What Does it Mean to be Made in the Image of God?

In Genesis 1:26-27, God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over" all the earth. "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? Often this is interpreted to mean that we look like God. Surely you've seen paintings of God as an old man even wearing clothes.

But Numbers 23:19 says, "God is not man," and Jesus said in John 4:24, "God is spirit." So God has no human or even physical form. Rather, to be made in the likeness of God means that we are like God, in the sense that we are relational beings as God is. We've also been given dominion as God has dominion, to fill the earth and subdue it.

Most of all, being made in the image of God means that we are to reflect His holy and righteous character. Animals cannot make moral decisions. It is for men and women to glorify God in righteousness. Every person's life is sacred because we are all fellow image-bearers of the one who made us.

When we sin, doing what is contrary to God's righteousness, we desecrate God's image. Romans 3:12 says together we have become worthless before God, good to be cast into the flames. But Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and by faith in Him, we are being remade into the image of the Son, to reflect the holy and righteous character of Christ, when we understand the text.
"Those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son..." Romans 8:29

"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." Ephesians 1:4

The Bible Whispers About Sexual Sin?

JD Greear (quoting Jen Wilkin): "'We ought to whisper about what the Bible whispers about, and we ought to shout about what it shouts about.' And the Bible appears more to whisper when it comes to sexual sin compared to its shouts about materialism and religious pride."

It's religious pride to preach the Bible whispers about sexual sin. God said loud and clear, "Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18), or any kind of sex outside the marriage bed, since God created sex for a husband and a wife. Often when the Bible lists the sins God will judge, sexual sins are first on the list.
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Galatians 5:19-21
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” Colossians 3:5-6
Now someone might say, "Wait, I listened to Pastor Greear's sermon, and in context he was saying the Bible whispers about homosexual sin." Well was God whispering when He destroyed the Sodomites? Jude 7 says, "Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."

Greear's sermon (delivered January 27, 2019 at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC) was on Romans 1:24-32. Over half that section describes homosexual passions as the perverse behavior of a people given over to a debased mind. How does anyone preach the Bible whispers about this?

Many churches are embroiled in sexual scandal, and this is in front of the whole world. It does not help when church leaders say things like, "The Bible whispers about sexual sin." Bad doctrine causes these problems, and bad doctrine makes them worse. Do not whisper any word of God! Preach Christ and Him crucified for our sins, when we understand the text.

How is Christianity Different from Every Other Religion?

What separates Christianity from every other religion in the world? The answer is grace. "By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If you ask a Muslim, "Where will you go when you die?" he might say, "Paradise. I read the Qu'ran, I pay alms, I pray five times a day, I've made the pilgrimage. I am a righteous man."

If you ask a Jew, he might say, "We really do not know," where we will go when we die. "But if there is a life after this one, and a reward for what we do, then surely it will be dependent upon the kind of life we have lived" (quote from Rabbi Howard Jaffe).

A Buddhist might say he hopes to achieve Nirvana by following the eight-fold path, or being a good person. A Hindu strives to break the cycle of reincarnation and attain Moksha by being a good person. Even an atheist believes he should be a good person.

But ask a Christian, "Where will you go when you die?" he will say heaven. How does he know? He will say, "I was born in sin (Psalm 51:5). The intention of my heart has been evil from my youth (Genesis 8:21). I have rebelled against a holy God, and for this I deserve death (Romans 6:23)."

Wait, all these other guys say they'll be rewarded for their good. How can the Christian say he will get to heaven when he says he is not good? Because he knows no one gets to heaven on their own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ the righteous.

"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus... to be received by faith" (Romans 3:23-25), when we understand the text.

Why Are There So Many Religions and False Teachers?

There are a lot of false teachings in the world. Paganism, Gnosticism, Buddism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucionism, Shaminism, even Judaism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Deism, Darwinism, Naturalism, Secular Humanism, Feminism, Agnosticism, Atheism, and Islam...ism.

All these different ways to get to God or be a god or deny God. But Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father but by me" (John 14:6).

Of course, not everything that claims to be of Christ is truly of Christ (Matthew 7:21). Like Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism, Oneness Pentecostalism, Heaven Tourism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Orthodoxy, Word of Faith, the New Apostolic Reformation, and Rob Bell.

So why all these false religions and teachers? Why would God allow there to be so many, many lies? Two reasons: Testing and judgment.

The Bible says of those who refused to love the truth and so be saved, God "sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in their unrighteousness" or their sin (2 Thessalonian 2:9-12).

In Deuteronomy 13:1-4 we are told, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' you shall not listen to that false prophet. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul."

When it comes down to it, there are only two religions: you either worship the created or the Creator, when we understand the text.

Lady Gaga is a Christian?

At a Las Vegas concert, Lady Gaga ripped on Vice President Mike Pence because his wife works at a Christian school that does not allow gay students and requires employees to affirm a biblical view of marriage. Imagine! A Christian school that teaches what the Bible says.

Yet Lady Gaga said, "You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian. I am a Christian woman. And what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome."

So Lady Gaga says she's a Christian. Let's ignore that she's hardly ever dressed, she blasphemes God, and her music and videos are raunchy. Setting that aside (please), Lady Gaga does not meet her own standard of Christianity.

She said, "We bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome." Except for Mike Pence, his wife, and everyone who believes as they do, right? Romans 2:1 says, "For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things."

Plenty of people came to Jesus and claimed to be children of God. Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin" (John 8:31, 34). When the people argued, Jesus said, "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires" (John 8:43-44).

So who is a Christian? Everyone who believes the word of Christ. And whoever believes will do what He said in the Bible (John 14:15), when we understand the text.