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I have noticed many Christians say 'we were born in God’s image', but the scripture seems to imply that men are 'born in the image of their Father, the Devil?'

For example:

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

Which is it then, is man created in God’s image after the fall, or the Devils, or neither?

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Psalm 139 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I believe God creates us in His image, beautiful. –  jugsjeans Sep 25 '12 at 13:35
@jugsjeans - Yes that is true concerning our bodies but concerning our spiritual nature, which was man's true image of God in the beggining..something changed after Adam... Psalms 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. This is sad but unfortunatley true. Yet it is these that God so loved and sent his Son to die for, so I guess not depressing after all. cheers. –  Mike Sep 25 '12 at 14:28

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

All of Humanity is (Individually) Made in God's Image

Genesis does not seem to leave the matter open to much interpretation.

Genesis 1:26-27 NASB
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Both Adam and Eve were made in his image, and by simple inference, it would seem to extend to all humanity. He later told them to be fruitful and multiply, then repeats the part about dominion, as if to say that their progeny would be like this.

One could perhaps argue that since the fall, man may be fundamentally different in the matter of being made in God's image. I do not think a straightforward reading of the text provides any real grounds for such a conclusion, though.

Genesis 9:6 NASB
"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man."

This command to Noah after (sin, death, and) the flood I read to be an affirmation of an enduring unity between "humanity" and the "image of God" that not even the presence of sin can take away. It is as if the image of God is some sort of indelible mark on each human that cannot be marred or lost and whose value is not something we earn or lose. It is who we are. It is perhaps the thing about us that God finds valuable enough to redeem at awful cost.

The question didn't really include anything about the meaning of imaging God, so I won't attempt any discussion on that here, though it might be interesting.

The Image of Other Things

The second piece of the question mentioned being "born into the image of God or the Devil."

One definition of the word for "son" (υιος; 5207) is "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower," and this is frequently used when biological sonship/fatherhood is not thought to be possible, "sons of the prophets," "son of hell," "son of the devil," "You are of your father the devil," etc.

Nowhere is there any link made between being a "son of" someone and being born/made "in [his] image." We are all (still) made in God's image, even if we are "sons of the devil," because imaging God is a defining human characteristic and being a son of the devil is a description of our behavior.

EDIT: I forgot about Genesis 5:3, although I would consider that tangential to the point. The question has to do with being a "son of God" or "son of the Devil," and imaging that "father." When these phrases are used in the New Testament, they are referring to behavior. I would consider it dangerous to draw too strong a conclusion from Genesis 5:3 and Genesis 6:2. Seth resembles Adam, though not only in the ways that Adam (or any human) resembles God. The language of Genesis 6 is too "wonderful for me" to speak with certainty as to its precise meaning, but I don't think it's attempting to elucidate the concept of "imaging" in any way.

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(+1) for providing an alternate and legitimate view from mine. You have broken the idea of image away from likeness through the son-ship concept, like some Bible commentators also do. You have done it well and concisely. This way having the image of God even though not a son, could be true. Like Luther and Calvin, I join both of these concepts into a unity and do not split them. I might accept this answer, or mine, as both are legitimate to me. –  Mike Jul 3 '12 at 5:23
I guess I can't accept this for the final answer as i stumbled upon this: Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. Guess i will have to stick to Luther and Calvin. –  Mike Jul 4 '12 at 1:15
interestingly, Seth is said to be born in the likeness of Adam –  warren Aug 14 '12 at 15:58

While there is a certain amount of room for ambiguity, the consensus of scholars is that in Genesis 1:26-27 God is creating all of mankind in his own image, not just Adam (or Adam and Eve). It is agreed by most churches and denominations that each person retains at least part of the 'image of God' within him- or herself. Genesis 9:6 would tend to back this up.

There is no universal agreement over exactly what it means to be made 'in the image of God'. A typical answer might be that man is like God creatively, morally (i.e. capable of knowing morality), socially and mentally - i.e. he shares some aspects of God in all those areas. He is not perfectly like God in any of those areas, even before the fall: e.g. he cannot create from nothing, but he can create new things; he is capable of reason, but not able to know all things. The Fall marred many of these characteristics but did not entirely destroy them.

