With this article we begin a new section on the creation and fall of man. We have talked about God’s act of creating all things. Now we take a look at that special creature that God made in His own image to represent Him and to rule over His kingdom.
In this section we will be considering especially what it meant that Adam was created in God’s image, and what happened to man when he fell into sin. There is much debate about this today. Many redefine what it means to bear God’s image. They do so in an effort to persuade people that all human beings bear God’s image today. They want to maintain this because it implies that man by nature still has within him some good.
Some of the colleges that our children attend are taking advantage of the fact that many do not know what it means that man was created in the image of God. In these days of subtle deception, we and our children must be very clear on what it does mean, who bears God’s image today, and what it means for God’s image bearers to exercise dominion over His creatures.
To bear God’s image is to be God’s child
Man is different from the plants and animals. Unlike those creatures, man was created in the image of God.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,
God spoke within Himself before He created man. The three Persons spoke of creating man “in our image, after our likeness.” What exactly does this phrase mean?
To find the answer to this question, it is good to seek another passage that speaks of a person bearing someone’s image. Just a few chapters later, in Genesis 5, we read again of God creating Adam, and then we read of Adam begetting a son in his own likeness, after his image:
In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him…. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth,
Gen. 5:1b, 3,
Notice the reference to someone’s image and likeness. Similar language is used when speaking of God creating Adam and of Adam begetting Seth. This similar language serves to point out an important relationship: If we bear someone’s image, that means we are that someone’s child.
That Seth bore Adam’s image means that he was Adam’s child. Similarly, that Adam bore God’s image means that he was God’s child. That is what we read also in Luke 3:38, which says that Adam’s Father was God.
So to bear God’s image is to be a child of God.
Only God’s children bear His image
Grasping this relationship between bearing God’s image and being God’s child is of crucial importance. It helps us to understand that only those born of God bear God’s image today. Many say that all human beings bear the image of God. But that would mean that every human being is a child of God, which clearly is not true.
Scripture says that only some human beings are children of God. The rest are children of the devil:
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother,
Our Lord used the same language when He told some unbelievers that God was not their father:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,
Unbelievers are children of the devil, and bear their father’s image. It is only those who are in God’s Son that bear the image of God. Only they are God’s children, and only they bear the image of the Father in heaven.
But in what, more specifically, does that image consist? We will consider that, Lord willing, next time.