Monday, May 20, 2013

Did We Lose the Image of God?

This is to post a link to an article on the image of God you should read. The references in the Heidelberger, and the Canons of Dordt strongly support the moral view of the image of God as righteous, holiness, and the knowledge of God, which man has lost since the Fall, and therefore needs renewed in the new creature of the Christian. This is taught explicitly in Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:9-10.

"be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness"
"have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him"

In both cases this is contrasted with the old man of sin (man's nature since the Fall). If the image of God in man consists in these three things, then the truth of total depravity would certainly preclude the idea that man retained the image of God, even in some small sense.

"Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections." (Canons III&IV:A1)

Notice, he was "originally formed after the image of God". Then it describes this image as "true and saving knowledge of His Creator, etc", "his heart and will were upright" (righteousness), "all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy" (holiness). Then it follows, he forfeited these excellent gifts. There is no doubt that the first gift mentioned, "the image of God" is included in this forfeiture as an "excellent gift". What man retains is described in article 4 concerning the "glimmerings of natural light". This is a thorough, consistent Reformed view of the Fall of man, and total depravity. Of course, man's nature remains as that of an image-bearer, but as Christ taught that in our old nature we bear the image of our father the devil:

"Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? (John 8:42-48)

This article deals with the common objections such as in Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9.

Westminster Larger Catechism:

"After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man out of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable and immortal souls [this is man’s constitution]; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness [this is the image of God in man] (A. 17)"

The Heidelberger:
Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?
Answer. By no means; but God created man good, [a] and after his own image, in [b] true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator
[b]: Gen. 1:26,27; ***Col. 3:10, Eph. 4:24***

Belgic Confession:
Article 14: We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness1, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God.2
1 Gen. 1:26, Eccl. 7:29, Eph. 4:24
2 Gen. 1:31, Eph. 4:24

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