God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.



© Rosemary Bardsley 2023

[Related studies:
Creation in the image of God
More information about man.  
The creation of man and woman.
Studies on dignity, equality and distinction.
Devotional thoughts on what is human.]

When we look at human beings in our world today our hearts break – unless we have become so accustomed to what we are seeing that it no longer bothers us. Or, unless we have intentionally hardened our hearts because what we are seeing simply hurts too much. Or, unless we believe that this is simply the way it is, part of a never-ending process of survival of the fittest.

In the ‘west’, biblical truth and biblical values had once provided a protective, but superficial, veneer, masking human lostness. But now, after almost two centuries of increasing rejection or reduction of God which has been misinformed by liberal theology, uniformitarianism, secular humanism and evolutionary theories, we now see -

Loss of human dignity. Loss of human identity. Loss of human value.
Human degradation. Human desolation. Human despair.

We see humans used, misused and abused by other humans.

We see humans who have given in and given up, and take whatever is the easy way – whether escape into addictions or into death – because life is so meaningless and so hopeless, or who escape into superficiality – because the deep things, the real, meaningful things, are way too painful.

We see humans, many humans, who are convinced that there is no purpose and no point, no future ... whose philosophy is ‘eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we die.’ Because, as they see it, that is all there is.

And we recognize that God is right when he calls us ‘lost’.

We are lost. And we have lost ... all that God in his goodness created us for.

[Note: there will be a study on God’s Goodness and the meaning of life (Ecclesiastes) later in this series.]



God in his goodness created us in his image, in his likeness – Genesis 1:26 & 27. This was a Trinitarian decision – ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’

Not only did God, in his goodness, choose to give us existence and life (see this study), he also, in his goodness, chose, willed and was pleased to make us in his image.

Bible scholars disagree over what it means to be created in the image of God. Most define the image in terms of some of the abilities of God – things like personality, emotions, verbal communication, creativity, dominion – things that God does that humans can do but animals generally can’t. But there are at least two problems with that – (1) that some animals can do some of these things; and (2) more importantly, the New Testament clearly teaches that part of our salvation by Christ and sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the restoration of the image – an on-going process of transformation into the image of Christ. Which means that at some point, the image was somehow lost – that something happened to destroy, damage or de-activate the image.

We will be looking at Genesis 3 in the next study.. That is where the problems started. But here we need to recognize that humans still possess and are constantly using all of those qualities and abilities of God, which some scholars say is what the image of God is. These qualities and abilities were not lost in Genesis 3. Indeed many of them are even more evident now, when God is no longer considered relevant, than at any point in history.

What then is this ‘image of God’ in which God in his goodness created us?

God created us as a reflection, an image, of himself. And a reflection, an image, only exists in a face-to-face relationship with the real thing. The image takes its nature and its identity from the real thing of which it is the image. The image of a mountain in a lake is only possible if the lake is right there, beside the mountain. If there is no mountain, there is no image of the mountain. Your image in a mirror is dependent on the mirror being in the right relationship to you. Once that relationship is broken, once the mirror is turned away, it can no longer image you. Similarly, if you were not there, your image would not be in the mirror. Although it still has the capacity to reflect you, it cannot do so when it is not in a face-to-face relationship with you. It is actually imaging, reflecting, other things, but not you.

The key thing about our creation in the image of God is that God created us for and in such a close relationship with himself that we reflected his glory. There in Genesis 1 and 2, in perfect, unimpeded relationship with God, the original humans reflected the glory of God.

Bible study: How do these verses help you to understand what creation in the image of God means?
[1] About what God created us for:
Isaiah 43:7

[2] About how we reflect the nature of whichever ‘god’ we follow:
2Kings 17:15

Jeremiah 2:5

Jeremiah 2:11

John 8:42 – 47

[3] About the restoration of the image as part of our salvation/sanctification in Christ and by the Spirit:
John 17:22

2Corinthians 3:18

Ephesians 5:1

Colossians 1:27

Colossians 3:10

Hebrews 2:6 - 10

[4] About our responsibility and impact as God’s image-bearers:
Matthew 5:16

Ephesians 2:10

1Peter 2:9, 12


[5] About God himself being our glory
Isaiah 60:19

Jeremiah 2:11 – 13


Hosea 4:7


The whole universe displays the glory of God (we look at that in a later study) but that is involuntary – it is either mechanical, in the case of the inanimate world, or pre-programmed and instinctive, in the case of the animate world. But here in creating us in his image God gave to humans the unparalleled privilege and responsibility of actively bearing, displaying, reflecting, his glory. In this, as Psalm 8:4 states, God crowned us with glory. His glory. He, whose image we bear, is our glory. Apart from him, we are nothing. Having rejected God, every human since Genesis 3 falls short of this glory (Romans 3:23).

Bottom line: God, in his goodness, created us in his image – created us in a relationship with himself in which we imaged him, in which we, in all of our thoughts, words and actions displayed his glory. In that relationship with the God who is glorious, we also were characterised by glory. That glory, which is his glory, is God’s good purpose for us. In rejecting God in Genesis 3 we also rejected our God-given identity as his image. We rejected our glory.

Discussion questions:
What new insights have you learned about creation in the image of God?


How does this impact your concept of the goodness of God?


How does this help you to understand human lostness?



In Genesis 1:28 & 29 we read: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground ... I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

This blessedness from God encompassed three important aspects of human life:

The marriage/family relationship (see also Genesis 2:18 - 25).
Meaningful work/responsibility (see also Genesis 2:15).
The necessities of survival (see also Genesis 2:9a).

In the original creation (Genesis 1 and 2) these were gifts from the goodness of God, and they were also good in themselves. Each was a blessing from God, without frustration, without tension, without fear, without guilt. Each was a good and perfect gift from issuing from his goodness.

It is fundamentally impossible for us to understand or even imagine this level of perfect blessedness, because we have never experienced it. But this is what God in his goodness blessed us with. This was his good purpose for us. This is what we once had.

When we look (in a later study) at the impact of Genesis 3 on humans we will see that each of these areas of blessedness disintegrated when we severed ourselves from God. The areas of blessing became cursed. While still holding some blessedness they also from this point onwards ceased to be pure blessing.

Discussion questions:
Looking at marriages and families today, what still remains of the blessing and what could never be termed ‘blessing’?


Looking at work and responsibility today, which aspects are ‘blessing’ and which aspects are a ‘curse’?


What makes surviving today a difficult and heavy burden rather than a blessed and joyful gift from God?


Bottom line: God in his goodness blessed us in each of these areas of our basic human needs. As we will see later, it was our human choice to sever ourselves from God (and thus from his goodness) that has made our human lives difficult in these basic areas.

How often do you thank God for the ‘blessed’ aspects of your marriage and family?


To what extent do you see your work and responsibilities as a gift from the goodness of God?


How much are you trusting the goodness of God in the context of your survival – for your food, water, shelter etc?


The goodness of God is seen in his creation of humans (1) in his image, and (2) in the blessedness God bestowed upon humans. What we see and experience in the world today is not what God in his goodness created us for.

Review questions:
What evidence is there in your life that God is in the process of restoring/renewing his image in you?


Are you co-operating with him in this on-going transformation, or are you resisting his efforts to restore you?


To what extent has your faith in Christ begun to restore for you the blessedness of marriage/family life, the blessedness of work and responsibility, and the blessedness of being alive?