Essentials, Man (audio file for download)
We have been looking at the essentials of the Christian Faith over the past few weeks. What are the primary “doctrines” that make us who we are. We looked at the authority of scripture, the trinity, and the person of Jesus. Today we come to everyone’s favorite topic, You!
Now, I know you have heard me say before that I don’t preach my sermons with specific people in mind. Well, today that is not the case. Today I do have specific people in mind while preparing and now preaching this sermon. Are you curious who I have been thinking of while preparing this sermon? Well, I will give you a clue, if we have met, it is you. Or, if we haven’t met, it is also you, or if you are breathing, yup, you too. Todays message is one that applies to every person in this room. Let me tell you from the outset, that is good news in this message, and that is bad news. We are going to get to both of those things in that order, and then end with some other good news.
As you know, we are taking this series from our affirmation of faith, that is based out of Ephesians 1:3-10. Lets read it together…
I am not sure you were counting as we read, but if you were counting the references to either “us” or “we” there were nine of them. That is a lot for a short passage of scripture. Now, this text doesn’t really define who we are, that comes later in the letter. Because this text assumes certain truths about the “us” and “we” of the text, we are going to look a a few other places in scripture to see who “we” really are.
Now, there are two main points for this study of who we are that we are going to address here. Two main truths that are fleshed out all over scripture about who we are as people that we need to understand if we are going to embrace the message of the Gospel. Those are 1. We are made in the image of God. and 2. We are in a fallen state.
1 We are made in the image of God:
Lets look at Genesis 1:26-31…
In this text we have the Godhead making man in His own image. Before I unpack it more, let me point out a couple other places where that is expressed as well. Gen. 9:6, says God made man in his own image. And James 3:9 affirms that people are made in the likeness of God.
So what does it mean for us to be made in the image of God?
Well, the primary truth that it tells us is that we are distinct from other aspects of creation. We are made to represent God, and we are made to be like God. this is different than the rest of creation that is made to just show different aspects of God, such as his power. We are actually made in His likeness. There is nothing else in all creation that is made in the image of God. That is huge for us to understand. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them to represent Him on this earth. We are created to be partakers in the pleasures of the Godhead. We represent him as we exercise our moral choices. Knowing right and wrong is an aspect of man that distinguishes us from the rest of creation. We represent Him in our spiritual lives. That fact that we are not merely physical beings is another distinguishing characteristic of man. We are like God when we think logically and discuss abstract thoughts. The fact that we relate to our lives with reason and communicate about abstract things is a way that we are representing God. Another way we represent God is in relationships. You notice when Genesis spoke of creating Man He said, let us make them in Our image. I dont think that was a coincidence. As we discussed the trinity, I brought out the point that we are made to represent the trinity to the world. that the relationship and unity of the trinity is something that is distinct in creation. When we are in right relationship with those around us, we are representing God, and bearing His Image. There are many other ways that we bear the Imago Dei, but that is enough to think abut for now.
What that does for us though if you think about it is this. The truth that we are image bearers of God gives human life a dignity and honor that no other creation has. This is a crucial truth in our day where human life has been reduced to disposable, and worthless, and the lives of animals are being elevated over those of humans. Now, I am not opposed to caring for animals. I believe that we are to be stewards of all of God’s creation, including the earth and all that crawls, walks, and slithers on it. However, if I find a copperhead on my property, I do not stop and think about whose life is more important, my families, or the copperheads. That is a no brainer, right?
So, before I go any further, I want to recognize something. We live in a world where more and more people are suffering from all kinds of issues because they have been told all their life that their life is meaningless, and they believe their life has no inherent dignity. Let me address those people right now. look at me, you are made in the image of God. Your life has been created for a purpose, to represent God, and to bear his likeness. Most importantly, you were made to image Him by having a relationship with Him. The God of the universe made you with a purpose in mind. He made you for a reason, and that reason is to reflect Him, and bring glory to Him.
That is the good news that I spoke of in the beginning. We are Image bearers of God. Now for the Bad news.
- We are fallen. This means that in our natural state, we are prone to sin, bent towards sin, and when given the choice apart from God’s grace, we will choose sin over righteousness. This plays out in all kinds of ways in our lives. It looks different for every person, but it all comes from the same root. Furthermore I believe that apart from Christ you are going to do one of two things in life, you are going to embrace your sin, and live a self destructive life injuring everyone around you, or you are going to learn to manage your outward expressions of your sin nature and live a self destructive life that stays mostly hidden. What I mean by this is that you might think that as people grow up and are educated, they are less likely to sin against God simply because they are no longer biting their siblings, and pulling their hair. When in actual fact, they have learned to manage their behavior and are turning their anger and selfishness into thoughts and fantasies, and biting comments that may not leave physical marks, but leave emotional scars that wont soon fade.
Now I don’t know what your thoughts about sin are, but let me take a minute to define sin for you. Sin is any thought, word or deed that is contrary to God’s plan, purpose or character. Many people like to bring out that sin is a term that means missing the mark. That is true, it is a falling short as Romans puts it, but falling short of what? simply put, is is falling short of perfection. It is not measuring up to God’s standards of holiness. We are meant to reflect Gods nature, but we are not able to do that. Most of us know why, it was a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience by eating the forbidden fruit. From that point on, a sin nature has been passed down from our first parents, to you and I. We are all partakers of that sin nature that began in the garden.
Now there are two primary types of sin. Most people think only of one type of sin, that is sin of commission, when we do something that we should not, but there is another type of sin, and that is omission. That is not doing things that we should.
All of us are guilty of sins of both omission, and commission. We have neglected to do the things that we should, as well as doing things that are against God’s commands. Now, as I said before, I think the myth is that the older we get, the less we exhibit these characteristics, but the truth is that the older we get, the better we get at hiding our sin.
If you are wondering where this comes from, I have a few verses I would like to read to you.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
John 6:44 ESV
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
John 6:65 ESV
And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Romans 3:23 ESV
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Psalm 58:3 ESV
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Jeremiah 13:23 ESV
Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
Romans 8:7 ESV
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Genesis 6:5 ESV
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And here is the thing that I want to drive home for all of us today. every day when you wake up, there are are two things happening at that moment. There is the likeness of God playing out in your life, and there is the truth of our fallen sinful condition there keeping us from fully reflecting the fullness of Gods glory to those around us. We are made to reflect Gods glory, yet we cannot in ourselves. so where does that leave us? Well, next week we are going to look at the work of Christ. The work that He accomplished on our behalf so that we might be made right once again and begin to reflect more and more the glory of God.
God made man – male and female – in His own image, as
the crown of creation so that man might glorify Him through enjoying fellowship with Him. Tempted by Satan, man rebelled against God. Being estranged from his Maker yet responsible to Him, he became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and apart from a special work of grace, utterly incapable of returning to God. This depravity is radical and pervasive. It extends to his mind, will and affections. Unregenerate man lives under the dominion of sin and Satan. He is at enmity with God, hostile toward God and hateful of God. Fallen, sinful people, whatever their character or attainments, are lost and without hope apart from salvation in Christ alone.