Are we humans created in “the image of God?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

In the Christian world, it is common to hear that we are created in God’s image. If we have heard it all of our lives then it must be true, right? Probably 99 percent of Christendom is under the impression that we are made in God’s image. But, what does the Bible say? Of course, it says something else entirely. Let the Bible speak for itself.

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26-27: “[26] 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

While the Bible does indeed say that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, and thus in no way were animals (animals were not created in God’s image), it never says that we were created in God’s image. Here is why it is important to make the distinction. Genesis 5:1-3 says: “[1] This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; [2] Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. [3] And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:”

Notice above how the language that describes Adam is starkly different from the language that describes his son Seth. Adam was “created… in the likeness of God” (verse 1). That is clearly what the Bible says. However, post-Fall, Adam and Eve had a son, and that son was born after Adam’s “own likeness, and after his image” (verse 3). The entrance of sin into the world changed human makeup. What was once the reflection of God’s glory was now the reflection of man’s wretchedness. Seth was not sinless as Adam originally was. Adam’s progeny, even today, has inherited a sin nature, or what the Bible calls the “old man” (Romans 6:6).

Rather than being after God’s image, we are after Adam’s image. We are naturally sinful, dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). To be made in God’s image means that man reflects God and His righteousness. Sinful man is not an accurate representation of God. However, Jesus Christ is a perfect representation of God. Notice these few Scriptures:

  • John 14:9: “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
  • Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus Christ is “the brightness of [His Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person.”
  • The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Jesus is “the image of God.”
  • Colossians 1:15 says Christ is “the image of the invisible God.”
  • Colossians 2:9 says that “in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Before the Fall in Genesis chapter 3, Adam was a perfect representation of God and His righteousness. One Adam sinned, however, death has passed upon all men (Romans 5:12). In order to gain God’s righteousness, we have to be in Jesus Christ, and the only way that will happen is if we rely on Calvary’s finished crosswork, the exhibition of Christ’s righteousness. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

The danger in believing that we are made in God’s image can be summed up in the following statement: “Human nature is not evil in itself. We are still made in God’s image. We are not completely corrupted by sin. Sin has merely impaired or weakened us.” I have read this claim before and I have heard others say it before. (Even religious people claim this nonsense.) It takes little discernment to see that this statement is very appealing and flattering to the flesh. (“I am not that bad! Although I am not perfect, I still have something to offer God. I want to do the best I can with what I have so God will be happy with me! God helps those who help themselves!”)

Friends, to suppose that we are made in God’s image means we completely miss the fact that we have no fellowship with God in our natural state. As David said, we are conceived in sin. We were shapen in iniquity. Psalm 51:5 says: “Behold, I was shapen in inquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” From birth, no human reflects God’s righteousness and holiness. That is what sin is! This is why God wants to give us a new nature in Christ, one that is not offensive to Him, one that will generate good works instead of sinful actions.

In the Bible, we read that a rainbow of colors surrounds God’s throne. The Prophet Ezekiel saw a yellow rainbow (Ezekiel 1:4,27) contrasted with a throne the color of sapphire (deep blue); centuries later, John the Apostle saw the rainbow as emerald green (Revelation 4:3). You can envision a kaleidoscope of colors, perhaps flashing lights, around God’s throne. This is the manifestation of God’s righteousness. Let us return to Adam being made “in the image of God.” There is additional detail to provide. The Bible says Adam and Eve “were both naked…and were not ashamed” (Genesis 1:25). How could they be naked, and yet unashamed?

In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read of Jesus Christ “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto….” Again, God’s righteousness and holiness emanate from His body in the form of a bright light. “O LORD my God… who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2). Originally, before the Fall, Adam and Eve did not wear physical clothes, but they were clothed with something… they were clothed with the righteousness of God Himself because sin had not entered into creation yet.

As we mentioned earlier, God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27); man was originally sinless, as perfect as God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit, God’s righteousness left their bodies. They were sinners now, so God’s light no longer covered them (spiritually and physically). Adam and Eve were physically and spiritually naked, so they frantically gathered itchy fig leaves and covered themselves (Genesis 3:7). The LORD God, in His great love and grace, sought these lost souls. Adam and Eve hid, too afraid to approach our holy and righteous God. But, God in His brilliance devised a plan to restore them. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). The Bible says that God killed innocent animals. He used the blood to provide Adam and Eve’s spiritual clothes (forgiveness), and the skins served as their physical clothes.

By the way, if you are familiar with your Bible, you will recall that Joseph had a coat of many colors. God was using Joseph to preview Jesus Christ: “Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of a many colours” (Genesis 37:3). God was going to use Israel, Joseph’s family, to reflect His glory in the Earth. This is what Adam and Eve failed to do.

Isaiah 61:10 summarizes (saved Israel speaking): “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” God did that for Adam, Eve, Israel, and in Christ He does that for us too! If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been clothed with God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, we are just as Adam and Eve were before the fall, in perfect standing before God.

Our physical bodies are still connected to Adam, but the day is coming when we in Christ Jesus will receive glorified bodies “fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). This is what we call “the Rapture,” or what the Bible calls “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). We close by reading 1 Corinthians chapter 15, noting especially verse 49: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [Christ].”

First Corinthians chapter 15: “[38] But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. [39] All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. [40] There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. [41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [58] Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Also see:
» Why did God ask where Adam was?
» Does God give us “points” for trying to be good?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?