In the beginning, God created man imago Dei, in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). We were created with attributes similar to God in that man, unlike the rest of creation, had the capacity to reason, to communicate, to praise, to worship, to appreciate beauty, and to obey or to rebel. Man had an eternal spirit within him that would live forever. He was created to showcase and reflect the glory and image of God. When he sinned, he still possessed attributes that distinguished him from the rest of creation, but some of the image of God was lost. His disobedience and new sinful nature was not part of God’s original design. A sin nature and fleshly self is not in the image of God, for God is holy and without sin. So man, since the fall, does not accurately represent the image of God as he was created to do.
Man, however, is made to reflect God’s image. Moses, after he had been with God on Mount Sinai, was perceived by all who saw him to have a face that literally glowed with the glory of God. Here we see a literal picture of a spiritual reality of showing forth the image of God. Everybody watching could see God just by looking at Moses. Yet this glory was fading as the glow eventually waned. 2 Corinthians 3:13 says, "And [we] are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away." Those watching Moses knew the glory would eventually fade, and so they enjoyed it and marveled at it while it lasted, though they didn’t have much respect for it. God’s glory seen by Moses’ face glowing was only a temporary manifestation.
God had something better in mind for showcasing His glory. We as believers who have received Christ by faith as our Lord and Savior no longer have our old self which was corrupted with the fleshly passions of sin. What was lost at the fall has been positionally regained through Christ in that we have been declared righteous saints before God. Yet our conditional state still needs some work. We have a new self which has been reborn, we have a new heart which has been regenerated, and we have a mind that is being transformed and renewed unto the glory of God. The rest of us, mind, emotions, personality, thoughts, actions, and desires, are all being transformed to God’s will and are being no longer conformed to the world as the Spirit works within us. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." Eventually, our bodies as well will be changed in the twinkling of an eye as we put on the new eternal body without defect. In the meantime, we battle the flesh and the temptation to live out of our old man rather than by faith putting on the new self.
The Spirit sanctifies us to more and more adequately reflect the light of Christ and be the image of the glory of God. We should, like people often say of a new baby, look just like our Father. Yet the glory is not our weak humanness, but it is Christ in us. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 says, "For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves." What Paul is saying is that the same God who created the world and man back in Genesis 1 is the same God Who, after the fall, has now through His Son Jesus Christ regained what was lost by the fall. Jesus, Who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), now showcases the image of God in and through us. Man can once again showcase the image of the glory of God because of the treasure and Light of Christ shining within us. We can be the aroma of Christ and the light of Christ to a dark and decaying world. Yet the glory is Christ in us and not the earthen, fragile vessel itself.
But what I want us to see is that the latter state is better than the first. In the Old Testament, the showcasing of God’s glory was still only on the exterior and temporary. Moses’ glow was there and then gone. Like the moon, he could only reflect the glory of God. He didn’t have it within him because Jesus didn’t indwell Him through the Holy Spirit, which is only part of the New Covenant after the death and resurrection of Christ. Yet we, who are reborn of God and who are of the seed of Christ, can like the sun shine forth the glory of God because of Christ in us. We do not merely reflect the glory of God, but, even better, we can showcase the glory of God in us in the Person of Christ as we walk by faith and let the resurrection power of Christ work in and through us. Granted, we show forth a confusing picture at times, but more and more it ought not to be that way as the Holy Spirit becomes more and more at home in our hearts and as we are transformed more and more into the likeness of God. Yet we must remember that the glory is not we ourselves but Christ in us.
In the future, Jesus will be the Light that fills all in all, illumining His saints (Revelation 22:5). And, as Daniel 12:3 says, "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Finally, things will be complete, better than they were even in Eden. We will not just walk and talk with God, but we will shine forth the righteousness and holiness of God. God will have implanted His holiness into our resurrected bodies. We will not be God, let us make no mistake about that, but we will in a way that has never been seen before in all time and in all creation showcase the image and glory of God. We will not battle the flesh which at times blinds the Light of Christ, but we will be free to shine forth like the stars as beacons of righteousness. That sounds so foreign and strange as we look to our own human weakness, sins, and past failures and maybe even present, unconfessed sins. Yet one day we will shine forth the righteousness of Christ like a mighty, bright star. For now, let it suffice that Jesus, the Morning Star, shines in us and gives us the hope that one day His shining will overrule our sinning. God is not simply interested in rebuilding Eden, for He has something much more wonderful in store, all of which centers around the person and glory of His Son, Jesus Christ. He Who is the Light will make us to be lights of His glory as we as co-heirs with Him manifest the glory of the Father. What a beautiful day that will be. Such is our hope. It doesn’t get any better than that.