Our Relationship With God
Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. The creation of man is simply stated in the Bible. "So God created man in His own image.... And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 1:27; 2:7). It should be noted that this came as the climax of God's creative work. It was not an afterthought with God, but the goal of His work in creation.
Three things may be noted about man. His body is akin to the natural elements. His physical life is akin to all animal life. But as a living soul, he is made in God's image and likeness. It should be noted that man was made to live forever. It was after he had sinned that he became subject to death. However, for that reason, man's animal principle of life shall cease; his body shall return to the ground (Gen. 3:19). But his soul, the real person, is immortal. It will never cease to be.
Man is twofold in nature. He is both spirit and body. Man is not a body that has a soul. He is a soul that has a body. The body is mortal; the soul is immortal.
Only of man is it said that he was made in God's image. Since God is Spirit, this image relates to man's spiritual nature. This divine image means that God created man with a rational, emotional and moral nature. He possesses a will with the freedom of choice. In his original creation, man was in a state of innocence with the possibility that he might choose righteousness or sinfulness. God's image in man is also seen in that he was to have dominion over the lower orders of creation.
Psalm 8:5 reads, "For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." However, the Hebrew text reads, "For thou has made him a little lower than God [Elohim]." Thus man was created more than an angel. He was a little lower than God!
Fall of man
Created in a state of innocence, man was neither righteous nor sinful. Before becoming either, he must exercise the right of choice, hence the temptation experience in the Garden of Eden. So God permitted man to be tempted, or tested, by the serpent (Gen. 3). The Bible does not deal with the origin of evil. It assumes it, relates its destructive power, and shows how God deals with the problem.
In Eden, God made provision for every need of man. "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" (Gen. 2:16-17). It is idle speculation to try to determine what kind of tree this was. Perhaps its fruit may be regarded as symbolizing the determination to build a social order outside the will of God. To say the least, this was the result of man's decision to eat the fruit contrary to God's will. And this willful decision constituted sin.
In the Bible, sin is described as crookedness, violence, lawlessness, iniquity, wickedness, offense and rebellion. Sin may be defined as rebellion against God's will. The root of sin is selfishness, centering one's life about oneself rather than in God. God does not classify sins as large or small, heavy or light. Any transgression of God's will is sin (Jas. 2:9-11). The greatest sin is unbelief with respect to Jesus Christ (John 3:18).
The account of man's fall is found in Genesis 3:1-7. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field" (v. 1). Note that Satan disguised himself. In the Bible, he always appears before God in his true light (Job 1-2; Matt. 4). But he never appears to man as such. He probably appeared to Eve as a beautiful, graceful creature, not as a snake crawling on the ground (Gen. 3:14).
Approaching Eve, the serpent questioned God's goodness and love (v. 1). He did not point to God's bountiful provisions but to His one prohibition, failing to note that it was for man's good. In her innocence, the woman showed her tendency toward righteousness by protesting on behalf of God's purpose (v. 2-3). Satan countered by calling God a liar. "Ye shall not surely die" (v. 4). He said that God was holding out on man, thus depriving him of his full potential. "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" (v. 5).
In this verse, one sees the very nature of sin. For "gods" renders Elohim, that is, God. So "ye shall be as God." Man was made a little lower than God (Ps. 8:5). It is when man through selfish ambition seeks to be God in his own life and will that he sins. Sin is dethroning God and enthroning self. It was this very thing that snared Eve, showing that she also had a tendency toward sin. And this tendency overcame her tendency toward righteousness.
"And when the woman 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). Here are the three general areas of temptation: physical appetite ("good for food"); aesthetic nature ("pleasant to the eyes"); ambition ("desired to make one wise"). These are the three areas in which the devil tempted Jesus: physical appetite (turn stones to bread, Matt. 4:3); aesthetic nature (jump from the temple, Matt. 4:6); ambition (receive worldly kingdoms by worshipping Satan, Matt. 4:9). Luke 4:13 calls these "all the temptation," or every kind of temptation. Satan failed to snare Jesus, but succeeded with Eve and Adam (Gen. 3:7).
Satan does not tempt man in his lower but in his higher nature. He seeks to get him to express his God-given powers in a lower manner (Jas. 1:14-15). Commenting along this same line, Conner says, "So the devil tempted Eve by appealing to these three desires that are normal in any healthy human being. Wherein, then, consisted her sin? In trying to satisfy these normal desires of her being in the wrong way, contrary to the will of God. ... Sin is the perversion of the good and the worst sin may be the perversion of the best. ... Not the use but the abuse of God's world causes trouble. ... Sin always appears in the guise of a good. Otherwise it would be no temptation."
When man sinned, he was separated from God. The fellowship was broken; the image was destroyed. Adam and Eve died physically many years later. However, the moment that they chose Satan's will instead of God's will, they died spiritually. They were no longer innocent. Certainly they were not righteous. They were sinners lost from God.
They were driven from God's presence, for a holy God cannot condone sin. Their sin had separated them and their God. Furthermore, their bodies became subject to the ills and pains of life. It should be noted that while God hates sin, He loves the sinner. Even in Eden, before He pronounced judgment upon man, He threw out the promise of redemption (Gen. 3:15). Therefore, this verse is called the Gospel before the Gospel; it foreshadows the Redeemer.
The story of Adam and Eve is the history of the human race, because all their posterity inherit the same tendency toward sin. "And as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation."
Dignity of human personality
Despite the fact of man's sordid record, he still remains the crown of God's creation. Even as a sinner, he is the object of God's eternal love as seen in the fact that Christ died to save him (Romans 5:8). It follows naturally, therefore, that man is of infinite worth in God's sight. "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). For this reason, "every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love."