Author: Ron Graham
Is the Human Spirit in God’s Image?
—The answer is yes
In our previous lessons we looked at two false ideas concerning the spirit or soul of man. Now we balance that by considering two true ideas. In this present lesson our first true idea is that man's spirit is made in the image of God.
The Bible represents mankind as having two natures.
- On one hand, there is the fleshly or earthly nature manifest in our physical bodies. We are not animals, but we are “flesh and blood” like them. This part of us is temporary, just an "earthly tent" (2Corinthians 5:1-9) which "cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1Corinthians 15:50).
- On the other hand, there is the spiritual nature manifest in our minds. We are not God, but we are “spirit” like him. This is the higher nature, and that which makes us higher beings than the animals; we are beings made in God’s image.
1 A little Lower Than the Angels
Psalm 8:4-6 makes a statement about human status and nature. God made man (including woman) "a little lower than the angels". This is a statement about Christ in particular, because he "became flesh and dwelt for a while among us" (John 1:14).
However it is also a statement about mankind in general. We are not a little higher than the animals as is generally believed today. No, we are much higher creatures than the animals. We are a little lower than the angels, designed and destined to be like them one day (Mark 12:25).
2 In The Image of God
It is true that presently we have flesh and blood bodies similar to some of the animals, however that is not all that we are. We are also, and essentially, spiritual beings, made in the image of God. "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).
As a physical being, man has a body, normally either male or female. But this body is not like God, for God does not have a body of flesh. "God is spirit" (John 4:24). Man and woman's likeness to God is spiritual, not physical. It is a man or woman's spirit that makes a man or woman "in the image of God".
3 The Inner Person
The Bible clearly reveals this spiritual nature of human beings, and refers to it by various interchangable terms. Some examples are:
- The inner person (2Cor 4:16).
- Hidden person of the heart (1Pet 3:4).
- Heart, soul, mind, spirit (Matthew 22:37, Hebrews 4:12).
The fact that we are in the image of God, does not make us God, nor mean that one day we will become God. A child is not his parent, nor does he become his parent, but he is in the image of his parent. This is our relationship to God. He is our heavenly Father, and we are his children created in his image.
Even many religious teachers lack understanding of the spiritual nature of man as distinct from his earthly nature. Nicodemus was an example (John 3:1-16). Religion might have a lot to do with looking after people’s bodies (James 1:27, 2:14-17) but it is not the outward body that is religious —'tis the inner person created in God’s image.