In the initial creation of man, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image,” and -“according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Image refers to man’s outward appearance. In a way, what this says of man is not true of any other creature. Man reflects the outward appearance of God. It was appropriate, therefore, that when the Son of God carne to dwell on earth, it was in the form of a man-not an ox or a beetle-and not even in the form of some heavenly creature, such as a seraph.
Likeness refers to man’s inner nature. Scripture refers to God as a triune being: Father, Son, and Spirit. Similarly, man is revealed as a triune being, consisting of spirit, soul, and body.
The account of man’s creation in Genesis 2:7 reveals how his triune nature carne into being: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man becarne a living being.” A more correct translation of a living being would be a living soul.
Man’s spirit carne from the infused breath of God, transforming his body which was formed from clay, into living human flesh. Instantly, by the breath of God, he became a living soul.
The soul thus formed is the ego, the individual personality. It is usually defined as consisting of three elements: the will, the intellect, and the emotions. The soul has the responsibility for making personal decisions, expressing itself in three phrases: “I want;” “I think;” “I feel.” Unless touched by the supernatural grace of God, all human behavior is controlled by these three motivations.
Man was created for personal fellowship with God. However, his sinful disobedience produced disastrous effects in all three’ elements of his personality.
Cut off from contact with God as a result of sin, man’s spirit died. This was in fulfillment of God’s warning: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall; not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The physical death of Adam’s body, however, did not follow for more than 900 years.
Through exercising his will in direct disobedience to God, man became a rebel in his soul. Since that time, every person descended from Adam has inherited that same nature of a rebel.
In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul describes the results of rebellion which have affected every one of us:
And you … were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience [rebellion}, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Sin causes us to be dead in our spirits. In our souls, we have all been in rebellion against God. Our bodies, too, have become subject to corruption-that is, to sickness, decay, and death.
Yet the boundless love of God is such that He continually longs for the restoration of His fellowship with man. “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” (James 4:5, nas). Furthermore, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God has opened a way for the restoration of that fellowship which was lost.
In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul goes on to describe the outworking of salvation in our spirits: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Our spirits, being reunited with God, are alive once more. At the same time, our souls-through repentance and faith-are released from rebellion and reconciled to God.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:10-11
When we realize that we have all been in rebellion against God, we understand why there can be no genuine salvation without repentance. Repentance means laying down our rebellion and submitting ourselves to God’s righteous government.
Salvation also makes provision for the body. Delivered from the slavery of sin, our bodies become temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Our bodies now have become instruments of righteousness (see Romans 6: 13). Finally, at the return of Christ, our bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies like that of Christ Himself!