God joyfully gave us His image. That image can be defined as personhood, intelligence, and will—the self. God possesses His own personhood, intelligence, and will.
We inherited from Him an inborn capacity to love, to desire truth and fairness, to appreciate beauty and goodness. The ability to think, ask, and be curious is God-given. Consider that without this ability, we wouldn’t be able to seek wisdom or the kingdom of heaven or any of God’s treasures.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (Gen. 1:26) To do this safely and wisely is a matter of will—specifically, good will. Because God possesses flawless personhood, intelligence, and will, whereas we don’t, the epic battle between good and evil ultimately comes down to a battle of good will vs. ill will.
Personhood, intelligence, and will set mankind apart from plants and animals. There are those who say that humans are just a “higher order” of animals; but animals operate primarily by instinct, whereas humans operate primarily by will (although both use a combination of the two). It’s why God charges us with caring for them and the earth. These merits give humans the capacity to be caretakers, to competently rule our affairs, and to nobly serve others the way our Father does—the way He designed us.
As Christians, however, we often hear that God’s image in mankind was “blotted out” when Adam and Eve sinned; we’re nothing at all like God anymore. Even after we’re saved, according to many, our gift of personhood is so trashed that it must be jettisoned like space junk from a rocket. Yet I can’t find this in the bible. Yes, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but that doesn’t erase what we’ve already inherited from Him. And the curse in Genesis wasn’t on Adam and Eve—God’s image—but upon the ground and their labor.
In fact, being fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image is His glorious gift that makes mankind more like Him than anything else in earthly creation. Even if we don’t yet use that gift wisely, God still adores us. His likeness is where we come from. It’s also where we’re going—the glory that God intends for us. The life we’re living now is the practice arena for learning how to come full circle: to re-inherit the earth and rule it with Christ.
As God’s children, His likeness in us naturally reasserts itself time and time again. Because personhood, intelligence, and will (the self) are built in, it’s impossible to literally deny the self. It’s why those who try it encounter great difficulty and need to constantly renew their “commitment” to the Lord.
After a lifetime as a Christian, I’m still being told in Christian books and articles that I continue to sin because I deliberately, constantly reject God and His righteousness; and I’ll always be a no-good sinner. Personally, after hearing it for so many years, I’ve grown weary of the accusation. Maybe you have, too, if you’ve been a Christian for a while.
The Accuser has had his say for too long in the lives of sincere, diligent Christians who have followed “good examples” and done everything “right” yet still haven’t found that rich, assured life so clearly conveyed in Scripture.
Do you believe that you’re nothing at all like God? Have you been told that to even think you might resemble Him is to “embezzle” His glory as Satan tried to do?