God created human beings in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Our understanding of what it means to be created in God’s image, or the Imago Dei, is varied, meaning it involves several true aspects pertaining to our humanity. We are relational, rational, spiritual, emotional, volitional, intentional, and inspirational creatures. God is relational; we are relational. God is rational; we are rational. God is Spirit; we are spiritual. God conveys emotions; we are emotional. God makes choices; we too are volitional. Like God, we are intentional. God created us on purpose for purpose. God inspires through creating. We too are able to arrange aspects of God’s created order in creative, inspirational ways. We can express ourselves aesthetically through literature, music, engineering, painting, etc. Having been created in the Imago Dei we have been endowed with the necessary capacities to reciprocate love to God and to one another.
However, as a result of sin, human beings are now alienated from God, from one another, and from their true selves. Sin distorts dramatically and dysfunctionally the Imago Dei in human beings. Capacities corresponding with the Imago Dei no longer naturally produce harmonious and happy relationships. They are now leveraged to satisfy the self-absorbed impulses of sin. We do not naturally love God with all our our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Nor do we naturally love all our fellows human beings as our selves. We simply love our selves and anyone else who may enhance our selves in some discernible way.
Our inverted, fallen condition–the distorted, dysfunctional Imago Dei–necessitates the gospel. God sent Jesus Christ into the world to redeem all that was ruined as a result of sin. Since Jesus was without sin, He is the only person to ever walk the planet reflecting fully the Imago Dei. Hence, Jesus is described uniquely as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3), and as the only one who revealed God (John 1:18). One of the many ways in which the Bible describes the redemption that comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus is having the Imago Dei restored in us (Romans 8:29). In salvation, our God-given capacities that enable us to reciprocate love to God and to one another are being reconstituted.
As a person deposits faith in Christ, God deposits the Spirit of Christ into his or her life. The Holy Spirit then animates and accentuates the rejuvenation of the Imago Dei. He or she then begins to house the fullness of God as result of their redemption. Christians, then, are described as animated sanctuaries. “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
In summary, each person has two things in common. One, they have been created in the Imago Dei. And, two, the Imago Dei in them has been dramatically and dysfunctionally distorted as a result of sin in their lives. Every person, then, needs to be redeemed. Only those who find redemption through the person and work of Jesus Christ are then indwelled by the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit and house the fullness of God.