Man was created in the ‘image’ of God. Have you heard that? It is scriptural – not only so, but it is an oft repeated phrase on our day. Even if you are not a Christian per say, I would doubt if you had never heard this statement: ‘Man was created in the image of God.’
But what exactly does this mean? Some assert that it means we are just like God, so man’s natural tendencies are just in and of themselves. Some believe it means that our physical structure is like that of God’s ‘shape,’ or form. Some insist that it means there is divinity in all men. I have heard so many variances on the meaning of this statement, that even IT (the statement itself) takes any IMAGE, and SHAPE one can conceive.
This phrase was taken from scripture. May I suggest that we go to source for clarification – perhaps we shall benefit from the exercise. Below is the passage from which the statement is taken:
Genesis 1:26 &27
26 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.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Can we say then, that God is like us, and learn about God by learning about ourselves? No, because the Lord later clarifies that we ARE NOT like Him. For He said:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
So we cannot say by this phrase that God is like US. Perhaps we could say, however, that WE are like HIM? But what would that mean?
Made in the IMAGE of God…
The Prophet Isaiah said:
To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? (Isa 40:18)
This is an interesting thought – what sort of image can we compare God to? In fact, asking this question puts us, somewhat, on dangerous ground because God expressly forbade the use of images in worshiping Him (it is the second of the ten commandments – Ex 20:4). Indeed, that is, to a large degree the point that Isaiah was trying to make in the above verse.
(Man! I’m making this difficult, aren’t I?)
Jesus declared that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). How, then, can man be made in the IMAGE of a SPIRIT? A spirit HAS NO IMAGE. It is invisible.
But that is in accordance with the commandments of Moses’ law – nothing in the PHYSICAL WORLD can be used to depict God’s image: that is idolatry.
Let’s look at the other account of man’s creation in scripture, found in the next chapter in Genesis, perhaps that will give us greater insight:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Now this is interesting. First off I will point out that God made man of the dust of the ground. What does that mean? Does it mean that God literally took some dirt, and kind of shaped a human body like a clay molding? Not really – we aren’t really made of just dirt – there’s a whole lot more to your physical structure than that. This is the language of prophetic typology, it really just means that man is made of PHYSICAL MATTER. (Now turn to your neighbor and say ‘body’ – no just kidding (don’t you hate it when preachers do that?! BAH!))
So, God – a Spirit – made a body of physical matter. Is the structure of our physical body somehow God’s image? No – for all of the animals were made from the dust of the earth as well (again – PHYSICAL MATTER). Remember: when physical matter is elevated to divine nature it is idolatry.
GOD IS NOT DUST (That is: GOD IS NOT COMPOSED OF PHYSICAL MATTER), as we are, GOD IS A SPIRIT.
BUT the image of God thought IS represented in this second story of man’s creation:
‘And the Lord God …BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS THE BREATH OF LIFE…’
The image of God is not our outward, physical appearance, nor does it have anything to do with the elements too often associated merely with man. Man was spiritually concieved by the BREATH of God. What does that mean? If God is not matter, how can He breathe? Once again, this is prophetically typological language.
Breath, and wind are INVISIBLE FORCES. If you are made in the image of God you, too, have spiritual, supernatural tendencies. Albeit in the fallen state of man, we have become unable to see and hear those things of the spirit. We are blind – nay in fact, we are dead (this is what ‘blindness’ means, for Jesus LIFE is the LIGHT of all men (John 1:4).
SPIRITUAL LIFE is what is meant by THE IMAGE OF GOD.
But Adam – the first man was a prophet. This (ought be) nothing terribly mystical for he was MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, who is a Spirit. A body made of physical matter, bearing the SPIRITUAL LIFE, and perceptions of God – this could be counted the very definition of a prophet!
The very first man made was a prophet – and God’s intention for His world of PHYSICAL MATTER, was that they all bring forth ACCORDING TO THEIR KIND.
The human race – made in the image of God; God’s intention was to have an entire race of prophets: physical body – spiritual life.
When man fell into sin he died (Romans 7:9-11), just as God said he would (Gen 2:17). Your spiritual life, and senses have perished? The image of God was lost. We too often use that phrase ‘we are made in the image of God’ without understanding. Mankind is no longer in the image of God, for that divine life within man is dead. Though mankind was made in the image of God, man’s natural state is no longer in the image of God at all, no just as God said: ‘…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ (Gen 3:19).
Fear not, however – the last Adam – the man Jesus Christ is come! HE Is the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE God (Col 1:15), and He is come that we might have LIFE once again. Yes, God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in SPIRIT, and in Truth. John 4:24)
Would you be in the image of God? Would you be a new SPIRITUAL crature?