Lesson 12: The Sinfulness of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 12: The Sinfulness of Man

Lesson Eleven focused on the unique aspects of Adam’s fall into sin. Though the Fall and its consequences were unique, there are continuing results which affect all people since Adam. Because of Adam’s disobedience, sin has permeated the human race. Everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23).

Some say that sin is merely a sickness. Others claim that it is a weakness. [People like to redefine what sin is. E.g., alternative lifestyle, disease, mistake. ] What exactly is sin? Where does sin come from? What are its effects? This lesson will answer these questions by studying the following:

1. The nature of sin (What is it?)

2. The imputation of sin (Where does it come from?)

3. The extent of sin (What are its effects?)

I. The Nature of Sin

[Remember that when we talk about the nature of something, we are talking about a thing’s basic characteristics or qualities.]

A. The expression of sin

Sin may be expressed in terms of being, thought, or action. One may sin by being, thinking, or doing wrong or by not being, thinking, or doing right.

1. Sin is expressed in man’s being .

All men are born sinners and persist in a sinful state throughout life.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.   Psalm 51:5

[Sin can be a state or condition. Man is characterized by sin; he is sinful. It’s a condition. We sin because we are sinful, not vice versa.]

2. Sin is expressed in man’s thoughts .

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.   Matthew 15:19

[cf. also James 1:14. Sin starts in the mind. Thoughts precede action. No one ever committed a sin who did not think first.]

3. Sin is expressed in man’s actions .

The evil I do not want to do  this I keep on doing.   Romans 7:19

We usually associate sin with wrong-doing, that is, doing what we are not supposed to do. The Bible, however, teaches that sin also includes not doing what we are supposed to do. The first we call sins of commission , the second sins of omission .

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.   James 4:17

B. The criterion of sin [criterion is a standard or measure]

What makes certain thoughts and actions sinful and others not? The criterion for judging the sinfulness of anything is its conformity to God or lack thereof. Thus, anything which does not correspond to God’s character is sin.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48

[This is how we judge the acceptability of questionable things, i.e., things not addressed in the Bible–movies, dancing, gambling, etc. We judge a practice or idea by whether or not it conforms to or is in keeping with God’s character.]

C. A definition of sin

Sin is the failure to be , think , or act like God. [in the moral realm and in a limited way, i.e., we can’t be exactly like God is.]

[How do we know what God is like? By his word. Thus, when we disobey God’s word, we are failing to act like God. The standard, based on the character of God, is pure perfection. Anything less is sin. So you can see that sin is a pretty broad idea.]

II. The Imputation of Sin

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned  for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.   Romans 5:12 19

A. A definition of imputation

Imputation means “to charge to one’s account .” God, the Divine Accountant, credits to each person’s account the debt which he owes.

[It’s a financial term, like charging something to your account. ]

The Bible speaks of three imputations (this lesson deals with the first): 1) Adam’s sin is imputed to all men ; 2) Mankind’s sin is imputed to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24); and 3) Christ’s

righteousness is imputed to believers (Romans 4:3, 22 24).

In the first act of imputation, God charged Adam’s sin to every man’s account. In the second act of imputation, God erased the entry by charging it to Christ’s account. In the third act of imputation, God entered Christ’s righteousness on the believer’s ledger. Because of this wonderful doctrine of imputation, the believer has a positive standing before God. We will examine these great truths in future lessons. In this lesson, however, we will examine the first imputation more closely.

[Why is it necessary to have a positive standing? Isn’t being forgiven for sin enough? No. One must have positive merit to go to heaven. The only way to get this merit is thru the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to your account–justification.]

B. Adam’s sin was imputed to the entire human race .

Because Adam represented the entire human race, condemnation came upon all men when he sinned. Because of the Fall, all men stand guilty before God. Each individual did not actually sin when Adam sinned. Adam’s descendants did not, by any act of their own wills, eat the forbidden fruit; they did not even exist at that time. However, because Adam was the father of the entire human race, the penalty which God pronounced upon him rested upon all mankind.

