Thoughts from The Bible

Created in the Image of God

by Sarah Wootten

“When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up…the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature,” (Genesis 2:5-7, ESV).
Over the past few months, we have been writing about God’s attributes. Of course, we can never exhaust the topic of God’s character, but now that we have a base understanding of who He is, we shift our attention to the biblical study of mankind.

In the first two chapters of the Bible, we learn that God is the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and everything in them – including mankind. It was not left to chance that man should evolve. Nor did some extraterrestrial life place man on this planet. No, it was God who took the dirt of the ground, formed from it man, and then breathed life into him. Soon after that, God created the first woman from the side of the first man (Genesis 2:21-23).

Mankind is the crown jewel of God’s creation. The description of God forming man is very affectionate. Of course, God cares for all of His universe and the things that fill it, but mankind is special and distinguished from the rest of creation. In the account of God forming man in Genesis 1, we see that God created man in His image. The word “image” can also be translated as “likeness.” These two words are used interchangeably. But what does it mean?

Consider Genesis 1:26. Right after God says that He will make man in the image of Himself, God says that mankind will be rulers over all living animals on the earth. Later, God tasks man with keeping the garden; he is to rule over it as well (Genesis 2:15). God is ultimately the ruler over everything, but God shared His rule with mankind that He created (Psalm 8:3-8). Adam’s God-given authority over the animals and plants is one way in which he was created in God’s likeness. God is the sovereign ruler over all, and mankind was to be a little picture, a reflection of who God is, in his rule.
How else was man created in the image of God? Ecclesiastes 7:29 says, “God made man upright,” (ESV). Just like everything else in all of creation, God made man good (Genesis 1:31). In fact, He made man very good. We studied how God is righteous, just, and loving. Originally, these attributes described mankind too.

As perfect image bearers of God, we would have reflected His glory and shared a wonderful fellowship with Him. However, it is clear that we are now very different from God. He is always good; we are not. He is patient beyond measure; our patience too often depends on our sleep quality and coffee consumption. When humans rule over something, we mostly do so with arrogance, unfairness, and deceit, which is completely opposite from how God rules. In a few weeks, we’ll study Genesis 3 and learn how the human race was wrecked by wickedness.
The magnitude of the loss that we experienced when God’s likeness was ruined in us is beyond our comprehension. Imagine never experiencing guilt or shame because you always did what was right. Imagine never worrying about tomorrow because you perfectly trusted the One who holds each day in His hands. Our relationship with God would have been perfect; we would only know His blessing and never His punishment.

But our minds are now so marred by sin that we wouldn’t recognize someone who perfectly reflected God’s likeness if he walked right in front of us. We live in shame, trying to hide from God because we have done what is evil. We are no longer innocent; rather, we are guilty. Since God is just, and the guilty must be punished. When the image of God was lost in us, we lost life everlasting with our Creator and gained eternal judgment.

How can the image of God be restored in mankind? Our sin is like a little red sock that ruins the entire load of white laundry. We are powerless to restore ourselves. We are enslaved to our sin. We need someone who can do this work for us.
Thankfully, there is One man who always reflects the image of God. We’ll study Him next week.

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