God’s Image: “God created man in His own image.” This word “image” in common discourse is suggestive of something visual. A camera captures an image, for looking; for observation with the physical eye. Pictures or graphics in computer format are often called “images.” So the word is often used for something visual; something that becomes the object of sight. Not in Genesis 1:27.
In dealing with the word in this context, we must move beyond simple visual similarity. This “image” is real, but not necessarily or primarily visual. The word “image” in Gen. 1:27 means “likeness, resemblance.” The previous verse reports God’s declaration: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
We were made like God; according to His likeness. Now this cannot be understood as duplication; we are not clones of Deity (see Deut. 4:35). We are like God; we are not God. He made us in His image. We must not attempt to make Him in our image.
Of all God made, He made man unique, like Him. We have the capacity to think, to make choices, to love – unlike plants and animals. We can be good; we can choose good character, do good things, be good people. God never said to a tree, rock or insect, “Be holy, for I am holy,” but He says that to us, according to 1 Pet. 1:16. We were made in the image of God.
Sin stifles that resemblance, “defacing” the image of God. Sin keeps us from personally realizing the full extent of our resemblance to God and living in fellowship with Him. But in your response to Christ, sin is forgiven. And in your continued life of response to Christ, sin is conquered. This was the basis of what Paul said to the saints in Colossae. They had “put on the new self, who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” Romans 8:29 defines this process in these terms: “for whom he foreknew, He also predestined (to become) conformed to the image of His Son.” We were created by God, made in His image. Through the choice to sin, we fall into the bondage and guilt of sin (defacing the image). But in obeying the gospel, we are renewed and conformed to the image of His Son.
Tomorrow, God’s Distinction