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Question and Answer

What is the image of God in man? How do you get it and can you lose it?

Every person is born with the image of God, and you cannot lose it. So what is this image of God?

The dictionary defines an image as “the reproduction or imitation of the form of a thing or a person.” Mankind, as made in the image of God, is intended to resemble God, though not physically, of course. God is spirit, not material (John 4:24). Nobody has ever looked like God.

Genesis 1:26–31 and 2:7–25 reveal that God created man in His own image, and that Eve was not an afterthought as she was also a creature made in God’s image. The first stage of Adam’s creation was shaping the man from clay. Second, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the clay came to life as a living being. The clay model did not become an intelligent animal; he became the bearer of the image of God.

This means that he resembled his Creator. The least that can be said about the Creator is that He is a person: He thinks, He feels, and He acts. In other words, He has intellect and emotion, and the ability to act in accordance with those properties. Theologians and other thinkers draw up lists of properties that define the image of God, including self-consciousness, self-transcendence, self-determination, the power of abstract thought, freedom of will (as contrasted with animal instinct), awareness of God and communion with him, and the hope of eternal life.

The image of God was not lost when Adam sinned, but it was badly defaced. (See the following texts: Gen. 9:6; Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 11:7; and James 3:9.) All of us are spiritually damaged. The only human being in history in whom the image of God was unblemished was Jesus. But, through the redemption that is in Him the image of God is being restored to its pristine state in everyone who submits to Him in repentance and faith. The process begins with the new birth and continues until we reach our heavenly home (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24).

BY C. Donald Cole

C. DONALD COLE hosted Moody Radio’s Open Line for 26 years before retiring in 2008. Before joining the team at the Moody Bible Institute in 1971, Pastor Cole and his wife, Naomi, served the Lord as missionaries in Angola from 1948 until 1966. Pastor Cole then served as a faculty member of Emmaus Bible College of Dubuque and as editor of Interest magazine.

Pastor Cole authored several books, and was married to his wife Naomi for 65 years before he went home to the Lord in 2012.

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