In whose likeness was man made? Moses revealed in 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” (cf. Gen 5:1–3; 1 Cor 11:7). Humanity has ultimate value before God having been made in His image.
Alienation from God
What will a loving and just God do? Every one has fallen short of the glory of God when each person sins (Rom 3:23). Falling short of God’s glory is falling from His likeness and image as indicated in 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:4. Falling short of God’s glory is why the wages of sin is death and condemnation (Rom 5:12, 16–18; 6:23). Therefore, sins alienate each person from God (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21). All humanity has profaned the life that God gave every person since God made each person in His image, so the just wages of sin is death. This death from God is the separation of one’s spirit from God just as physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body (2 Thess 1:7–9; Jas 2:26).
Humanity has fallen from a divine eternal life to a corrupt eternal death, and each person can only be redeemed by being accepted by the eternal God. The Word of God came in the flesh and overthrew the consequence of eternal death. God being the Word did this by coming in the likeness of men. Through Jesus, God accepts those who come to Him by faith — a faith that produces obedience to Him. Now, what will a loving God do? Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
God Demonstrated His Love
By Christ, God demonstrated His own love and righteousness. God’s love is clearly seen in Christ “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). According to Romans 3:24–26, God demonstrated His righteousness to everyone being guilty so that,
“being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
This is the response of a just and loving God, “who desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4). Therefore, Jesus is the source of salvation to all those who obey Him (Heb 5:8–9). Therefore, Jesus declared, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Made in God’s Image Who Is Love
Considering that God is love, does being made in the image of God, who is love, indicate the life that God intended for all people? This is certainly true concerning the great commands to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Because humanity is made in the image of God who is love, why does the world rage with hate? Is not every one guilty of contradicting love? Having not all contradicted love, and thus sinned against God profaning the life that He has given us?
For a more excellent way, Paul revealed by the Spirit, “The greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 12:31; 13:13). No greater virtue exists than love. Love is the most sublime moral, and so it is amazing and assuring to see that love is the essence of God. Love is God’s virtue, but love is not God and not the object of worship. The Spirit of Christ declares that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Therefore, humanity was made in the likeness of the Creator who is love. This is why the faith in Christ is so beautiful.
Transformation into Christ’s Image
The gospel saves believers (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 15:1–2). The Scriptures affirm that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:3–4). Conforming to this gospel by faith is death by repentance of sins, baptism into Jesus’s death, and resurrection into a new life (Rom 6:3–7; Col 2:12–13). Therefore, a transformation must take place. People must be again transformed by the renewal of the mind (Rom 12:2). Paul instructed, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col 3:9–10). Everyone must be “conformed to the image of His Son” to be saved (Rom 8:29–30). This is the gospel, which must be “obeyed from the heart that pattern of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Rom 6:17). Such a motivation of heart starts with love for which according to Jesus, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21).
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, people are to be transformed as Paul revealed, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Why do Christians need to be transformed into the image, which is the glory of the Lord? Christ is the image of God. Paul described the image and glory of transformation, “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). The writer of Hebrews presented God speaking through His Son, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb 1:3). Likewise, Paul also revealed, “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). Now, this Christ must be formed in each believer (Gal 4:19). The Scriptures teach that people must be transformed to the image of God. The New Testament Scriptures emphasize Jesus’s identity by the fact that He is “the image of the invisible God.” Christ had to come as the image of God to save humanity and He did so in love.
Jesus as God’s Express Image
Transformation into the image of God in Christ reveals Christian living from Christ. Paul taught the pattern in Christ’s humility and sacrifice,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5–7).
Coming in the likeness of men, Jesus was without sin and did not profane the image of God (Heb 4:14–15; 1 Pet 2:22). Jesus therefore came to fulfill the requirement of the Law,
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:3–4).
Jesus is the very image of God. The writer of Hebrews presents the insufficiency of the images in the Mosaical Law, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect” (Heb 10:1). Jesus completes the image and likeness for Christian living via the new covenant. Jesus fulfilled what humanity needed for salvation for each person separated from God having acted contrary to image in which each person was made.
Christ’s Image in the Resurrection of the Dead
In conclusion, Paul taught,
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom 6:4–5).
Christians change through repentance so that those Christians may be transformed with Christ into eternal paradise.
Christians look forward to resurrecting like Christ and receiving a body in likeness to His glorious resurrected body. In Philippians 3:20–21, Paul revealed,
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Paul taught, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor 15:49). Furthermore, the apostle explained, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:53). Christians look forward to the resurrection when their bodies will be transformed for eternal life to live in a heavenly country.
“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed” (1 Cor 16:22).
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Finally, we agree on something. Jesus is the ticket. If we believe in everything He fulfilled, including the sinless life, the perfection, the resurrection…then the Holy Spirit powers us to reflect the image of Christ.