“For though the divine glory is displayed in man’s outward appearance, it cannot be doubted that the proper seat of the image is in the soul.”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Book I, page 163
When discussing man being made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), we need to understand just how important a good understanding of this truth is. Without a clear understanding that humanity is made in the image of God, it is far to easy for us to write off others as somehow sub-human. That they are less worthy of respect than ourselves. Truly, we cannot live out the greatest Commandments, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30-31), without having this biblical framework. Within this, there are several attributes that we share with God. The first we’ll look at is our spirit.
“God is Spirit,” says Jesus in John 4:24. Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of God repeatedly appears, beginning in Genesis 1:2 (“The Spirit of God was hovering over the deep…”). The Spirit of the Lord falls on ordinary people, allowing them to act as God’s voice on Earth (see 2 Samuel 23:2). Through God’s Spirit, His plans, purposes and desires are revealed to us.
When God created humanity in Genesis 1:26-27, God set us apart as unique among all creation. In doing so, he also gave us spirit. At conception we are given a soul, although we do not know exactly how, according to Ecclesiastes 11:5. Zechariah 12:1 tells us that God “form[s] the spirit of man within him.” In death, Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “the spirit returns to God who gave it.”