As long as we are unregenerate, we are governed in a completely different way than the regenerate. Before regeneration we have with us evil spirits whose grip on us is so strong that the angels, though present, can achieve hardly any results. All they can do is head us off from rushing into the worst kind of evil and divert us toward some form of good. They even use our own appetites to lead us toward good, and the illusions of our senses to lead us toward truth. Under these circumstances we communicate with the world of spirits by means of the spirits around us but not so much with heaven, since the evil spirits are in charge and the angels only deflect their influence.
When we are regenerate, on the other hand, the angels are in charge, inspiring us with all kinds of goodness and truth and instilling a horror and fear of evil and falsity.
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role, the words of this verse appear in the plural—“Let us make a human in our image.” But since only the Lord rules and manages us, the next verse uses the singular—“God created the human in his image.” The Lord states his role clearly in Isaiah:
This is what Jehovah has said, your Redeemer and the one who formed you from the womb: “I, Jehovah, make all things, stretching the heavens out on my own, spreading the earth out by myself.” (Isaiah 44:24)
The angels themselves confess that they have no power but act only at the Lord’s behest.
As far as an image is concerned, it is not the likeness of another thing but is after a likeness of it, which explains the wording “Let us make a human in our image, after our likeness.” A person with a spiritual character is an image, but a person with a heavenly character is a likeness or exact copy. Genesis 1 deals with the spiritual person, Genesis 2 with the heavenly person.
The Lord calls the person of spiritual character (or an “image”) a child of light, as he does in John:
Those who walk in the dark do not know where they are heading. As long as you have the light, believe in the light, in order to be children of light. (John 12:35, 36)
He also calls such a person a friend:
You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:14, 15)
But the person of heavenly character (or a “likeness”) he calls God’s child in John:
As many as did accept him, to them he gave the power to be God’s children, to those believing in his name, who had their birth not from blood or from the flesh’s will or from a man’s will but from God. (John 1:12, 13)
As long as we are spiritual, we rule the outer self first and from this the inner, as illustrated here in Genesis 1:26: and they will rule over the fish of the sea and over the bird in the heavens, and over the beast, and over all the earth, and over every creeping animal that creeps on the earth. When we become heavenly, though, and do good because we love to, we rule the inner self first and from it the outer. The Lord describes this as being true of himself; and as it is true of him, it is also true of the heavenly type of person, who is a likeness of him. The words appear in David:
You have made him rule over the works of your hands; all things you have put under his feet: the flock and all the herds, and also the animals of the fields, the bird in the heavens, and the fish of the sea—that which travels the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8:6–8)
In this passage, animals receive the first mention, next the bird, then the fish of the sea, because the heavenly person proceeds from love, which belongs to the will. Things are different with the spiritual person, for whom the fish and birds come first and the animals follow; fish and birds are associated with the understanding, which concerns itself with faith.
from Regeneration, Pages 153-155