous keys to a joyful, peaceful, prosperous life. All things being equal, these maxims hold true, but all things are not equal. So the Proverbs will not “work” 100% of the time. There are exceptions. Sometimes good, industrious people suffer setbacks despite their best efforts. Righteousness leads to life rather than death, but, in the short run, the only perfectly righteous Man who ever lived died a horrible death. More about that in a minute.
So Proverbs tell us how we ought to seek to live, being diligent in our work, kind toward others, speaking well of our neighbor, etc. These are good and right ways to live whether we get all the benefits promised or not.
But in the gospel we learn that our good deeds are not sufficient to save us from eternal death. Jesus taught that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of many, because there was no other way (Matthew 26:26-28).
Paul emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ, the second man, the One who, unlike the first man, did not come from the dust, but came down from heaven. He died and rose again. We now, by faith, are promised a future in which we will bear the image of the Man of heaven. His resurrection gives us assurance that we too will be raised to have new spiritual bodies.
Christ’s disciples certainly seek to be righteous in this world, but they do so knowing they are not earning life but demonstrating that they have it, by the grace of the Lord and faith in Him. If you know this hope of life, live righteously, but trust in the only Righteous One, Jesus. He will see us home and give us new spiritual bodies that cannot sin nor die. We will lose the image of the man of dust and bear the image of the Man of heaven.