Are we really in the image of God?

My dearest brothers and sisters,

Our familiarity with the holy scriptures helps us to notice and avoid errors when they arise. We should approach the things of God with a serious mind and seek to be on the side of truth rather than error. Does our Almighty Savior not deserve such to worship Him? Let us look at one common error of thought found in the world today.

You may hear it said that “we are made in the image of God”. That sounds good at first. But, as the Apostle Paul said, “what saith the scripture?”

The first thing that comes to mind is the account of creation. Here are Verses 26 and 27 from the first chapter of Genesis:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

So, God did make man in His own image. Did he stay that way? Let’s read Genesis 5:3:

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth…

Here we notice a very important detail. Adam’s son was born not in the likeness of God but in the likeness of his father Adam.

What says the New Testament? (Note: As we read the following passage, we must remember that the text “the last Adam” and “the second man” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.)

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)

The Apostle Paul tells us that “we have borne the image of the earthy”. We are not in God’s image. If “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” in the future, then we do not currently bear the image of the heavenly. When the fall occurred in the Garden of Eden, sin entered into this world and there were consequences to that.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… (Romans 5:12)

Sin had an effect, brothers and sisters. Because of the effects of sin on the human race, we are not in the image of God. But be of good cheer…there is good news!

In the excerpt from the I Corinthians above, Paul says, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” We shall bear the image of the heavenly!? Wow! I can’t wait! Later in the same chapter, Paul goes on to tell us that “in the twinkling of an eye” “we shall all be changed”. This is known as glorification and is further mentioned in the Roman letter:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

These are some of the most comforting scriptures to be found, in my opinion. Paul’s letter to the Romans—divinely inspired and divinely preserved by God Almighty—tells us of our position before God. Past tense is used because this deal is as good as done, though not all of it is technically completed yet. But in God’s eyes it’s locked, signed, sealed, and delivered. You can take it to the bank!

Now, even though these things are as good as done, some of God’s elect are still being called (born of God by the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit). And, we are still waiting for His glorious return when He shall change our bodies and we shall be glorified.

Let’s consider another thought. If we were truly in the image of God, why did Jesus have to be made like us? Romans 8:3 tells us that Jesus came “in the likeness of sinful flesh”. (It’s important to note that He did not come “in sinful flesh” but “in the likeness of sinful flesh”.) Jesus was God manifested in flesh; He was 100% God and 100% man. Consider another passage:

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)

Jesus did not come in his own likeness. He was “made like unto his brethren”. But thanks to His conquering of death through the resurrection, one day we shall be made like our God. We sing a hymn that states, “When we wake in His likeness we’ll be satisfied.” If we were already in His likeness, why would we sing a hymn about someday awaking in His likeness? The simple fact is that we are not in His likeness, but some sweet day we shall be.

Until our glorification, we bear the image of our father Adam, looking forward to the triumphant return of our King of kings, and Lord of lords!

2 thoughts on “Are we really in the image of God?

  1. jsarber November 9, 2009 / 4:55 PM

    Amen, brother. Good post!

  2. Randall April 26, 2011 / 1:54 PM

    “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” – I Corinthians 11:7

    I came across this scripture this morning, and it has caused me to rethink my position. I still believe that the main line of thought I expressed is correct. I will sum up my thoughts on the matter by saying that:

    * Man was made in God's image (yet able to fall)
    * Because of disobedience, man fell from a state of fellowship with God
    * Man became a sinful creature because of the fall
    * Jesus came in the likeness of our sinful flesh (though he had no sin)
    * What Jesus Christ accomplished will one day result in us being conformed to his own incorruptible image
    * While we wait for the resurrection day, we are still creatures who sin and who exist as a fallen image of God

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