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Made in the Image of God (part 3 of 4)

Adam – The First Man

(click the link to go to the first post in this series LINK)

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Adam and Eve are made in God’s image. We do not know much about their appearance. Scripture doesn’t reveal height, weight, hair color, and so forth. We know Adam is made from the dust of the ground, God breathes life into him, and that he is given the task of tending the garden and naming the creatures. Eve is made of Adam’s flesh. We have no reason to conclude that their bodies are different than ours. As their descendants, we can conclude that we are much like them in that we are the same species. Genesis 5:3 says: When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Adam and Eve are originally created as sinless. God gives them the free-will to make choices. Adam chooses to sin against God’s command. We understand that the original sin of Adam brings about the fall of all people (1 Corinthians 15:22). Adam and his descendants have a sin nature.

The fall tarnishes our image. God no longer says His creation is very good. After the fall, God says that people are not good. Not one is right. Not one is good (Romans 3:12). The sin brings expulsion and punishment. In the punishment, the term “dust” (Genesis 3:19) helps us gain an understanding of the bigger picture.

Sin, our fallen nature, occludes our understanding of God and our ability to be His image-bearer. In our current state, we bear the image of the dust (fleshly) as being corrupt and mortal. 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 gives us a picture of being restored from the earthly image of mortality (which is scripturally connected to our fallen state) to the image of Christ. This passage gives us greater understanding and clues on where to look to find more answers to the question of what it means to be made in the image of God; particularly the image of Christ; the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Jesus Christ – the Second Man

All Scripture is given for the exaltation of Jesus Christ. All which God does is for the purpose of exalting Christ (Colossians 1:19; Ephesians 1:9-10). Therefore, how we understand what it means for us to be made in the image of God should affirmatively answer this question, “Does my understanding of how man is made in the image of God exalt Jesus Christ?” If our understanding of what it means to be made in the image of God is Christ-exalting, it is a highly accurate understanding[1]. If our understanding does not exalt Jesus Christ, it is a wrong view.

A Christ-exalting approach is to seek to understand how we are made in the image of God by looking to Jesus. Jesus Christ is the perfect man. He is the epitome of being made in the image of God. We need to examine how Jesus Christ displays God as a human.

The humanity of Christ is critical to our understanding of how we are made in God’s image. We know that Jesus Christ became a man by taking on flesh (John 1, Philippians 2). We can look at His attributes and see how He is like us. Jesus exhibits emotions, and He has a mind that reasons. He displays human life characteristics in that He is born as an infant, eats, talks, breaths, walks, bleeds, and dies. People don’t respond to His appearance as though He is an alien, but rather, He is seen as another person.

As we look at the humanity of Jesus, we need to keep in mind that He is also 100% God. Jesus tells Philip, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus bodily (Co 1:15; 1:19; 2:9). Because Jesus is God, He possesses divine attributes that only belong to God, and not to man. In other words, just as God has incommunicable attributes which we do not have, Jesus exhibits incommunicable attributes that other humans do not.

Jesus Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and an exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3, 2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus performs acts, and displays attributes that belong to God alone (e.g., John 8:58 describes Jesus as eternal; John 1:48 reveals Jesus to be omniscient). When we view descriptions of Jesus and study His person, we need to be careful not to ascribe[2] divine attributes to our nature that are not originally intended. In other words, because Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, He has attributes which Adam and Eve do not possess. The signs and miracles Jesus performs are to prove His divinity and not that He is human. His miracles reveal that He is God so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31). We are not God in the flesh. Therefore, not all of Jesus’ attributes will apply to us.

Some will say, “Hold on! There are people in the Bible that perform miracles.” Yes, but they are neither eternal or omniscient. When people in the Bible perform miracles and signs (e.g., Moses, Elijah, Apostle Paul), it is not to reveal their divinity. Rather, signs and wonders are to show the validity of their message as being from a divine source. In heaven, we will not perform miracles since the Gospel will be proclaimed to its fullest extent.

Becoming Like Christ

1 Corinthians 15:49 tells us, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” Likewise, 1 John 3:2 says, “that when He appears, we shall be like Him.” At the end of the age, we shall be like Christ, which is to be like God.

The Edenic fall is the condition which people sin and are no longer righteous. Adam and Eve were once righteous but became unrighteous. The Bible reveals that the ministry of Jesus is to correct the wrongs of the Edenic fall. Jesus sheds His blood to redeem us from our fallen condition. The term “redemption” implies a restoration; being brought back and restored. We are given the promise that in our future resurrected state, we are restored to our original likeness, in fact beyond our original likeness (1 Corinthians 15:42-47). The primary restorative work of Jesus is His imputation of righteousness.

When we are in Christ, we are made righteous. Sanctification is the process of restoration from our sinful condition to that of the second Adam; Jesus Christ. God is at work in us to conform us into the image of Jesus. Therefore, anything we do to be Christ-like is to be image-bearing of Jesus. Our primary call as a Christian is to imitate Him. Scripture implores us to be “led by the Spirit” or to be “Christ-like.”

In their commentary on the Old Testament, C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch write, The image of God consists, therefore, in the spiritual personality of man, …, a creaturely copy of the holiness and blessedness of the divine life. This concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin; and it is only through Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence, that our nature is transformed into the image of God again.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? It means to be made in His righteousness.

Next week, part four (the final post).


[1] This position is true, all conclusions, all answers, all things, are for the exaltation of Jesus Christ. However, we must also recognize that there may be conclusions that are put forth by men that are faulty and may be difficult to discern as being faulty. Therefore, because we live in a fallen world with fallen man, we must be careful in how we view this truth in application. In other words, I recognize the challenges putting forth such a statement presents, having written it as one who “sees through a glass dimly.”

[2] Many who seek to do miracles need to understand this truth, that Jesus was both God and man. We will not perform the miracles and acts of Christ as He did. These were signs to point to His divinity, not signs pointing to our divinity.

About Allen Burns

Allen serves as an elder and is the Staff Pastor-Teacher at Christ Community Church