“And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness … So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:26, 27
The LORD God created the first man and woman in His own image and after His likeness. Since God is a spirit, the image and likeness spoken of here refer not to a visible likeness, but to a spiritual likeness. We learn of this image of God in the New Testament.
Colossians 3:10 says of the new man or new nature in Christians, that it “is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Ephesians 4:24 says of this same new nature that it “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Therefore, we see that the image of God is to know God and His perfect will and also to be truly righteous and holy. Adam and Eve were created with perfect knowledge of God and His will and, in the beginning, had only holy and pure thoughts, desires, words and deeds.
Of course, the fall, recorded in Genesis 3, changed all that and the image of God was lost! Man’s knowledge and understanding of God and His perfect will became darkened so that he now comes up with his own ideas and beliefs about God and even worships and serves the creature (what God has created) rather than the Creator.
Instead of being holy and righteous and wholly devoted to the service of the Almighty God, man has become turned in and focused upon himself and his own desires and ambitions and lives in disobedience and rebellion against God’s holy commandments.
In believers, those who acknowledge their utter sinfulness and trust in the shed blood of Christ Jesus for their salvation, the image of God is being restored. They have a new nature, created in them by God the Holy Spirit, that is being “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created” them, a nature that “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” They, “with open face beholding as in a glass [a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
But believers in Jesus will not achieve sinless perfection here in this world. They will not perfectly reflect the glory of the Lord. The Bible plainly tells us that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8); and we are encouraged to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His propitiating sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2).
And, when the Last Day shall come, all who have trusted in Christ Jesus will be raised up with a perfect knowledge of God and in perfect righteousness and holiness.
The Scriptures speak of this when they say: “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15); “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2); and “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
And so, dear friend, you and I were created in God’s image, created to know God and His perfect will and created to serve God in accord with His will and design. Adam’s sin took from all of us this image of God. Instead of reflecting the holiness and righteousness of God our Maker, we have each gone our own way, seeking to gratify our own fallen and sinful nature and to glorify ourselves. The image of God was lost and we are born into this world dead in our trespasses and sins and are under the wrath of God (cf. Eph. 2:1-3).
In Christ Jesus, God’s own dear Son made man, God provided a sacrifice for our sins and offers to us pardon and forgiveness through faith in the Son. God the Holy Spirit, working through the good news of forgiveness in Christ, regenerates us, bringing us to faith in Christ and then working in our lives to restore the image and glory of God which we lost. And, when Christ returns and the dead are raised up, then all who have placed their hope in Him will reflect His image and serve Him in everlasting righteousness and holiness!
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that my life does not perfectly reflect Your holiness or Your glory. Wash away my sins in Your shed blood and create in me a new heart and nature which loves You, seeks Your will and lives for Your glory. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]