Truth for Young Believers: The Image of God

One of the reasons people don’t always live as they should is that they don’t realize who they are. Your behaviour will correspond to your identity. People are choosing to self-identify in various ways – sometimes in ways that contradict reality. What about you? As a young believer, where do you find your identity?

In the beginning, God made man and woman different from everything else. Amidst the mass of living things created in Genesis 1, it is only the man and the woman who were made in the image of God. That meant that they were to be God’s representatives, carrying out His rule upon the earth. The man and the woman stood at the pinnacle of God’s creative activity; all the rest of God’s work in Genesis 1 was preparing the earth for the man and the woman. They were special. That is one reason why men and women shouldn’t behave like animals – God gave us a different identity. We were made in His image.

Interestingly, the thing that makes men and women so special is the thing they share in common with every other man and woman – all human beings bear the image of God. But we all bear it in a distorted way. Sin has not erased the image of God in man, but it has distorted it. Only the Lord Jesus Christ was free from this distortion: “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). And the great mercy and miracle of the gospel is that believers, fallen and corrupted as they are, now find their identity in Christ. You are in Christ and Christ, the perfect image of God, is in you (Col 1:27). You have put off the old man and, in Christ, you have put on the new man, and “you are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator” (Col 3:10 CSB).

While all human beings are made in God’s image, it is only in those who belong to Christ that the now distorted image is being renewed. You have a special identity, then, distinct from other men and women around you – it is your identity in Christ. And it is vital to get a good grasp of who God has made you to be in Christ, because your behaviour will correspond to your identity. Sure, you may still struggle with various things – greed, anger, lust – but that isn’t what defines you. You are a new creation in Christ (2Co 5:17). That doesn’t mean, by the way, that you should be all puffed up in pride. Your identity in Christ is not something you’ve achieved, but something you’ve received, by grace. The thing that really makes you special isn’t your intelligence, your education, or your beauty, but your identity in Christ. For in this new man (the church), “Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11). And it is because of your union with Him that the image of God is being renewed in you.