Renewed After the Image of Christ
CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
1. The meaning of the image of God.
a. The term defined:
• Image = eikwn – to be like, resemble. A representation, an image.
• Used in Mark 12:16 – the image of Caesar stamped in a coin. The coin was made in the image of Caesar. When you looked at the coin, in a sense, you could see Caesar.
• Used in Col. 1:15 – Christ is the image of God. When you see Christ—you see the Father. (John 14:9) Christ is the image of God. To see Christ, in a sense, is to see the Father.
• Used in Rev. 13:14 – the image of the beast. A statue is made of the Antichrist which bears his image. To see the statue, in a sense, is to see the Antichrist. The statue is the image of the Antichrist. (the term is used MOST often in the New Testament of the Antichrist in Rev.)
• Used in II Cor. 3:18 – here the image speaks of the reflection of a person in a mirror. To see the reflection in the mirror is to the see the person the mirror is facing.
• Thus, the term image speaks of a likeness, a representation, a resemblance, or a reflection of something or someone.
b. God made man to bear a resemblance of Himself… to be a reflection of His glory…
• Hence, in some sense, to see a human being we SHOULD see a reflection of who God is.
• We should see a resemblance of His character… His virtue…
• We SHOULD see love, grace, kindness, holiness, purity, righteousness, etc.
• That is exactly what we would have seen had we seen Adam in the garden before the fall.
c. God created man with capacities that reflect his own capacities: intellect, emotion, and will… and an aptitude for moral and spiritual things.
• Man is created with the same capacities, but obviously to an infinitely lower degree.
• God created man for communion with Himself… and hence, man had to be in the image and likeness of God in some way for that to occur.
» God created man with an intellect to KNOW God and spiritual things…
» God gave man emotions that he might LOVE God and have heart to heart communion with God.
» God created man with a will—that He might willingly CHOOSE to follow God… choose to love Him, trust Him, and obey Him.
• Thus, in some way, man reflects God’s character. He is made in the IMAGE of God.
2. Rom. 8:29 – before the foundation of the earth, God predestinated some to be conformed to the image of His Son.
a. Predestinated: prohorizw: to predetermine, decide beforehand, appoint beforehand.
b. The goal of this predestination is conformity to the image of God.
c. An omniscient and omnipotent God would not allow sin or Satan to interfere with His plan.
d. God wanted mankind to reflect His glory and with whom He could commune.
e. He determined before He created the world that SOME of mankind WOULD in fact be conformed eternally and perfectly to that image.
f. Had God NOT made that determination ahead of time, it would not come to pass.
g. There is much we do NOT know and COULD not know about this decree of God, but we DO know what He has revealed.
h. God was DETERMINED to have human beings perfectly reflect His glory… and was also determined that NOTHING would ultimately interfere with His eternal plan.
3. Gen. 1:26-27 – we were CREATED in God’s image.
a. After the decree or determination of the Godhead to do so, God brought that plan to pass by creating man in His image.
b. The Persons of the Godhead discussed this before creation. They determined to create man in the image of God and during creation week, it came to pass.
c. Man in Gen. 1:26 = adam…
d. It speaks of the man adam—and the term links man to the earth (adamah)… made of the dust of the earth.
e. But is also a generic term for mankind—including both male and female (vs. 27)… linking all human beings to Adam.
f. God possesses both strength and beauty… reason and emotion… and both men and women reflect His image… perhaps a little differently…
g. God’s IMAGE is in man…
• Just as when you look in a regular mirror, your image is there. The mirror reflects your image.
• We were created to be like a mirror for God. God’s image is to be reflected in us.
• We were created in His image… as a reflector of His image… a bearer of His likeness.
• This image is to be reflected in the way we think, the things we set our affections on, the things we do, and the choices we make.
