Tag Archives: God´s redemption

A Heart Marked by the Excellence of God

“Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals…by his reason and intelligence.”

St. Thomas

Very happy to share with you a new article in the series on the “Excellence of God.” Enjoy it!

Having understood that the mark of God’s excellence is the image of Him impregnated within the soul of the human being; and even more so, having understood that Jesus is the living image, the exact reproduction of God the Creator Father; the precise path has been traced to elucidate how the heart of God is reflected in the heart of the human being.

Let us consider here the reasoning of St. Thomas, which reads as follows:

“Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, Let us make man in our image and likeness, it is added, And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea (Genesis 1.26). Now man excels all animals by his reason and intelligence; hence it is according to his intelligence and reason, which are incorporeal, that man is said to be according to the image of God.” (Piper, Desiring God 1971)

St Thomas

John Piper, in his study “The Image of God”, shares the following support in this line:

“The early church fathers were quite agreed that the image of God in man consisted primarily in man’s rational and moral characteristics, and in his capacity for holiness.” (Piper, Desiring God 1971)

Thus, God has deposited in the heart of the human being a part of His being, establishing a great difference between the creation of man and woman; and the other created beings, such is the case of the animals, who do not carry within themselves the image of the Triune Creator God.

According to the analysis of David Casas and Russell Fuller, in their article “God’s Image – The Difference Maker,” when examining how man is similar to God, it is excludeH of course the physical body since God is Spirit (John 4:24). And, on the other hand, creature limitations are excluded since God is infinite, eternal, and immutable in all His attributes (Psalm 90:2; Malachi 3:6; Jeremiah 23:24). On the other hand, man resembles God by having a free, rational, and personal spirit, which includes, say the authors, a conscience with the law of God written in his heart; therefore, man can rule over nature in a similar way as God reigns.[1]  Let us quote Romans 2 here to support this truth:

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16)

Therefore, the heart of the human being is not only marked by the image of God, but the very law of God has been written in it. And this, without exception, all human beings, men and women; boys, and girls; healthy and sick; without socioeconomic distinction. Absolutely all of us are bearers of the image of God; and we all carry the law of God written in our hearts. In the same way for both believers and unbelievers. All human creation, without exception!

The fact that man resembles God, that his heart bears God’s mark of excellence, has at least three profound implications.

According to the study by Casas and Fuller, the following are said implications,[2]  which we will detail one by one.

1. The Image of God Establishes Human Dignity

Here it is possible to expose the atheistic and the pantheistic thought. According to the cited authors, by denying the image of God, atheism diminishes human dignity and reduces man to a fortuitous or casual event, as if he were an evolutionary product of matter, or a simple animal. Pantheism, on the other hand, denies the image of God and instead diminishes human dignity by exalting all of nature as a manifestation of God.

The Scriptures, however, testify to the dignity of man. Being created in the image and likeness of God, he is positioned above all nature. For this purpose, let us quote two very appropriate passages:

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beingsand crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6)

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

2. The Image of God Establishes the Sacredness of Life

The authors point out that atheist cultures reject the sacredness of life while devaluing the lives of the born and unborn as state policy. However, the Word of God protects the sacredness of life in its laws. And with respect to this subject, what is stated in Genesis 9:6 has been sufficiently discussed before (in previous articles). God decrees that if someone commits murder, the murderer must still lose his life, because man is made in the image of God. The authors here emphasize that the crime is really a direct assault against God. In fact, in a situation, such as the one exposed in Genesis 9:6, God will personally search for the murderer and will hold him responsible.

Along these lines, it is interesting how John Calvin observed that because man is the bearer of the image of God, God considers Himself “violated in his person”, in other words, “the victim”. Therefore, he says, you cannot harm another human being without harming God Himself.

The authors conclude that God created the sacred life of man. If this life is destroyed, there is no other way than divine judgment.

3. The Image of God Establishes the Necessity for God’s Redemption

If man would not have the image of God in his being, in his heart, the plan of redemption simply would not exist. It should be clarified that the above does not imply that possessing the image of God entitles sinners to redemption, but redemption requires that sinners have been created in His image.

It is tremendously interesting how Casas and Fuller explore this topic. And they say that God’s purpose for sending His Son in the likeness of man was to renew the image of God in humanity through the Gospel. Let’s examine Ephesians 4:

“and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)

In fact, Christians have been known and predestined to conform to the image of His Son, according to Romans 8:

“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29)

Thus, the gospel, once received, renews the image that was marred both by Adam’s sin and by our own sin so that the believer can “bear the image of the heavenly”:

“Thus, it is written, ´The first man Adam became a living being´; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit… Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45,49)

Image of beautiful young couple drinking coffee while walking by

Because God created us in His image, thus being crowned with glory and honor, and because of His infinite grace toward us undeserving sinners, God sent His Son to redeem us.

As human beings, we are tremendously privileged because our hearts have been marked with the very image of the invisible God. He has bestowed upon us dignity and holiness. He has instilled courage in us, regardless of our condition.

And not only that, but in the midst of our sinful condition, a condition that separates us and breaks communion with our Creator; and because of this, we are judged, singled out or discarded by our environment; it is amazing to know that He Himself has prepared the way for our redemption and restoration. Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, is such a way. And here it is worth quoting 2 Corinthians:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Thus, for all the above, it is clear that Jesus is the image and fullness of God; therefore, human beings reestablish the image of God in their hearts, in His being, while Christ becomes the very center of their lives.

The excellence of the heart of God was definitely impregnated in our heart, now it is we who must expand the heart of God wherever we go.[3]


[1] David Casas and Russell Fuller, “God´s Image – The Difference Maker,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/are-humans-animals/gods-image-difference-maker/

[2] David Casas and Russell Fuller, “God´s Image – The Difference Maker,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/are-humans-animals/gods-image-difference-maker/

[3] Cecilia Yépez, “Excellence Stems from the Heart – Part 2”, Blog “Towards Excellence”, https://towardsexcellence.org/2017/04/10/excellence-stems-from-the-heart-part-2/