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Created In The Image Of God

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

-- Genesis 1:27 --


God created the first man and woman in His own image. This is what separates humankind from the rest of God's creation - birds, sea creatures, animals, beasts, cattle, and crawling creatures.


Genesis 2:7

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.


When you read through Genesis 1:20-25, you will discover that all life that God created prior to the first man and woman instantaneously appeared in the seas, in the air, and on the land during the fifth and sixth days of creation. I discussed the length of each day in Genesis 1 in a previous blog - How Long Was A Day In Genesis 1? (published August 29, 2023). However, God did something completely different when creating the first man: He personally formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. Adam became a living being.


Formed from the dust from the ground

The first man, Adam, was not the product of billions of years of evolution. He wasn’t one of millions of pre-existing spirit babies, propagated by the Mormon Heavenly Father (an alleged physical being) and many of his spirit wives (Heavenly Mothers), who was eventually born on earth in a human body.[1] Adam's physical body was supernaturally formed by God from the dust from the ground. God formed the first woman, Eve, from a rib He had taken from Adam's side while he slept (Genesis 2:21-22).


The Breath of Life

Adam's physical body was lifeless until the LORD God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The Hebrew word for breath is nĕšāmâ which primarily refers to breath; this word can also refer to the human spirit or to the Spirit of God.[2] How this word is defined is dependent on the context in which it is used. For example, in Deuteronomy 20:16, nĕšāmâ refers to physical breath - you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. In Proverbs 20:27, nĕšāmâ refers to the human spirit - the spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD. Zechariah 12:1 says the LORD forms the spirit [Hebrew rûaḥ] of man within him. The Hebrew word rûaḥ refers to immaterial beings as well as to wind, breath, human spirits, and the spirit of God.[3] Thus, God literally breathed Adam's spirit into him - a spirit that bore the image of God. Adam became a living being [Hebrew nepeš - life or soul].


All men and women are living souls! The spirit that God formed within each person at the moment of conception bears His image. Everyone has a human spirit, but the Holy Spirit only dwells in believers who have come to saving faith in Christ (Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:14). The rest of God's creation do not have souls nor do they have spirits within them.


The Image of God

The words image [Hebrew tselem] and likeness [Hebrew demuth] are used synonymously. For example, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27); In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God” (Genesis 5:1).


A photograph of a person is not the actual person. It is a representative image of that person. The photograph may be modified, deleted, or torn to pieces without any impact to the existence and nature of the real person. Ezekiel 23:14 records that there were men portrayed on the wall, images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion. The Hebrew words for image and likeness have the idea of something that is similar, not identical, to what is being represented. Adam and Eve were similar, not exact, representations of God. Conversely, Jesus is the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:3) and is referred to as the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Believers are to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:24).


The image of God in man is man’s personal, spiritual and moral resemblance to God, including, but not limited to, God’s communicable attributes (i.e., those perfections of the infinite God that can be possessed in a finite way by human beings). In other words, man replicates the infinite God on a finite level in these areas.[4]


Ability and Intelligence

When God gave Adam and Eve rule over all of His creation (Genesis 1:28), He gave them the intellect to make decisions and the ability to care for His creation. Adam named every living creature that God brought before him (Genesis 2:19-20).


The Sanctity of Life

Being made in the image of God forms the basis for the sanctity of human life – Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6). David recognized the sanctity of his own life – For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:13-14).


When I served in the United States Navy (1970-1983), the last thing I wanted to do was kill someone. That sentiment is shared amongst those I served with. However, we had a job to do and that job included the capture or destruction of those who murdered their enemies. As much as some despise the death penalty, it is the appropriate punishment for those who intentionally commit murder and it serves as a deterrence to those who are considering it.


Worship

The Psalmist expressed, I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:1-3). Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). In her Magnificat, Mary declared, “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). Her soul and spirit were intrinsically linked together in her worship of God.


Bearing the image of God gives us the motivation to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul (Deuteronomy 11:13).


Equality Before God

All men and women, regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic standing, are equal before God because they bear His image. The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all (Proverbs 22:2). The authors of The Declaration of Independence recognized this principle when they penned the preamble to this document:


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


The Effects of the Sin Nature

When sin entered the world (Genesis 3), the image of God within humankind was not destroyed. It was distorted by sin. Picture yourself looking into a broken mirror. The image looking back at you will be distorted - but there is still an image! Those without Christ, are spiritually dead and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3); their hearts are full of evil and insanity (Ecclesiastes 9:3) and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9); their minds are set on the flesh and are hostile to God (Romans 8:5-7). They do not accept the things of the Spirit of God nor can they understand them (1 Corinthians 2:14). They are slaves to sin (John 8:34) and are of the devil (1 John 3:8).


Those who continue in "alternate lifestyles" (abominable sinful behaviors) such as homosexuality end up with depraved minds (Romans 1:26-28). All you need to do is watch what is happening today in the United States - transgender men playing woman sports, people not knowing what a woman is, teaching young children in our schools how to perform perverse sexual acts, children and teenagers having "gender reassignment" surgeries, and so forth. Yet, despite the cesspool that we have become as a nation, the image of God has not vanished from people. God is still able to draw sinners to Himself, regenerate their souls, and bring them to saving faith through the gospel.


But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).


References

[1] “To comprehend the Mormon version of Creation, one has to first understand their teaching on God. The Heavenly Father, according to Joseph Smith, is the literal father of our spirits. Together with his many spirit wives (our Heavenly Mothers) he has propagated millions of little spirit babies which live in the Spirit Kingdom (pre-existing) awaiting their birth into human bodies here on Earth.”

The Mormon Creation According to Joseph Smith, (Creation Ministries International, June 1986), https://creation.com/mormon-creation

[2] Roland J. Lowther, “Spirit,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[3] J. A. McGuire-Moushon, “Divine Beings,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[4]  Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: The Doctrines of Man, Sin, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, vol. 2 (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009), 25.


Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.

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