We know from Genesis 1 that all of creation was created good. Genesis 1 depicts a joyful celebration and pronouncement of the goodness of creation, as the rhythmic pronouncements of Moses repeat: “and it was good…and it was good…and it was good.” The infinite wisdom of God is revealed in the beauty and order of creation—including the creation of man! Yet it is easy for both counselor and counselees to overlook a central dynamic within the relationship between God and man that is introduced into the biblical narrative in Genesis 1: the Creator-creature distinction.
Genesis 1 clearly illustrates the Creator-creature distinction since Genesis 1 shows God as God and human beings as creatures. Many counselees (and counselors!) would benefit from reflecting upon three practical implications of the Creator-creature distinction.
“Because I am not God, I am Dependent.”
Dependence is not a flaw in our design; it is a function. Cars need gas. Fire needs oxygen. Humanity needs God. In Genesis 1 and 2, human finitude, limitation, and dependence upon God are all put on full display. For humanity to flourish, Adam and Eve would need to exercise dominion over the earth. They would need to gather food. They would need to study the world. They would need to rest. These functions seem normal to us until we remember that these functions are never assigned as “needs” to God in Scripture. God does not need food, he knows all things instantaneously in one act of knowing, and he only rests for our good to give us an example to follow.
Counselors must remind counselees that biblical counseling may not “solve” all their “problems,” especially since they may perceive “problems” in their lives that are not “problems” in a biblical sense at all but are aspects of our creatureliness. Many counselees despise their limits, they kick off God’s authority and are constantly trying to extend the permanent boundaries of human finitude. They don’t want to be dependent; they want to be in control or in charge. They want to have all the answers. They—in a sense—want to be God.
But Scripture clearly tells us that human beings never graduate from being sheep in need of a shepherd. Genesis 1 begins with a people under the authority of God, and Revelation 21-22 ends with God and his finite, dependent, and glorified people.
As human beings, we will be glorified, but we never graduate from dependence upon God, and that is a good thing.
“Because I am not God, I need Wisdom.”
In Genesis 1-2, immediately after God creates Adam and Eve, he starts to shepherd them. He speaks to Adam. He gives instructions and boundaries. He lays before Adam and Eve a path that leads to life and abundance and a path that leads to death.
Psalm 73:24 says, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” Because man is a creature—finite, dependent, and limited—he needs wisdom. He needs counsel. He is not intellectually self-sufficient. He does not have an exhaustive account of both how life works (practical wisdom) and how the universe is ordered (theoretical knowledge). Yet, human beings constantly make decisions with limited wisdom and knowledge that have enormous and eternal consequences.
If man is going to live wisely and well in the world, he needs wisdom. He needs God’s Word (Psalm 1). Thankfully, God has not left humanity in the dark but has clearly revealed himself to humanity in Scripture, giving us “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), that “we may be equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Because of the Creator-creature distinction, every human being will either live in submission to God’s authority by obedience to God’s Word, or they will reject God’s authority and assert their own autonomy (to their eventual temporal and eternal suffering). Like in Genesis 3, the stakes of rejecting God’s authority remain high to this day. Our counselees may want to deny this truth, but because we are not God, we need wisdom.
“Because I am not God, I am Mutable.”
The first “mutants” do not appear in an X-Men comic but in Scripture. In contrast to God’s nature—who is immutable—human beings are mutable or susceptible to change. God created Adam with the capacity to experience change in his being. The fall of humanity presupposes that humanity is mutable. We can change, and we have fallen (Genesis 3). Nevertheless, the glorious reality of the mutability of human nature means that our current position as fallen creatures is not necessarily permanent. As we once fell into sin, so we can be born again. Human beings—through the power of the Gospel—can turn from sin and towards righteousness (Romans 6:5-14).
The reality of human mutability frees counselees from the bondage of “I will always be like this.” Against the backdrop of the deterministic psychologies of our day, we know that we (born-again Christians) can change because we are being sanctified from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). This reality can radically transform the mindset of counselees as they embrace the truth that their future is not limited by their past, their predicaments, or their biology. They can truly obey Paul’s words in Romans 6:13, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
These are only a few of the implications of the Creator-creature distinction. May we counsel, pastor, lead, and teach with an eye ever towards the reality that God is God, and we are not, and that is a good thing.