[Most unsaved people do not realize the severity of their sinful condition. Just because they don’t do terrible acts of sin does not mean they are not sinful and liable for punishment. ]

III. The Extent of Sin

A. Sin extends to the whole race .

In Romans 1:18 3:20, Paul makes it clear that all men without exception are sinners. He asserts that both Gentiles and Jews are sinners, concluding with these words:

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”   Romans 3:9 12

Every member of the human race has fallen short of God’s standard. All are lost in sin. They are universally condemned by God because of sin.

There is no one who does not sin.   1 Kings 8:46

B. Sin extends to each individual .

  1. Sin is individual because of original sin .

The Bible teaches that every man is born a sinner because of the imputation of Adam’s sin. This is the doctrine of original sin.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.   Psalm 51:5

[Can an infant make a choice to disobey? No. So they have no personal sin. How could someone be sinful at birth? Even infants are sinful because of the imputation of Adam’s sin.]

2. Sin is individual because of personal sin . Each person since Adam (except Jesus Christ) is corrupt because of his own individual sinfulness.

C. Sin extends to the whole person .

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires . . . . The mind of sinful man is death . . . the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.   Romans 8:5 8

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.   Ephesians 4:17 19

[Sin affects the material and immaterial aspect of man. ]

Theologians use the words ” total depravity ” to refer to the fact that man is totally sinful.

1. Total depravity does not mean:

a. Men commit every sin.

  1. Men never do anything good in a relative sense (Luke 6:33).

[That is, even unsaved people do “good” things. They are not meritorious in God’s eyes, but they are good/beneficial rather than bad/destructive. ]

c. Men are at all times as bad as they could possibly be (2 Timothy 3:13).

  1. Total depravity does mean:

a. Sin affects all parts of man’s nature or being .

It affects his body, mind, emotion, and will (Romans 1:28 32).

b. Nothing that unsaved men do is really pleasing to God.

Some of their actions may be relatively good, but none of them is really good. Even their so called good deeds are influenced by their depravity.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.   Isaiah 64:6

[Unsaved people are capable of civic or cultural good, not good in the moral or spiritual sense. They can do nothing to please God, even when they obey the Bible (by going to church, giving, being kind, etc.) In fact, God is not impressed by, nor does he accept, the acts of worship given by unsaved people. See Prov 15:8, 21:27, 28:9]

c. Man is completely unable to lift himself out of his fallen condition.

Just as a dead man lying in a tomb is unable to contribute anything to his resurrection, so men who are dead in sin are utterly unable to exercise saving faith apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in them.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . . Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.   Ephesians 2:1,3 5

[This is why salvation must be the work of God. Man is dead. He wants nothing to do with God. He will never seek God on his own. God must take the first steps in saving a person.]

This is man’s condition from God’s perspective. He sees man as corrupted with the imputed guilt of Adam’s first sin. Because of his corrupt nature, man commits individual sins without number and is totally unable to please God. God sees mankind as a race lost in sin and deserving of divine judgment . Who am I? I am a sinner who has deeply offended the God who created me to reflect His image  a sinner who deserves sin’s penalty , both physical and spiritual death. It is against this backdrop that we now move on to the great doctrine of Christ and His work on the cross for us.

Learning to Live It

1. The following are comments frequently overheard. What errors do each of these statements reveal about a person’s view of sin?

a. “Everybody sins, but I’m not that bad.”

1. This individual is comparing himself with other sinners rather than with God. Compared to God, everyone is utterly wicked. 2. The fact that everyone else sins in no way decreases the seriousness of your own sin.

b. “It’s all right if you look, but don’t touch.”

Sin is more than just an act. It includes the wicked thoughts leading up to the act or just the thoughts alone without the act. To lust after someone is as sinful as doing the act; to hate is as sinful as murder.

2. A popular television preacher [Robert Schuller] has written, “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self esteem.” He adds, “A person is in hell when he has lost his self esteem.” Finally, according to this preacher, the answer to sin and hell is “faith,” which he defines as a sense of “self worth.” According to this preacher, is sin primarily an offense against God or man?

against man

How does this definition of sin compare with the biblical definition?

It totally contradicts the biblical definition. According to the Bible, sin is an offense against a holy God. The preacher makes his own definition for sin. If one can make anything mean anything, then everything means nothing.

