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Daniel 12:1–2

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (v. 2).

Post-fall, human beings retain the image of God (imago Dei), but the corruption introduced into the human race by sin has created a need for us to make some distinctions when we discuss what it means for fallen creatures to be in His image. Theologians typically distinguish between the imago Dei in the narrow sense and the imago Dei in the wider sense. The wider sense of the imago Dei refers to our possession of certain faculties even in our sinful condition. Despite our corruption, we still think, formulate plans, show affection, create, and so forth, which are all activities that our Creator performs, albeit without sin. The very fact that we can still do these things at all images our Maker. However, in Adam, we have lost the imago Dei in the narrow sense, which is the ability to obey God and please Him. After the fall, human beings, of their own volition, can no longer conform to the Lord’s revealed will (Ps. 14:1–3).

According to Scripture, God is Spirit and does not possess a physical body (John 4:24). The Lord does not depend on physical corporeality to exercise intelligence, love, righteousness, and so forth, although such attributes were manifested by Jesus in the flesh due to the union of His human nature with His divine nature in His one person. Similarly, our physical bodies do not have to be complete for us to exercise our humanity. We are still moral, thinking beings even if we lose an arm or leg.

Nevertheless, we cannot think that our bodies are inconsequential and not at all a part of what it means to bear God’s image. The Lord made the unified human body and soul in His image (Gen. 1:26–27). That is why righteousness depends not only on our loving God with our minds and souls but also obeying Him with our physical flesh. The Lord made us as embodied creatures, and, contrary to what some heresies have taught, we must obey our Creator with our physicality. We can distinguish body from soul, but we cannot separate them, and what we do to one affects the other.

We bear the imago Dei in our physicality, not in the sense that our Creator has a physical body but because the body of the believer can be an instrument of holiness. Our bodies are not inherently evil but are part of God’s creation, a creation that was originally “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Consequently, our bodies will be redeemed at the resurrection, and sin will no longer impair our physicality (Dan. 12:2).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Our final destiny as redeemed human beings is to live before the presence of God as whole people, possessing both renewed bodies and souls (Rev. 21). We should therefore not treat our bodies disrespectfully, for they are part of what is going to be transformed at the return of Christ Jesus. We must never treat our bodies or appearances as idols, but neither must we ignore them completely.

For Further Study
  • Ezekiel 18:5–9
  • Daniel 1
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 15:35–58

Man: The Supreme Paradox

The Reality of Our Sin

Keep Reading The Apocalypse of John

From the January 2012 Issue
Jan 2012 Issue