By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

Colors and images intrigue us. We enjoy the beautiful images that are mirrored in the water and in the sky.  In our conversations we often use the word, “ image”. This word can have various meanings.  From Webster's dictionary we learn that "it conveys a visual impression, for it presents a mental concept of a person or thing, whether drawn, painted, sculpted or reflected; it may also be produced by a lens, mirror, water, etc.  It may convey the idea of a copy, counterpart or likeness, as in the saying, “He is the exact image of his father”. It can also be used as a type or embodiment, like, “He is the image of laziness”.

In the scriptures, the word IMAGE is translated from the Greek EIKON (Strong's 1594), and means to be like, or to resemble something.  It is used of a representation, as of an image of a man, woman, god, beast, etc.  Images can be made of gold, silver, or other material.  They can be dead images or living images.

Since the scriptures tell us that man is made in the image of God, and that those whom God foreknew, "He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:28), we desire to know more about the meaning of this statement.  Many questions come to our mind: if God has already made us in the image of God, why do we still need to be conformed to the image of His Son?  Is one greater than the other?  Isn't the Son an image of the Father?  How does all this fit together?

Let's begin with Genesis 1:26,27 where God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."  Since God is spirit, a true image of Him must be a spiritual image. How interesting! An image of the invisible God must also be in the invisible realm.  So here in chapter one God created a spiritual image of Himself. 

In chapter two we see that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground.  Then God blew His breath into Adam's nostrils, and he became a living soul!  It may surprise us to see that Adam was formed - not created!  In fact, if we compare the created man of chapter one with the formed Adam of chapter two, we see many differences.  Let’s look at some of these differences.

In chapter 1 man was created and given dominion over the animals, sea life, bird life and creeping things. He was also told to be fruitful and to multiply.  He could eat anything he wanted  - there were no restrictions, and God declared everything to be very good.    In chapter 2 we see a different picture.  Here Adam is formed from the dust of the ground, and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul.  This formed man was placed in a garden and a restriction was placed on him.  He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!  This man was not a spiritual man for he was told to cultivate the garden and take care of it.  He was  told to name all the animals, and every living creature,  He also needed a helper! 

These differences show us that the man created in chapter 1 differs from the man formed in chapter 2!  Therefore we have to put aside our former impression that Adam was created.  He was not created - he was formed from the dust that God had already created.  How can an image formed of dust be a spiritual image of God?  This is impossible!

A spiritual image of God cannot be a mixture of dust and spirit.  It has to be completely spirit, for there is no dust and darkness in God.  So how could Adam be an image of God?  He could not be a spiritual image of God; he was only an earthy image of God.  His physical body was not an image of God, but his ability to think, reason, worship and create out of existing materials, separated him from the rest of creation.  It brought him into an earthy image of God.  Had he already been a true spiritual image of God he would not have yielded to temptation and 

disobeyed God. 

An image of God has to be a likeness of God's being.  God is spirit; He does not have form like we do, for He fills all things!  Our form brings limitations to us. Since God is life, light and love, an image of God also has to have life, light and love.  God is against all unrighteousness, so an image of Him must also be against all unrighteousness.

In 2 Cor. 4:4 we read that Christ is the image of God. The being or nature of God was revealed in Him!  In Hebrews 1:3 we read that Christ "is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature!"  During His time on earth Christ revealed the nature of God to us. He never disobeyed God and He never yielded to temptation!  His heavenly nature was revealed during His time of testing.    He was tempted by the devil, and rejected, tortured and crucified by the religious hierarchy. Humanity tried to humiliate Him, but it was unsuccessful because He had already humbled Himself to endure all the shame man could heap on Him.  In all these difficulties and trials He revealed God's nature of love and forgiveness!   What an awesome revelation to recognize that God has promised to transform us into His image!!!

The spiritual image of God is Christ!  In Christ we are a new creation!  This is not a formed image; it is created; it does not consist of a mixture of dust and spirit - it is completely spirit!  We have been born of the Spirit; we  have been born from above!   The apostle Peter tells us that we have been born of an incorruptible seed - and we know that an incorruptible seed cannot produce anything that contains dust and corruption. 

In Col. 1:13-15 we read, "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."  Since Christ, the perfect image of the invisible God, is the firstborn of all creation, it follows that He will not be the only perfect image of the invisible God!  The word "firstborn" tells us that more are to follow.  "Of all creation" means that all creation will come into the image and fullness of God!

The world cannot see the glory of Christ!  "In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4)  The gospel brings us the good news of the glory of Christ - the image of God!  "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature." (Heb. 1:3)  Unbelievers cannot see the glory of Christ, for they are living in darkness and their minds are blinded to the truth.  The condemnation that the religious hierarchy heaped on Jesus Christ resulted in His crucifixion.  This is a powerful illustration of the blindness that resides in the carnal mind. To see the glory of Christ, our minds need to be opened by the light of the gospel, for only then can we receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Our transformation into the image of Christ is the work of God. "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8:29)  What an exciting reality!  We have been predestined to be conformed to the exact nature of Jesus Christ so that we will be a representation of Him on earth!  This is more than a mirrored reflection that evaporates into nothingness when the prototype moves away.  Christ's image in us is rooted in the Christ who lives in us; He has become the source and center of our very being.  Christ's image in us is not a nothingness, for then it would have no foundation; nor does Christ move away from us.  It is not an outward conformity of behavior, but an inward conformity produced by the life of the Holy Spirit within us.  We abide in Him, and His life has become our life, and His life in us causes us to be an image of Christ!

"Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49)  What a wonderful promise!  Our earthy image of God precedes our spiritual image. We readily identify with our earthy image and recognize that it is not rooted in immortality, for it contains corruption and decay.  Yet even in our earthy image of God we possess creative abilities, but corruption takes its toll.  Our carnal nature mars the beauty and often obliterates it.

But this is not the end.  The promise that we will bear the image of the heavenly is just as sure as the fact that we have borne the image of the earthy!  To enter immortality, we have to be born of an incorruptible seed, and that seed is Christ.  In Christ we bear the image of the heavenly!  As we submit to the government of God, the heavenly or spiritual image of Christ will be evidenced in us.

Our spiritual growth takes place by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith!  Everything that obscures the Christ has to be removed.  "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (transfigured) into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:18)  A veiled face cannot see clearly, for the veil hides what is beyond the veil; it also hides the face. What keeps us from seeing spiritual realities?  It's the flesh, the carnal mind; it cannot see beyond the letter.  To see the glory of God we have to see with spiritual eyes, for the Spirit removes the veil.  As we behold the glory, we will be changed.  The more we behold the glory of God, the greater the transformation in us! 

In the Charismatic Renewal we were made demon-conscious.  Demonic spirits were exorcised from Christians over and over again, until one girl finally remarked, "I can't believe I have so many evil spirits in me."  The carnal nature was viewed as a multitude of evil spirits in their eyes, and their focus on evil spirits kept them from focusing on Christ.  This hindered their spiritual growth.  

Ken Needham told the story about a busload of teenagers who were all grumpy and complaining after a tiring day of sightseeing.  On their way home the bus driver suddenly stopped to show them an awe-inspiring sight of God's wonderful creation.  After they saw the glory, the mood in the bus changed.  Songs of praise were sung the rest of the way home.  Let's keep our eyes fixed on the glories of our Christ!

Rev. 12:12 informs us that there are three dwelling places, namely the sea, the earth and the heavens.  Those who live in the sea do not know God.  They have "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (Rom. 1:23)  What a poor exchange - from the high realm of life, reality, power and glory, to the low realm of death, unreality, inability, fear, and false imaginations.  From the glory of incorruption to the death that is inherent in corruption; from the living omnipotent God to images that do not have life, and therefore do not have power.

Those who dwell on the earth are easily deceived because they only receive spiritual realities in their carnal mind.  "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." (Rev. 13:14-15)

Here we have an image or nature of the beast made by those who dwell on the earth.  Symbolically, the people who dwell on earth are Christians who cannot see spiritually.  Instead of interpreting spiritual realities with the mind of Christ, they interpret them with their carnal mind.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they received the mind of the serpent, and this mind is always against the Spirit.  The carnal mind is an image of the beast, and it craves worship.  The beast also came to Jesus and promised Him all the kingdoms of the world, if Jesus would only worship him.  But Jesus was ruled by the Spirit and refused to do so. Those who are ruled by the carnal mind worship the intellect.  When spiritual realities are only seen and understood intellectually, the spirit of the scriptures is lost. 

The mark of the beast on the forehead symbolizes the worship of the intellect.  "Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, `If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand...' And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."  (Rev. 14:9,11)

The number 666 on the forehead symbolizes carnal thinking.  It is the number of man, and it can never reach the divine 777.  The number 666 is not an actual number placed on the forehead by mechanical means - it is the number used to symbolize carnal thinking.  The number 666 on the hand symbolizes the works of self-effort that flow out of carnal thinking. The word "torment" should actually read "touchstone" - a stone that reveals the purity of a metal.  The worship of self is the worship of the intellect and religiosity (the image of the beast).  The beastly image is filled with lies and deception and does not give us peace and rest.  Peace only comes by receiving the Prince of Peace! 

Obedience to truth takes us out of the lie.  Lies do not belong to God's kingdom!  "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him - a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all." (Col. 3:9-11)  

The third place of abode is the heavenly realm - a place that is higher than the earth realm.  It is only found in Christ!  Those who are seated with Christ in heavenly places are resting from their own efforts to obtain righteousness.  Since they are seated, we know that they are not feverishly running about trying to produce their own righteousness.  They are resting in the finished work of Christ. 

It is so important to know who we are in Christ!  Our new roots are not in the country of our origin, nor in the genes of our forefathers.  Our being is in Christ, and He does away with all discrimination that the carnal mind has put on races and classes.  That old self has passed away, and we are now rooted and grounded in the love of God.  This is our new self!  However, the Holy Spirit has to teach us the difference between the lie and the truth.  Through His teaching we receive revelation knowledge; we receive truth!  Obedience to this knowledge transforms us into the image of the One who created us until Christ is all and in all!

Return to the Insights into Living Articles Index