So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27
What this world has forgotten and is vainly groping and seeking after, what every course in psychology is hoping to find, what every self-improvement program is attempting to realize, is this lost secret of how man was intended to operate. The likeness of God is lost. That is why humans can create, but everything they create has a twist toward evil. That is why they can communicate, but not only do they communicate truth and beauty but also lust and hate and filth and death. That is why, though they still know moral values, they deny them and rationalize them to exalt evil.
It is here where the gospel comes in. Paul shows us the plan of God to counteract the fall of humanity. In Colossians 3:9-10, he says to Christians,
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10). There is the likeness of God being restored in humans. The image of God has never been lost, for humans still retain the capacity to be godlike, but they no longer have the ability—until Jesus Christ is restored to the human heart. When He enters there begins a process that, little by little, through trial and heartache, sorrow and disappointment, glory, blessing, and the thrilling experiences of grace, is changing us so as to reproduce in us the likeness of God. We not only have the capacity to be godlike, we are actually becoming godlike. Isn't that glorious?
Remember that verse in 2 Corinthians where Paul says.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory [that is, seeing the face of the Lord Jesus through the experiences of our life, in the nitty-gritty of life, through the humdrum routines of life, in the high points and the low spots], are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory [from stage to stage] which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). That is the process of restoring the likeness of God in humans.
There is a wonderful picture in the Old Testament book of Malachi. Malachi says that God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:2b-3). He puts the silver in the firing pot and builds a hot fire under it. As the silver melts, the dross begins to float to the surface. The silversmith sits and skims it off, throwing away the dross as it arises. From time to time he bends over and looks into the pot. What is he looking for? The reflection of his own image. When he can see his likeness in the silver, he knows that it is pure.
Does that not explain something about life to us? This is what God is doing with us. Why do we go through these crushing disappointments, these wrenching heartaches, these hard trials, these pressures, these tribulations, these temptations, these times of failure as well as times of joy, blessing, glory, and ecstasy in the Lord? What is He doing to us? He is refining the silver until He can see His likeness again.
Thank you, Father, that You are refining so that Your likeness can be seen in me. I yield not only to You but to the way You are doing that, though at times it is very painful.
Without the gospel, we vainly grope for the lost secret of how man was intended to operate. What picture do we have of how we are being conformed to His image?