God Created Man in His Image, and the Fall

by Leland M. Haines

God Created Man in His Image

"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27). This sweeping statement of the creation of man is both profound and perplexing. In part it answers the question of why man is unique in all creation. But it raises questions concerning the ways man and God are similar. As he was originally created, man was as close to being like God as humanly possible. Yet at the same time man was sufficiently different to make him dependent on his Creator for knowledge and guidance.

When God created man in His own image, He gave him a distinctive nature and place in creation (Genesis 5:3; 9:6; I Corinthians 15:39; James 3:9). Man "is the image and glory of God" (I Corinthians 11:7), "made a little lower than the angels, and [God] hast crowned him with glory and honour" (Psalm 8:5; cf. Hebrews 2:9). As sovereign among the creatures, man had dominion over everything on earth (Genesis 1:26, 28). Being in God's image means we can do things God does, such as, talk (2:3; 8:13), rest and sit (2:2; Psalm 47:8), walk (Genesis 2:8), hear and talk (6:12; Exodus 16:12), smell (Genesis 8:21), reason, think, etc., and even have some features as God has, such as, a face and back (Exodus 33:20, 23), a mouth (Isaiah 1:20; Matthew 4:4), hands (Psalm 10:12; Isaiah 41:20), etc. This does not mean God has the same physical features man has, but that man can function, in part, like God does.

After God created man out of the elements of the earth, He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). As a result of this divine action, man has both a material and a spiritual nature. The spiritual nature of man reflects his being created in God's image. This means man has a "spirit and soul and body" (I Thessalonians 5:23). Soul and spirit seem to be two distinctive features: Mary said "My soul doth magnify the Lord; And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:46, 47); the writer of Hebrews speaks of the word of God being able to divide the "soul and spirit" (Hebrews 4:12). These scriptures seem to indicate the soul and spirit are two different identities. Jesus comments that "thou shalt love the Love thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. And with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37) shows still other aspects (heart, mind) of mans being. Yet these two should not necessarily be thought of as parts of man but perhaps as a way to express his personality.

Soul and spirit are in some aspects similar but in other ways different. We see this in Scriptures saying that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), but it never speaks of Him having a soul. Soul seems to speak to an aspect of animate life. It is also used sometimes to refer to people (Genesis 12:5; 46:18; Acts 2:41; I Peter 3:20, etc.), and to one's self (Romans 8:16; I Corinthians 16:18). Spirit is used several ways in Scripture. For instance, about a third of the Old Testament uses refer to "wind." Another usage refer to breath, the breathing out of air. The spirit is the source of man's insight (Matthew 2:8), his intellect ("what man knowth the things of a man, save the spirit of man," I Corinthians 2:11), his will (Matthew 26:41), feelings (Luke 1:47; 10:21; John 11:33; 13:21). It also refers to man's disposition (I Corinthians 4:21; Ephesians 4:23; I Peter 3:4). The most important aspect of spirit is its reference to the immaterial part of man; the Scriptures saying God "formeth the spirit of man within him" (Zechariah 12:1) and is "the Father of spirits" (Hebrews 12:9); that is, the Father of men. "The body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26; cf. Judges 15:19; Luke 8:55; 23:46). At death some spirits return to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59), and the others remain forever separated from God in the place called hell. As we will see the child of God has "the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:11, 12). Man's spirit enables him to have fellowship with God. The spirit is what makes man different than animals.

Man was given intellect, which means he could think and reason. As a rational being, man was unique in creation and clearly distinct from the animals. The image of God in man means he was "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24; cf. Colossians 3:10). Man therefore would have had a natural tendency to do what is right. In his moral perfection, man had free and open communion and fellowship with his Maker. Man walked and talked with God.

Adam and Sin

Man was not created to be a puppet but was given the ability to choose whether he would follow his Maker's will. For his freedom to choose to be meaningful, man needed to exercise it. God provided him with the opportunity to do so. "God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:15-17). At the beginning of man's existence, God revealed His will to Adam in a simple command. Now man would be able to exercise his freedom of choice. The test was simple. Adam was not forced to act either way. Choosing to obey God, however, would mean passing the test, and choosing to disobey would mean failure.

Adam and Eve were created in a perfect environment. They knew nothing of the evil that now surrounds us. Their only understanding of evil and death came by simple faith in God's Word. An angel who fell because of pride, called the devil and Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:15-17; I Timothy 3:6), came to Eve in the form of a serpent (II Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9; 20:2). The serpent challenged Eve to rethink her acceptance of God's command to Adam. Satan lied about God's Word and said, "Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4, 5). Eve listened to Satan and gazed at the tree. When she "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (v. 6 ).

