When Scripture says Man is “created in God’s image” it means we possess attributes no other creature manifests. Qualities totally unique to the human race. I want to discuss those qualities that have crafted us into God’s likeness because there’s great significance in them. Let’s read our text in Genesis 1.
God created man unlike anything else in the universe. Moses says mankind was created in God’s “image and likeness” and that makes us uniquely different from all creation. Animals, vegetation, the environment, or the constellations weren’t stamped with God’s image. It also means we have an unparalleled connection and relationship with God. We’re called to worship Him, converse with Him, and knowingly participate with His plan of redemption. Being created in God’s image distinguishes us from the rest of creation.
When we understand we’re created in God’s image, and we’re not the capricious product of primordial slime, it instills a sense of dignity and worth before God. It encourages us to rise to higher dimension of living.
People must understand that there is a detrimental consequence as they embrace evolution. The belief in evolution causes people to lose their identity with God. And when we lose our identity with God we lose our sense of dignity among men. We feel unimportant, unwanted, and without respect; even cheap! We reduce ourselves to the estate of an animal.
Throughout the world, people attend seminars on self-esteem and self-improvement. These seminars teach people how to recover a sense of dignity and worth. But remember: the only way to reclaim our dignity and worth is by recognizing we were made in God’s image and by allowing the Holy Spirit to divinely restore us into the image of Christ.
I’ve asked people what the Bible means when it says Man was created in God’s “image and likeness” and the responses have been similar. People tend to make the comparison with physical appearance. There’s the assumption that God has a body because He created us with eyes, ears, hands, and feet. However, a bear has eyes, ears, hands, and feet but the Bible doesn’t say bears were created in God’s image. The Bible refers to something beyond physical attributes when it says we were created in God’s image. We know this because Jesus said in John 4 that “God is Spirit.” And Paul said in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” Note that: God is invisible!
When you think about it, being invisible, or “Spirit,” is the only way God could express His infinite nature. It’s impossible for an infinite, omnipresent God to be contained in a material body. That’s why our physical shape cannot fully express God’s image.
So what are the ways we express His likeness by being created in His image? The Bible reveals four attributes God has given to everyone. Like God: man (1) communicates, (2) possesses creativity, (3) is a moral being, and (4) is comprised of an eternal spirit. Everyone contains these divinely imparted attributes. Even though sin has disfigured and impeded God’s image within us, these four qualities are present.
(Transition) I want to discuss these four attributes that God infused within mankind. The first way we’ve been created in God’s image involves our ability to communicate.
One of the Bible’s first attributes God revealed about Himself is His ability to communicate. In Genesis 1, we hear the Lord speaking the world into existence when He says, “Let there be.” From there, God spoke with Adam “in the cool of the day.” Thus, language is a defining skill that separates men from animals.
(Example) I don’t mean to offend the animal lovers because I know some people are convinced that pets can communicate with people. And while we know animals can make sounds and send signals, they cannot do so with any degree of intelligence. Animals have never convened summits to discuss educating their offspring or transferring their knowledge among the other species. Animals don’t conduct roundtable discussions to settle disputes either. Their method of resolving conflict often involves their instinct to devour their adversary! Yes, mankind has warred, but at least we’ve been known to settle international disputes with Peace Treaties.
Man’s ability to communicate serves obvious purposes. God invested man with communicative abilities so we could transfer knowledge, live civilly, and improve our welfare. But most importantly, our communicative ability serves to glorify God. Our tongue is meant to praise and worship God and tell others of Christ’s grace. It’s obvious too why Satan seeks to impugn this aspect of God’s image upon mankind. Jesus said, “The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy.” Satan’s purpose is to disfigure and distort all the goodness that God originally designed for the tongue to accomplish.
Unfortunately, we live in a society of crass, unfiltered insolence! Words, figures of speech, and expressions have wormed their way into today’s culture that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Stop and muse upon this Saints of God: God is not sanctioned this reprehensible babble!
Since many people can’t identify appropriate jargon, let’s discuss this a moment. And since the word “cool” is an expression that’s survived since the 1950’s, let’s employ this expression:
It impugns the “image of God” stamped upon us when we abuse our God-given communication skills. God did not grace mankind with the gift of dialect for us to malign, abuse, and curse others. It doesn’t matter how prevalent the practice is; it’s wrong!
Awhile back, thirty of the “Top 40” secular songs contained lyrics with profanity, sex, drugs, and violence. What’s really disturbing is that many Christians have accepted this attitude, joined the fray, and lowered their standards of speech. And folks, it matters how you talk. It matters because there’s no part of your nature that can more quickly dishonor God.
Have you ever caught yourself lashing out verbally and thought: “Where did that come from?” James 3:6 answers that question. The Apostle says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” The tongue is dangerous it can corrupt everything about us and that’s why we have to guard it. Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Some people think they have-a-right to express themselves, or to “cop an attitude,” or occasionally use crass words. But folks, the Bible says to “season your speech with grace.” And when you give your tongue unbridled liberty to injure and insult others you are also maligning the stamp of God’s image upon you too! You’re disrespecting God’s grace for your life. And ultimately, the one that suffers most is the one with the unruly tongue!
