In order to answer this question, we need to understand what it means in Genesis 1:27 when it says that “God created man in His own image.” Some believe this implies that God has a physical form and thus He created man with a physical body. But this can’t be true, for John 4:24 states that “God is a spirit” (He has no physical body). Others believe that it teaches us that man was created in a state of holiness; in other words, in a state of “sinless PERFECTION” (this is no doubt what you had in mind). God is indeed holy and sinless, but the truth is man was NOT created in holiness for if he had been he never would have sinned. We believe Adam was created in a state of INNOCENCE. This means he had no knowledge of sin (like a small child before they reach the age of accountability).

Though Adam was in a state of innocence, he was still “capable of sinning” and thus God gave Adam a test to see if he would obey Him and remain sinless or if he would disobey Him and sin. The test is found in Genesis 2:16-17 where God told Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” We know that Adam (and his wife) failed that test for in Genesis 3:6 we read, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and HE ATE.” Sin truly entered into their hearts on that fateful day and the moment they ate of the forbidden fruit they DIED SPIRITUALLY, which means they became “separated from God spiritually.” They also LOST THEIR INNOCENCE, for in the next verse we read, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and THEY KNEW THAT THEY WERE NAKED.” They now had THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN!

You may be thinking, “So what exactly does it mean when it says that “God created man in His own image.” The word “image” means that in some way man was made to RESEMBLE GOD. We saw earlier (from John 4:24) that God is a spirit and we know from many scriptures man is made of up three parts: SPIRIT, soul and body. For example, the Apostle Paul prayed, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole SPIRIT, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1st Thessalonians 5:23). God desires that our whole being be “set apart” to Him in this world. The “highest part” of man is his “spirit,” for the spirit in us gives us the ability to think, to make choices and to communicate. It is our spirit that gives us the ability to have fellowship with our Creator, for again “God is a spirit” and thus we can communicate with Him. This is not true of any of God’s other “creatures,” for an animal, bird, or fish do not have a spirit and are unable to understand or to communicate with their Creator.

The word “image” also has the thought of “representation.” God created man to REPRESENT HIM on the earth. This is linked with what we just saw, for with man being given the ability to think, choose and communicate, he can indeed represent God who has these same abilities. The tragedy is that when sin came into the world “God’s image became marred,” for in man’s rebellion against God he now chooses to think and act independently of God. I mentioned earlier that Adam and Eve DIED SPIRITUALLY and became “separated from God.” This spiritual separation includes not only thinking and acting independently of God, but also refusing to communicate with Him. The only remedy to restoring man’s fellowship with God and God’s image in him is in being “born again,” which results in God creating a “new man” (i.e. new life). “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Ephesians 2:1 & Colossians 3:10). (338.5) (DO)