The John passage is talking about something really different. It is talking only on the moral/spiritual plane and doesn't address any of the other issues.

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@Mike: I don't see how this answer addresses 'physical charactaristics' at all... it talks about creativity, morality, mentality, etc... what are you talking about? –  Flimzy Jul 1 '12 at 3:48
@Mike: I don't believe demon possession robs someone of God's image, and I've never heard anyone, including many of my close Reformed friends, make that claim, either. –  Flimzy Jul 1 '12 at 4:02
@Mike: And a demon-possessed person still has a likeness to God. They still have a spirit, they still have the ability to create, etc. Demon possession is not a good thing, but it does not have the power to rob the likeness of God from a person. –  Flimzy Jul 1 '12 at 4:16
I was reminded of this question after reading the following sentence on Slacktivist: The bit about the “image of God” is not part of the story of Adam and Eve, it’s from the previous story and applies to all of humanity — to adam but not to “Adam.” –  TRiG Sep 26 '12 at 19:18

The subject of “Made in the Image of God” is a long standing debate in Christian theology. In May of 2011, I completed my 27 year search for such meaning and culminated my answers in my book called: Made in the Image of God: Understanding the Nature of God and Mankind in a Changing World.

It is my view that the keys to this issue are found in understanding that “image” and “likeness” mean two difference things as expressed in Genesis 1:26, 27 and to fully appreciate the subject, we must define some biblical terms to help us understand what God's "image" is and what Mankind's "image" is.

All these topics and more are fully vented in my book, but what I will say here is that God's “image” is a spiritually issue and God's “likeness” is a metaphysical issue. Even though both terms are separate issues they both work together to define mankind's relationship as a whole with their creator.

In the end, God's image on mankind was altered by sin, but God's likeness was not. To support this view I quote over 1,350 verses and hold in discussion over 100 passages of Scripture, on a laypersons level, and is now published worldwide.

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Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Jun 8 '14 at 18:45
Please explain more what you think "image" and "likeness" mean, or else this is really just spam and will get deleted. –  curiousdannii Jun 8 '14 at 23:23

The word "image" means exact representation. The image that is referred to in Genesis is an image by derivation, not imitation. The image is not a physical image since God is spirit. All of creation looking at Adam and Eve knew the absolute perfection and righteousness of God because He put Himself within them. In man, God created a spirit (unlike animals) in order to house His Holy Spirit.

The reason that Adam, Eve, and Jesus Christ could present the exact representation or 'image' of God is because they were created that way. I believe the word of God is extremely clear in that only three people were ever created in the image of God. Adam forfeited the Spirit of God in the exact moment that his soul stepped out of dependence upon God for everything that he was as a man, and stepped into independence from God. And he lost the one thing that made him a man as God designed man to be - God Himself.

We cannot exclude Genesis 5:3 just because it is inconvenient and we are not willing to logically examine what it means. We still have to accept that every person from the seed of Adam and Eve has been born in their own image, after their likeness - that is man in his fallen state, a state alienated from God.

God does give us a choice to be recreated in His image through His Son Jesus Christ. The whole point of Christ coming to earth, to be the man (the God man) that Adam through sin could not be, was so that any person claiming redemption through Jesus Christ, God would once again impart to him nothing less than God Himself. The whole point of our Savior Jesus Christ is to get God back into the spirit of man, so that that spirit now alive with the Holy Spirit, would affect the soul - mind, emotion, and will - so that God would once again be a visible representation on earth through the hearts of those recreated in His image.

Don't let anyone fool you. We can chalk God's image up to a list of attributes that man has based on supposition or we can look at the heart of God, the person of Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures that spell it out loud and clear for anyone willing to hear what the Spirit of God is longing to say.

You cannot be a man or woman as God's ultimate plan was for you to be apart from Himself - in you, doing the work, by faith. God creates the faith, but you must exercise it. And your faith is only as good as the object of your faith is good. Because faith is merely the conduit that allows the object of your faith to get into action on your behalf.

For without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) For whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23b). God designed you to need Him for every moment of every day. For no man will ever glory in His presence!

God bless you as you seek the truth as it is in Jesus!

