How Does Sin Impact Being Made in God’s Image?
DAY 5 – How Does Sin Impact Being Made in God’s Image?
In asking this question, we are asking, despite the presence or the absence of sin. Sin is anything that violates or contradicts God’s word or ways, by omission or commission. These are things that you do, say, or think, or don’t do, say, or think when you should. Here are several points to think about as it relates to the question of sin and its impact.
YOU REBEL, YOU
The old hymn writer nailed the condition of our hearts with the line that says, “prone to wander... prone to leave the God I love.” We all are guilty of this. We love God but struggle to do show it at times. Why is that?
First, we need to realize that all sin and rebel against God. No matter how good, great, or Godly we live, we all sin. The Bible teaches that it all started with Adam, the head of the human race, who rebelled against God, and as a result sin entered the world and spread to all men (see Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12). As we have outlined in our church’s doctrinal statement, “As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention.”
Yet the good news is that Jesus died for sin, and by believing in him, we are born again, becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer held to the power of sin, the penalty of sin, yet we all struggle with the presence of sin until we die or Jesus returns!
WHAT ABOUT THE NOT SO GOOD PEOPLE?
Furthermore, the good news is that we still reflect God's image despite sin.
In the Old Testament, we read that, after the Fall and the Flood, God gives Noah the authority to establish the death penalty: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).
This implies that man is made in the image of God, despite sin that has entered the world and spread all into humans walking the earth at that point in time. The image of God is still there. It’s not gone, it is present on all people.
In the New Testament, James, the Lord’s half-brother, said that’s it’s wrong that Christians speak wrong of others, because they are made in the image of God (James 3:9).
The truth is clear. The image of God, his likeness, is in all people despite the presence or absence of sin. As one theologian said, “The Image of God is defaced, but it’s not erased” (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology).
It may sound crazy, but it’s true. All people, despite their actions, lifestyle, color or creed, or anything else, are made in God’s image and still reflect him. It’s like the mirror that’s broken; it may not do a good job of reflecting the correct image with clarity, but the image is still there in some shape or fashion. So it is with people who live ungodly lives, and are up to no good: they are still made in God’s image, even if it can be hard to see.
RIGHT TO LIFE
The implications of this are profound. It should inform us as to how to treat others, especially those we disagree with. If they are made in God’s image, and God values all human life, so should we. This speaks to racial inequality, this speaks up for dignity for the life of the elderly, the mentally ill, the retarded, the deformed, even for the unborn child in the womb; all human life has a right to life, and we should seek to protect that and promote dignity, value, worth, and respect to all people.
RECOVERING GOD’S IMAGE
Some have asked the question, can I recover or reclaim more of God’s image in my life? If my sins stain and mar the image of God in my life, surely I can do something. To answer that question clearly, yes, you can; we all can as Christians. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. But through the assistance of God in our lives, specifically the help of the Holy Spirit, we can live out the new life God gave to us by reading God’s Word, prayer, giving, fellowship with other believers, and being involved in ministry. The Bible affirms continually that we should have an active role in our growing in our faith, which is “being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10; see also Romans 7, James 3:9, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
GOD’S RECOVERY WORK
Yet, God has a gracious part to play in this recovery or renewal process as well. As noted in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” This means that we are being transformed continually and consistently, with no work of our own; yet God’s commitment is to aid us in growing in our faith.
This idea highlights the grace of God. Not only does the Christian experience the grace of God in salvation, but also in sanctification. It’s not like Jesus died for the sinner to get him in the door of heaven, and then abandons him until he gets there. God is always with us. That’s his name: Immanuel, which means “God is with us”. His spirit lives in us, and he seeks to guide, comfort, and help us live in holiness, by rejecting sin and living in righteousness.
When you’re down on your luck and don’t feel like you’re a Christian, God has got you. He’s never giving up on you. He’s going to work in your life with or without your help. You may never experience the joy of faith in action, but you will be wallowing in God’s grace knowing you’re still a Christian. If the Christian went too long without putting in some work in his own spiritual growth, one has to wonder if the person is truly saved. Yet, we know God promises to work in us as well! Why? Because he loves us, and knows that we need him.
AWAITING A FINAL RESTORATION
In closing, we need to realize that as Christians, and the centerpiece of his creation, we have great hope. We can hold onto the truth that we are awaiting a full restoration of our being. Being transformed fully from a sinful body to a fully holy body. We will, as the scriptures say, be like him when we are with him (1 John 3:2). And we are being conformed more and more into His image (Romans 8:29).
This is great news, that our bodies will be made new, made in a way that’s a final restoration, something like it would have been before sin entered the world. It will be like the ones we have now, but far better.
Not only will we, as God’s creatures, be restored, but all of creation will too. All of creation is under a curse, suffering and struggling at some level and awaiting in eager expectation for this restoration that God promises. So as God’s people, made in his image, we should have much hope. We have been made with purpose and have a great responsibility to represent God in our world. (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:21; Luke 19:40; Psalm 19:1; Revelation 21:1-4)