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they knew it. After they had disobeyed His Word, they experienced guilt and fear and then tried to hide from God. But God knew where they were and what they had done. He asked them, "Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" (Genesis 3:11). Adam, in fear and despair, attempted to avoid admitting his sin by blaming Eve. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (v. 12). Eve, too, tried to excuse herself: "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (v. 13).

At the time of the Fall, God began to reveal man's need for redemption. The first step involved condemning the serpent, Satan's instrument, for his actions: "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:14, 15). The latter part of verse 15 is a prophecy of the redemption of man from the consequences of his sin.

Adam and Eve also were affected by God's pronouncement against sin. Despite their efforts to shift the blame, they were guilty. They had not believed and obeyed God's Word and were personally responsible for their actions. For Eve and all women since then, God's sentence has been: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). For Adam and all men since then, God said they would have to toil and sweat for "bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (v. 19). Paradise was lost, and man had experienced good and evil. God "sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground" (v. 23).

Because God is holy and righteous, He cannot tolerate sin in any form. Sin is an act or attitude of "missing the mark," that is, of falling short of God's standard.

The first mention of sin involved Cain's fruit offering, which the Lord rejected. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him" (Genesis 4:7). Failure to please God is sin; and when sin is given the opportunity, it rules over a person. Sin creates a barrier between God and man. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you" (Isaiah 59:2). This barrier does not leave man unaccountable for his sin. God is just and must punish disobedience. "He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done" (Colossians 3:25; cf. Matthew 16:27; 25:46; John 5:29; Romans 2:6; II Corinthians 5:10; I Peter 1:17). Therefore, man was driven out of the Garden of Eden into a world that increasingly became dominated by evil. Man was now alienated from his Maker (Genesis 3:23, 24).

Man's Fall does not make God Unfair

Since God, being all-knowing, knew man would fall into sin, wasn't He therefore unfair when He created man?

NO! God created man with a freewill and did not know the outcome of the test of obedience. Man being created with a freewill meant that God limited His own ability to know ever detail that man would do in life. Scripture clearly show this: "God saw that the wickedness of men was great . . . And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart" (Genesis 6:5, 6); the LORD, seeing His people were stiffnecked told Moses, "Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them," but Moses appealed to God, "And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people" (Exodus 32:10, 14); the LORD see the witness of His chosen people at Horeb, the LORD spoke to Moses. "Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name," so Moses prayed for forty days and thy were not destroyed (Deuteronomy 9:14); the Lord repented that He made Saul king (I Samuel 15:11, 35); because David number the people of Israel against God's will, "when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil" (II Samuel 24:16; cf. I Chronicles 21:15); Babylon was brought against Jerusalem because of her sins, and "I the Lord haven spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will o it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent." Later the Lord said, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways" (Ezekiel 24:14; 33:11); (Jonah 3:4, 5, 9, 10). God's lack of knowing the outcome of man's freewill is do to His own sovereignty; it was His sovereign will to give man a freewill. Man having a freewill meant he could do things that His maker could no longer foresee. This includes foreseeing the results of a test given to the first couple.

God was not the maker of sin and evil. If God knew man would disobey His will, and went ahead and made him anyway, God would had been the creator of evil. But as we have shown there is plenty of scripture showing God did not have unlimited foresight into man's future. As Pinnock writes, "I had to ask myself if it was biblically possible to hold that God knows everything that can be known, but that free choices would not be something that can be known even by God because they are not settle in reality. Decisions not made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God. They are potential -- yet to be realized but not yet actual. God can predict a great deal of what we will choose to do, but not all of it, because some of it remains hidden in the mystery of human freedom" (Clark H. Pinnock, The Grace of God and the Will of Man, Minneapolis: Bethany, 1989, p. 25). As we have seen, the above scriptures show God does have complete foresight into man future decisions.

All Men Have Sinned

All men stand under condemnation because of Adam's disobedience. Because of his sin, all men are born with a sin nature. Adam's sin soon showed up in his son Cain and spread to all of his natural-born descendants. "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Genesis 6:5, 11, 12; cf. 6:13).

The New Testament reveals that through Eve and Adam's actions, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). Also, "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (v. 19); "by man came death . . . in Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:21, 22). Because of Adam's sin, men are "by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3), "alienated and enemies in [their] mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21). Every man is born with a sin nature that not only makes it possible for him to sin but insures he will. Thus men are not guilty of Adam's sin but of their own wicked works.

