Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Made in God's Image

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6).

Theologians have sometimes argued that we lost the image of God in the Fall. This is clearly wrong, as Genesis 9:6 shows. After the Flood, God commanded humanity to enforce capital punishment against murderers, and gave as His rationale that “in the image of God has God made man.” In other words, long after the Fall, man is still described as the image of God by God Himself.

At the same time, man clearly lost something at the Fall. In some sense, we stopped imaging God in that we no longer imaged His holiness and righteousness. Some theologians refer to Genesis 1:26, where God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” Since the image has not changed, they argue, it must be the likeness that has changed. We continue to be the image of God, but we have lost, to some degree, the likeness of God.

Other theologians argue that image and likeness are really synonyms in this verse, so we cannot make a neat distinction between the two. They—including most traditional Protestant theologians—explain the situation this way: There is a wider sense in which man is the image of God, and also a narrow or particular sense. In the wider sense, man simply is the image of God, and since that is what man is by definition, it cannot be changed or lost. As long as man is man, he is the image of God.

In the narrow sense, however, man images God’s holiness and righteousness. Man, therefore, stopped imaging God at the Fall. He lost his conformity to God’s image. We are still the image of God, but we are distorting that image. If other people look at us to see what God is like, they will get the wrong idea, because we image Him imperfectly. Only in Jesus Christ do we see a man who is the perfect image of God in both senses.

When an object we care for becomes scratched, dented, or marred, our desire is to restore it. How much more love the Father has shown to His children through the redemption secured by Christ. God desires our cooperation as He restores us to conformity to His image. Meditate today on what full restoration in heaven will be like for you.