4. Ecc. 3:19-20 – man is NOT like the animal kingdom.
a. The animals turn to dust and that is the end of them.
b. Man’s spirit lives forever.
c. Science will NEVER be able to prove or disprove that man’s spirit lives forever and the spirit of a beast ends at his death.
d. This is a revelation from God that we take it by faith.
e. God brought all the animal kingdom before Adam and there was nothing there that corresponded to him… no heart to heart communion… no fellowship. (Sorry pet lovers—it is a one way street with animals!)
f. Men and animals may be alike with respect to bodies. But that is the end of it.
g. Our inner man has nothing in common with the animal world.
h. Men and God have much MORE in common. Men can fellowship with God… commune together…
i. No animal was made in the image of God. Not even the angels… but God made MAN in his image.
j. The human race is the special object of God’s love and concern.
• Not the angels or the animals.
• MAN alone was made in the image of God.
• Man alone is offered redemption.
• Christ became a man, not an angel.
5. Man was created a little lower than the angels…
a. Ps. 8:5-8 – Man was crowned with glory and honor and given dominion over the earth!
b. The term “angels” in this passage is Elohim (God).
c. Man was created a little lower than Elohim… lower than God… or lower than the angels as the translators interpreted it.
d. However, the point being made here is David’s awe over the EXALTED position, which God gives to man in making him the crown of creation! Dominion over the entire earth! What is man?
e. Man was given dominion over the earth… as God’s representative. He is lower than God but has dominion over everything else on earth as God’s representative.
f. Man is made in the image of God… man was created to be an earthly reflection of who God is and what He is like.
6. Then sin entered the world and everything changed.
a. Adam sinned and the image of God in man was defaced… marred… disfigured.
b. Gen. 5:3 – after the fall, Adam’s son was born in the image of Adam… who was now a sinner by nature… that son born possesses Adam’s fallen nature… and a defaced image of God.
c. That fallen human nature and a defaced image of God is passed on from Adam from generation to generation and includes the entire human race.
d. All human beings today are made in the image of God—saved or unsaved. (Jas. 3:9; Gen. 9:6)
e. But that image is tarnished… like a broken mirror.
f. A broken mirror still has the capacity to reflect… but the image is broken… fragmented… unclear.
g. An unsaved man is made in the image of God, but he gives forth a distorted image of who God is.
h. When we see a fallen human being today, instead of seeing God’s love, grace, compassion, righteousness, and purity, we see something quite different.
• There may be momentary flickers of human love and a sense of righteousness… but it is fatally marred by wrath, malice, pride, and impurity!
• Instead of being a faithful reflection of Christ, who is the image of God, the unsaved are a faithful reflection of Adam in his fallen condition… a broken mirror at best.
• When sin entered the world, Adam became SELF-centered rather than God centered.
• The image reflected was no longer that of a holy God, but of a fallen man.
7. That is a summary of man in relation to Adam.
a. Adam was created in God’s image—and was a perfect reflection of godly qualities.
b. But sin entered the world and that mirror reflection was broken…
c. Every human being since has been born in the image and likeness of fallen Adam… and we are born in the image of God, though severely defaced by sin.
d. The image of the Creator is distorted today… and try as he may, man is hopelessly unable to piece together all those broken fragments of the mirror and thus restore that image.
e. Every single human being is born a sinner. Every single human being reflects Adam’s fallen nature… and is a DISTORTED reflection of God. Every single human being is worthy of eternal condemnation.
f. This is the sad history of man created in the image of God.
g. This is the present condition of mankind in Adam under the first creation.
RECREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
1. God COULD have ended the story right there.
a. He could have condemned the entire fallen race to eternal condemnation and would have been JUST and HOLY in doing so.
b. But God is not willing that ANY should perish.
c. God, who is rich in mercy…
d. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
e. God had already determined before the foundation of the world that regardless of the sin and failure of mankind, SOME would ultimately be conformed to the image of His Son.
f. NOTHING would hinder God’s plan for His creation—neither sin nor Satan could prevent thwart God’s plan to have sons in His own image and likeness.
