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Doctrine of Man: Image of God III

May 16, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Ephesians 4


Today we are going to conclude our discussion on the Doctrine of Man –

and all the implications of what it means to be made in the Image of God.

Last week we discussed one such implication which was the

  • Image of God Implies Responsibility
    • We looked at John 1 and Numbers 12
    • We learned that the light of Christ was shed abroad upon all men and therefore,

There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the eternal light does not reach.


We also discussed the implication that the Image of God can be seen in the basic nature of Man.

The Scripture teaches that man, in his basic nature,

  • Has the truth of God in the form of propositions in God's word.
  • Has a propositional understanding of God as a thinking being.
  • Cannot but think God … having been created in His image.

We talked about how man holds the truth in unrighteousness.

  • God has made the truth manifest in man…what may be known…in man.
  • God has shown it to man. (Romans 1)
  • God has manifested His truth of who He is and thus holds man accountable.

The image of God Tied to Moral Obligations to God

As we continue looking at this topic, we next move to the moral obligations the image of God creates within man.

Let’s begin by first turning to Ephesians 4:17-24.

  • The first thing that stands out is the contrast between the old and the new.
  • The old man is characterized as corrupt.
  • The new man is characterized by righteousness and holiness.
  • The new man does not refer to becoming a physically new man (a new body).
  • The new man refers to a spiritual renewal.

But what, exactly, does that mean?

Notice the references to “created” or “creation”.

This could refer to the condition in which Adam was originally created.

Or it could refer to the second creation or regeneration….

  • By the grace of Christ

Perhaps there is truth in both.

We know that when Adam was created, he was:

  • made […] after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.
  • But that image was corrupted and marred by sin

As part of regeneration, the image of God is formed new, restored to man.

Notice the two ways in which this image is restored…

  • Righteousness; and
  • Holiness.

Righteousness -> adherence to a required standard, a moral standard; uprightness, what is lawful and fair and just and true.

Holiness -> is the quality of being personally devoted to God; either by being set apart, by being morally pure, or being devoted to God.

Are you beginning to see the relationships and the meaning of how the image of God directly impacts man’s (all of man’s) moral obligations to God?

Think back on our recitation of the 10 Commandments.

Do you see any similarities? Turn to Luke 1:74, 75

The second table of the Law -> Commandments 5 – 10

  • All of those are man’s required standards as it relates to one another.
  • These are not optional nor a cafeteria menu item.

Adam was created in righteousness – not infallibly – but certainly with the ability to treat others according to God’s expectations….

With the fall, the responsibility and accountability to continue such righteous behavior did not diminish one iota….

  • But his ability and his desire certainly did.

What about holiness?

Similar thing -> refer to the first 4 commandments.

These are God’s requirements and expectations of man in how he is to behave and act towards God in being personally and completely devoted to God.

Again, Adam was created in holiness and possessed the ability to fulfill this.

But the fall marred his desire and ability but still --- this did not remove or lessen his responsibility or accountability to God in this matter.

Regeneration, being renewed spiritually, begins the restoration process of the image of God in which man was created…and this will not be perfected until glorification.

But, regardless, the accountability and responsibility remain undiminished.

Colossians 3:10

Here is a similar sentiment as what we just read in Ephesians.

  • Man is renewed in the image of God.
  • Man is renewed in knowledge.
    • In the true knowledge of God
    • Of His expectations
    • Of His requirements
  • Being a reasoning creature:
    • He can think through the correct teachings of God’s Holy Word.
    • He can think through the propositions of God's Holy Word.
    • He can understand what is required (having been renewed)

One might be tempted then to say that the image of God and the responsibility to man applies only to professing Christians...

Romans 2:14-16

  • The Gentiles do not have the written law.
  • The Gentiles by nature, by creation, are a part of the image of God.
  • The Gentiles are bound to that law.

There is hardly any nation in existence or that has ever existed that did not have some form of law or set of rules that people were expected to follow.

Even the Gentiles, are not destitute of some knowledge of the laws of God.

The Gentiles' conscience’s (thinking aspect, reasoning aspect) bear witness to it.

So you see, all man is a thinking being is aware of the truth of God.

Next, turn to Romans 12 1-2

There is an ethical obligation to those who are in the kingdom of God.