How do we know that faith is not the recovery of a sense of self worth?

The Bible doesn’t come even close to defining faith in such a way.

3. A large city church held a special service on the day new Sunday School teachers were being inducted into office. The message preached that day dealt with the church’s approach to religious education. The pastor stated that there are two notions about the teaching of children in Sunday School. The “old notion” is that children are to be taught that they are sinners in need of a Savior. He proceeded to say that the church has abandoned this old idea and now realizes that the job of the teacher is to “nurture the tender plant of the religious nature of the child in order that it may bear fruit in a normal and healthy religious life.” Are children born good or bad?


Do they need a Savior?


Do children need help to bring out what is naturally on the inside?


What is on the inside?

Sin. Jer 17:9–a heart full of deceit and wickedness.

Lesson 11: The Fall of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 11: The Fall of Man

The fall of man took place when Adam and Eve fell from their state of unconfirmed [i.e., untested, on probation] holiness into a state of sin. Before examining the unique aspects of the Fall in this lesson, one should note the following:

1. Sin was present in the universe prior to the fall of man. The Fall introduced sin into the human race.

[What was the very first sin? Satan’s pride. See Isa 14, Ez 27. When did it occur? The Bible does not say. Obviously sometime in between creation and the fall of Adam. ]

2. Genesis 3 reveals that Eve took the initial step of disobedience. However, Romans 5:12 19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 22 indicate that God held Adam accountable for the Fall. He was the representative head of the human race. Therefore, this lesson will refer to the Fall in terms of Adam’s sin, though Eve bore responsibility as well.

3. The fall of man into sin was a unique event. The circumstances surrounding the Fall have not been nor will they ever be repeated. Nevertheless, the Fall profoundly affects mankind today. This lesson will point out both the many characteristics which were unique to the Fall and the continuing results of this event today.

I. The Circumstances Surrounding the Fall Were Unique.

So God created man . . . . God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.   Genesis 1:27 28, 31

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.   Genesis 2:19 20

A. Adam was given specific commands , which he was responsible to obey.

God gave Adam many commands that were intended for him alone. For example, he was responsible to rule over the animals, to name them, and to care for the Garden of Eden. Negatively, he was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

[Adam must have named all the animals on one day (Day Six). ]

B. Adam possessed unconfirmed holiness .

Adam was in a state of moral purity which was unconfirmed; that is, his holiness had to pass a probationary test of obedience in order for him to be confirmed in that state.

[How do we know that Adam was holy? Because everything God created was “very good.” He was exactly what God wanted him to be. Therefore, Adam was not in a state of neutrality; he was positively good/holy, having spiritual life and fellowship with God. Some have called this state “unconfirmed creaturely holiness.”

Although the Bible doesn’t say so, if A & E had not sinned, they likely would not have died. They would have eternally maintained their holy condition.

One who is on probation is being tested to see what he is really like.]

C. Adam had a free will and was capable of weighing choices.

God gave Adam a free will by which he could choose to obey (and, thus, be confirmed in moral purity) or choose to sin. Adam, of his own will, chose the latter.

[Prior to the fall: they were righteous, but able to sin. After the fall and prior to salvation: man is unrighteous and unable not to sin. After salvation and prior to glorification: man is righteous (positionally) and able not to sin. After glorification: man is righteous and unable to sin. ]

Note the following:

1. Adam was the only man to ever have a free choice.

Every decision that man has made since the Fall has been influenced by his sinful nature. Since Adam had no sinful nature prior to the Fall, he was the only man (other than Christ) ever to make a choice without being influenced by sin.

[Actually, even Christ operated on earth within the sphere of sin’s influence. Adam’s sin shows that even in the very best of conditions/ circumstances, man will choose to do evil. Thus changing one’s circumstances will not necessarily change the man.]

2. The Fall was planned by God.

Nothing is outside of God’s eternal plan. Adam’s choice of disobedience did not surprise God. Since God planned Christ’s death on the cross for man’s salvation before the creation of the world (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18 20; Revelation 13:8), the Fall must have been a part of God’s foreordained plan as well. However,

because Adam committed the first sin within the confines of God’s sovereign will, his choice was not absolutely free.

