Image is Everything
January 31, 2009, 10:19
Filed under: Uncategorized


So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:27

The question on the table is what does it mean to be made in the image of God?
The word image is translated from the Hebrew word ,Tselem.  The Definition given on Blue Letter Bible is as follows:
a) images (of tumours, mice, heathen gods)
b) image, likeness (of resemblance)
c) mere, empty, image, semblance (fig.)        In my words, we are a model.   We are a representation, [or should be, or could be] of something much greater than ourselves. 
If we are a work of art, God Himself is the subject we are modeled after. Now a model of a 747 CAN’T FLY, AND NOBODY CAN SIT IN IT, Because IT IS A LESSER REPRESENTATION.  
Please do not say God made us little gods and please do not say that I said that, that is not the point. We are little models of God. What does that mean? Well, as God can create, so can we. As God can imagine, so can we.  As God can emote, so can we; and, the biggie, we are Triune beings. We have a body, we have a soul, and we have a spirit. You can’t argue with me on the first as you are corporeal, the second one is the basis for most religion and discussed a lot in the bible, and what animates and feels love, rebellion, happiness , etc. is your spirit . Blessed are the poor in spirit said Jesus and Deut 2, God hardened Sihon’s spirit, etc. 

So here we are little models of God sitting around wondering if the model maker exists. For this reason I find the tragedy of Atheism almost humorous.
So if we are in His Image we should be capable of being like, and thinking like Him, right? Well, that was what the Devil said in the garden, you can be like God, in fact that is the cry of the cults still to this day, be like God in___ easy lessons.  Our first parents ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we can be like God!
That did not work out for us.  The world we live in today is a result of people thinking they know right from wrong better than God. We call that Sin.
God then gave us rules, so we would know right and wrong, and although that did not work to have His models act like Him, it did show us what sin was, and is. Jesus came not only to teach, not only to provide Divine forgiveness, but He came so He could go, and in leaving this realm physically , to send back a Helper who would do something amazing, give us a God like Heart, be our conscience when our conscience fails, to teach, guide, assure, reveal, guide us into repentance, and so fulfill the prophecies that our hard hearts would be transplanted with hearts designed closer to the original model, that we would have the mind of Christ and the heart of God. For us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and thereby really be an image of our Creator, we need to stay in the Vine that is Christ,(John chapters 14, 15, 16, 17). That pleases God!  We then bear fruit.  Not through our striving or our efforts, but through abiding in Christ.  (Submit to Him by trusting Him for all.)
During the World Wars, from what I  have read, naval officers and lookouts studied recognition models, models of ships at various scales, so that when something appeared on the horizon they could recognize it.  I wonder, if someone used me for a recognition model, would they get an idea of what my God is like?   

Hebrews 1:3 in speaking about the Messiah says:”Who being the brightness of [His] glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”  Christ was an express image.  The greek suggests a printing engraver’s plate that stamps out the same image when pressed into a medium, in other words, when the world pressed the Savior He left the image of God.  If you want to know the character and characteristics of God look at Jesus.  In fact the Greek word for image in this verse, charakteer[sp], is where we get our word character.  If we are serious about being an image the way we were designed to be, we should pray. 

Heavenly, Glorious, God, may we model Your love and compassion for all mankind and never reflect to the world in such a way that would make You look bad.  This is impossible for us, but all things are possible in Christ, so we pray in His name for the Spirit to mold us daily, Amen .



22 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Excellent post!

I really loved your prayer.

God has imprinted upon us… Himself.

He does give us His Spirit and He does work His purposes through us.

It is so wonderful that He does this…often without our cooperation! “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” ‘He’ will do it!

What a great God we have, in Christ Jesus!

Thanks Willohroots!

Keep on keepin’ on!

Comment by theoldadam

Proud to say I inspired this.

Comment by trumpethope19

trumpethope19 you sure did. It is kinda like when I play guitar at a party, I ask my wife, what song do I know? I know I have something, I just need a stimulus to get at it. Must be the 70’s residual.

Comment by willohroots

Theoldadam What a great God we have in Jesus Christ, Amen.

Comment by willohroots

I love this post. Last semester in my theology class we discussed the image of God and what it means. I am not sure that any of that discussion impressed me as much as this post. Well put.

Comment by jeofurry

I have the advantage of being granted tenure here at Willohroots U. I have the freedom to opine, but I still fear the Dean of the Universe. May I never offend Him!

Comment by willohroots

“May I never offend Him!”

It’s too late for that!

(but you are forgiven!)

Comment by theoldadam

yeah, Thank you Jesus!

Comment by willohroots

…and all God’s children should be saying, “Amen.”

Mine has always been, “Please LORD, I’m a lousy role model, let them see only You.”

Comment by Shawn W


Comment by willohroots

“So here we are little models of God sitting around wondering if the model maker exists. For this reason I find the tragedy of Atheism almost humorous.”

Okay, that’s just hilarious. I love it.

Comment by Andy Wood

interesting post Willohroots. I wonder how a physicalist approach to understanding the nature of the human being influences A: the ‘tripartate’ person and therefore B: the imago deo of that person.

To me, the ability for moral reasoning is key in this discussion.

Comment by phil_style

Phil_style, i never thought of a physicalist approach to a spiritual reality. Since 2/3 of the equation are non_corporeal, I might not hit your mark. This morning over coffee#2 using purely physical means to a spiritual end is a bit beyond me. The ability, or lack thereof for moral reasoning in my concept of a tri-partate human and the Imagio Deo is a concept I would like to address.
Imagio Deo the image of God.
The fact that God created Humans with a spirit and a soul shows the high regard God has for man.

