The Difference Between Image & Likeness (Genesis)

God raises us as Sons teaching us of His ways in order that we'll be transformed into His Likeness.
Process of transformation: God raises us as Sons teaching us of His ways so we'll be transformed into His Likeness.

To understand the image and likeness of God, let’s look at when God first introduced the concept…

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  (Genesis 1:26)

This verse shows us God’s plan.  He would make Man in His image and Man would be in His likeness and then rule over all the world for Him.  It included both of the words that we are studying and the concepts that go with these words.  To be made in God’s image is to be able to hold His Spiritual Life within us, even though He made us out of the dust.  So although our bodies are corruptible, dying flesh, He made us in His Image, meaning that we could hold His Spirit and be fully capable of being a tabernacle for His Glory.  Now that we’ve looked at God’s plan, let’s look at what God actually did in that first week of Creation…

“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

You can see that God made Man in His image, but that Man did not immediately have the likeness of God.  To have the likeness of God is to be God-like.  If Adam and Eve were God-like, they would not have disobeyed God and brought Sin in between them causing the Fall.

So although it was God’s intention to make Man in His image and likeness, He did not immediately complete this.  The reason is that He intended a process to complete this.  He intended to raise us as Sons teaching us of His ways, nature, and character.  So that over time, we will be transformed into His Likeness.  This concept is familiar to someone who has been in the Church for some time when it is applied to an individual.  We Americans tend to see everything as it applies to individuals because we don’t see ourselves as part of a people.

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

But God sees us as Man in process through whom He is working out His will and plan.  He is fashioning Man to be what He created Him to be.  A kingdom of priests and kings.  A nation of sons.

Tomorrow we’ll look at a real life example which might make this a bit more real to you…

This is Part 3 in the series Bearing the Image and Likeness of God. To continue with this series, click on Pt 4. To use this as a growth tool to better understand your own calling, please read Pt 1 and Pt 2.

Photo credit: erinold

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