[So when we say that Adam had a free will, we simply mean that he was not influenced by the sinful nature. This is the primary way Adam’s will is different than ours. God is the only being with an absolutely free will, and even God has limited Himself to do what He said He would and act in a manner consistent with His character. For man, there is no such thing as an absolutely free will.

Three levels of freedom: Absolute freedom: only God has this; freedom not influenced by a sin nature: only Adam, Eve, and Jesus had this; freedom influenced by sin: everyone else. ]

3. God was not the author of Adam’s sin, nor was He responsible for it.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.   James 1:13 14

Although God is not the author of sin, He allowed man to fall. This is the mystery of evil; it is a problem which mankind cannot solve. Only God knows the solution to this mystery. It is clear, however, that man had no excuse when he fell. Exercising the freedom of his own will, he fell from the state of perfection in which he was created by sinning against God.

[The “mystery” is how can God foreordain something like the fall of Satan or of man and still not be responsible for it. This comes down to the seeming contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Although God is in control of all things and has planned all events, He still holds man responsible for his actions. How can this be? That’s the mystery. An even bigger mystery is why God allowed sin in the first place. ]

II. The Test of Adam Was Unique.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground  trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”   Genesis 2:8 9, 15 17

The test was whether or not Adam would obey God by not eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although Adam was given many commands, disobeying this command would result in death. Though men must still obey God today, they do not face a test in the same way that Adam did. Only Adam had the opportunity to be confirmed in holiness by an act of obedience.

[Again, although the Bible doesn’t say so, it seems that if Adam and Eve had obeyed, they would have been confirmed in their holy condition. ]

III. The Temptation of Adam Was Unique.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.   Genesis 3:1 6

A. The means of the temptation was unique.

The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.   Revelation 12:9

A master deceiver, Satan approached Eve by means of a serpent. Although Satan still uses various means to tempt mankind, this was the only time he used a

talking animal .

Note: Eve did not sin by being tempted, but rather by yielding to the temptation.

[Being tempted is not sin. Giving in is. Jesus was tempted (Matt 4). Temptation is strongest for those who don’t give in to it.

Note also that Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. He went into the sin knowing exactly what he was doing. Thus God holds Adam, not Eve, responsible.]

B. The potential consequences of the temptation were unique.

As representative head of the race, Adam’s response to the temptation had far-reaching implications for all mankind. When someone is tempted today, there are potential results for himself and others , but not for the entire human race.

[Read Romans 5:12, 18. Adam’s sin somehow passes on to the entire race. Because Adam was the representative of the entire race, his sin affects everyone after him. ]

IV. The Consequences of the Fall Were Unique.

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”   Genesis 3:14 19

By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam gained a knowledge he did not have before. Prior to the Fall, he knew by experience only good, but now he knew both good and evil. This new knowledge, however, brought with it a changed attitude toward God. Whereas Adam delighted in God’s presence prior to the Fall, he now hid from Him, experiencing the feelings of guilt, fear, and shame which accompany sin. In addition to these results, God immediately imposed judgment on the following:

A. The serpent (Genesis 3:14)

The serpent was condemned to crawl.

B. Satan (Genesis 3:15)

An individual from the woman’s seed (Jesus Christ) would deal a death blow to Satan’s head (at the cross), while Satan would cause Christ to suffer (“strike his heel”).

The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was only partially fulfilled at the cross, as Satan is still active today. One day it will be completely fulfilled. Because of Christ’s death, Satan will be defeated once and for all. Christ’s resurrection sealed Satan’s doom (1 Corinthians 15).

C. The woman (Genesis 3:16)

1. Women will have pain in childbirth.

2. Though a woman’s desire will be to rule her husband, sinful men will exercise oppressive rule over their wives.

D. The man (Genesis 3:17)

Though man had to work prior to the Fall (Genesis 2:15), the difficulty of his work greatly increased after the Fall.

[Work is pre-fall. It’s not part of the curse. Man was made to labor/work.]

E. The earth (Genesis 3:17 18)

The ground would grow thorns and thistles, increasing the effort required to make it produce food.

