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Created In The Image Of God: Our Original Identity and Purpose

Last updated on June 14, 2020

Who am I?  Why am I here?

No matter how we express it or understand what we are feeling, these are questions that have been common to humankind from the beginning of time. They are not just topics that we study in a college Philosophy class, but are the cries of our heart from deep within.

Through our journey together, we will progress through (1) Our Creator’s original intention, (2) What we are experiencing in our lives and in the culture around us, and why, and 3) How we are restored to God’s original purpose for creating us. 

In the past three posts, we have looked at the creation of the first man and woman in detail, as seen in Genesis 2, but now let us back up to Genesis 1 and consider what our Creator decreed would be humanity’s identity and purpose:

Genesis 1:26-28 (NET)

 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’

God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.'”

  • God created us in His image (Hebrew word transliteration is “tselem“) and in His likeness (“dĕmuwth“).
  • tselem” means “a shadow, image or likeness of something”. In a negative use of the word, it would be an idol. 
  • dĕmuwth” is “similitude (one thing is similar to another thing), model, pattern, appearance, image, likeness”.

We were created, not to be a god and worshiped (which is idolatry), but to be His “imagers” who represent Him in the earthly realm.  At full maturity and completeness, it could be said of an imager:  “They remind us of someone. The way they do life is just like __________.  Now I understand better the heart of the one they are representing and know that they have the authority to act on their behalf.”

You will find a great discussion about humankind as “imagers” in the book, “The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible” by Michael S. Heiser (especially in Chapter 5, but a fuller understanding would result from the context established in the entire book).

 On this Day 6 of creation, God was revealing, establishing His purpose and identity for humankind, but the process was yet to be revealed. Creator God already knew what it would take to bring us into the fullness of who He intended us to be before the beginning of time, and it would be costly to Him. No one else but God Himself could bring to completion what He was now establishing. 

The first part of the Creator’s mandate looked just like what He spoke over the living creatures previously: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth

However, what followed is what set humankind (as His imagers/ representatives) apart from the rest of creation: we are to subdue and rule over the earth and what God had created. 

The instruction to “subdue” and “rule” is intriguing, because God had just created the heavens and the earth, placing His stamp of approval on it: He saw that it was “very good.”  How can you get any better than that?  Why would it need to be subdued and ruled? Remember, this assignment was given before the created world had been affected by the disastrous choices made in the Garden, as recorded in Genesis 3. 

God intended it to be a family affair. Our Creator deliberately, intentionally formed a creation that needed and desired humanity to rule over it. And He created humanity, His children, to subdue and rule as He would, with His goodness, wisdom, authority, and creativity. As His beloved children, we would be trained by our Father’s side, maturing in wisdom and knowledge and love for all He had given us. God had already begun the process — He planted a garden in Eden for the first family’s starter home. And He had given ‘adam the first lesson on how to use words with God-given authority to release identity and purpose (see Created in the Image of God: The Power of Our Words). 

Most importantly, God placed in the very center of the Garden that which would be essential for humanity to successfully live out who they were created to be:  the Tree of Life. Eating from the Tree of Life out of faith and trust in their Creator’s provision (and warning) was the first couple’s step in their journey together to learn how to hear, trust and respond to the Voice of their Father. Everything else hinged on this “first choice”. 

May we consider this:  the first and most challenging frontier set before us to “subdue and rule” is our inner frontier: our own soul (mind, will, and emotions) and body. We were created to be in connection and communication with our Father (Who is spirit) through the spirit He breathed into us through ‘adam. In this way, our human spirit, in relationship with and empowered by God’s Spirit, was to rule over our soul and body. In other words, we were always meant to be Spirit-led, not soul-led. It is only then that we can subdue and rule the rest of creation as God’s true imagers, representing Him according to what is true, reflecting His nature. 

Beyond our own soul nature, what was there to subdue from the very beginning? We are told in Ephesians 6:12 (TPT):

“Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage.”

This opens up a topic that needs further discussion and understanding as we journey forward, but for now may we recognize that our ability to fulfill this mandate requires our lives to be in intimate Spirit connection with the Eternal One, our Creator God and Father. This is only possible through Jesus Christ (our Messiah, the Anointed One). 

Our God-given assignment was to participate in God’s provision, protection, and creative development of all that He had placed on this earth. He was handing the keys of authority on earth over to the first man and woman — their assigned authority to subdue and rule under God’s eternal sovereign authority. 

Once we understand the big picture of God’s established identity and purpose for humankind, then we have a context to understand how we were each uniquely gifted and destined to be an instrumental part of the whole of God’s assignment for humanity. On the other side of all our human-derived ways and struggles to discover who we are, may we rest in the knowledge that our unique identity is found in the very heart of God, and the way to His heart is through Jesus.

It has been my intent in this series of blog posts to take you step by step from the beginning of our journey as humankind, establishing who God created us to be, what happened to block us from this relationship with our Creator and our “being” of who we were meant to be, and how this, then is restored. In other words, answering the question, “Why Jesus?”.  But I can’t restrain myself to jump ahead and give you a taste of what we are and have when we say “Yes” to Jesus, when we come into a covenant relationship with Him, restoring us back to God’s original design.  Let us look at Ephesians 2:4-10 (TPT):

“But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ! Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving. We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!”

