Man and Sin
believe man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is therefore
spiritually dead, and only through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit can
salvation and spiritual life be obtained.
is unique in all creation in that he seeks to understand himself and his world.
However we have many limitations. Yes
we are making small steps toward knowing more about what we see. But it would be
arrogant to believe that we are much further along in our understanding of an
infinite universe than we were 100 or 1,000 years ago.
Each generation feels sure that is has achieved the essential grasp of
the universe, while at the same time laughing at some of the ideas of those who
have gone before.
we would like to do in this chapter is to look at the universe from a different
starting point. Our starting point
will be the revealed truth of God found in the Bible.
This does not in any way belittle the work of our minds and hands in our
quest for understanding. It means
that we accept our limitations, and take a clear look at the history of human
understanding. We must recognize
that it is but a journey just begun toward a shore along way away.
Walter Scott (1771–1832) had this to say about man.
evening clouds, that setting ray,
beauteous tints, serve to display
great Creator’s praise;
let the short-lived thing call’d man,
life’s comprised within a span,
Him his homage raise.
often praise the evening clouds,
tints to gay and bold,
seldom think upon our God
tinged these clouds with gold.
study of, or science, of man is called anthropology.
There are two ways to approach the subject of anthropology.
One way is though the study of human philosophy and learning.
It limits itself to the products of our own reason and discovery
abilities. The other is based on
Biblical revelation in conjunction with human experience.
it is the intent of this survey of Christian belief to deal with as many of the
questions of faith and doubt as practical, we will look at the origin and
identity of mankind. We do not
believe that it requires blind faith or the absence of reason or intellect to
trust that God’s active hand was present at our beginning, and continues to
this day. This is what our hearts
tell us. Let’s look at why.
let us recognize that everybody starts with some assumptions when discussing
these subjects. We as Christians do
not have to be ashamed to listen to the testimony of the Bible and our hearts.
It is not in any way less real to trust a God who has worked personally
in our lives, than it is to accept the testimony of experts in the fields of the
natural sciences. It is important to
realize however that the same data can lead to two entirely different
conclusions depending on the frame of mind of those interpreting the data.
the time of this writing there is a crisis in the mid-east. After a short time
of general blissful world agreement we are starting to see some problems.
Different peoples are not only disagreeing with the correct response to
the problem, but disagree on what the problem is and who caused it.
These differences exist even though everything that could possibly impact
on the regions problems can be documented in print and film.
The point here is to show an example of different opinions resulting from
the same information but different outlooks.
there are two ways of looking at the “problem” of the beginning of the
physical universe, and subsequent appearance of mankind.
The Christian perspective is that there is an eternal God. This
God is fundamentally different than all other entities in that He does not exist
in time. He created the universe,
and us, from nothing. We do not
fully understand His reason for creating but He has told us that He has retained
all power and authority.
“secular” science dealing with the origin and organization of the universe
is Cosmology, which is a branch of astronomy.
It is a field undergoing rapid changes in its accepted theories.
The current theory presented by students of the subject of Cosmology is
the “Big Bang” theory, although this theory is beginning to be questioned by
many secular scientists. It states
that about 12 to 25 billion years ago all matter existed for an instant in one
physical point at the same time.
From this “event” proceeded the universe as we know it.
All rules or laws of physics are presumed to be inherent in matter and
energy. The belief is presented that
only time, chance, and natural law were needed to get from there to the present
world and universe.
that there is no explanation given for the origin of the matter in the first
place. Although some argue for an
open universe, seeing the present one collapsing upon itself to restart.
They are now looking for enough “missing matter” to create a strong
enough gravitational attraction to pull the universe back together again to
start another cycle.
on to the origin of life, no explanation is given for the lack of success in
“creating life” (although this is a separate field).
The intent here is not to look down on science or hold scientists up to
ridicule. However, they make
assumptions as we do, and have many unanswered questions, as we do.
It is only the ignorant that tell us that science has all the answers,
not the true scientist. It is
logical to predict that scientific opinions will change as much in the next 100
years as they have in the previous 100 years.
Why substitute devotion to changing opinions of human worth for a
personal relationship with a God who loves you?
look at Biblical revelation as it contrasts to Cosmology. Note that we referred
to contrasting not opposing. True
science describes God’s handiwork, but is subject to our relative lack of
understanding of it. Just as
scientists should not over-state their understanding, so we also should not
over-state ours. Also the Bible is
not a physics or biology text book.
this point a crucial question arises, whether the Bible purports to teach the
sciences as such. In spite of the
fact that some earnest men have felt that extended psychology can be constructed
on the text of the Bible, the more conservative teachers are convinced that on
truth concerning God—His creation, and man in His relation to God—the Bible
speaks with completeness and finality, but that on related themes it is accurate
so far as it may have occasion to go.”
belabor these points? The
assumptions we make have a fundamental and direct impact on how we view our
relationship with God. We must, as a
practicing Christians treat what God has to say with respect and give it a place
of importance in our lives. We
cannot be running around, frightened to stand up for what we believe. This will
rob our Christian experience of vitality.
what does God say? Genesis 1 tells
us that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
He filled His creation with lower creatures, and then made us in His
image (Genesis 1:26), we were created without sin and holy.
