Imago Dei (The Image of God) - Part One: Who Am I?

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Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This is an instance where a biblical worldview is helpful. A Christian worldview only applies to Christians, but a biblical worldview is for everyone.

What is the imago Dei?

Imago Dei is the Latin term for “image of God.” The term is used because it is distinctive and beautiful sounding. Knowing who you are is foundational to both a healthy self-image and a strong sense of purpose. (Watch this video)

Humankind was created to be an image bearer of the Creator. This ideal state was to be a representation of who God is and what He is like. Of course, humanity is far from this ideal state.

“The imago Dei is not a quality possessed by man; it is a condition in which man lives, a condition of confrontation established and maintained by the Creator. … The imago Dei is that in man which constitutes him as him-whom-God-loves.” –John Piper

The imago Dei was the outcome of being created by God. No other creature was made in the image of God, not even Angels. 

Look at the words image and likeness  in Genesis chapter 1

Image

Hebrew צֶלֶם - elem (Pronounced tseh’-lem) 

From an unused root meaning a representative figure or image

Stong’s Dictionary word (#H6754) is used in the old testament as image (16x) and vain shew (1x).

It is used mostly to denote objects of false worship such as idols. It is interesting that this is the word used to describe people being made in the image of God. It shows that this word is only understood by the context in which it is used.

It is best understood as representing the character of something or someone. 

For example, my father is technically inclined, a problem solver, and a hard worker. I have my father’s or character IMAGE in me. My mother loved people, served people, and had great compassion. I possess that particular image or character of my mother. 

Likeness

Hebrew דְּמוּתd - demût, (pronounced, dem-ooth’)

Stong’s dictionary word (#H1819); means, resemblance; shape; like (-ness), manner, similitude.

This is best understood as representing the likeness or appearance of something or someone. For example: I RESEMBLE both my mother and my father.

Is the image of God something only belongs to Christians? Did sin remove the image of God?

No. Man’s fall into sin didn’t destroy or remove the image of God. Sin obscured the Imago Dei. Sin always darkens and distorts reality.

The apostle James confirms that God’s image i when he states that all people, not only Christ followers, 

James 3:8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude [or likeness] of God

So, what was the effect of sin when it comes to the image of God in man? 

Adam’s disobedience to God, severed fellowship with God, which led to physical and spiritual death. Adam, representing all humankind, became an image without the substance of God. They were expelled from the garden of Eden.

Example: Like a wax sculpture that looks like the person, but has no life. It is appearance without spirit and substance. Like a corpse.

People maintain the image of God — even in a broken or distorted form — that they are redeemable and worth redeeming. Without it, God would have had no reason to send His Son to die on our behalf.

Maximizing Imago Dei

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God’s image - Character

God’s likeness - Outward actions

Dominion - Responsibility, tasks, duty, service

Fruitful - Utilizing abilities an gifts

Multiply - Reproduce yourself, empower others 

Subdue - Create and maintain order

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