  • To live up to that obligation.
  • To make their life a living sacrifice.

The ethical obligation can be met only with the renewing of the mind.

  • The renewing of the mind teaches man to not conform to the world but to conform to the standard of God's Word.

Thus, morality is tied to the intellect.

Thus, man as a thinking being is tied directly into his moral obligations as a being created in the image of God.

Thus, the image of God, in which man is created:

  • is defined both in terms of his “being” and in terms of relationships.

God created man in his image:

  • with a creaturely but true knowledge of God,
  • with justice toward his neighbor,
  • with piety (covenant faithfulness) toward God.

And this directly relates to the moral obligations that all men have toward God.

Naturally, those who have been renewed (or claim to have been renewed) are held to a higher standard for complete and total obedience to His Word.

  • Why? Because the image of God that was previously marred has been restored, and is being restored, and will be restored.

Man as the image of God as innate knowledge.

Through studying the image of God over the past several weeks, we cannot but help to recognize the existence of an innate knowledge in man that he cannot escape.

  • The image of God leaves man as rational thinking.
  • The image of God is not just knowledge.
  • The image of God is a structural way of thinking.
  • The image of God is a call to a life of righteousness and holiness

It is seen in redemption.

  • It is seen in salvation.
  • It is seen in the transforming work of the Spirit of God.
  • It is seen in how it affects man's mind and morality.

There are some who try to liken the image of God to that of a blank slate.

This is teaching is often referred to as the tabula rasa.

The empirical schools of thought taught:

  • That Adam was created in the image of God.
    • But that Adam was given a blank mind.
    • And that Adam filled his blank mind throughout his life as he maintained various experiences.

Teaching against the tabula rasa.

Genesis 1, 2

  • teaches a different view of men created in the image of God.

Notice: God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 1:28)

  • Since they have not experienced other people how do they know what God commanded?
  • Since they had not experienced each other before being created on the sixth day, how is it that Adam and Eve could comprehend such a command to be fruitful and multiply?
  • How would they even know where to begin to understand such a thing?


  • How do you learn to initiate/ start the blank slate?
  • How do you start to write something down?
  • How do you begin to think if you can't have anything on your mind but a blank slate?
  • How do you begin to learn how to talk?
  • How do you know to talk to God?
  • How do you ask to be taught or instructed?

Remember…Adam names all the animals.

  • Genesis 2:19-20
  • How does a blank mind understand how to name an animal?

He cannot....unless some aspect of this image of God in man is a rational image which is indued with knowledge as a confession says.

No, God placed within Adam knowledge so that he was able to function fully within the garden in which he was placed. And with this knowledge, also came the ability to reason and think and understand what God requires of man. that he could in righteousness and holiness.


Dr. Charles Hodge on the intellectual and moral nature of God say this:

“God is a spirit the human soul is a spirit. The essential attributes are reason, conscience, and will. A spirit is a rational and moral and therefore also a free agent in making man after His own image. Therefore, God endowed him with those attributes which belong to his own nature as a spirit. Man is thereby distinguished from all other inhabitants of this world and raised immeasurably above them. He belongs to the same order of being as God Himself. And therefore, capable of communion with his maker. This conformity of nature between man and God is not only the distinguishing prerogative of humanity so far as earthly creatures are concerned but it is also the necessary condition of our capacity to know God and therefore the foundation of our religious nature.

Man is created in the image of God, and therefore:

  • Is a rational and moral being endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.
  • From the very point of his existence, when God breathed into him, man became a living soul.
  • Man is:
    • A breathing being.
    • Able to commune with his Creator.
    • Able to answer to his Creator.
    • Able to understand his relationship and that perfection and that time of innocence with his Creator.

Being created in the image of God, man has a complete and utter responsibility to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

  • There is no excuse.
  • There is no bargaining.
  • There is no self-aggrandizing explaining away the commands of God.
  • Being created in the image of God removes all excuses and arguments.

Man is bound, required, and expected to glorify and to honor God in all things.

There is only responsibility and accountability. In all things pertaining to life and godliness…. for every single created human. Without exception.

Next week, we’ll take up the doctrine of the origin/ nature of sin and its effects.


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