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).