(Image courtesy of http://acton.org.)
"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.... So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). 
"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). 
The other night my wife and I were watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Show set in the town of Mayberry.  At one point during the episode, I remarked to my wife, "Sometimes, Andy Griffith reminds me of my dad.  Some of his facial expressions and mannerisms are the same."

Now, what did I mean by that comment?  I did not mean that Andy Griffith and my dad were the same people.  I also did not mean that my dad and Andy Griffith did the exact same things.  I did mean, however, that they each shared common traits that were similar to one another.

This is precisely what is meant when the Bible speaks of humans "made in the image of God."  Adam and Eve possessed qualities that were images or likenesses of their Heavenly Father (qualities we still possess, though under different circumstances).  They knew and practiced justice, righteousness, goodness, dominion (sovereignty) over creation, and love for one another.  This does not mean, however, that humans were gods.  By the very logical order of creation, humans were never nor could ever be gods since they were created beings.  Gods are not created; they self-exist.  This is why there is only one true God, for He alone is self-existent and holy above all created things.

Adam and Eve were perfect likenesses of God the Father.  They did no wrong when they were first created.  God even called them "good" (Genesis 1:31).  But after their first disobedient and rebellious sin, Adam and Eve and all their descendants were called depraved and sinful.  Listen to the expansive difference in God's description of mankind from Genesis 1 to Genesis 6: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain" (Genesis 6:5-6).  This hardly is similar to the description God used for His creation at first.

The once perfect image that mankind existed as was broken and crushed by sin.  After The Fall, no longer did mankind seek justice, mercy, goodness, or holiness.  All of mankind's thinking changed from that moment - from good to evil - and Adam and Eve ran and hid from God (just as mankind continues to do today) because they were now afraid of Him out of shame for having failed the purpose for which they were created.

But God's will and purpose can never be thwarted.

He created us in His image, and - by golly - if that was His purpose, then it would be so.  This is why, from before the creation of the world, Jesus was predestined to be sent into the world, to make us into the image of God - and in such a way that no sin or work of evil could ever break that image again.

The writer in 1 John 3:2 is speaking to Christians; that is, those whom God regenerated and saved from sin, the wages of which are death.  It is a key distinction to note that not everyone is a child of God, though everyone was made by God.  The children of God are those whom He has regenerated unto life; that is, those whom He has begun to restore unto the perfect image of His likeness through justification through faith alone and through sanctification through grace alone.

John goes on to say that, "we know that when He appears we shall be like Him."  But wait: didn't Jesus already appear?  Wasn't He already alive and walking on this earth?  Why are the children of God not like Him yet?  The facts prove that, indeed, Jesus did exist and walk upon the earth He created.  But John is speaking here of His second coming, when He shall come again - after having defeated the very sin that marred His image, and having propitiated the wrath of God against His elect, justly meant for their sin.  And when He comes again, we shall be immediately changed from regenerated believers still struggling with sin, to the complete, fully-restored, perfect image of God, freed completely from the realm of sin - just as perfect as Adam and Eve once were in the Garden!

On this day of His return, God's purpose will have been accomplished completely, once and for all time, through the glorious work of Christ Jesus and through the perseverance granted to believers by the Holy Spirit!

It is comforting to know that God is faithful to His will and purpose, and that His will and purpose are always good.  To the believer, we rejoice in knowing that Christ will come again, and that when He does, we shall be like Him - perfect and free from sin - in glory forever!

To the unbeliever, it is a terrifying reality that the one whom they have been hiding from will find them on that day, and will deal with them according to what they have done.  Cry out to God for mercy while there is still time!

Lord Jesus, Your children rejoice in knowing You, for You have done a great work once and for all - and we eagerly await Your return as King, when all the realm of sin and death shall be crushed forever, and we shall no longer struggle with sin, but shall be freed from it for eternity!  We praise You for You have done this great thing!  And we are the humble believers who trust in You; You are the mighty God who will not lose one of those whom You have justified and are sanctifying.  You alone are great and greatly to be praised!  We, filled with hope, wait eagerly for the day when Your Kingdom shall come and You shall be glorified for the work You have done.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.