“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27).
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).
Wow! Something happened between Genesis 1 and Genesis 6, didn’t it? Indeed, it’s called Genesis 3, aka The Fall of Man. Though man was made the crown of God’s creation, bearing the very mark of the Maker, he sinned. When Adam and Eve sinned they immediately became spiritually separated from God, and their posterity began to be born with the same internal corruption that was gnawing away at their own souls.
Disobeying God is ugly. Sin is “cosmic treason” as R. C. Sproul has put it. At the heart of sin is idolatry, namely self-worship. The desire to “have it our way” is a malignant tumor growing in all of us. God’s image, though still present in humanity, is warped and nearly invisible. The earth itself even pays a price for all of this rebellion (Rom 8:18-22). Yes, sin is ugly. It brings with it death (spiritually in hell and physically in the grave). Perhaps even more haunting is the gospel truth of how this resident sin renders us spiritually helpless.
The Gospel is a message about God, as we have seen. It is also a message about us (humanity or mankind). Who are we? What is wrong with us? Is anything even wrong with us? And if so, is there a remedy?
The “pop-psychology gospel” pandered by the likes of Oprah teaches the human problem is external (societal conditions, environment, and the existence of Bible thumpers like me). The solution then is internal, so we’re told. We must “find ourselves,” “tap into our oneness with the divine,” “become enlightened via education,” and other such trash.
The Gospel of God is the polar opposite. Look all you want inside yourselves, you will not find God there nor any spiritual power or ability to obtain what you most need – to be set right with your Holy Creator. In fact, when we look into the mirror of the Bible, here is what we see of ourselves:
“Can the Etiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer 13:23).
“Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51:5).
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Is 53:6).
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Is 59:2).
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . . and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2:1-3).
“Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).
Friends, God does not paint a rosy picture of us in our sinful condition. No words minced, we are all born into a condition so grave that spiritually we are dead. Physically alive, but nonetheless spiritually walking dead men and women!
Last time I checked, dead people don’t do much. Spiritually, then, we enter this world completely helpless and inanimate and incapable. Then, to add insult to injury, we begin to act in character – we willingly and joyfully sin against God. We don’t love Him above all, nor do we love our neighbors and put their welfare above our own.
Jesus even said sin has rendered us unwilling to seek what is good and right. We love evil more than good (John 3:19-20). This is our natural bent. We sin because we are sinners. We act in character, out of our internal rotteness. This is precisely what Jesus taught people. We have an internal problem, a heart cancer that if not somehow cured, is eternally terminal (Mark 7).
We are sinners, rebels against God and what He deems good. Parents had better recognize this and make drastic changes in how they view, correct, discipline and instruct their children. Little Johnny is not good and innocent. Little Susie is hell bound and rightly deserving of it. And, parents, so are we.
The gospel universally condemns mankind in sin and enemity with God. And, worst of all, we cannot do anything to fix it in our own power.
“Sin when it is fully grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15).
That’s hard to swallow, no? But swallow it we must if we are to know and love and live the gospel.