by Matt Slick
To be made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) means that we have certain characteristics that God has that have been given to us. So, for example, where God can love (John 3:16), we can also love. Where God can reason (Isaiah 1:18), we also can reason. Just as God is self-aware, so are we. We reflect the character and nature of God in many ways. But, if we are made in his image then why are we unlike him in so many ways?
We are unlike God in several areas.
- God is independent of the universe. We are not.
- God existed before the universe was created. We did not.
- God exists everywhere all the time. We do not.
- God possesses all knowledge. We do not.
- God is holy and can do no wrong. We do wrong.
There are other areas that would demonstrate the difference between God and ourselves, but these are sufficient for this discussion. We are ontologically different than God. This means that we are different than him by nature. We are also different than God in our practice. Where God is holy and cannot sin, we are not holy and we sin regularly. Also, God is perfectly loving but we are not.
Our differences, therefore, are both ontological and experiential. But it's perhaps the latter issue that is most questioned. If we are made in in God's image, then why are we so different than he is in so many ways? Why do people have such different religious beliefs, such radical different ideas of what is true, different morals, different practices, and different expectations?
The answer is that God has given us the ability to think for ourselves and act in a manner that is free. In addition, since we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and since sin has its effect upon our bodies and our minds, the result is that we will not be consistent with how we're supposed to live before God and with each other. Sin is somewhat like a wrench thrown into the machinery. It messes things up. It is like adding chaos into harmony. It is what makes us so different from God in our practice. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and blinds us to the truth of who God is (Romans 1:28).
So, we are unlike God in so many ways, particularly in our practice, because we have fallen from his Holiness and we have the chaotic effect of sin influencing everything we believe and do. Therefore, not only will we have conflict among ourselves, we will also act in a manner that is very unlike God.