In the 10th verse, the word, “poetry” (translated in other Bible versions as “workmanship, masterpiece, handiwork”), is the Greek word, poiema, which means “that which has been made; a work”. It is where we get our English word, poetry. What a beautiful picture of what it means to be God’s imager, for a poem not only conveys information from the writer, but also their emotions and heart. We are God’s word picture, painted with the many colors of His wisdom and His ways.

 In Jesus, we are created again (reborn as seen in John 3:3-8), so that we may become all that God destined us to be and do before time began. I find the Greek word used here in this verse for “created” very intriguing. It is the word “ktizo“, which means “to make inhabitable“. It has a specific use in the Bible as “created“. I have this deep sense of God “re-creating” us (in Jesus through rebirth) to become inhabitable once again by His Holy Spirit. What awesome news this is, for we can be set free to truly be ALL that we were designed and destined to be!

In Psalm 139:16-18 (TPT), we see:

“You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.”

1 Corinthians 3:16-18  (TPT)

“But the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.

We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. 

We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

As we walk in intimacy with our Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit will continue to give us fresh and deeper revelation of who God created us to be and the ways of God in and through us. This is a “from one brighter level of glory to another ” relationship and journey that He leads us through. May we all find joy in the journey as we hold fast to His hand.

Now it is your turn:

(1) As we have progressed through these first few posts together, you may have realized that the hunger and thirst in your heart for things of the spiritual realm have not been satisfied in your life’s journey so far. You know “there is more”, but the promises of those who have offered you a menu of “ways” to explore and experience the unseen spirit realm have not filled that hole in your heart that yearns for truth and connection. As you can see from our time spent in Genesis 1 and 2 so far, we were created from the very start to be in an intimate spirit and heart connection with the God who created us. He shared His spirit breath with us and nothing will satisfy us until we are restored to Him. We are told in 1 Corinthians 6:17 that “… the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  (NASB)

Jesus explains further:

“… ‘I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too.’”   (John 14:6  TPT)

We all come to forks in the road of our life’s journey where we have opportunity to choose to listen and respond to the beckoning of God’s Spirit, taking a step towards His voice. Just as God’s Spirit hovered over, brooded over the earth during creation, He continues to brood over the earth, speaking into our hearts, drawing and pulling us back to Him. He even provides for us the faith and ability to respond, if we will only say “yes”.

All you may have in you right now is the desire, mixed in with many questions. Holy Spirit will take you by the hand, leading you to Jesus, and therefore to the Father.  You may have taken the wrong fork many times in the past (we all have in some way or another), but that is what “repentance” really is: we agree that the past choices were wrong and got us completely off-track, causing us to walk further away from our Father, and we now choose to take the right fork in the road. Jesus is there on the other side of our decision, waiting to take us by the hand through His Spirit, and He will never let go. NEVER.

“Come to God through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction—nearly everyone chooses that crowded road! The narrow gate and the difficult way leads to eternal life—so few even find it!”

Jesus is the narrow gate you must pass through, but what you will find on the other side is LIFE and TRUTH. Are you ready for your first step? Jesus is only a “Yes” away.

(2)   For those who have already started this journey in relationship with Jesus, what has or is Holy Spirit revealing to you about who God created you uniquely to be? 

(3)  How is your purpose expressed in this season of your life, and how is God working through you to benefit His creation and those around you? 

(4)   As you ask, seek, and find, may you experience the rest and pleasure of God in the process! Read Matthew 7:7-11 and Matthew 11:27-30. I love “soaking” in these scriptures, both in a familiar Bible translation and some that are new to me. My new favorite is The Passion Translation. You can find it and other translations at: https://www.biblegateway.com

Recommended Resources:

(1)  “Discover Your Divine Purpose”, free video teaching by Patricia King: https://wisdom.xpmedia.com/courses/discover-your-divine-purpose/lectures/2477468

  (She mentions an 8 month mentorship program in this video which she no longer offers, but there is an on-going “A Team” mentorship program that you can join, if you desire: 

https://wisdom.xpmedia.com/p/patricia-king-online-prophetic-mentorship).

 The stand alone course is listed below.

(2)  “Five Easy Keys to Discovering Your Why”, a course by Patricia King:  

https://wisdom.xpmedia.com/p/5-easy-keys-to-discovering-your-why

(3) “The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible” by Michael S. Heiser (2015) https://www.amazon.com/Unseen-Realm-Recovering-Supernatural-Worldview-ebook/dp/B0141QB9XA

(4) “Matters of the Earth” by John Paul Jackson https://www.streamsministries.com/shop/matters-of-the-earth/

(5) “Healing the Earth” by John Sanford and Mark Sandford https://elijahhouse.org/products/healing-the-earth-a-time-for-change?variant=49941936020

(6) Hebrew and Greek words and their meanings were taken from www.blueletterbible.org

(7) Abbreviations for Bible translations, as used at www.biblegateway.com

  • NASB = New American Standard Bible
  • TPT = The Passion Translation
  • NET = New English Translation

God established and sealed our God-given identity and purpose with a blessing. Next time, let us take a closer look at our Father’s blessing:

“Created in the Image of God: Our Father’s Blessing, Part 1”

4 Comments

  1. new new

    Hola! I’ve been reading your website for a
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    • Kathy Oldfather Kathy Oldfather

      Thank you Austin, Texas! Glad to have you on board for this journey together! 😊

  2. Long time supporter, and thought I’d drop a comment.

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    • Kathy Oldfather Kathy Oldfather

      Thanks! I am using Apex as a theme in WordPress.

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