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What does it mean to be created in the Image of God? The answer lies…”in the beginning..”

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Man was created to bear the image of God, to reflect who He is, and to magnify His glory.  We know that Adam was created with a body, soul, and spirit.  The body is a tabernacle that “houses” the soul, and also “houses” the heart and mind.  Remember that Jesus said, to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  Jesus was saying that we are to love God with ALL that we are.

The Soul

The soul can be understood as the essence of one’s being. It is the transcendent self, the immortal part of us that will never perish. The organs of the heart and mind will perish, yet the consciousness of each lies in the soul, which is eternal.  How can I know this?  I believe the Bible teaches this (Read: Are we a soul? Or do we have a soul?) and I also base it on what I’ve observed.  In 2012, a dear friend of mine received a heart transplant  The organ of his heart was removed and replaced with that of another, yet the essence of his being did not change one bit.

The Spirit

The Bible is clear that the Spirit is the breath of life.  We are told that God breathed life into Adam:

Genesis 2:7  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.

Adam’s body was formed from the dust of the earth, and the essence of his being, his soul, was given life by the breath of God. Adam’s soul was quickened, i.e. made alive, and he “became a living soul.”  By God’s own breath,  the Holy Spirit, God breathed into Adam and he became a fully alive tri-partite being–a body, a soul, and a spirit–created in God’s own image.

The Architecture of Man = Created in His Image

This triune nature (three-part nature) of Adam reflects the image of our Triune God.

  1. Body:  Jesus, as we know from Scripture, is both the “brightness of His glory” and the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3) = the body
  2. Soul: God, the Father is understood and revealed as the essence of the Godhead, the Great I AM = the soul.
  3. Spirit: The Holy Spirit = the spirit.

Both the Father and the Spirit are unseen, similar to man’s soul and spirit being unseen.  Jesus, we are told, is God made “manifest in mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11). In a similar way, our earthly bodies hold that which is our unseen essence.

…the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

Just as the Godhead shares perfect communion among themselves, Adam was created in perfect peace within himself (body, soul, and spirit) and to be in communion with God. 

With God having breathed life into Adam’s soul, the Holy Spirit was present with Adam– that is until he sinned and broke his perfect communion with God.  The presence of the Holy Spirit was no longer with Adam in the same way it had been and his triune nature was changed.  He no longer was body, soul, and Spirit.  The life breathed into his soul, in which he was to live eternally, no longer kept him alive.  His soul died and his body began to die.  That’s why the Bible says we “must be born again” (John 3:3),  born “of the Spirit” (John 3:5).

Loss of Image

When Adam sinned, his triune nature changed.  He was no longer an eternal body, soul, and spirit.  He was still triune in that there remained a spirit of man in him (Prov 20:27, Ecc 3:21, Zech 12:1, 1 Cor 2:11), but the Spirit who gave life to Adam’s soul was no longer in/with him.  When the Holy Spirit left Adam, his triune image changed. From that time on, all people are born in the image of Adam and the Bible tells that their life is in the blood (Lev 17:1).  

Genesis 5:3  And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image [Adam’s fallen image; no longer having the breath of God in him; no longer a living soul]; and called his name Seth

Lev 17:11  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: [prior to the fall, Adam’s life was 

Restoring the Image

So, while it is absolutely correct to say that man was CREATED in the image of God, it must be understood that every person since Adam has been BORN in the image of Adam — in the image of fallen man.  Everyone is born with a body and a soul, as well as a spirit of man. But all are born without the quickening, life-giving Spirit of the breath of God that gave life to Adam’s soul.  That is why Jesus said, “you must be born again” (John 3:3, 7:) and John wrote about being born of God (1 John 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18).  

When a sinful man repents and trusts in Jesus, God is faithful to save him by forgiving his sins, regenerating his soul with the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, and giving him the precious gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to teach him and direct his life.

Restoration Already. . . But Not Yet

This is a restoration of shalom.  It is a restoration of the peace with God that God intended for mankind (Read: What is the Difference Between Peace WITH God and Peace OF God?). It is a restoration of the Holy Spirit’s quickening power in the soul. And yet this is not a full restoration to the image in which Adam was created.  Remember, Adam was created without sin.  While redeemed and regenerated man has been forgiven of his sins, he still has a sin nature and will continue to sin.  Salvation has saved him from the penalty and power of sin, but not from the presence of sin. (Read: 1 John 1:9 What is the Christian “Bar of Soap?”  What Happens If I Continue to Sin?)

Glory to Come

As born again Christians, we are fully alive. We are in the right relationship with God in our justification (Read: The Gift of SalvaTION: Justification & Imputation) and we can enjoy communion with Him in our sanctification (Read: What you need to know about Sanctification & Glorification). However, we must remember that, on this earth, we are not enjoying complete and perfect communion with God.  The full restoration of perfect shalom will only take place when we die and leave our earthly tabernacle, our fleshly bodies.  When we go to be with the Lord in glory, we will then be saved from the presence of sin and from even the possibility of sinning. Then one day in the promised bodily resurrection, we will receive a glorified body likened unto the Lord’s glorified body.

Philippians 3:21  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

In that day, we will be perfected and totally restored as His image-bearers and we will reflect His glory forever and ever.


Read also  “Who Can Tell Me?”

“Who can tell me where I came from?” The little boy would ask.
His question was a good one, Yet he faced a trying task.
Each man had different answers, As he was soon to learn.
This brought him great confusion, And it caused a deep concern.

He first went to his schoolmates. . .

“Why are we here?” We were created for His pleasure (Rev 4:11) and to reflect His love, His mercy, and His grace to a fallen world.  A paraphrase of Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

READ MORE: Who Am I? Am I Really Made in the Image of God?
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There is much to be learned from those who have gone before us in the faith.  Check out our Cloud of Witnesses category that features the words of departed saints who are now with the Lord in glory.  Their words equip and encourage us even to this day.  Take a few minutes to hear...

  1. ONLY ONE LIFE, Twill Soon Be Past – by C.T. Studd (1860 – 1931)
  2. “The Love of God is Greater Far” by Frederick M. Lehman (1917)
  3. Prayers from Billy Graham
  4. Who Was Robert Robinson? What’s the Story Behind “Come Thou Fount”
  5. “Immanuel” — A Poem by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  6. Who Am I? A Poem by Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1905-1945)
  7. Understanding the Everlasting Arms of God, by J.R. Miller (1840–1912)
  8. 24 Reasons Why I Love America, by John Wayne (1907-1979)
  9. Give Me Perpetual Broken-heartedness (from The Valley of Vision)
  10. Abide with Me, by James Smith, 1859

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