God created mankind after the image of God, so what does this mean?
The Distorted Image
After Adam and Eve choose to disobey God and choose for themselves what is good and what is evil, the image of God was distorted. Sin has a way of doing that. From now on, for Adam and Eve, “There is a way that seems right to a man” but they found out, “its end is the way to death” (Prov 14:12). Originally, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27), and part of that image of God was being upright, but that was before they took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That changed everything. No longer was the Garden of Eden accessible, and now the ground was cursed. So mankind was cursed…cursed by sin, and something seemingly inescapable, being in our very nature (Psalm 51:5; Rom 3:10-12, 23). Part of this sinful nature was passed on to Adam and Eve’s children, particularly Cain who killed his brother Abel, so Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth” (Gen 5:3), meaning, like Adam and Eve, he too would sin, just like everyone else (1 Kings 8:46; Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:10, 23). Now humanity would bear children after their own likeness and after their own image, and not all of it was good. Just as we were originally created after God’s own image and God’s own likeness, we are now made in the likeness and image of our parents…warts and all (of which I also plead guilty), however some of the image and likeness of God is retained…even in our fallen state. For example, we hate injustice, we want to right every wrong; and we hate to see people suffer.
Image of God
If we understand that people are created after the image and likeness of God, we might treat them better. The outside image is not what I’m talking about. The homeless man or woman may or may not be there of their own accord, and most of us will never know, so that’s why we must treat others with dignity and respect, regardless of their looks. One way to look at it is, “There go we but by the grace of God,” so that could be us, and how would we want others to treat us if we were in their situation, especially if it was a result of things beyond your control? Many vets are homeless due to a lot of extenuating circumstances, but the vast majority of them have not brought this upon themselves. Besides, only God can see their heart (1 Sam 16:7), and only He knows how their life has been.
Image of the Father
Perhaps it was out of curiosity that Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John14:8). Jesus replied, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father” (John 14:9)? Jesus was the express image of the Father, which means He was merciful and forgiving, but He is also God just as the Father is. Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10), so Jesus’ words also showed us the Father. It showed us His redemptive plan for mankind (Mark 10:45) and judgment to come on all who reject Christ (John 1:18, 36). Jesus, as God, also had power and the authority to forgive sins (Matt 9:1-8). If you have read enough about Jesus, then you are well read about the Father, for if you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father.
Image of Christ
Today, the Body of Believers are being shaped, formed, and molded more into the image of Christ, day by day. At least that is true for many, and so it is “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:29). We are predestined to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that is partly done when we trust in Christ. Now we can stand before God because of Christ since it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Having the righteousness of Christ is being more in the image of God and in the likeness of God, so “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor 15:49). For believers, as I write this, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). The image of God comes from the Spirit of God as He points us to the Son of God. Tragically, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4), but we can pray for the lost; love the lost, and seek their good, but “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…is the image of God.” Did you get that? Read that again…“the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…is the image of God.” That’s because the gospel changes lives and regenerates through the Spirit to make us into a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Now, having “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10), we are being conformed into a creation more like Christ. Now that’s what I mean by restoring us back into the image and likeness of God!
Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15), so to be created in the image of God, we must be recreated, or born again, from above (John 3:3-7). That new birth is began by the Word of God, instilled by the Spirit of God, making relevant the Son of God, and thus birthing the children of God, and this is all for the glory of God (Eh 2:8-9). If we want to boast about anything, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31), and the glorious light of the gospel which washed our sins away.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.