When Adam sinned, he blamed Eve. Part of Adam's sin was to surrender to Satan's influence through Eve. Since then natural man is described as a son of the wicked one (Matthew 13:38), with the devil as a father (John 8:44). The natural man follows Satan and is ruled by him (John:12:31; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 2:2). Satan's rule is described as "the power of darkness" (Colossians 1:13). He has "blinded the minds of them which believe not" (II Corinthians 4:4). To this day, whoever commits sin is of the devil (I John 3:8).

Satan's influence did not stop with Adam and Eve. He has continued to influence every son and daughter of Adam since. "There is no man that sinneth not" (I Kings 8:46; cf. Romans 3:9). "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

All men "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The biblical description of fallen man is appalling:

There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10-18

Romans 1:18-32 portrays an even bleaker picture of the degeneracy of man. Paul, in Galatians 5:19-21, lists more of the natural man's "works of the flesh." Those who practice such things are not a part of the kingdom of God.

The Consequence of Sin

Because natural man has "sinned, and come[s] short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), he must suffer the consequences of his sin. Man's sin provokes the wrath of God (1:18). Natural man is judged and punished according to his works (Matthew 16:27; John 5:29; Romans 2:8, 9; Colossians 3:25; Revelation 20:12-15). The Lord will take "vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (II Thessalonians 1:8, 9).

The ultimate result of sin is death. God told Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). God told our first parents after their disobedience, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (3:19). The curse upon them brought physical death. Death was not limited to our first parents. Paul wrote that although "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12; cf. v. 19). The general principle is that "the wages of sin is death" (6:23). This death is not only physical or biological, it is also spiritual, bringing eternal separation from God. But men must not despair because, as the reader will see in this book, God has acted to make it possible for men to have eternal life through His Son.

Sin Is Revealed by the Law

The Scriptures picture sin as man's disobedience to the living, personal God. Man has failed to live up to God's commandments and ideals. There are many specific scriptural principles to guide man through life. These should be thought of as expressions of God's will rather than impersonal laws.

If sin is disobedience to God's will, then man, to be chargeable or accountable for his sin, must be able to understand God's will. God reveals His will by His Word, nature, and man's conscience.

The Bible is God's most precise revelation of His will for man. Paul states this several times: "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). In Romans 7 he describes in detail the function of the law in his life. "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (v. 7). The law, an expression of God's will, reveals sin, for "sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).

Since the Scriptures are God's clearest revelation, those who are not acquainted with them have only a partial knowledge of God's will. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). All men can have a knowledge of God -- however imperfect -- from the natural world. Yet they generally ignore this and choose to worship God's creatures rather than the Creator. God also makes His will known through man's conscience.

When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. Romans 2:14, 15

The Bible teaches that there are degrees of punishment depending upon one's knowledge of God's will. Jesus, for example, noted a difference between Chorazin and Bethsaida and Tyre and Sidon: "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you" (Matthew 11:21, 22). Jesus spoke these words to the Jews who knew more about God's plan of redemption than the Gentiles. Jesus did "mighty works" in Chorazin and Bethsaida, yet they would not repent. Their punishment therefore will be much greater than that of Tyre and Sidon, which were centers of sin. The citizens of Tyre and Sidon had opposed God's people and had blasphemously exalted themselves to the point of saying, "I am a God" (Ezekiel 28:2; see also chapters 26-28). Yet their knowledge of God's will was less than that of the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and this will be taken into account at the judgment. Jesus, the final Revealer and Redeemeer, stated "that [the] servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes . . . . he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes" (Luke 12:47, 48).

Promise of a Hope

The ultimate consequence of sin -- unless there is repentance -- is depicted as strong expressions of punishment, such as wailing and weeping, gnashing of teeth, being cast into outer darkness, and enduring eternal fire (Matthew 8:l2; Luke 13:28; Matthew 22:13; 13:42, 50; 24:51, et al.). God, however, has not left man without any hope of escape. Following man's first sin, God promised that the Seed of the woman would crush Satan's power, making it possible for man's relationship with God to be restored (Genesis 3:15).

This article is a revision of a section from Redemption Realized Through Christ by Leland M. Haines, © copyright 1996 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI. USA. All rights reserved.

The Web source of the above article is http://www.bibleviews.com/creation-man.html .


You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and bibleviews.com source.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send then to the Webmaster.

This page is presented by:

Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Phone: 574-875-8007

Back to the Articles page.

Return to Home Page

May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

June 22, 2000