[Creation as a whole came into the “bondage of corruption” Rom 8:19-22. The whole universe is suffering the effects of sin and it will continue that way until the millennium and the eternal state.]

F. Mankind in general (Genesis 3:19)

God told Adam that when he ate from the forbidden tree he would surely die. God’s justice required that man’s sin be punished by death (Romans 6:23). That death was both physical and spiritual.

1. Man became mortal the day of the Fall, becoming subject to physical death.

If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would not have died physically. Because of the Fall, Adam and all mankind would one day return to the dust of the ground. This physical death involves the separation of the material aspect of man from the immaterial.

2. Man became spiritually dead the day of the Fall, becoming separated from God.

Adam was the representative head of the human race, and when he sinned, all mankind became “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Since the Fall, each individual is born spiritually dead.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.   Romans 5:12

[The “one man” is Adam. The construction of the words “all sinned” implies that this was a one-time event, the fall of Adam. Also note that Paul regards Adam as a real, literal person, not a figurative character.]

Spiritual death is a break in fellowship with God and was symbolized by Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23 24). The only remedy for spiritual death is regeneration , the impartation of spiritual life to the spiritually dead.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 5:20 21

The Fall affected all human beings, bringing many grave consequences. It was the darkest hour of human history. Once the sin was committed, it could never be undone.

Learning to Live It

While at camp, you hear an evangelist preach on the sin of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3:1 7. As he preaches, he makes the statements listed below. Read them and answer the accompanying questions.

1. “Adam and Eve had absolutely free wills  and so do you!” Did Adam and Eve have absolutely free wills? Why or why not?

no, not absolutely free; Their wills were limited by factors over which they had no control.

Do you have an absolutely free will? Why or why not?

no; Besides the above, you have a sin nature which often causes you to choose contrary to your will (Rom 7:14-20). In the case of an unsaved person, he is unable to choose the right–he will always choose the wrong.

2. “Just like Adam and Eve, you are faced with a moral choice. You must choose to obey God or to be a sinner. You must choose between spiritual life or spiritual death. You must choose between heaven or hell.” Are these statements accurate? Why or why not?

no; You are already a sinner and, if unsaved, are already spiritually dead and destined for hell. Besides, you really aren’t the one who chooses–God is. You make the choice to accept Christ because God has drawn you to Himself. Nobody would choose God in and of themselves

3. “If you reject God and walk out of this service, you will be separated from God, just like Adam and Eve.” This statement seems accurate at first glance. Upon closer examination, however, what is wrong with it?

If unsaved, you are already separated from God.

Lesson 10: The Creation of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Who am I? I am a sinner who has offended the God who created me to reflect His image.

Introduction to the Doctrine of Man

“What is man?” is a question that has prompted several answers. Some say that man is only a body; others say that man’s body is nothing but an idea; still others say that we cannot know anything about man’s make-up. Then the question of sin arises. Some say that men are basically good and that the answers to our problems are within us; others say that morality is subjective  each individual determines for himself what is right or wrong. But how does the Bible answer these questions?

We have learned in previous lessons that the Bible reveals God as the infinite Creator of finite mankind. In spite of this Creator/creature distinction, God has chosen to reveal information about Himself to men through His Word. This study of the doctrine of man (or Anthropology) will give a biblical answer to the question, “What is man?”

Lesson Ten: The Creation of Man

In order to adequately answer the question, “Who am I?,” one must understand the origin, nature, and fall of man, along with the effects of his fall.

[Notice that we start a discussion of man with what the Bible says, not with man’s experience, psychology, history, etc. One knows who he is because God has said who he is.]

This lesson will examine:

1. The origin of mankind

2. The nature of mankind [A “nature” is the basic facts or characteristics of something. ]

I. The Origin of Mankind [I.e., where did man come from?]

A. The creation of man was instantaneous and immediate on the sixth day of Creation.

[“Instantaneous” means that it happened in an instant. “Immediate” means that there was no drawn out process involved. I.e., no evolutionary process is responsible for the origin of man. This also rules out theistic evolution, the idea that God used the evolutionary process to create man.]