(Transition) Another unique imprint of God’s image upon us is the characteristic of creativity. This involves man’s inspiration to imagine, invent, design, and create. This is a wondrous gift God invested upon mankind! Let’s talk about it:
Genesis 1 reveals God’s creative nature when it shows Him creating “the heavens and the earth,” the sun and the moon, nature and vegetation, and then man. Everything around us testifies to God’s incredible imagination. Can you imagine how this planet appeared before Adam and Eve sinned? It was immaculate!
(Illustration) I heard the story of the girl that came home from Church telling her parents the story of Creation. She said: “God first took some dirt and made Adam. But Adam was lonely and needed someone to talk with so God put him to sleep. While Adam slept God took out his brains and made a woman.” . . . On the other hand, I heard the story of the boy that went to Sunday School and heard the story of Adam and Eve. That afternoon he got sick and when his mother asked him what was wrong he said, “My side is hurting mom. I think I’m about to have a wife.”
Anyway, God shared His creativity with man; not to the same degree, but we do possess creativity: We have genius for designing architecture, composing symphonies, developing medicine and technology, engineering scientific breakthroughs, or improvising on the mission field. Creativity is displayed in the way we decorate our home or how we implement a recipe to whip up dinner. Even toddlers reveal their imagination as they stack blocks or build castles in the sand.
It really gets difficult to deny that man has been created in God’s image when you consider modern ingenuity and the incredible achievements of recent centuries. It’s a direct fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of knowledge exploding in the last days.
Notice what David said in Psalm 8:5. “You made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (6) You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” God empowered man to take dominion and govern the earth! He enabled us to reason and conceptualize and conceive solutions for problems. And no other part of creation can do that!
While unredeemed man has perverted the gift of creativity, God wants and even expects you to exercise your imagination You may have an ingenuous vision just waiting for God to bless if you would but step out in faith! Remember, creativity is God’s divine image that works within men. And the quickest way to incarcerate yourself into mediocrity is to shut down your creativity. Just wrap your imagination in unbelief, bury it, and your future will be confined!
(Example) Have you considered the moral of Christ’s Parable of the Talents? It’s this: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!” The man given five talents designed a way to multiply them and when Christ returned he was rewarded. The man given two talents figured out how to multiply his talents and he too was rewarded. But the man with one talent shut down his imagination. He dug a hole, buried his talent, and when Christ returned he lost everything!
God wants you to realize He planted creativity within you. It’s not there to remain dormant; it’s there to be loosed! Paul said we are “co-laborers with Christ,” and that means everyone is called to utilize their talents and bless others.
(Transition) Thirdly, man possesses another communicable characteristic of God: The Bible says God created man as a moral being. People can make moral determinations and distinguish between good and evil. We don’t always make the right choices, but the potential is there to do so.
When we imagine the attributes of God we tend to picture his attributes of sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, and eternality. And this is correct. But God’s character is not limited to these incommunicable characteristics. God also possesses relative attributes which include His holiness, justice, righteousness, love, and grace. In other words, God is a moral being. This too is one of Scripture’s first attributes revealed about God.
Genesis opens with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Moses then lists the creation of light, stars, sun, moon, and so forth. But embedded within the story of Creation, God also pronounces a moral judgment upon His creative works. He repeatedly assesses His works with the phrase: “And God saw that it was good.” However, notice God’s moral determination after the creation of Adam. The Lord said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Man needed a companion, so he created a woman. (Men, aren’t you thankful for God’s assessment here?)
God expresses moral determination throughout the pages of Scripture: “Good,” “very good,” “not good” “and it displeased the Lord,” “and Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” God is a moral being! And God created man with the ability to make moral determinations, too. Think about your life. Practically everything you do involves a moral choice: Should I say that? Should I go there? Is that movie appropriate to watch? Am I driving too fast? It is impossible to separate moral determinations from life! Every part of our culture, society, government, and nation involves morality and moral determinations.
How many people have heard society assert say, “Government should not legislate morality”! That statement is itself a moral contradiction! Common sense reveals that every law of government is based on moral determination. It’s based on what man “ought” to do. And everybody operates from some base of morality. Atheists, agnostics, pantheists, and even those that embrace moral relativism pronounce things “right” or “wrong.” The people that propose “Government should not legislate morality” are those that maintain values hostile to the Bible. They have already determined that Christian values should be eliminated from our culture!
(Example) In college I took a Western Civilization course. Part of that study included a description of the ancient Babylonian Empire that existed 1700 BC. It was a civilization predating Moses and the Ten Commandments. Interestingly enough, King Hammurabi developed a sophisticated set of laws that outlined right and wrong for the Babylonians. What’s amazing is, Babylon is known for its idolatry and perversion, but even that ancient pagan civilization lived with certain codes. From the furthest reaches of civilization man has expressed ethical judgments. This is innate and natural to mankind.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “rule of thumb.” Did you know that expression comes from an ancient British law that restricted a man from beating his wife with anything wider than his thumb? Was that law correct? Was it incorrect? One thing is certain: Right or wrong the Brits adjudicated a moral standard for a man disciplining his wife.
