This is the Sunday morning sermon for November 8th, 2009.
Faith Foundations part 5
The nature of mankind.
Genesis 1:27 ESV – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him male and female he created them.
Up to this point we have examined the doctrine of scripture and taken a short focused look at the nature and characteristics of God.
It is important to realize from the outset that the Bible is all about God, and not so much about us. That is, it centers around God and not on man. One of the most common mistakes many well intended people make is to think that the Bible is merely an instruction manual for mankind. To the contrary, it is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is only when we understand God for who He is that we can understand ourselves for who we are. So it is within the context of understanding Who God is that we are able to truly comprehend who we are.
Our text today is found in Genesis 1:27. It is a short and simple text and yet it is one which is loaded with a wealth of significance. Not only does it positively declare what man is and where he came from and Who it is that made him, it negatively declares what man is not and how man was not made.
For this sermon this morning, we are going to divide our teaching into three parts. We will begin by looking at how humanity came to be, then move on to understand something about the nature of and state of humanity, and finally understanding these things, we will consider what this knowledge calls us to do.
The Origin of Humanity – How did we get here?
As many of you know, it was in 1859 that Charles Darwin published his widely acclaimed book entitled, The Origin of Species, in which he set forth his own theory as to how humanity came to be. Interestingly enough, Darwin offered no real explanation about the origin of anything. Instead he merely offered a theory as to the evolution of species. In other words, he could not explain how matter first came into being; instead he hypothesized how one form of matter mutated into another form of matter. And even that has been impossible to prove.
Dinesh D’Souza, in his book What’s So Great About Christianity, says that despite a long history of experimentation, breeders have never been able to breed across species lines and produce new species. He goes on to ask, “So how can random mutations achieve what carefully orchestrated cross-breeding has failed to do?” While the fossil record shows evidence of microevolution, that is one type of finch evolving into another type of finch, there is no evidence for macroevolution which shows one species evolving into a different species. In other words, there is no proof that evolution is valid as a theory.
D’Souza correctly states that there are three things the theory of evolution cannot account for.
- First he says that Evolution cannot explain the beginning of life.
- Second, Evolution cannot explain consciousness. We know as human beings we are conscious. How did unconscious life transform itself into conscious life? Evolution has no answers.
- Finally, says D’Souza, Evolution cannot explain human rationality or morality. Rationality is the power to perceive something as true.
Now I want us to go to Scripture and see what God has to say on this subject of how man got here.
Romans 1:20 ESV – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Here we have the truth of the general revelation of God: That nature itself is a revelation and witness to the fact that there is a Creator.
Of course our Scripture text is pretty plain as well: God made us. Period. God doesn’t explain or give a big theological study on this truth, He just presents it as total fact within His Word.
We know we got here. But what about who we are? What does God’s word have to say about human nature and our state of being?
Human Nature and Our Fallen State.
The book of Genesis tells us that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God created Adam and Eve, two individuals; one man and one woman. It says that He created them in His image.
What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
- First of all we are created to be persons. We each have individual personalities we were created for intimate relationship; mankind, like God, can know and be known. As we have studied the Trinity, we know that God is one God who expresses Himself in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- Secondly, we have been created to be eternal. In the New Testament we read that at the resurrection some will be raised to eternal life and others to eternal damnation, again, this speaks to the eternal nature of man.
- Third, we have been created in God’s image with certain physical aspects – While God is a Spirit and does not have a body there are things which God has given us physically which enable us to be like Him. For instance, our eyes enable us to see. While God sees everything and we see only some things, nonetheless we are able to see, which makes us like Him in that respect. God hears all things, and our physical ears enable us to hear some things; again, one of the ways wherein our physical bodies endow us with certain qualities of the Divine. Our mouths and voices give us the ability to speak; God speaks, and thus we are, in this way, like Him.
- We are created in God’s moral image – As creatures who are morally accountable to God for our actions, we have an inner sense of right and wrong that sets us apart from animals who merely respond from fear of punishment or hope of reward.
- We bear the image of God in that we were created to rule. God told Adam and Eve to have dominion over the world. He gave them the power and the ability to rule over it. Think about it, before the fall all of nature was under Adam’s rule. The animals obeyed his voice. He was the king of the earth. But when he rebelled against God, nature rebelled against him and has been in rebellion ever since.
So, we can say that in the realm of intellect and reasoning, in the dominion He has give us over creation, in our spiritual capacity to know God and be in fellowship with Him and in our physical appearance and ability to walk upright, something which sets us apart from all animals, we reflect the uniqueness of the image of God.
But not only are we created in His image, but as we have seen, in the beginning man was created without sin. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Even lived in the perfection of God’s paradise on earth. They were morally innocent and without sin.
Genesis 2:16-17 ESV – 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3 goes on to tell how Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted the woman and how Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation and ate of the forbidden fruit, willfully and knowingly defying God’s moral law. They had the ability to choose between obeying God or disobeying Him and of their own free will they chose to disobey Him. Of course the consequences of their actions were disastrous. Because they rebelled against God, God not only cast them out of the Garden, but through their sin, sickness and death came into the world and the entire earth became hostile to humanity. Once Adam and Eve sinned, all of humanity, that is, all of their descendents came under the condemnation of sin. That means that you and I and every other human born are born with a sinful nature. We are not only sinners because we sin, we sin primarily because we are sinners. As soon as we are morally able, we sin; not just because we want too but because it is simply our nature. We are born with a natural inherent bent toward sin. It’s just in our nature. That’s why the Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
The one and only exception to this was Jesus, who was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary. The Bible calls Jesus the second Adam, that is, He is the only other man who did not naturally possess a sinful nature.
So you see, while we were created in the image of God, and part of that initially meant that man was without sin, when Adam sinned against God, his sin not only separated him and his wife from God, but all of their descendents. But God, in His great love, who created us to be in fellowship with Him and to live for His glory, desired so much for us to be restored, that He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins so that by placing our trust in Him we could have forgiveness of sins and once again be in fellowship with God.
What action does this knowledge call for?
What Are We To Do? – How to respond to what we know.
Here are four practical suggestions as to how we can apply this teaching to our lives.
- Repent and Believe the Gospel. Repent means, “Change the way you think and act.” You need the help of the Lord for this, so cry out to Him and ask Him to change your heart and give you the spirit of repentance. Then believe the good news (the Gospel) that Jesus Christ is Lord and put your entire faith in Him and His work on the cross for you and receive the forgiveness of your sins. Notice Jesus own words.
Mark 1:15 ESV – The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
- Live in accordance with your Creator’s purpose – You were created for God’s glory, He formed you and made you, so live to glorify Him.
Isaiah 43:7 ESV – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Live in accordance with your Creator’s principles – Simply put this means allowing God’s truth to govern your thoughts and actions. This begins by loving one another.
1 John 3:14 ESV – We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
- Live to advance His rule and reign – This means making the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the central and dominant focus of your life.
Matthew 6:33 ESV – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
What about you this morning? Have you ever come to terms with your own sinful nature and recognized that you need Jesus to forgive you of your sins? All you have to do is to come and ask Jesus to forgive you and to give you His gift of eternal life. He has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.