Edited and Reposted
Before we can understand the truth of sin we must know what God originally intended for man. We cannot know how history would have been had Adam not fallen. No one knows and God is not telling. He does give a good description of Adam and Eve before sin corrupted their nature. We have a brief description of creation and a revealed description of God. God created Adam and Eve, the first humans, in His image.
God never gives theology in a clean, complete, systematic way. He does make absolute statements through His actions, His work and the words He uses from the mouth of His prophets, support for specific doctrines. Theology is the study of the person of God and His stamp of ownership on what He has created. I call the study of theology friendship with God, for it is the intimacy of friendship that drives the desires to know Him in more than a cursory, shallow way.
God reveals Himself and having created man in His image gave the tools needed for friendship and intimate relationship with Him. His image is not Him. Man is not God but like God in ways that allow for closeness and intimacy. We grow to know God as we grow to know ourselves. Not our corrupted selves but self as God originally intended and recreated and given the likeness of Christ for those who truly follow His Son.
What then is the image of God?
God is not a physical being. Therefore, His image is not a physical image. He is Spiritual and He created man a physical being with a spiritual nature. Like Adam our spiritual nature is the means through which we have a relationship with God, our Creator.
God’s Spirit is indefinable and unexplainable, knowable only to Himself. When God created Adam He took already existing matter, stuff He previously created and made a man. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen. 2:7).
“Breath” suggests either soul or spirit. After Jesus’ resurrection He gave the Holy Spirit to His disciples when He breathed on them. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). God breaths on someone and He gives them life. Not physical life but spiritual life guaranteeing existence for eternity. spirit
Before the fall God “walked” in the garden and spoke to man, which suggests Adam spoke with God in return. Each had an intimate and free relationship. We know this because God states Adam and Eve hid from Him when they heard Him walking in the garden. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). This was not His first stroll in the garden. He creates for His enjoyment. So, the garden and all in it was created and enjoyed by Him. This includes Adam and Eve. He enjoyed them and they enjoyed Him. Yet, when they rebelled against Him they ceased enjoying Him and became afraid and “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God.”
They knew God. Why would they think they could hide themselves from Him? God walking with them, and their hiding from Him, is pertinent evidence for their intimacy with Him and the breaking of intimacy with Him because of their rebellion. Walking with God is having intimacy with Him.
God created man with the ability to think, feel and act. These are three more elements of the image of God. Since God created people perfect, whole and complete, He meant for everyone to think, feel and act as He thinks, feels and acts. However, even angels have a relationship with God and think, feel and act. Yet we are not told that angels were created in His image. So what is it about man that is unique, which sets man apart from angels? There is one characteristic man has, which God has shared with man, which angels do not seem to have.
God gave man “dominion” which means to “rule” and “subjugate” or to “cause to dominate” as in, God giving man the rights of domination over physical creation, the Earth. Man controlled the planet. God created the planet and gave it into Man’s care.
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)
Dominion, while not lost, was corrupted. Instead of living in a garden, in peace and tranquility, caring for the world, man was shoved into a harsh, unforgiving, uncontrollable environment. Instead of man ruling over the beasts, the birds and the creatures of the deep, these became afraid of man and in some instances man became afraid of them. Work changed from a pleasurable activity to a curse, from easy and natural to hard and tedious. What man retained was the desire to control while losing all control. Man continues to try to exercise dominion, control, over everything, including God.
Man’s desire to control, also known as covetousness, is a characteristic of the essence of man’s rebellion (see Exod. 20:7; Mic. 2:2; Rom. 7:7; Jas. 4:2).
There is one more element of the image of God given people. It is a characteristic describing Christ’s deepest essence. Jesus is characterized as have the morphe of God and the morphe of a Servant yet being in the shape or physical appearance of a man. Adam was not created to rebel against God but to server Him by caring for and having dominion over the Garden of Eden and the Earth.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form (morphe) of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form (morphe) of a servant (doulos), being born in the likeness (homoioma) of men. And being found in human form (schema), he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Paul uses a word from Greek philosophy to describe who Jesus is in His deepest, unchangeable nature. Morphe or “form” means that which make something what it is. This may be hard to grasp but everything created by God has an essential characteristic that defines its nature. This characteristic may be indescribable but is nonetheless, true and real. In biology we could say the DNA we carry not only defines us as human but also makes us unique from every other human. Though Paul did not know about DNA he did understand each person is unique but still a person made in the image of God. Yet, Jesus was not created. He is the Creator. He has the “DNA” of God. He also has the “DNA” or “form” of a servant. Adam was given, not the “DNA” of God but the “DNA” of a servant as part of the image of God.
Paul uses two more words, “likeness” and “fashion,” to describe Jesus. “Likeness” means to resemble while “fashion” tells us the mode or circumstance of His life was exactly that of every other human. He was (and is) a man, having moved through all the physical stages required of people from conception and birth, through growth to death. He didn’t just look like a man. He was (and is) a man. However, Jesus did not carry, as part of His being, the sinful nature of corrupted man. He is fully God and fully a servant resembling a man with all of the physical characteristics that define a human from beginning to end. Jesus was and is human the way God originally intended for Adam and Eve and for all humanity.