The image of God in man
The imago Dei, image of God in man, is first mentioned in Scripture in connection of manís creation on the sixth and final day of creation. ďSo God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them...Ē (Genesis 1:27,28). Some think it merely consists in dominion over the creatures, but such an interpretation is severely restrictive. It is far more than that.
The image of God in man is basically moral and spiritual: this is indicated in Colossians 3:10, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." In conjunction we may add Ephesians 4:24, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
As originally created, man was endowed with knowledge, righteousness and holiness. By his sin man was deprived of these virtues, but through Christ he is renewed and restored to his pristine glory, nay more than that.
To confirm this definition of the image, I point out that Adam, after the fall, is said to have had children after his image, meaning, that he had sinful offspring, just as he was sinful. So the image of God in man is essentially man being a reflection of God in his spiritually pure character.
How the image may be restored
ďThe Fall diminished Godís image, not only in Adam and Eve, but in all their descendants, the whole human race. We retain the image structurally, in the sense that we remain human beings, but not functionally, for we are now slaved to sin, unable to use our powers to mirror Godís holiness. Regeneration begins the process of restoring Godís moral image in our lives. But not until we are fully sanctified and glorified shall we reflect God perfectly in thought and action as we were made to do and as the incarnate Son of God in His humanity actually did (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:29,46)Ē (New Geneva Study Bible, page 9).