I couldn't figure out how to respond to the comments made so this is in addition, if you wish to look here. The other 70 or so references are exclusively dealing with images that were set up to take the place of God, namely in the Old Testament due to idol worship and then we see images also return at the end times regarding the beast. The word 'images' is used throughout the Old Testament but we can see clearly the context is regarding idol worship. Why do I walk through this brief synopsis? Simply for this reason. God tells us to seek after him. He tells us to seek after the truth which is ultimately found in going to the person of Jesus Christ who made this claim, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life." Jesus also said, "You search the Scriptures. In them you think you have eternal life. They are they which testify of me, but you will not come to me that you might have life." Please allow me to lay forth this idea. This is for 'curiousdannii' - I cannot lay forth evidence to which is my own supposition. It's like trying to tell someone that something exists without the proof of it. If all of Scripture must agree and we only have roughly 10 references concerning the image and likeness of God, we must allow God to teach us with what He has given us. Here is a list of the attributes of God that current theologians and some not so current are telling us man possess of God and therefore we are made in His image. 1. Speech 2. Love 3. Freedom 4. Immortality 5. Creativity 6. Holiness Here are only 6 things (they probably would put others, but these have been noted) that men would like to attribute mankind with in their evidence that man (you and I and everyone since Adam and Eve) have been born in the image of God. I would challenge you to go to Scripture and attempt to prove them correct. I can find nothing that supports what they have to say. In fact, as an example, the word 'creativity' never once is found in the whole of Scripture. There are the words 'create', 'Creator', 'creation', but not the word 'creativity'. And the 3 words above refer only to God the Creator unless it mentions us as his creation. How can you prove that man creates something and give us evidence to that fact if Scripture does not confirm it? In fact, Scripture tells us the exact opposite of this truth - Paul testifies to this in Acts 17:24 - 28 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (and Paul is addressing unbelievers here) for "In him we live and move and have our being." And in Colossians 1:15 - 17 we read "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." What does man create? Nothing. In fact from the artist to the dictator to the evolutionist creating a picture, a regime, or an idea apart from God, every breath that a person takes to anything they believe they possess without God is merely an ignorant perspective. God gives them everything until their last breath and because he created man to love him and worship him, he also gives them the moral option to curse his name until they draw their last breath that God alone gives. Again, this is just one attribute they say that the image of God is, but I encourage you to rely upon the Holy Spirit and through prayer, go to the word of God and the Living Word of God and see what God has to say about it. The other attributes are no less interesting and if you still desire further explanation, please let me know.

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Just to clarify - when I say Jesus was created, I do not mean in the sense that He was created as God. As God He has always been and in no way or at any time did He ever repudiate His place with the Triune Deity. I am referring to His coming to earth as a baby where when He was conceived in Mary's womb, His spirit was already alive to God through the Holy Spirit. Sorry if there was any misunderstanding with my wording. –  Deloe Apr 20 at 21:08
Please edit this to add some evidence for your claims. Despite your claim that the Bible is extremely clear that only three people were made in the image of God, I've never heard anyone suggest that. –  curiousdannii Apr 21 at 2:50
Hi welcome to the site I enjoyed your fresh perspective/argument...Actually older books that i have read generally focus on the lost image of God and more or less assume your argument so +1 ..and is why I raised the question as modern day people seem a little offended at the older generation on would improve your answer if you added a couple supporting quotations from whichever theologians you enjoy. –  Mike Apr 21 at 14:17
To the second reply made I would say this. I can give you every reference in the Bible that includes the word image. There are actually not that many that refer to the image of God. When the word 'image' is used in the word of God, there are only roughly 10 references that deal with either the image of God, the image of God in man, and the image of God put back into us through the person of Jesus Christ. –  Deloe Apr 21 at 17:02
Hi Mike - Thank you for your thought-provoking words. I have enjoyed your posts throughout. It is obvious to me that you desire the TRUTH above all else. I have added to the original summary if that helps at all as to additional evidence. Let me also say this. I grew up in a Christian home, church, school, and college, but did come to redemption in Christ until recently. There is only one person to be trusted and when we agree with him, only then can we agree with each other. We are never alone in the truth. Because truth is as timeless as God Himself and HE/it does not change. God bless you! –  Deloe Apr 21 at 17:57

