“What does the Bible mean when it says man was created ‘in the image of God‘?”
For centuries, theologians and students of the Bible have labored over that phrase, ‘the image of God‘ – they’ve wrangled over what it means, over whether it applies to any man or to all men after the fall in the Garden of Eden. Some argue the image of God in man persists to the present day; others insist the image was lost in the fall and is only regained through regeneration, or the new birth. Perhaps where you come down on that question depends a great deal on what you understand the image to be in the first place.
It’s plain to most people that man is somehow qualitatively different than the rest of the physical creation; God made him distinctly and uniquely what he is. It isn’t so much the physical distinction as it is the intangible difference. There is something inside that distinguishes man from all the rest. That difference, I believe, is the image of God.
This may be, at least, a part of that image: man is a rational, or thinking creation – able to reason and consider; man is a moral creation – able to discern right and wrong; man is a spiritual creation – made, in some way, to relate to his Maker, Who is Spirit; and man is an immortal creation – that is, he is made to exist somewhere forever. All of these touch on what man is inside, not what he is on the outside – his nature, what is housed in his body.
All of these characteristics set man apart from the rest of the physical creation. They establish his unique relation to both the physical and the spiritual world. Was that lost in the fall, or does it persist? I believe God’s image in man can still be seen, even if it has been damaged and distorted through sin.
Our radio ministry, Gateway To Truth, airs weekdays at 7:45 a.m., on WGAB 1180 AM (Tri-State) and WMTA 1380 AM (western Kentucky) or online at faithmusicradio.com. Warren Haughton provides answers to Bible questions in this brief program.