God’s Image Restored in Christ
by Sarah Wootten Corinth Missionary Baptist Church
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’” (Genesis 1:26, ESV).
Last week, we looked at how God made mankind special and distinguished them from the rest of creation. God created mankind in His image. However, it is clear that we are very unlike God. God’s likeness in us is ruined, and we are helpless to restore ourselves to the beautiful image we were intended to reflect. When the image of God was ruined in mankind, we lost personal holiness and a joyous fellowship with our Creator. We gained guilt, sin, and eternal death. Who can help us?
Thankfully, there is One person who has always been righteous. Colossians 1:15 says, “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God,” (ESV). When Jesus calmed the raging storm, people saw God’s power over nature (see Luke 8:22-25). When Jesus healed the outcasts, God’s mercy and compassion was demonstrated (see Luke 8:42-48). The severity of God’s just judgment was known through Jesus’ words to the wicked (see Luke 10:13-16). When Jesus came as a man to the earth, mankind saw “the radiance of the glory of God,” who represented God exactly (Hebrews 1:3, ESV). Jesus is God in the flesh.
And yet, men rejected Jesus. I wasn’t kidding last week when I said we wouldn’t recognize someone who perfectly reflected God’s likeness. John 1:10 says, “[Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him,” (ESV). Mankind has fallen so far from whom he was created to be. So what did man do? They killed Jesus.
On the cross, Jesus became the sinless sacrifice. Since God is a good judge, sinful people must be punished; otherwise, He wouldn’t be just. However, Jesus became the substitute. He received the punishment that man deserved so that those who have faith in Jesus may be restored to a perfect relationship with the Father. Punishment no longer awaits those who are found in Christ (see John 3:16-18 and Romans 8:1-4).
Apart from Jesus, everyone is unrighteous and guilty of sin (Romans 3:10-12). Everyone who has faith in Jesus receives righteousness from God (Romans 3:22). Those who are found in Christ are “holy and blameless before Him,” (Ephesians 1:4, ESV). Blameless before God; doesn’t that remind you of the state of man in the Garden of Eden? Jesus is the only solution. He bears no guilt Himself, and He has already bore the guilt of everyone who comes to Him. God’s likeness that was broken in us can only be restored in Christ. It cannot be done apart from Christ.
For Christians today, through the power of the Spirit, we strive to live a life that reflects the image of God. Colossians 3:10 tells us to “put on the new self…after the image of its creator,” (ESV). We shouldn’t continue in the wicked deeds that are opposed to God’s character; rather, we are called to reflect His character once again (Galatians 5:16-24).
And yet, the image of God in believers isn’t perfectly realized today. Even though we are putting to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13), we still have sin remaining in us (1 John 2:1). But, we have hope. When Jesus comes again to make all things new, believers will be like Him (1 John 3:2). Of course, we will never be exactly like God; deity and omniscience doesn’t await us in eternity. But we will be beautiful image bearers once again. We will no longer rebel against God; we will only obey Him. We won’t experience the guilt and shame of our sin, trying to hide ourselves from our Father. Our whole beings will rightly worship and glorify Him in everything that we do. We won’t strive with our neighbor anymore, but live in perfect harmony with one another.
Lastly, can we be confident that God’s likeness will be restored in believers? Romans 8:29 says that everyone God foreknew, He predetermined would be “conformed to the image of his Son,” (ESV). It is God’s restoring work, not our own. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Nothing can thwart His plans. God will complete the work for us. Of this, we can be sure.