Clearly we do not “look like” God so what does this mean? In
chapter 2 we learned some things about God.
We learned that God is a Person, that He reasons, plans, feels love and
joy, as well as grief. God is just,
and is a moral being, that He is consistent.
as His creation, have these same characteristics.
They are the things that separate us from the rest of creation.
The Biblical account of creation clearly shows our commonalty with animal
life. It also shows that we are, as
physical beings, an organized assembly of Chemicals from the earth.
These facts are easily verified by any chemist or biologist.
long has man been on the earth? According
to Bishop Usher, on the grounds of the Hebrew Scriptures, since BC 4004.
According to Hales, based on the Septuagint Version, since BC 5411.
These men used primarily the tables of genealogy to mark the passage of
years. We should remember however
that the purpose of the genealogical table is to show decent and not the passage
example in Genesis 46:18 Zilpa’s grandsons and great grandsons are listed as
sons. In Genesis 10:18 Canaan is
listed as the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of 10 nations or races!
In Matthew 1:11 Josiah is listed as the father of Jeconiah, his grandson.
There are other examples, but it is clear that the Bible’s purpose in
these tables is to trace decent and not time.
We are told in Genesis that man is the last of all creatures to be
is a man? While we are alive here on
earth we experience a unity of body (the material self) and the soul (the
immaterial). These two elements can
only be separated by death. We are
so made that while alive we are in no way conscious of any separation between
body and soul.
psychology also agrees that man is composed of more than one part.
However it views them as being permanently inseparable.
When we die, and our body is seen to obviously decay, they maintain that
the inseparable “other part” must also cease to exist.
Bible however teaches us that we are separated from our bodies for a time.
And that at a time appointed by God all men will be resurrecting to face
judgment. This will happen to
everyone whether justified in Christ or not.
In either case the soul of a person is always everlastingly existent.
look at the facts surrounding the non-physical characteristics of man.
According to the Bible man’s nature extends beyond psychology and
philosophy. To truly understand the
whole man we must rely on the statements of Scripture and the counsel of the
Fall of Man
we the same in the present age as we were when God created the first man and
Genesis chapter three tells us about the “fall” of man.
After the creation God had established a close and wonderful relationship
between mankind and Himself. This
allowed a complete, honest, and personal direct friendship with Him.
the Serpent presented supposed equality with God to Adam and Eve.
They chose “to be like God” (Genesis 3:4) over obedience.
Were Adam and Eve doomed to fail in this way?
No they were not, they had the freedom to choose evil, and did.
They also had the freedom not to sin.
Adam and Eve where capable of being tempted, but had no original tendency
to sin as we have. They were not
compelled or impelled to sin.
are we different in our natural state than Adam and Eve?
As a result of mankind’s disobedience to God, mankind was forced to
deal with choosing between good and evil on a permanent basis.
This is a task that we are not up to.
It is in our inherent nature that we will choose evil much of the time,
and every last one of us will choose it at least some of the time.
We all fall short of the glory of God (remember we got into this mess by
trying to be like Him) the difference could not be wiped out by eating an apple!
doctrine of Total Depravity
to the Bible a fundamental change occurred when Adam and Eve committed
mankind’s first sin. There was an
immediate change in their condition, and in their relationship with God.
In Genesis 3:13–19 God tells Adam and Eve the immediate consequences of
their actions. The most notable are
that they will face death and are cast out of God’s direct presence by being
banished from the Garden of Eden. Total
depravity doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything good or valuable in us, nor
does it mean that we are totally bad or wicked.
it means is that we are completely unable to meet God’s standards of holiness
without the direct intervention of God. We
are born spiritually dead as well as to death physically. (Ephesians 2:1–4; 1
Timothy 5:6; Romans 5:12–14, 2:12) We
must face the same fate as all of mankind because of original and personal sin.
would be easier to not deal with or talk about sin.
However if we do not have a clear understanding of our natural state, how
can we appreciate and be motivated to accept the wonderful gift of Christ?
If we don’t understand the marvelous thing He has done for us, how can
we love and serve Him? It is a
favorite tool of Satan to lull us to sleep thinking that everything will be OK.
From the very first tempting of Eve he has been telling us that what we
want to do is really alright after all.
is sin? To put it simply sin is what
God says it is. “The holy
character of God is the final and only standard by which moral values may be
accurately judged. To the one who
disregards God, there are no moral standards other than social custom, or the
dictates of an uncertain and perverted conscience.
And even these it will be observed, though indirect, failing, and feeble,
are, nevertheless, reflections on the standards of God.
