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What The Bible Teaches
Unit 2
Who Am I?


Lesson 8
Am I Basically Good or Bad?

Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

Last week we considered evolution versus creation.  We discovered that creationism makes mankind special, a being created in the image of God with a calling and purpose, as opposed to an accident along the road of history.

Mankind acts special.  We view ourselves in a selfish manner that makes us the center of our own universe.  We act out, jointly and severally, in a fashion that is “for the best” for society.  This is the purpose behind the United Nations, to make mankind better. 

Today’s question considers the foundations of such a view that mankind is basically good and has the ability to make the world ultimately good.  Is such a view justified?

Getting Attention

Am I basically good or bad?  What does it mean to be a sinner?  Am I a sinner?

Knowing and Applying the Bible

Last week we considered Genesis 1:26-28 and discovered that mankind is created in the image of God.  This week we will pursue this thought further in order to obtain an idea of what this image means to us. 

I. The Image of God in Man

Definition: reflect God’s Ability

It is clear from the Genesis account that the animals and plant life, the fish and the birds of the air do not reflect God’s image.  Only mankind has the image of God.  In a sense every individual is a “statute” of God.  Each human being should picture the one true and living God.  What does this God look like?  This will determine what the statue should look like.

To think and reason

Colossians 3:10 (NKJV)
10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

This description suggests a level of rational capacity.  Man’s image of God implies a unique level of reasoning ability that separates him from the animal world.  Verses such as Gen 2:19-20; 3:8 show such reasoning powers.

To consider morals

Romans 8:29 (NKJV)
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God is righteous and Holy and we are to be righteous and holy as well.  Jesus is the exact image of God (Heb 1:3) and this verse says that the believer is to become the image of Jesus, so we, too, in some sense, will become the image of God.  This means will be holy and thus consider morals.  Col 3:10 could be used here as well. 

Ephesians 4:23-24 (NKJV)
23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

To have personal relationships

We considered last week that man is created as a personal being, designed to have relationships.  This was the reason for Eve’s creation and the formation of the family unit.  God’s own personal nature is reflected in men and women.  God intended Adam and Eve (men and women as husband and wife) to commune in a special relationship.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

To rule, or have dominion

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The idea of man ruling over God’s creation permeates these verses.  Just as God rules over all creation, so mankind is to rule over the earth.  The parallels continue in the creation story as we discovered last week, where the family unit is structured with the husband as the head of the household.  Man is to rule, subdue, and have dominion over the earth.  Illustrations of this rule are found in Gen 2:15, 19, 20; Dan 7:14, 27; Rev 20:4, 6; 22:5.  Man’s dominion of is a permanent event that will be carried out in the coming kingdom when the saints rule the earth with God and Christ.

Fall of man

Genesis 3 provides the story of the fall into sin by Adam and Eve.  Satan as the serpent tempts the couple who make the wrong choice (Rev 12:9).  This leads to a curse on the earth and the fallen nature in mankind, known as the depravity of man.  The question to be raised is whether or not mankind still bears the image of God.

Sin marred God’s image

Man needs restoration

Scripture teaches that God’s image is marred.  This image needs renewing because man’s ability to reason is marred by the sinful nature.  Man is depraved in the sense that all men commit all of the “worse” sins, but man’s nature is marred in the sense that man’s inclinations are to evil rather than good.  As such, man needs a method of cleansing his image to become what it was created to be.  This is the clear teaching of Scripture.

Romans 8:29 (NKJV)
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 1:28 (NKJV)
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

Ephesians 4:18 (NKJV)
18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;

As Paul writes, man’s understanding is darkened and we cannot see the things of God.  We, as natural men, do not exercise our freedom in a choice for God’s things.  This is what distinguishes natural man from regenerated, saved men.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NKJV)
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Man still bears God’s image

Genesis 9:5-6 (NKJV)
5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.

It is important to note that the image of God is not completely missing or totally removed or marred in sinful man.  The above verses are directions to Noah.  Sinful man, the murderer, is still made in the image of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

James 3:9 (NKJV)
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

1 Corinthians 11:7 (NKJV)
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.


The Depravity of Man

So, there is good news – man still carries an image of God – and bad news – man is depraved.  The word depraved carries with it the idea of wickedness, decadence, and corruption.  Mankind is corrupt.  Because of the curse, man is locked in this corrupt state.

Genesis 2:17 (NKJV)
17 but 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.”

The curse: threefold

Upon the serpent and Satan

Genesis 3 records a series of curses upon the players in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:14-15 (NKJV)
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

The serpent apparently had legs prior to the curse.  He became our snakes.  Further, as noted above, man needs restoring.  This restoration is first pictured here.  Most scholars view verse 15 as the first statement of the Gospel, the seed of woman being Christ.

Upon Eve

Genesis 3:16 (NKJV)
16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Eve’s curse is two fold.  First, comes pain in child bearing and second comes conflict in the home.  Since Eve apparently usurped Adam’s place in the family by committing the first sin, the balance of the family unit is turned upside down.

Upon Adam

Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

Notice that Adam’s curse results in hard work and a curse upon creation (Rom 8:22).

The death: twofold


Beginning of physical death

God’s curse began immediately, although the words of Scripture do not reflect this.  Phsycial death, rather than being instant, became the process of dying.  With only a couple of exceptions, all men die.  Consider the genealogy of Genesis 5 – “and he died.”

By implication, a greater death occurred with the curse.

Immediate spiritual death

Mankind died an immediate spiritual death.  This is seen in the reaction of Adam and Eve hiding from God in shame.  They lost their innocence.

Genesis 3:7-11 (NKJV)
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

God’s grace becomes evident as He makes them clothing to cover their shame (Gen 3:21 – the first sacrifice) and drives them from the Garden of Eden so that they do not live forever in their decaying state (Gen 3:22-24).


Without exception sin and death passed to all mankind

Our opening verse shows the extent of this death.  We should note in connection with these two deaths imposed by the curse, there is a third death involved with the Fall.  God provides in His grace the means to renew His image in mankind.  For those who do not accept this gift of grace, the third death is an eternal death and separation from God.  In the meanwhile, all of mankind lives under the curse of death (Rom 5:12-21).

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NKJV)
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Applying and Practicing the Bible

Who is a sinner?

Are you basically good or bad?

How this affect the way you live your life?

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