God’s stamp upon us , the writing on our heart, must extend to body, soul, and spirit, in that all with in us should rebel against sin. Knowing that we are an image, an Icon if you will of the Very God should give us a moral imperative of the highest nature. I have noticed even many non-believers will give some degree of reverence to an Icon, a crucifix , the bible, what I will call a lesser image, would it not be wonderful if Human beings were put on a level with an Icon? If it is possible to revere the handiwork of man, should we not revere the handiwork of God himself? The world is shocked at “art” that plunges a crucifix into urine. Should we not be more shocked at dishonoring God’s own Image as seen in His handiwork, man.?
The bi_vocational world calls! hope that is close.

Comment by willohroots


Have you read anything by Nancy Murphy, the non-“reductive physicalist” theologian? My, and her, problem with a human ‘soul’ is that it simply doesn’t seem to exist. What we know about neurology and the effects of brain damage seems to suggest very strongly that all the things we are can be turned on and off by physical actions (chemical changes and /or loss of certain brain function). This poses serious problems for the ‘soul’, particularly for those who claim it is immaterial (spirit) in substance or form.

Comment by phil_style

My degree is in psychology, I studied Behaviorism. Behavior can change with the addition of chemicals for sure, i proved that to myself on occasion. How do behavioral changes stimulated by chemical or organic function in any way impact upon the existence of a soul? A man with a lobotomy has different behavior than he had previously ergo the soul is a myth?
Nancy Murphy is much more of a philosopher than a theologian. She uses logic and thought alone to come to an understanding of reality.
Here is a statement from one of her lectures
“And, finally, language gives us the capacity to conceive of God or Gods. It may be that prehumans had stirrings of religious awe or wonder but they could not have a concept of God without having concepts.”

Phil many of us believe the following, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
It is from the letter to the Hebrews in the bible and echoes other prophets thru the ages.
If there were no concepts, no humans to conceptualize, no Earth or sun, there would still be a God.
As far as the soul,the word is used over 400 times in the bible starting here,”And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
A couple hundred years ago a French physician put dieing people on a scale to see if the soul had weight. His outcome? There is no soul.
I have never heard of anybody saying the soul is material, or spirit for that matter.
there are many things science has not explained, dark matter, tetraneutrons, conservative democrats, and my wife. To start out assuming there is no god is a weak scientific position, and a fault of Nancy Murphy’s “downward reductionism”.

Comment by willohroots

Thanks for the reply Will. I’m no psychologist, my area is earth science, so I’m glad for any input from someone who has spent some time in academia studying/thinking about this subject. I suspect you meant to insert “spirit” instead of “god” in your last sentence? I’m pretty sure Nancy Murphy assumes there is God.

Have you heard of Clive Wearing, the former musician who’s brain is incapable of forming new memories? His whole existence (form his own point of view) is ‘like being dead’ (youtube – documentaries on him) . Without the physical memories being formed (etched in his brain tissue) he simply cannot know anything about his current life since an accident. I wonder, how can a spirit record memory? And if humans do have a spirit (as per the Scriptures), isn’t Wearing good evidence that it is the brain, and not the spirit that stores memory – as a physical thing. What use then the spirit, if it has no ability to know/ remember anything? Exactly what does the spirit do that the brain does not? I guess I’ve wondered this since I was a kid. . . .

I realise that I could just refer to scripture and be done with it, but unfortunately if I’m going to believe in something then I need to know what it is I’m believing in.

BTW: the jury is out for me on the human ‘spirit’ situation, I’m not ready to flat out deny it. I find it really hard to believe I can somehow be conscious without my brain/body. I can’t even be conscious when I’m asleep! Yet alone when I’m not alive (as I was before I was born). That’s why I lean towards physical resurrection as the Christian hope.

Comment by phil_style

im not sure being created in the image of god means we are tripartite beings. i cant see the correlation between father/son/spirit and body/soul/spirit. it doesnt equate and im not sure it aligns with scripture.

but that aside we can certainly agree that the image was affected by the fall and that this is re-enacted in every life as we turn from god and seek our own way. in this regard i generally refer to us as broken. the image is broken. it isnt reflective or representative of the creator. that is until christ invades the brokenness of each life and begins the restoration of his image and thats god breathing life into us once again.

and it should look just like jesus more today than yesterday and more tomorrow still.

Comment by graceshaker

Graceshaker, I am not sure i would use the word sure either. Sometimes i just like to think about things. This is something that a couple of people can talk about over cocoa, or oat soda, on a snowy eve.

Comment by willohroots

Image affected by fall, I don’t think we have a clue how far we fell, we don’t realize where God put us to start, but that is another post.

Comment by willohroots

phil_style, memories? the spirit? I thought that they were encoded in the gray matter? Poor Clive, that is an awful way to live. You are conscious when you are sleeping, during REM ect, but for that I need a new blog.. So much of what we speak of here is Faith. try this http://www.reasons.org/ They are talking about our subject, soul!!!
Graceshaker,http://www.reasons.org let me know please.

Comment by willohroots

I have to agree with the previous poster who balked at saying we’re trinitarian by nature. Regardless of soul, body, spirit questions there is a distinct difference between our own inner relations of these three things and the Trinity. God is three and God is one in a way that the synthesis of body, soul, and spirit isn’t.

I like what Ted and Lee’s “Creation” skit sums up the imago dei as: “We’re open ended.”

Comment by Josh

We are so often divided within! i agree with that. I think The body vs. spirit is the continual conflict inside us, and the reason the Puritans met with the words, “Have you mortified today?” referring to killing the desires of the body so as to allow the spirit to worship, as in “In spirit and in truth.

Comment by willohroots

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