On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in Our image, in Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).
“What does it mean that humanity is made in the image of God (imago dei)?”
The scripture pointed out that the way and the pattern God created man was different from other creations like the birds, fishes, trees, firmaments, even with the beasts of the field which were created on the same sixth day with man. How different? The scripture says, “Thus, He finished His work with a “personal touch.” God formed Adam from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Accordingly, humanity is unique amongst all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit. To have the “image” or “likeness” of God in the simplest terms means we were made to resemble God in authority and ruler –ship on the earth to act, speak in lieu of God who has no mortal body to operate in the mundane. This is why Adam did not resemble God in the sense of God’s having flesh and blood because the Scripture says that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and therefore exists without a body. However, Adam’s body did mirror the life of God insofar as it was created in perfect health and was not subject to death.
AUTHORITY AND RULER-SHIP
“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 cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The image of God (Latin: imago dei) refers to the immaterial part of humanity. Since God exercises authority over all things He created, He gave the man Adam, the same authority on earth to deputize for Him. This sets human beings apart from the animal world, and fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and enables them to (report back) commune with their Maker. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.
Mentally, humanity was created as a rational, volitional agent. In other words, human beings can reason and choose. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom. Anytime someone invents a machine, writes a book, paints a landscape, enjoys a symphony, calculates a sum, or names a pet, he or she is proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image.
Morally, humanity was created in righteousness and perfect innocence, a reflection of God’s holiness. God saw all He had made (humanity included) and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Our conscience or “moral compass” is a vestige of that original state. Whenever someone writes a law, recoils from evil, praises good behavior, or feels guilty, he or she is confirming the fact that we are made in God’s own image.
Socially, humanity was created for fellowship with God and other humans; no one is created to be isolated because isolation means death Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
This reflects God’s triune nature (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and His love. In the Garden of Eden, humanity’s primary relationship was with God (Genesis 3:8 implies fellowship with God), and God made the first woman because “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Every time someone marries, makes a friend, hugs a child, or attends church, he or she is demonstrating the fact that we are made in the likeness of God.
Part of being made in God’s image is that Adam had the capacity to make free choices. Although they were given a righteous nature, Adam and Eve made an evil choice to rebel against their Creator. In so doing, they marred the image of God within themselves, and passed that damaged likeness on to all of their descendants (Romans 5:12). Today, we still bear the image of God because of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross (James 3:9), but we also bear the scars of sin. Mentally, morally, socially, and physically, we show the effects of sin.
The good news is that when God redeems an individual through Jesus Christ Colossians 1: 12-14, He begins to restore the original image of God, creating a “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 1:4; 4:24). That redemption is only available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that separates us from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through Christ, we are made new creations in the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). And the authority and dominion which Adam lost via wrong choice are being restored back to us in Christ Jesus Luke 10:19.
Not knowing who you are may turn you to become sub servant to demons and be trampled upon by every Dick and Harry of vagabonds who invaded the earth through Adam’s laxity. But if you return to Him today Zechariah 1:3, your portion of dominion and authority through Christ Jesus will be returned to you and life will become beautiful.