MAN – THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS
God’s original plan for which everything else exists is the creation of man “in Our own image and likeness.” The first man Adam was not the man “in the image and likeness of God,” for Scripture says that Adam the first man, was created in the image of God, but not the likeness. The perfect and holy man in the perfect image and likeness of God is Jesus Christ, by whom and for whom everything was created. He is the first of many in the image and likeness, who would become like Him, sinless and perfect. Many writers misread Scripture and say that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. Adam was created in the image of God but not in His likeness, the likeness he would have to acquire, but he fell into sin and inherited death. Christ however, being God was in need of nothing except the Virgin Mary, through whom He became the first man "in the image and likeness of God." Christ became what every person in the world needs to attain in order to live in eternal joy as God desires.
An erroneous teaching has entered some parts of Orthodoxy perhaps by way of western churches and ideology, which is that man is created only dual, body and spirit. This is a misreading of the Gospel which clearly declares this truth: “God formed man out of the clay of the earth and breathed into his person a breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” The correct interpretation of this is that God formed man (not the body or soul of man, but man, both body and soul). At the time of his creation the man was not yet alive, for life is derived from the spirit or breath of life breathed into him from God who endowed him with intelligence and life, for “the man became a living soul.”
The one God in whom we believe is a Trinity, and when He created man in His own image and likeness He would certainly make him a trinity like himself! Otherwise he would not be in His image. For these reasons, man, the image of God, is certainly triune, body, soul and spirit. Also even though sin entered the world, by breaking the commandment, man remained the image of God in whose image he was created though it was marred. Satan, by instigating the violation was able to inflict upon man a portion of his hideous image. Through his wicked inspiration eventually sin would increase followers in the world, causing the Devil to exult thinking that he was destroying God’s most beloved creation.
Man has always enjoyed the freedom of accepting or rejecting either God or the evil one’s words which he heeded. The first result of agreeing with the Devil’s malignant words was bitterness, hatred and murder, the fratricide of Abel by his only brother Cain. Abel delighted in serving God and did not live for the flesh alone as did Cain, who fell into his malicious trap.
In Cain and Abel, we can clearly see the difference between men who serve God and those who serve this world and its ruler. Both Cain and Abel were taught by their father Adam and their mother Eve to choose and offer sacrifices to God. Abel responded by obedience and deep love for God as was demonstrated by his chosen sacrificial offering of the firstborn and best of his sheep. He spoke to God in holy communication and knew His will and he kept His commandments every day of his life. He treated his animals with love, respect and kindness, and he loved his brother with fervent brotherly love, and he always honored his father and mother, for he worshiped and served God.
Cain his wayward brother was the opposite, neither acknowledging or caring about the true God whom his parents worshiped and taught him not to love this world, and the things of this world and its plentifulness. “Cain presented the fruits from the ground as offering to the Lord.” “The Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” Cain was not humble but arrogant, not meek but could quickly become angry and did. Failing to see his own shortcoming, He beheld his brother’s piety and mocking him, he lacked brotherly love og Sbsl. Instead of admiring his brother’s good traits, he at one time mocked him and at other times showed jealous toward his goodness and various accomplishments. So conditions for the eventual fratricide was already being set up long before the event happened.
What is eventual result of the actions of Cain? Although Abel was murdered by Cain, he is not dead but passed through the door of death to the open arms of God and the eventual endless life through the coming of Jesus Christ. Cain did not care for God and piety and so he was the real victim and not Abel, for he ended up as the first murderer and became a bad memory to the human race. If Cain killed only in anger perhaps repentance could take place, but he killed out of bitterness, hatred and anger and ignored God’s plea to him not to harm him; here is the biblical account: “So the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at your door, and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. Now Cain talked with Abel his brother, and it happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed Him. Then the Lord said to Cain, Where is your brother? He said, I do not know, am I my brother’s keeper? (Gen. 4:6-9).
Abel a pious believer died a martyric death which demonstrates some important truths. Obey and love God and when offering Him a gift, give the best that you have and give it willingly with gladness and love. We know for certain that when Christ came, Abel received Him with extremely great joy, but we do not know about Cain. Inner joy and happiness comes only when man fulfills his destiny prepared by God from the beginning, which is to become pure and holy as God taught him and in the future Christ would show, he would be the perfect “image and likeness of God.”