“Man is not a beast, nor is he divine, nor is he a mixture of both – he is a creature made by the triune God in and as the image or likeness of God. All the other creation was created after their kind, but man in the image of God. The Hebrew terms mean “representation or resemblance.” We could paraphrase 1:26 like this, “Let us make man as our concrete resemblance, in our likeness.” So man is a bodily creature who is like God in some way.
What is the image?
Mankind images the glory of God –this tells us what we as humans were – a resemblance of the glory of God. Man was made to represent and resemble this glory; therefore he was made upright, and lived in perfect holiness. They were a mirror to all creation and their fellow man that God is good and rules. Does man still have this role even now that the fall has come? In many ways, yes. The reason we are not to kill our fellow man, or hate our brother, or curse our brother, is because they still to a degree possess the image of the glory of God. Man born in sin retains some the image of God’s glory. However the image reflecting righteousness, submission, and love for the true worship of God was destroyed in the fall.
Man the sinner despises God’s law and changes the glory of God to the creature in order to worship the creature. However, praised be God the new creation in Jesus Messiah restores that image of God in us. In Christ we have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image its Creator. This new creation in Christ is after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. The full holy and loving-to-worship image of God is the norm and goal into which believers are being moulded, and that image is also the image of Christ! This is done by his gospel and his Spirit. Now again in Christ we resemble the glory of God.”
Pastor Henry Bartsch, Trinity ARP Church