All of mankind is made in Gods own image, not just Adam. We find the pronouncement early in the Bible concerning man being created in God's image:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

This image was both on a 'spiritual' plane and on a 'natural' plane.  For when the Trinity said in  'our likeness' it refers to the spiritual holy image of God, but the immediate application is that under that image man would 'rule over the fish', etc. This implication is also described in Palms  8. By the word 'natural' we mean not pertaining to spirit, love or communion with God, but pertaining to body, mind, feelings and will, as these may exists separate from God. Even an animal or the Devil has mind, emotion, will, creativity. 'Spiritual' pertains to Gods character and power whereby those natural features are made to reflect God's likeness/image.

One can see that the natural image and authority over nature was not fully lost in the fall for God said after the fall:

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6)

However on the spiritual level, man no longer held the image of God for that image is perfect holiness and this is what man lost through sin.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Spiritually we are 'born' with the image of our spiritual parents. Spiritually we reflect Gods image, only if we love Him, otherwise He is not our spiritual father:

Jesus said to them, “ If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father 's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:42-44)

Since we were 'all enemies of God', rather than loving God, our spiritual father was the Devil, and so was our image was reflecting evil.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)

Therefore, although God has a special love for mankind, even when they were His enemies, only Adam and Jesus Christ were born with His image. We do not regain that image again until being 'born again'.

As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:48-49)

Man lost the spiritual image of God. Furthermore, it was not just 'marred', but entirely removed and replaced with the image of the Devil. The Devil is said to be the father of that image and kingdom, on account of his introducing sin into the human race. This has always been the faith of Luther, Calvin, etc. and included in the great doctrine of original sin.

For understanding the reformed view of original sin, refer here.

I have collected a couple quotes direct from Calvin and Luther, as one suggested I was introducing a private and new idea here. Evidently this is simply untrue.

Calvin said regarding this image:

Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. ( Colossians  3:10 , and Ephesians  4:23 .) That he made this image to consist in righteousness and true holiness, is by the figure synecdochee; for though this is the chief part, it is not the whole of God's image. Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good....

But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. (Calvin's commentary on Genesis Ch 1:26-27)

Luther said it even more simply:

God announces the punishment: “On whatever day you eat from this tree, you will die by death,” as though He said: “Adam and Eve, now you are living without fear; death you have not experienced, nor have you seen it. This is My image, by which you are living, just as God lives. But if you sin, you will lose this image, and you will die.” (Luther's Works Volume 1, P63)

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You should really only answer your own questions if your answer is a standard one. This looks like a personal interpretation. –  DJClayworth Jul 1 '12 at 2:40
@DJClayworth - This is 'the standard' Protestant reformation position . I raised it because I have noticed the standard answer seems missing from people discussion of original sin. The idea that man is still born in God's spiritual image is a modern idea due to lack of popular understanding of the doctrine of original sin. For a orthodox view of original sin refer to my post here: Inheritance of original sin If anyone can build a biblical argument that is different I am curious to hear what Bible verses are appealed to. –  Mike Jul 1 '12 at 2:49
As a post-reformation Protestant I assure you that is not the case. Your problem is that you are interpreting 'image of God' to mean only the moral realm, and that is not how it is normally interpreted. –  DJClayworth Jul 1 '12 at 2:58
Incidentally the only truly universal agreement in what 'image of God' means is that it isn't a physical likeness. –  DJClayworth Jul 1 '12 at 3:11
"Even an animal [...] has mind, emotion, will, creativity. " While there are those who would subscribe to this idea today, for most of Christianity's 2000 year history this would not have been thought true. It's not universally agreed today. –  DJClayworth Jul 3 '12 at 13:53

In the strictest sense - you exist in the image of your maker by choice:

John 8:44-47 - Compare: MATTHEW 3:9

See the relationship between works and origin.

Further compare:

[Matthew 13:24-30][3]

[Ecclesiastes 7:29][4]

Due to a request for further explanation: Its evident through the scriptures (especially the ones noted above) that you can choose your father by your works, and resemble him by works. Obviously inheritance and "existing in the same image" are closely tied.

(I try to keep explanations simple, minding human attn span)

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