Pillar Journal

What does it mean to be created in the image or likeness of God?

The image of God in man includes three important capacities.

Let us make man in our image…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.
— GENESIS 1:26–27a

God created man specifically different from the rest of His creation in terms of bearing His image and likeness. These unique aspects of man’s creation give him great dignity.

What does it mean to be created in the image or likeness of God? That is an important question because, even as fallen creatures, we still bear, in some sense, the image and likeness of God, though every aspect is flawed by sin. The image of God in man includes three important capacities:

First, the image of God in man includes the capacity for intellect or reason. God has a mind and is perfectly wise. So when God addresses man, He does so in rational terms. For example, He says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18).

We have an intellectual capacity that distinguishes us from the animals. We can reason, remember, and communicate better than all other creatures. We are self-conscious, self-critical, and able to assess ourselves. In all of this, we reflect God.

Second, the image of God in man includes moral capacity. The God of Genesis is good and righteous. He says of everything He created, “It is good.” His creation was beautiful not only externally but internally; it was essentially morally good. The prohibition to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a moral imperative in which God appealed to man’s unique moral consciousness.

In comparison, if you have trained it well, your dog may obey you when you command it. The dog’s behavior, however, is not its moral choice but because of instinct that results from training. A dog does not have the moral capacity that is an important part of the image of God in man.

Finally, the image of God in man includes the capacity for spirituality. God did not commune with any animal in Eden in the sense that He communed with Adam and Eve. He did not call out to any animals, “Where art thou?” There is a unique capacity in us to have communion with Him. Nature does not choose to praise God because it does not have the capacity for spirituality. By grace, we worship God voluntarily and rationally because of our spiritual capacity.

Excerpt from
Milk and Honey
by Joel R. Beeke

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In the Bible, milk and honey speaks of God’s bountiful provision and symbolizes our basic need for solid spiritual food and sweet communion with the triune God through Christ. With that in mind, this devotional book dwells on God’s sustaining grace revealed throughout Scripture. Unlike some daily devotional books that are an assortment of meditations with no thematic structure, Milk and Honey provides brief devotional thoughts that cover the major contours of Scripture in the course of a year. Bible books are divided among twelve pastors so that each month covers a particular portion of Scripture. The result is a devotional survey of the Bible by able expositors of God’s Word.


Table of Contents:

January — Genesis – Joel R. Beeke

February — Exodus – Gerald M. Bilkes

March — Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles – Hugh M. Cartwright

April — The Psalms – Jerrold H. Lewi

May — Ecclesiastes – Roy Mohon

June Isaiah – Dirk J. Budding

July — Hosea – David P. Murray

August — The Gospels – Maurice J. Roberts

September — The Gospels – David H. Kranendonk

October — Acts  – David Silversides

November Romans – Bartel Elshout

December — 1 & 2 Peter, Revelation – David Campbell



Joel R. Beeke (PhD, Westminster Seminary) is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan; editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth; editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books; and a prolific author.



“The next best thing to being wise oneself,’ someone once said, ‘is to surround yourself with those who are.’ To begin or end each day with these judicious devotional sound bites will accomplish just that–they will teach you the way of wisdom. Issuing as it does from a trusted source, “Milk and Honey is, as they say, a sure thing. Insightful and experiential, these daily readings provide an ideal accompaniment to personal or family devotions.” – Derek W.H. Thomas, Minister of Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

“I am confident that Milk and Honey will meet the needs of those readers who are looking for a daily spiritual resource that offers more than most devotionals available today. Here we gave the product of not one, but twelve like-minded ministers from different denominations who have taken up the task of providing wholesome food for people with various spiritual needs. I am impressed with the vast array of subjects that the authors have covered and the competent way in which they deal with some very sensitive spiritual matters.” – Cornelis Pronk, Emeritus Pastor of the Free Reformed Church of Brantford, Ontario

“Here, in this new and most excellent book of readings written by various able and highly respected men of the Reformed persuasion, we have perceptive and helpful comments on numerous biblical texts covering a whole range of revealed truth…I commend it to all who wish to go forth and gather the heavenly manna and quench their thirst with the spiritual waters of life and salvation.” – Malcolm H. Watts, Minister of Emmanuel Church, Salisbury, England