Gen 1:26-27 says that all of humanity from the beginning was made in the image and likeness of God. We are all made in the image of God, but our likeness has changed because of the failure of humanity to keep God’s commands (Gen 3:1-24). God’s solution to make us like him again, is to pour out his spirit on us and give us a new spirit/heart that will make us like him again. It’s the holy spirit that was promised to circumcise our hearts (Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ez 36:25-27, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Rom 2:29, and Col 2:11) and give us the power to overcome sin nature so that we could accomplish the task of keeping God’s commands so that we can be his likeness.
Only those who are believers living by God’s spirit are children of God and are joint heirs of the kingdom along with Jesus. They will inherit the blessings that God promises and share in Jesus’ glory, but they will also share in his persecution and suffering (John 1:10-13, 1 John 3:9-10, Rom 8:7-17). One example of being in his likeness is keeping his command to love our enemies (Matt 5:44-48). Everyone made in his image can love their friends and family, but those who are truly his children will extend that love to people that persecute and hate them.
Matt 5:(NLT) 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
We must believe in what Jesus did in order to receive God’s spirit and be like him again, being image bearers only requires being a human, however, his likeness requires that we be sanctified and made holy by being born again.
John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” 5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”