Sin is sinful because it is unlike God.”
is primarily against God. The Larger
Catechism (Westminster) states “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or
transgression of any law (or character) of God, given as a rule to the
reasonable creature.” From this we
can see that all of us are unable to live a life truly free of sin in our
unregenerate state. No-one is able
to conform himself to the character of God. Sin may be characterized by going
our own way and following our own desires. (Isaiah 53:6)
do we know about God’s view of sin? Perhaps
we may admit to being sinners, but are free from any meaningful or direct
consequences from our sin. What are
the consequences of our sin?
are personal, corporate and divine consequences resulting from sin.
We can all agree that we have damaged ourselves, that we have limited our
human potential as a result of sin. Think
of the guilt that you carry on your own. We
are punished for, and suffer ourselves because of our own sin.
Each of us has always had a conscience and the ability to know that we
doing right even before we knew God. Even
a child will feel shame when doing wrong; it is part of our humanity.
second area in which sin destroys is in our culture or society.
We inflict inner and outer pain on each other every day. This
is true even of those that we love. Mankind
is less than he could be because mankind has chosen to be less than he can be.
can reason in our own understanding about the personal and societal consequences
of sin on our own. But what of the
eternal ramifications of sin; what importance does God place on it?
Let’s look at a few examples from the Scripture.
chapter three deals with Adam’s and Eve’s punishment for sin.
They wanted to have knowledge like God.
For this they were subjected to death and removed from the Garden of Eden
among other things.
the only man to ever live a sinless life, had to suffer a horrible death to pay
for our sin. Hence it is reasonable
to expect that the punishment that God pronounced on sin is related to how God
views it. We can see that God views
sin as a very bad thing indeed.
consequences for us in relation to God is separation.
Our sin has produced a chasm between us and Him that we cannot bridge by
human effort. We will deal further with the issues of sin and death in chapters
4, 5, and 6.
section on Angels!
are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New
Testament. Angels are different than
either man or the Godhead. The word
Angel means messenger in both the both the Old and New Testament.
Colossians 1:16 we learn that angels are created beings.
Unlike man angels are incorporeal that is purely spirit.
They may however take a bodily form such as in Genesis 19:1 where they
appear as men. They are always
referred to using the male gender but we are told in Matthew 22:30 that they
have no distinction of sex. Angels
are not subject to aging and are eternal. In
this way we will be like them in heaven.
are both stronger and more knowledgeable than man.
They stand in God’s presence, which we are unable to do in our present
condition. They are of a higher
order of creation than us, however when we are redeemed we are told that we will
judge angels. (1 Corinthians 6:3)
popular notion that angels have wings comes from Daniel 9:21 which states that
the angel Gabriel “came to me in a swift flight.” This
was seen my medieval artists to mean that they had wings, when actually all it
says is that they can go very fast. We
are told however that cherubim, seraphim, and living creatures do have wings.
do the angels live and how many are there? We
are told several times that the primary residence of the angels is in heaven, or
in “the heavens” this could mean that they are existent throughout the
infinite universe. In number they
are again linked with the stars in the sky which astronomy and the Bible tell us
are beyond human numbering (Genesis 15:5). We
are told in Revelation 5:11 that there are at least 102,000,000 and these do not
represent all of the angels!
do the angels do? They praise and
worship God without ceasing (Revelation 4:8).
They proclaim God’s work and appearance to mankind (Luke 2:9–14).
They watch over us while we are here on earth. (Hebrews 1:14)
are there so many references to the angels in the Old Testament and during the
life of Christ, but nary a word of them now? The
truth of the matter is that we don’t know for sure.
The best reason is probably that their messengering duty isn’t needed
now because in the generations after the resurrection of Christ were sent the
Holy Spirit. This does not mean
however that the angels are not watching over us as you read this.
there is no way to know anything about angels other than what is written in the
Bible we should be careful not to give too much credence to man’s speculation.
Indeed there is much that we do not know about angels.
A few things we can indirectly deduce from Scripture follow.
know that angels are powerful because one angel was able to kill 70 thousand
people in the kingdom of David in three days. (1 Chronicles 21)
Sometimes angels appear to be normal men, how else could we entertain
angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2)? Sometimes
they are dazzling white and blazing glory (Matthew 28:2–4).
We are told by Paul in Colossians 2:18
that we are not to worship angels. In
Revelation 22:8–9 the angels themselves tell John that he shouldn’t worship
them because they are fellow servants.
angel walked by my side today,
felt his hand touch me on my way.
sent for purpose or passing by,
don’t know which, but wonder why.
touched me then that my God should love
so, To send him from far above.
help my feet stay on the way,
will lead me to His home someday.
my eyes looked up with wonder new,
I saw the heavens and in them You.
my Lord is seen, not in the storm,
cloud, nor fire, or any form.
in the spirit you’ve sent to me,
in my heart, where He’ll always be.
protecting showing the way.
to share my life day by day.
Who made you and how do you know?
What are some of man’s attributes?
What is sin?
Are we doomed to sin?
What are some of the results of our sin?
Will the Universe Expand Forever by
J. Richard Gott III, James E. Gunn, David N. Schramm and Beatrice M. Tinsly
March 1976 Scientific American
Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D. Litt.D. Systematic
Theology Vol II pp126
c1947 Dallas Seminary Press.