If there is a unique you that was created in the image of God, where does it exist? The teaching of spirit, soul, and body leads some Christians to say, “I’m a triune being like God, and so my spirit is in the image of God.” But that does not work for me. One of the biggest problems you have in your triune nature is your spirit. Paul warns us to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).1 So why do you give your spirit all these wonderful attributes and call it the essence of you that is created in the image of God? But I believe there exists in each of us a peculiar, specific identity that is embossed with God’s image (Genesis 1:27). And it is absolutely righteous and pure in Him.
When you look at the Scriptures, you realize that the triune being of man is polluted. If the spirit, soul, and body bore the image of God in all perfection, purity, and holiness, then Adam and Eve could not have fallen in the first place. Some might say, “Man’s free will is created in the image of God.” That means there is a choice. Is God capable of being defiled or filthy? Is He capable of sin? No. What happens to you when something goes wrong with your spirit? You face condemnation or a sense of failure and disappointment. You think, “Well, there I go again. That’s just me.” But if you waited on the Lord, you would find the image of God embossed on the very fabric of your being. It would give you a sense of joy and fulfillment that you are a son of God, and that His image really does dwell in you.
The talent God has given you is expressed by virtue of your spirit, soul, and body—but they must be disciplined and under your control (1 Corinthians 9:25, 27). In a sense, they are systems God gave you so that your true self can function effectively in the realms God has created. How can you relate to God or function in the whole universe He created if you do not have a spirit? Some people are musically inclined and can hardly stay away from picking up an instrument or singing. Some have talents in other fields: mathematics, science, management, or mechanics. Some people are talented with relationships, raising children, or just naturally good with kids. You may have to work at it, but the talent is there and expresses itself out of you.
When you discover how thoroughly the real you represents the very image of God, you will be like the man who found great treasure hidden in a field; “and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). He knows, “This is me. This is what I love and what I value!” Why? Because where your treasure is, there is your heart (Luke 12:34). God has hidden a treasure in your field and when you find it you will have great joy. Waiting on the Lord is like a treasure hunt. You are not just seeking the Lord; you are seeking you in the Lord. Find your treasure and you will find the real you!
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).