“Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (Genesis 1:26a).
The Bible teaches mankind was made in God's image. When we sinned the image was tarnished. Still, we were made in His image. There is a similarity between God and mankind. Even after sin entered into our bodies we are considered to be made in His image (see Genesis 9:6, James 3:9).
We aren’t omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. God is. He is infinite. We are finite. But, to a degree, God made us like Him.
Through Jesus Christ there is a progressive recovery of the image of God that was lost. He is bringing us back by moving us forward. We are “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). We are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
One day, this restoration will be complete. We will bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49). We will be like Christ. Not divine, but pure, experiencing holiness forever. But right now Jesus wants to perform His work in us by His Spirit. He wants to grow and sanctify us. He wants to restore the image.
So how are we made in the image of God? Some considerations:
We are moral.
We are moral. Unlike the animal kingdom, we have a conscience, an ability to feel shame. This conscience can be seared and tarnished (see Romans 1:21-22). But we have a conscience.
The man of God wants to allow Jesus Christ to continually redeem his conscience. We want him to give us a sensitivity to all He is sensitive about. We want Him to put in us a sense of accountability for our actions. Before his sin, Adam was tender to God, but hid afterwords. We want that open and transparent state to be restored in us. We want to walk humbly before our God. We want our every actions to be acceptable in His sight. Nothing hidden, nothing shameful, a conscience in line again with God.
We are spiritual.
We are spiritual. God is Spirit (John 4:24). We have bodies, but we have immaterial spirits as well. It is clear there is more to us than the simply physical realm. We are able, unlike the animal kingdom, to engage in spiritual activity.
The man of God wants to allow the spiritual man to have the preeminence. We cannot escape the fact we are physical, nor would we want to, for God gave us these bodies. With them we enjoy life and bring glory to Him. Still, we know we are spiritual beings as well. We want the spiritual part of us to operate and thrive. Interaction with God in His word and in prayer is something we desire. Worship and praise is something animals cannot offer. We will. We want to live in this spiritual realm.
We are mentally aware.
We are mentally aware. God has put in mankind the ability to reason, to think. One of our basic needs is to learn. We are constantly consuming information, processing. We aren’t purely instinctual, like the animal kingdom, but thinking, learning, growing. God put this mental capacity in us. With it, we create and learn complex languages. We are aware of the distant future. We think and create in ways unique to mankind.
The man of God wants his mind to be redeemed for God and His purposes. We rejoice that many of mankind's greatest advances have come from Christian minds, but we also rejoice in the general creative ability God has given mankind. We love when it is used for good. This is what we desire in our own minds. The words we form, the art we create, the work we do, we want it to be colored by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
We are relational.
We are relational. God is relational. Before humans or angels existed, God was in perfect community within Himself. Father, Son, and Spirit — one. God wants mankind to experience this beautiful relationship with Himself and with others. We marry and develop families with this ability. We develop complex and simple communities to engage in. We say hello. This relational imprint has come from God.
The man of God wants his relational faculties to be reordered for God and His glory. We want our relationships to be blessed and helped by the joy we bring. We want to, like God, give, rather than take. We want to interact with our church, our spouse, and our children in a way that resembles Christ. He wants to redeem the relational part of us, and we want Him to do it in us. We aren’t content to say, “I’m not a people person.” We know God has made us for at least some level of relational connection with Him and others.
We are physical.
We are physical. Obviously, God is spirit. He is not physical. But is there any sense in which our bodies are made in the image of God? It seems so. Without a body, God is able to see and hear and speak. We could not. God gave us bodies with which we can act like Him. We love and do good with our bodies. God does not need a body in order to do good, but we do.
The man of God wants his body to be useful to God, redeemed for His purpose and glory. If God wills, we will raise offspring, becoming fathers like He is a Father. We want these bodies to express love and tenderness. God behaves justly, and we long for our bodies to help us execute the same. Our mission is simple: our bodies for His glory.
Jesus saves all who believe in Him. He redeems us. Then, after justification, He continues to redeem us. He is restoring the image that was tarnished and lost through sin. Through the work of His Spirit in us we are regaining the ground that was lost at the fall, operating more and more in line with the image of God in us.