2. God who knows the end from the beginning, planned from the beginning HOW to deal with the fall of mankind.
a. Phil. 2:6-8 – God became a man in the Person of Jesus Christ to demonstrate what a human being OUGHT to look like…
b. Christ was made in the likeness of men, but was also made in the image of God… in fact, the express image of the Father!
c. Even in the incarnation, Christ demonstrated HOW a human could perfectly reflect the image of God.
d. He came in His Father’s name… to do the works of His father… to declare His Father…
e. Christ came to manifest the Father… to do the will of the Father… to do the work of the Father…
f. On the cross He demonstrated the love of the Father… the righteousness of the Father…
g. Jesus said to Phillip, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”
h. “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father!”
i. Christ is the express image of the Father… a perfect mirror image of the Father.
j. Christ was the perfect image of the Father through incarnation.
3. Heb.10:4-7 – God knew that one day a human body would be prepared for His Son. Christ would be made in the likeness of man.
a. The human body that was prepared for Christ was the perfect sacrifice to provide redemption for fallen man…
b. The life of Christ in human flesh was given as a sacrifice to human sin.
c. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross eternally satisfied the justice of the Father and paid in full the penalty of human sins… the sins of the whole world!
d. For God so loved the world that He gave…
e. In becoming a man, Christ demonstrated the ultimate revelation of who the Father is. On the cross Christ reflected the righteousness and love of His Father.
4. Notice how Paul describes redemption in Colossians:
a. IN Christ we have redemption (Col. 1:14)
b. We have redemption IN the One who is the IMAGE of God (Col.1:15).
c. All those IN CHRIST not only partake of redemption and forgiveness of sins, but also are part of the NEW CREATION! (II Cor. 5:17).
d. Previously, we were IN Adam as part of the original creation. And in Adam the image of God was defaced.
e. Now we are IN CHRIST, and the image of God is restored… because we are part of the NEW CREATION.
f. The image of God was defaced in the original creation. Man was no longer able to accurately reflect the character of God.
g. The image of God is recreated in the new creation. The born again person is now ABLE to accurately reflect the image of God.
h. The man in Christ has been REDEEMED from bondage and slavery to sin. He has been redeemed and set free!
i. Thus, when this new man is filled with the Holy Spirit, the true image of God is reflected through him… and to the world.
j. He is thus able to demonstrate not just natural affection, but Divine, agape love! He is able to love righteousness and hate iniquity as the Father does! He is able to show compassion on the lost… to become a servant of men… to be selfless in showing grace to others…
k. All that is because Christ is IN HIM… and His life and resurrection power enable him. The result is the fruit of the SPIRIT… genuine fruit for God’s glory.
l. God’s true character is accurately reflected through such a man—exactly as God originally intended.
m. Isn’t that awesome?! Adam lived in a perfect world and FAILED to be a mirror image of the Father. We live in a cursed and corrupted world—and by God’s grace—are ABLE to walk in newness of life and to accurately reflect God’s character to those around us!
n. It is only so because it is GOD who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
o. The unregenerate man in Adam possesses a defaced image of God and is unable to accurately reflect God’s character.
p. The regenerated man in Christ has the image of God RE-created in him… and God lives in him that he might ACCURATELY mirror God’s character to the world around him. Praise God for that!
5. Eph. 4:24 – the new man – part of the new creation in Christ is created in righteousness and true holiness!
a. Righteousness and true holiness is what SHOULD have been reflected through Adam and those in Adam…
b. It was God’s intention for him to be an ACCURATE reflection of who God is.
c. However, sin changed all that and those in Adam have a marred image.
d. But those who are CREATED IN CHRIST as a new man… part of the new creation… are able to accurately reflect the image of God to the world.
e. The new man with a new nature has a new capacity to be what God always intended man to be: the image of God… a reflection of the moral qualities of the heavenly Father… His rightousness, holiness, love, grace, mercy, purity, truth.
f. We have been RECREATED in God’s image and are already part of the new creation in Christ.
g. We don’t have to wait for the actual creation of the new heaven and the new earth off in the future.
h. We can enjoy the inward spiritual blessings TODAY!
i. We have been created in Christ to reflect TRUE righteousness and holiness.
