“Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). We see from this verse that, from the beginning, God’s purpose was for us to be in His image. God’s image was to be fruitful, multiply, fill the creation, and subdue it (Gen. 1:28).
This purpose was frustrated and delayed at the fall. But it was not stopped. God’s purpose of man being in His image is fulfilled in Christ (Col. 1:15). Those brought into communion with Christ again image God. We are in the image of God, and God’s image is in us.
God formed Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). The word “formed” describes a potter forming clay into pottery. This shows how intimately involved God was in crafting His image in Adam. It also suggests how intimately God is involved as His image is shaped in us. His “hands” are in this work directly–mounding up, molding, smoothing. “We are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). Christ is being formed in us (Gal. 4:19).
Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil led to the fall. The knowledge of good and evil is opposite of the wisdom of the cross. The cross makes no sense to the knowledge of good and evil. At the cross a good man chose to die for the evil of others.
The cross is the tree of life, the other tree in Eden (1 Peter 2:24; Gen. 2:9). The spirit of the cross is, “not I but Christ” (Gal. 2:19-20). If we hate our life in this world we keep it to eternal life (John 12:25). Christ said the Son did nothing out from Himself but only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19).
The knowledge of good and evil says, “I know good and evil for myself. I know, I judge, I decide in relationship to myself.” The knowledge of good and evil teaches us to love our lives in this world. This leads to death, as God promised: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:17). “The one who loves his life in this world will lose it….” (John 12:25).
Because the wisdom of the cross says, “Not I but Christ” we remain in God’s image. Christ–not self–is expressed through us. The knowledge of good and evil leads to setting up our own image. I, not Christ, is expressed. I form myself according to my own judgments of good and evil. “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:25). This is why it says, “Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image” (Gen. 5:3). Because of the fall, the one made in God’s image brought forth according to his own image, not God’s.