(Illustration) Awhile back, I read about a pro-abortion coalition that lobbied the government to issue a Life Certificate for all births. This certificate would legally determine the viability of a newborn child. Perhaps a “Life Certificate” sounds good, but there’s more to it than a superficial glance because this certificate wouldn’t be issued for all live births! The coalition only wants doctors to issue a Life Certificate after administering a battery of tests upon the infant. If the infants are determined to be “non-productive” (which involves a moral assessment) doctors could extinguish the life of the child.
Folks, we must realize the Bible says man has been “created in God’s image.” Notice that! We are “created in God’s image.” Babies aren’t created in the “image of government.” They aren’t created in the “image of a national constitution.” Every human has been created in the “image of God” and that means God has formatted a Biblical Code of Ethics for our existence. Men will never understand their dignity and worth until they recognize how God crowned them with His divine nature. To state it another way: “Without divine identity there’s no human dignity.” We must always pursue Biblical values and set them as our standard for living.
And let’s take this one step further: Christians that slander and malign others are injuring those that were “created in God’s image.”
(Application) You say, “How do we properly reflect God’s image?” The Apostle Paul said this involved two practices: You (1) “rid” and you (2) “renew”; you (1) “release” and you (2) “revive”; you (1) “relieve” and you (2) “replenish.” Paul stated it this way in Colossians 3:8. “Rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (9) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” That’s what it means to: “rid” and “renew”; “release” and “revive”; “relieve” and “replenish.” It involves discharging harmful, sinful practices and implementing the righteous acts of Christ.
(Transition) Finally, let’s consider one more attribute that God implanted to man. While God is an eternal being, with no end to His past or future, God has created man with an indestructible spirit that will live forever.
This is the most noteworthy attribute we received from God. We are body and soul, but most importantly we’re “spirit.” Our spirit is the essence of who we are—the real us. And it gives us an awareness of our worth before God. I tells us life has meaning and will continue forever. You see, God created the vegetative kingdom with shape, form, and substance. But plants don’t have a soul or spirit. But the animal kingdom exists one dimension higher. Unlike plants, animals have a body and soul. But there’s yet a higher dimension. Man, “created in God’s image,” has been given a body, soul, and spirit. God infused us with what He is—spirit! And the spirit of men is the immortal, unending part of our existence.
This is why Solomon said eternity is “fixed” in man’s heart. We are created with an indestructible spirit and we feel that eternal, undying spirit pounding within us. No matter how people try to push God from their thoughts they know He’s there because they possess this divine attribute nature that cannot be invalidated. Even atheists and agnostics are hounded with the conviction that life continues beyond time and space. Deep within their being, they sense the unbounded stretch of eternity beyond this life. That’s what Ecclesiastes 3:11 means when it says: God “has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” Everybody has an innate awareness, an undeniable conviction, that life isn’t over when their heart stops beating.
That’s why the Bible emphasizes the plan of redemption so strongly. God wants man, with his indestructible spirit, prepared for eternity. Jesus said, “unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
(Illustration) There’s a story in Greek mythology about a champion fighter that never lost one bout. One opponent after another, regardless of their size and strength, was crushed. On this particular occasion, he fought his number one contender and after an unusual struggle managed to retain his crown. The spectators erupted in cheers. And as the champion left the arena and pushed passed the masses he was hailed as the greatest fighter ever. The crowds were still cheering as he walked through the city square where an old man, eighty years-old, was standing by a statue of a champion. When the fighter reached the statue the old man grabbed him by the arm and arrested his attention. He said: “When I was young I watched this man fight many times. And I’m convinced that if you two fought in your prime he would break you like a feeble stick. In my opinion, he’s the greatest champion of all time.” At that moment, though the crowds were cheering, their adulation fell deaf on his ears and all he could hear was, “I’m convinced that if you two fought in your prime he would break you like a feeble stick. He’s the greatest champion of all time.” All he could do that night was toss and turn—hounded by that old man’s words. Suddenly he jumped from bed and bolted toward the City Square. He ran and stood trembling before the statue pointed his finger toward that past champion and began shouting. “I’ll tell you you’re not the greatest champion of all time. I am. And if you were here today in your prime I would break you like a feeble stick and crush you. I am the greatest of all time!” By now he was shaking the statue in rage when it was toppled, falling directly on him, and killing him.
Folks, you must be careful about the images you embrace. In the end, any image other than Christ will destroy you. The foremost objective of Christianity involves Christians conforming to Christ’s image. Nothing supersedes that. That’s what the Sermon on the Mount emphasizes—our need to demonstrate Christ’s temperament of love, humility, mercy, and peace. In Galatians 5, it’s what the fruit of the Spirit seeks to develop. And in Romans 8:29 Paul said our ultimate destiny is “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
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