RENEWED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
A. Regeneration and Sanctification
1. Regeneration BEGINS the process of renewing the image of God.
a. Without regeneration being renewed in the image of God is impossible.
b. Regeneration brings us INTO this new life as new creatures in Christ.
c. We are born COMPLETE in Christ… and thus ABLE to accurately reflect the image of God. We have all we need to do so in Christ.
d. In the natural birth we were created in His image… but that image was defaced.
e. In the new birth we were RE-created into His image.
f. We were CREATED in righteounsess and true holiness… just like our heavenly Father.
g. Consider the analogy of the birth of a baby in the natural realm.
• At birth that baby is alive and complete.
» He receives genes from his father.
» He looks like dad; walks like dad; talks like dad.
» He is the spitting image of his father… by BIRTH.
» He was born or created in his father’s image.
» It is a genetic likeness… due to birth. Even if his father died and he never met him, he would still look, talk, and walk like his dad.
• But there is also another sense in which a son GROWS into the image of his father.
» Since he spends so much TIME with his dad, he becomes like dad in other ways too: LEARNED behavior… not a genetic likeness, but a learned likeness.
» He watches dad fix cars and learns to fix cars like dad.
» He watches dad play tennis and develops a love of tennis.
» He watches how dad treats his mom and learns how to treat women.
» He watches dad go to work and learns diligence.
» He listens to the way his dad talks and learns how to commune with other people.
» He goes to church, Sunday school, and prayer meeting with his dad and learns the importance of the local church from his dad.
» He spends time fishing with his dad and develops a love of fishing.
» After spending so much time in his father’s presence and listening to his father’s voice, he LEARNS to BE like his dad… to love what he loves and hates what he hates.
» Unfortunately as human fathers, our kids pick up both our good and bad qualities!
h. In the spiritual realm, something similar occurs.
• The difference, our heavenly Father has only GOOD qualities!
• We are BORN AGAIN with our heavenly Father’s spiritual “genes.”
• We are born again a NEW nature… partakers of the Divine nature.
• We have a heart for God, His Word, and spiritual things.
• We have a new mind to know God… a new will to choose God and spiritual things over the things of the earth.
• We are CREATED in righteousness and true holiness… into the image of our heavenly Father.
• But we are also being formed PROGRESSIVELY into the image of God.
• We are created COMPLETE at the new birth… but that only BEGINS the process.
• But as we spend TIME with God, we LEARN to love the things He loves. We learn to HATE the things He hates.
• Over time, as we spend much time in worship, prayer, and communion with our heavenly Father, we are progressively GROWING more and more into His image.
• We are LIKE Him at the moment of saving faith (in His image; His nature; His heart; the mind of Christ; etc).
• But we GROW more and more into His image by spending time with Him.
• More and more we LEARN to love what He loves and HATE what He hates.
• More and more we LEARN of His ways… His mind… His heart…
• More and more HIS love for others is manifested THROUGH us… because it is GOD who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
• More and more His compassion for the lost is reflected through our mortal bodies.
• More and more His holiness is demonstrated in us… and in the choices we make…
• We are CREATED at the moment of saving faith in the image of Christ.
i. We GROW more and more into His image throughout our earthly lives.
• And we all have a LONG way to go!
• All those IN Christ have begun the process of RENEWAL and growth into the image of Christ.
B. The Image of Him Who Created Him
1. It was GOD who created man. (Gen. 1:1) The New Testament states that it was Christ who is Creator.
a. Christ is the image of the invisible God (Col.1:15)
b. We are in Him and associated with Him.
c. We are being transformed into the image of Christ… and thus into the image of God…
2. II Cor. 3:18 – states that as we behold His glory, we are being transformed into the SAME image of Christ—by God’s Spirit.
a. The illustration of a glass (mirror; looking glass)
• The believer is like a mirror… a looking glass…
• A mirror reflects whatever it faces.
• And that mirror… looking glass is facing the Lord as we behold His glory in the word.
• If I face a mirror towards my dog, my dog’s reflection will appear in the mirror. As the front of that mirror beholds my dog… Mac’s image appears on the mirror.
• Here the illustration is the believer facing the Lord… and as the believer (the mirror) beholds the Lord… the image of the Lord is formed in that mirror.
