"God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son … We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him" (Romans 8:29 MSG).
From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. God announced this intention at Creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26 NCV).
In all of creation, only human beings are made “in God’s image.” This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. We don’t know all that this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes. Like God, we are spiritual beings—our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies. Like God, we are intellectual—we can think, reason, and solve problems. Like God, we are relational—we can give and receive real love. And like God, we have a moral consciousness—we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.
The Bible says that all people, not just believers, possess part of the image of God; that is why murder and abortion are wrong (Genesis 6:9, Psalm 139:13-16, James 3:9).
But the image of God within us is incomplete and has been damaged and distorted by sin. So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we have lost.
What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ! The Bible says Jesus is “the exact likeness of God,” “the visible image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation of his being” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT, Colossians 1:15 NLT, Hebrews 1:3 NIV).
People often use the phrase “like father, like son” to refer to family resemblance. When people see my likeness in my kids, it pleases me. God wants his children to bear his image and likeness, too. The Bible says, “You were … created to be like God, truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24 GW).