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.   Genesis 2:7

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.   Genesis 2:21 22

Many people believe that man is a product of evolution. However, God created man immediately , that is, Creation was a direct act of God apart from any intermediate process such as evolution.

[Can one be a Christian and still believe in a form of evolution? Yes. Many Christians believe that God created the world through a process of evolution. But the only way to accommodate the evolutionary viewpoint is to change our interpretation of Genesis 1-11. If these chapters are figurative/metaphorical, then we could accept evolution. But is there any reason to think that the author of Genesis meant the first 11 chapters to be figurative/non-literal? No. The intent seems to be a description of what occurred, i.e., a historical account. Why is it so important that we maintain a literal view of Gen 1-11? Because Jesus and the NT authors did. What if they were wrong? Then our view of the Bible and Christianity is wrong. ]

Note: Though Adam and Eve were created directly by God, all other men (except Jesus Christ) descend from Adam and Eve by procreation (Genesis 3:20 and Acts 17:26).

[“Procreation” = the normal method of conception and birth.]

B. Mankind was created in the image of God .

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . .” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.   Genesis 1:26 27 (See also Genesis 5:1 and 9:6.)

Unlike everything else God created, man was created “in the image of God.” This image includes both a personal and moral resemblance to God.

[We are, or can be, like God in some ways. This distinguishes man from animals. ]

1. It is a personal resemblance to God. Like God, man has personality.

[“Personality” is not referring to one’s attitude (e.g., outgoing, shy, funny.) Personality is person-hood, the fact that one is a person rather than an animal or a plant or an inanimate object. This is the basic make-up of the image of God. It is the primary thing that sets man apart from animals.]

a. Like God, man possesses intellect, will, and emotion.

The three components of personhood, intellect, will, and emotion, operate in a logical sequence. One can visualize this sequence in the following way:

Mind ? Will ? Emotion

Mind comes first because the other two are dependent upon it. Information must enter one’s mind before it can be responded to. Will comes before emotion, not vice versa. We run into difficulty when we reverse the order by allowing our emotions to dictate our actions.

[Notice how often people mention how they feel rather than what they think. People often make decisions based on feelings/emotions rather than reason.]

b. Like God, man has the ability to use language .

Since man was the only creature made in God’s image, only he has the ability to communicate via language like God.

Note: In the garden, Adam and Eve conversed with God audibly (Genesis 3). Today, God speaks to man through His Word, while man speaks to God through prayer.

[God does not speak audibly (out loud) to people today. Why not? Because we have God’s Word to tell us what to do.]

2. It is a moral resemblance to God. Like God, man has the ability to discern right from wrong.

Mankind was created in a state of moral purity (Genesis 1:31) and possessed the ability to discern right from wrong (Genesis 3:2-3). This image of God in man was marred by man’s fall into sin but not lost ; it was effaced but not erased. Thus, men still possess the ability to discern right from wrong.

[Analogy: words on a page smudged but still readable. All men still possess the image of God, although not to the same degree that Adam and Eve or Jesus had it. Sin has marred or defaced mankind. Note: even unsaved people bear the image of God (Gen 9:6; James 3:9).]

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. – Romans 2:14 15

Note: The marring of the image of God in man does not reduce man’s responsibility to God.

[Man is the only creature who has this ability. Can animals discern between right and wrong? No. Also, part of this moral likeness to God is the capacity for spiritual things. Man can possess spiritual life, fellowship with God, etc.]

C. Mankind was created in a state of unconfirmed holiness .

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.   Genesis 1:31

God made mankind upright.   Ecclesiastes 7:29

God did not create sin, nor did He create mankind sinful. Mankind was created morally pure (not neutral) and without sin. However, that purity was unconfirmed and, when put to the test by God via Satan’s temptation, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.

[Had Adam and Eve passed the test, they likely would have been confirmed in holiness and there would not have been a fall.]

Note: God chose Adam to represent the entire human race. Therefore, when he chose to sin, he plunged all mankind into sin. However, one cannot blame Adam for his individual acts of sin, because each individual chooses to sin (Romans 3:23).

[In later lessons we will look at the imputation of Adam’s sin, that is, how Adam’s sin affects us.]