• In some sense, that is what happens to us as believers as we look at Christ… face Him… behold His glory… as we are looking unto Jesus… Christ is being formed in us.
• This is God’s means of renewing His sons into the image of Christ.
• God does all the supernatural work of transformation and renewing us. Our only responsibility is to BEHOLD Christ… facing Him… looking unto Jesus.
b. As we do, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to renew the child of God.
• As we behold His glory by reading and meditating upon the Word, we grow in the knowledge of Christ.
c. Those in Christ have the capacity to turn that mirror away from self and towards Christ.
• As we BEHOLD the glory of the Lord… His image is reflected in our lives.
• As we are LOOKING unto Jesus, His character and resurrection life are manifested in our mortal bodies.
• As we ABIDE In Christ, and continually come to His throne of grace, He fills us with Himself… and the fruit of the Spirit—Christlike character—borne in us.
• We were created to be like a mirror to reflect the image of God.
d. Mirrors always work. They never malfunction.
• If you want the image of your dog in the mirror, you have to face the mirror towards the dog.
• If works with a coffee mug, a chair, a tree, or your new car… but the mirror needs to be facing whatever image you want to be reflected in it—and voila!
• It works every time.
• The only thing that would PREVENT an image from appearing in a mirror is pointing the mirror in some OTHER direction.
e. That is true in the spiritual realm as well.
• When we as a mirror face inward toward self, (me, myself, and I) we reflect the sinful, fallen character of Adam.
» The world will see Adam in us… the effects of the Adamic nature.
» We too will see Adam’s nature manifesting itself in us…
» When we dote over self… our problems… our struggles… our pains… our trials… our troubles… our chores: the picture is not pretty.
» That brings discouragement and causes our faith to diminish.
• When we as a mirror face upward toward Christ, we reflect the image of God, for Christ IS the perfect image of God… the express image of the Father.
» The world will see Christ in us!
» When we spend time beholding HIS glory… His character is reflected through our lives…
» That brings fruit… victory… cause for encouragement… and a hunger for more… a desire to keep on beholding His glory!
» And the renewing process continues—from one level of glory to another higher level of glory.
3. Gal.4:19 – Christ is being formed in us. (His character)
a. As we are transformed into His image, His character and His LIFE will be manifested through our mortal bodies.
b. The marred image of God in man is gradually being restored in the new man in Christ.
c. Regeneration began the process. Progressive sanctification continues that process.
d. Christ is being formed in us… His glorious character is reflected through our lives as we increase in the knowledge of Him… which occurs as we behold Him!
e. This is the goal of the Christian life… the goal of the renewal of which Paul writes… and that for which we should strive.
f. But it all requires KNOWLEDGE of God… to know Him… and to INCREASE in the knowledge of God.
g. Are you GROWING in the knowledge of Christ?
h. Are you PRAYING to be filled with the knowledge of His will for your life?
i. Are you being conformed by the world or transformed by the renewing of your mind?
j. Are you caught up in the love of Christ…desiring to spend more time with Him… or are you caught up with yourself… spending your time meditating upon me, myself, and mine?
k. We are transformed in KNOWLEDGE… and the knowledge of God comes from beholding the glory of Christ in the Word and in spending time in communion with Him.
l. A transformation in the way we THINK will at once be a transformation in the way we LIVE.
m. Are you REALLY Christ centered? Or are we earthly success centered? Job centered? Money centered? Family centered? Aches and pains centered? Education centered? Music centered? Sports centered? Entertainment centered?
n. It doesn’t take long to repent… or to change. The moment that mirror is turned around… another object becomes the center of its reflection.
o. Take that mirror off yourself and turn it back to Christ… and begin to enjoy Him all over again!
p. The process of transforming you into the image of Christ will continue immediately.
4. Warren Wiersbe: We were formed in God’s image, and deformed from God’s image by sin. But through Jesus Christ, we can be transformed into God’s image.
5. I John 3:2 – one day we shall be like Him. This is a marvelous promise from God. One day the transformation will be complete.
6. Until then, we need to be faithful in pointing that mirror towards Christ…