Image Bearers: Have We Lost the Image of God?


Read Part 1.

The mirror shattered. When first made, the mirror perfectly reflected its Maker. A clean, clear picture revealed Him. But when the pit of that fruit struck the glass, snaking cracks distorted His image. Blurring obscured what He intended His creation to see. God’s image remained but not as He designed it to be.

1. Original Image: Before the Fall

When God created mankind, men and women perfectly reflected God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27). God declared them good: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Mankind walked with God and tended the world as God intended.

2. Distorted Image: After the Fall

Then, man and woman sinned. Death came (Romans 5:12). Corruption spread. Mankind’s reflection of God blurred. Theologians describe the image as marred or distorted. Yet, the image of God in man passed from generation to generation (Genesis 5:1–3, 9:6). Thousands of years later, God still described human beings as made in His likeness (James 3:9).

3. Perfect Image: Seen in Christ

Yet, the image passed on to man was not what it once was, nor all that God designed it to be. When God became flesh and dwelt among us, mankind saw what the image of God truly should be.

Jesus is “the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). He is the “express image of [God’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3). In sinless perfection, He is “Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus reflected God’s image like no fallen human can.

4. Renewing Image: After Salvation

Yet, man’s fallen condition has not shattered God’s plan. The One bearing the perfect image of God bore the sin of all mankind. Jesus died on the cross, cleansing those who believe in Him from all sin (Revelation 1:5). That cleansing begins for each individual by faith in Jesus alone. In Him, we stand righteous before God (Romans 4:5). The cleansing continues each day as we confess our sins and seek to live practically righteous lives in His strength (1 John 1:7-9). Through this process, we are “transformed into the same image [of Jesus] from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We have “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created” us (Colossians 3:10). In Christ, the distorted image can become clear again.

5. Heavenly Image: After Glorification

The mirrors of our lives will one day regain their intended reflective qualities. God has predestined that every believer will one day “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Jesus is the first of many who will once again perfectly reflect God’s image. We will bear “the image of the heavenly Man” because when we see Jesus, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 John 3:2). What was marred in the Fall will one day be made new.

Be the Image You Were Meant to Be

No, we have not lost the image of God. Even unbelievers imperfectly exhibit traits from their Maker.* But God desires that each person reflect His image like Jesus Christ. This can only happen by beginning with salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Then, His image in us only becomes clearer as He renews us and transforms us to become more like Christ. Seek to live each day in His strength increasingly changing into what you are guaranteed to become–holy like Jesus Christ and reflecting God’s image as He intended when He made you.

* Read more details about how the image of God is seen in humans in the first post in this series–Image Bearers: Ways You Are Made Like God.

MR Conrad Bio

Dr. Conrad serves in urban Asia. He, his wife, and their four children squeeze into a 700 square-foot apartment where he seizes rare moments of quiet to write amidst homeschooling, a cacophony of musical instruments, and the steady stream of visitors they so enjoy having in their home. He enjoys birding, board games, and basketball. He is the author of, so far, two books.