In Genesis chapters one and two, it is undeniable that man and woman were created in God’s image, as stated in Gen. 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Neither man nor woman lost their “image-bearing” capabilities in the fall. Gen. 1:22 states, “And Yahweh God said, “Look—the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil. What if he stretches out his hand and takes also it from the tree of life and eats, and lives forever?” God clearly says the man has become “one of us” in knowing good and evil. So man and woman retained the image of God, albeit somewhat tarnished.
God established boundaries for mankind to live by regarding images of Himself in Ex. 20:4, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” It is evident in the history books of the Bible, such as Nehemiah, that the Israelites continued in idol worship. Neh 9:18, “even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.” Moses told them of their idolatry through Psalms and the prophets. Psalm 106:20, “They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” In Ezekiel 37:23, “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul continues to correct them regarding their idol worship, Acts 17:29, “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.”
In Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of the restoration of the image of God to ourselves. Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” In being conformed to the image of His Son Jesus we again become full image-bearers of God. In Colossians, the Apostel Paul explains the supremacy of the Son of God. Colossians 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
The New Testament teaches that not only was man created in God’s image, but he continues to bear the image of God even after Adam and Eve sinned in Eden. James 3:9 teaches that fallen man still bears the image of God. It reads, “With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” This passage in James is a discussion regarding the wickedness of the tongue. In James’s previous verses, he states, “animals can be tamed, but no man can tame the tongue, which is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” In verse 9, James points out the inconsistency of people’s guilt when they use the same tongue to praise God and curse men made in God’s image. The significant point here is the tense of the verb translates into “have been made.” The Greek is gegonotas, the perfect participle of ginomai, meaning “to become” or “to be made.” The force of the perfect tense in Greek is to describe past actions with a lasting result. So the focus of the Greek text kath’ homoi sin theou gegonotas is this: human beings as here described have at some time in the past been made according to the likeness of God and curse men with the same tongue since the human creatures whom we condemn still bear the resemblance of God. For this reason, God is offended when we curse men. The Bible also teaches that Jesus Christ is the perfect man and that Jesus is the example to follow. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about those who “cannot see the light of the gospel or the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The word translated as “image” is eik n, the Greek equal to the Hebrew tselem. The credentials of the image of God are expounded in verse 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” In other words, God’s glory is revealed in the face of Christ; when we see Christ, we see the glory of God.
The New Testament teaches that the image of God is an ongoing fulfillment of Christ’s work on the cross. Several passages teach that the image of God needs to be restored to sinful man. It is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process that we go through from the time we are born again until we leave this earth and go on to be with the Lord. Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” The passage speaks about predestination. Before God’s people had come into existence, or before the foundation of the world, God foreknew (in a sense for loved) his chosen people. The passage speaks to God, knowing in advance those that would be transformed into the image of the Son. Since the Son is God himself, we do not violate the text if we use the phrase “in the image of God” and “in the image of the Son” interchangeably. According to the passage, Romans 8:29, something happened to the image of God. The image of God was tainted due to The Fall and needed to be restored to Son’s image, which is God’s image. That purpose of being conformed into the Son’s image is to be carried out here on earth and now in the present time. We will not fully realize God’s image again as Adam experienced it in the garden until the end of this life. At that time, we shall be perfectly like Christ (I Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2).
Another passage that speaks of renewing the image of God in man is 2 Cor. 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Paul is saying that in the old covenant, Moses had to cover his face when he spoke to the children of Israel after being in God’s presence. However, under the new covenant, God’s people do not need to cover their faces after being in the presence of God. We now reflect the glory of God through unveiled faces, as if peering into a mirror. Both passages, Romans 8:29 and 2 Cor. 3:18 communicate that the objective of God redeeming His people is that they shall be fully conformed to the image of Christ. The Romans text treats this conformity as the aim for which God appointed us. In the Corinthians passage, the importance falls on the advancing character of this conversion through this earthly life, and this work is of the Holy Spirit. A passage in Colossians 3:9-10 teaches, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Paul encourages his readers to put to death the earthly nature, or the sinful nature. What the Apostle means here, according to John Murray, is, ” ‘Old man,’ is a designation of the person in his unity as dominated by the flesh and sin.” In other words, our earthly nature is sinful and makes us a slave to sin. We must put off the ‘old man’ sinful nature and put on the ‘new man’ that is being conformed to the image of Christ day by day. God created man in His image. Man retained some of that image through The Fall, albeit tainted. The sanctification process through the work of the Holy Spirit restores us to the image of God.