So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. – Genesis 1:27 AV
What does it mean for us to have been made in the image of a Holy Lord God? There have been some who contend it is a past state, lost to the fall of man in the garden. Others have suggested it is an image reserved for those redeemed souls who abide in Christ. Others still have staked a claim in promoting an image formed only in the elect of God from before the foundations of the world. Most of Christianity seems to accept the idea that all of mankind was formed in the image of God and scripture appears to bear this out. When establishing the covenant with Noah, the LORD provided an injunction against murder and its penalty with the following:
“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Ge 9:5-6 AV)
The Apostle Paul also provides insight to our image when he instructs the body in his first letter to the church at Corinth.
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” (1Co 11:7 AV)
So if we agree that we are, as a creation, made in the image of God, what does this entail for us? Certainly we are fashioned or rendered to reflect who God is. This does not mean that God has a body such as we nor does it mean that our physical existence is that of God although we could point to Christ as our physical LORD yet He became flesh rather than we being made in the image of His flesh. In any event there is some substance or reality that should be expressed when we state we were made in the image of God.
We are a fallen creation, a nature that is corrupted yet that nature or our spirit is one thing that distinguishes us from the rest of creation. Our LORD God is a spirit and we worship Him in spirit and in that sense, being spiritual, we are made in the image of God. Drawing this from John Wesley and again, we also see that the LORD created us with an endued authority, a dominion over the rest of creation that distinguishes us from that same creation. Thirdly, there is what I deem morality and like Wesley, I see this as the principle characteristic of God’s image. Righteousness, Holiness, being upright or honest and the ability to see, understand and posit the spiritual things of God are those abilities and characteristics of God Himself. No other creation has in their possession such an image. In that sense, we see ourselves created in the image of God as spiritual creatures having dominion over the rest of creation and doing so with the spiritual attributes of God.