Summary: Genesis 1:26 says that man is made in the image of God but what is that exactly? Let’s take a look at what the image of God is about and what that means for us.
THE IMAGE OF GOD
Genesis 1:26 says that man is made in the image of God but what is that exactly? Let’s take a look at what the image of God is about and what that means for us.
1) Mankind is unique. Gen 1:26-27.
When you look up the word image you will find words like reflection, likeness, representation. The American Tract Society dictionary defines image as, “An exact and complete copy or counterpart of any thing. The image of God in which man was created was in his spiritual, intellectual, and moral nature, in righteousness and true holiness.”
Man is the climax of God’s creative activity and was put in charge over all the earth. Why was Adam put as the overseer and caretaker of the world? Why was he given that authority and responsibility? Because man is the only one of God’s creation that was made in his image. Since man was made in the image of the divine King, he received authority (kingship) over the King’s creation. Nothing else is made in the image of God. Man was different; unique-special.
Notice that in the creation story you see God speaking things into existence. “Let there be light”, and so on. That is, until he gets to man. He doesn’t say, “Let there be man”, he says, “Let us make man in our image”. “Our image”. This represents the trinity-Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Nothing else is made in the image of the triune God. We are triune people. We are body, soul and Spirit. The beasts of the ground, the fish of the sea and the birds of the air do not have this privilege. We were created, knit together in the womb as David put it in Psalm 139:13.
One of the problems with evolution is that it removes all the glory of who we are. In Evolution we start out as a glob of primordial goo and somewhere along the line we evolve into monkeys and then into humans. As one person poetically put it, “From goo to you by way of the zoo.” But God sees us differently than just a few steps above goo. Being made in the image of God means I am not just another element of the world. Nothing else in all creation is made in the image of God.
Everything God created is good but only man is made in the likeness of God himself. Only man has a soul. Only man has the level of intelligence we do, the animal kingdom doesn’t have as high a capability to problem solve with as much logic and reason as we do. We are superior in many ways. We’re God’s crowning achievement; he saved the best for last.
2) A tarnished image. Gen. 5:1-3.
Does this mean we are no longer made in God’s image but rather in the image of Adam? Adam was created perfect; without sin. He was created to be immortal. Perfect-without sin-immortal; all of what God is. Then the fall happened. Now, all born would be imperfect, sinners, mortal. As God created Adam and Eve in his perfect image so now, after Adam and Eve sinned, they have a son born in their imperfect image.
That doesn’t mean we are totally removed from being made in God’s image. We are still the crowning achievement of creation, we are still body, soul and spirit but now, because we are born with a sinful nature, we are tarnished images of God. And unfortunately, because we are tarnished images we no longer get to look upon God.
Because Adam and Eve were made perfectly in the image of God they had the privilege of seeing God as he is. They had the privilege of literally walking with God. All that changed when sin entered in. The dynamic of their relationship instantly changed. They went from walking with God to hiding from God. They went from being in God’s presence to being banished from his garden. They went from being connected with God to being separated from God.
From then on, since all would be born in the image of man and thus an imperfect image of God there would no longer be the ability to see God in the fullness of his holiness. We are still made in God’s image but because of sin it’s a tarnished image.
3) We see God through Jesus.
Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. When Jesus came people were allowed to see God. Although it was still not in the fullness of his glory, since Jesus was a man as well as being God, there would be the ability to have a piece of what Adam and Eve experienced. As Adam and Eve walked and had a relationship with God so now people could have a relationship with Jesus-the visible aspect of the invisible God.