In the creation story we read that mankind was made in Gods image and after His likeness. No one disputes this as the text is pretty plain. And so today we still declare rather hastily that men are created in the image of God. We consider ourselves to be "like Him" yet at the same time we sing songs like “There is none like you”, something is amiss.
The problem I think we have here is that we have not taken the fall of Adam into account and the story thereafter. It’s easy to skip over the significance of Genesis 5:3 (genealogies are not the most interesting to read) but I think it provides a vital insight into just what mankind lost in Eden.
This is the written account of Adam’s family line.-
When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
What if the likeness we shared with God before the fall related to us being partakers in the divine nature? What if God’s warning that disobedience in the garden would result in death meant that we would be separated from His life? What if sin was not the greatest issue in a fallen world, but merely the fruits of those who inherited the Adamic nature?
I could be wrong and Genesis 9:6 may imply that mankind post-Eden still bore the image of God. Or the verse could be referring to the original creation or it may even imply that the “image losing” was only temporal. But bear with me as I lay my thoughts out. There are things we can state with certainty which have led to these questions.
First, we do know that Jesus is the only human since Adam and Eve who truly bore Gods image.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. - Hebrews 1:3
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God - 2 Corinthians 4:4
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. - Colossians 1:15
We also know that through Jesus we have again become partakers of the divine nature.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. - 2 Peter 1:4
We also learn very quickly in the Christian walk that sanctification is a process. Upon rebirth we have new access to the vine that is Christ, but the flesh is very much still alive and opposed to the kingdom of God. Paul wrote comforting and encouraging words about this in Romans 8, culminating in one of my favorite scriptures in verse 29.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
This work will not be completed in us during this lifetime (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 John 1:8) but only at the resurrection of the dead.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead... So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit...As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. - 1 Corinthians 15:42-49
Some may find this to be irrelevant, I find it to be quite important though in relation to how we view people and how we view sin. I don’t mean to take away from the value of lost men by saying that they bear Adams image rather than Gods. I simply see that the hope for mankind is not found in behavior modification but rather in Christ. For people to find life in the kingdom of God they need Christ and nothing more. And through that image conforming relationship those ugly branches will be pruned and the fruits of the spirit will become evident.We can outlaw and preach against many things and evil is undoubtedly restrained in doing so. But outward conformance should not be viewed as a victory. Setting ourselves up as the judges of good and evil is what got us into this mess in the first place. Only God can change the inner man.