II. The Nature of Mankind

When we talk about man’s nature, we are referring to man’s basic or essential characteristics. The Bible speaks of individuals as being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Modern medicine recognizes that each person has several physical systems (nervous system, digestive system, etc.). Though each of these function separately, man still functions as a single person.

In referring to man, the Bible uses several different words (body, soul, spirit, heart, mind, etc.). At the same time, it stresses that each human being is a unity of the different parts  a whole person (Psalm 63:1 and 84:2). One can separate the various components of man’s nature into two categories:

[We take a dichotomist view, that is, man is composed of two parts. Some hold a trichotomist view, that man has three parts: body, soul, and spirit. But the terms “soul” and “spirit” are pretty much synonymous in the Bible, so we don’t make a distinction between soul and spirit. ]

A. Mankind’s nature has a material aspect.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.   Psalm 139:15 16

The material aspect of man is his body.

[Some people say that the body is all there is. That is, they claim that all activities that seem to originate in the soul/spirit are really only physical and chemical process in the brain or glands. Is this what the Bible teaches? No. There are processes going on in every person that cannot be attributed to material causes.]

B. Mankind’s nature has an immaterial aspect.

The immaterial aspect of man is often referred to as his spirit or soul . Some say that man is made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. However, both soul and spirit are used interchangeably throughout Scripture to refer to the immaterial part of man (Matthew 10:28; 26:41; 1 Corinthians 7:34; James 2:26). Thus, one should not make hard and fast distinctions between spirit, soul, heart, and mind, all of which describe the immaterial aspect of man.

Note: A person’s human identity results from the union of the material and immaterial (Genesis 2:7). These two parts unite to make a complete human being. At death, the material part of man decays, but the immaterial part lives on in conscious existence.

[Dead believers seem to have some kind of bodily existence between the time of death and the resurrection. At the resurrection, the soul/spirit is reunited with some aspect of the physical body, and a glorified body is formed which will go on forever.]

C. Mankind’s nature is passed on through procreation .

Adam . . . had a son in his own likeness, in his own image.   Genesis 5:3

Although Adam was created in the image of God, Adam’s children were generated in his image (which still bore God’s image). The transmission of man’s being was and is through natural generation or procreation. This is true of both the material and immaterial aspects of human nature.

[In other words, you received your total human nature from your parents. God did not create your soul separately and inject it into your body when you were born. Somehow the immaterial part of the human nature is passed from the parents to the child.

Note: The virgin birth of Christ was necessary to prevent the fallen human nature of Mary from being passed on to Jesus. ]

Note: God created Adam and Eve sinless, but every individual born since then has been conceived in sin (except Christ). All human beings receive their nature (both the material and the immaterial aspects) from their parents. Therefore, our sin nature does not come from God.

[You may have heard that the sin nature is passed down through the father’s blood line. This is false. Sin does not reside in the blood. The sin nature is somehow passed on thru procreation, but the Bible does not explain exactly how this occurs.]

Learning to Live It

1. You have taken a field trip to the local museum. During the tour, your guide continually refers to man as evolving from a lower life form. You finally speak up, stating that according to the Bible, man was created by God as a being higher than animals. The guide laughs and says, “I would far rather believe the facts of science than the fairy tales of a book. Besides, your beliefs are based totally on faith, while mine are based on years of scientific study. Dare you dispute the findings of such scholarly men and women?” How should you answer him?

You don’t dispute the facts, but his interpretation of the facts. You challenge his assumptions (such as uniformitarianism). You inform him that his views are also based on faith–did he see evolution take place? Further, the theory evolution is by no means without problems.

2. When some preachers talk about someone who has heard and understood the gospel, yet has rejected it, they say that the individual has a head knowledge, but not a heart knowledge, or that the individual has “missed heaven by eighteen inches” (the distance between the head and the heart). What is wrong with such a statement?

Both the mind and the heart are part of the immaterial aspect of man, not two separate entities. Thus, you cannot separate the two–the individual has either both a “head” and a “heart” knowledge or neither. Further, it is equating the physical organ with the immaterial aspect of man. It would be better to say that the person knows the facts (meaning) but has not acted upon them (significance).