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Defend the Faith: Doctrine of Man

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder

There are many who would buy the statement that man is simply part of nature. If you’re consistent with this idea you’d have to see man as just another animal. Taking this further still, you’d eventually have to come to the acceptance of The Law of the Jungle where the law is ultimately just kill or be killed. Thankfully, this is not the way things were intended to be. In his awesome wisdom, God ordained something far different. In the book of Genesis we see God’s creation of man. God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. In verse 27 it’s written:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Man is a special part of God’s creation. While God did say that his creation was good when he first created it, he didn’t declare it very good until he created man. Still, what do we mean when we say that man was created in God’s image? If man is so good then why do men cause so much evil in the world? For what purpose did God create man?

The Image of God in Man

Man is created in God’s image. By all means this is not to be mistaken that men are Gods. Rather, men are of creation having been created by God. Men cannot be like God in the sense of identity or exact likeness. However, men are like God to the extent that a creature can be like God. Furthermore, man is also like God in that man is a personality. God is not some impersonal force and man is not just a material organism. Men are aware of their own existence. We have feelings and can think and solve complex problems in abstractions. Man’s thoughts and emotions are not merely the result of a series of firing synapses. We aren’t the result of a chaotic series of events. We are created by a personal God who has a purpose for us.

The Fall

Of course it’s true that men do cause much evil in the world. However, this was not our nature in the beginning. Before the fall, man resembled God in his moral attributes. Indeed man had true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. In spite of all of this man chose not to obey God’s law. As a result of his disobedience man lost these attributes and became estranged from God. The Lord warned him that he would surely die and die he did in his sins. He became dead to the things of God. The only hope for the redemption of man; to restore him to true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, is none other than God himself who did it through The Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24).

The Purpose

What is the chief end of man? Why were we created? In short, man is created to glorify God and enjoy him forever (1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 11:36, Psalm 73:24-26). God alone is worthy of our worship and total obedience to his law. This is all summed up in the great commandment to love him with everything you have, all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5). Holiness is a term that translates to set apart. This means that he is all together different than anything in creation. Being that God is holy, to be with him one must be completely sin free. God will not suffer anything less than holiness in his presence. It’s all or nothing.

True Knowledge, True Love

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-40). When Jesus speaks of the great commandment he includes the words love and mind. The Biblical idea of love and knowledge are really one in the same. This is quite different from the modern idea of knowledge. The Greek philosophers looked at knowledge as simply mirroring the facts of reality. Today we look at knowledge as mostly memorization. However, the Hebrew and Biblical idea of knowledge is when the reality of something becomes interwoven with your inner experience of life. It becomes interwoven with your heart and soul. The great commandment is about true love for God.

When Adam disobeyed God he asserted that there was true knowledge apart from God. This is denying that God is who he is. In doing this Adam did not love God and thus broke the great commandment. What was once the normal state for man became abnormal in sin. We were made to not only glorify God, but to also enjoy him with all of our being. God is all we need as he is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.

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Joshua Ambrose

Joshua Ambrose is a restless disciple of Christ and sometimes whimsical mischief-maker. When not writing about theology, he writes about philosophy, history, economics, finance and basically anything that involves being a good neighbor in a way that honors his Lord.

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