God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
You and I were created in the image of God (imago Dei) and with that distinction came great blessing. We were created for eternity, we can know God, we can love Him, and we are loved by Him. What a tremendous gift! There simply is no greater value in all the universe.
But, as an old seventh-century Irish sermon stated it, “A grand distinction for man is the likeness of God, if it be preserved; but again, it is a great damnation to defile the image of God.” (emphasis mine) A great damnation indeed! Anything that replaces God on the throne of our lives, the center of our affections, and the master of our wills, can only be judged as choosing the lesser value times infinity.
We tend to think of idolatry as something from antiquity. We envision golden calves, statues of Baal, and Ra the sun god. We read about the temple of Diana in Ephesus and the child sacrifice demanded by the Canaanite god Molech. But surely idolatry is not a topic for us today – at least not for church-going Christians, right?
Wrong! Part of the defilement of God’s image in our lives emanates from our seeking satisfaction and fulfillment apart from Him. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that is described in Romans 1:18 -32 in excruciating and ugly detail. When you read this passage and, if you are discerning, a four-step process begins to emerge. Paul is writing to the Roman church from Corinth, a sex-saturated city, and one that is filled with idols. Here is that process:
The sin of idolatry disorders our worship. (verses 18-20)
The sin of idolatry disorders our beliefs and our thinking. (verses 21-23)
The sin of idolatry disorders our desires. (verse 24)
The sin of idolatry disorders our behavior. (verse 25 and beyond).
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. The downward spiral seen above that leads to death was reversed by our Savior at the cross and the empty tomb. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57) If you find yourself somewhere in the process above, even step four, turn to Christ and repent. He is patiently waiting for you and He wants to restore the imago Dei.