The Study of Man


4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?

And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?

5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,

And dost crown him with glory and majesty!

6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;

Thou hast put all things under his feet,

7 All sheep and oxen,

And also the beasts of the field,

8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:4-8).


What is man?  The Psalmist asks this as a rhetorical question.  It expects no actual answer.  What is man?  Is he worthy of God’s consideration?  No.  The only reason that God considers man is because of God’s own mercy and grace.


We can imagine that David wrote this Psalm one evening as he looked out into the silver starlight over Jerusalem.  He sees the splendor of the heavens and he bursts forth in song.  As David looks at the awesome works of the Lord, he asks why would such a God ever bother with mankind.


Go out and look at an anthill.  Those ants are so much smaller and so much more insignificant than you are.  The gap between God and man is infinitely greater than that which is between you and those ants.  And yet, God has not only bothered with man, but He has crowned him with glory and honor and has appointed him over the creation and has put all things in subjection under his feet.


Mankind today is going through an identity crisis.  He is seeking to find out who and what he is.  He is looking for meaning to his life.  He is searching for some basis of self-worth.  He has not been able to find the answer to this quest in modern science.  Modern science told he that he is merely a chance happening, a random collection of genetic mistakes.  This left him without any basis for self worth.


Postmodernism came along and rejected the conclusions of modernism, but has nothing with which to replace it.  Man has been left to try to re-invent himself, knowing that such re-invention is too shallow a foundation upon which to find his needed self worth.


The only real answer to man’s identity crisis is found in the Word of God.  By looking into the Scriptures, I can learn who I am and what I am.  It is here that I can find that I have worth.  God has declared that I have infinite worth, since He paid an infinite price for me when He sent His Son to die in my place.


It is a common phenomena that the way we think about ourselves is not based upon how we see ourselves, but upon how we think that others think of us.  The Christian is to have a different perspective.  He is to see himself based upon how God thinks of him.  God has said that you are valuable.  He has placed infinite value upon you.  You were made in His image and after His likeness.  You can know who you are and what you are.


Man has been given an exalted in creation.  That position will one day be exalted even higher.  The writer to the Hebrews says that man is only a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7).  That is quite high.  That is higher than anything else in creation.  But this lower status is not permanent.  It is only for a “little while.”  There is coming a day when man will be equal to the angels.  Jesus said that those who attain to the resurrection of the dead will be like the angels (Luke 20:34-36).





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


The creation of man was the crowning of God’s creation.  It serves as the climax of the creation account.  That account describes the origins of light, of dry land, of birds and fish and animals.  Each of those creative acts were introduced with similar language:


Let there be light...

Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters...

Let the earth sprout vegetation...

Let the earth bring forth living creatures...


Now we find something different.  It is a new formula.  It breaks the mold of the previous descriptions of God’s workings and brings our attention to a new endeavor.


Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...


There is a special care and concern taken in the creation of man.  It is seen in the use of the plural: Let US make man.  Some have seen this as an early indication of the Trinity.  Others see it as a use of the plural of majesty.  In either case, it reflects a special care and concern in God’s deliberations as God prepares to create that which is special.


1.         In the Image and Likeness of God.


There is, on the one hand, a sense in which man is like the rest of creation.  He is a creature along with all the rest of the creatures.  He was created along with the rest of creation.






Birds and Fish


Heavens and Earth


There is a barrier between God and the rest of His creation.  God is set apart from His creation in the sense that He is “other” than His creation.  He is unique.  He alone had no beginning.  He alone is infinite.  At the same time, there is another sense in which man is joined to God and set apart from the rest of creation.






Birds and Fish


Heavens and Earth


Wayne Grudem points out that “when the Creator of the universe wanted to create something ‘in His image,’ something more like himself than all the rest of creation, He made us.  This realization will give us a profound sense of dignity and significance as we reflect on the excellence of all the rest of God’s creation: the starry universe, the abundant earth, the world of plants and animals, and the angelic kingdoms are remarkable, even magnificent.  But we are more like our Creator than any of those things” (1994:449).

Man has been created in the image of God.  That fact sets him apart from the rest of creation.  He is not just an advanced animal.  He is distinct in sharing the image and the likeness of his Creator.


2.         Ramifications of Man’s Image and Likeness.


When we speak of man being in the “image and likeness” of God, this presents a problem.  God is invisible.  He has no outward image or likeness.  How then can man be said to be made in the image and likeness of God?  Theologians have suggested a number of ways.


a.         Dominion.


This is suggested in the context of Genesis 1.  Following the mention of man being made in the image and likeness of God, the writer goes on to speak in the very next verse of the dominion that man is to have over the rest of creation.


            And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28).


Man is in God’s place, the place of rulership, with respect to the rest of life on this planet.  He is the divine representative on planet earth.  He has been given the position of federal headship over the earth.  It is because of this that man’s fall was able to impact all of the rest of creation.  When man fell into sin, the rest of creation followed suit because it was under man’s dominion.


b.         Self consciousness.


Man is aware of his own existence and is able to think and to meditate upon who and what he is.


c.         Moral reason.


Man feels that he ought to do what is right.  He has been given a conscience that urges him to do what is right and to refrain from doing that which is wrong.  That does not mean the conscience always gives the correct answer to what is right or wrong.  The Bible tells us that the conscience can be seared (1 Timothy 4:2).  It can be so hardened that it becomes insensitive to that to which it was once sensitive.


d.         Intellect and Creativity.


Man has a much greater mental and intellectual capacity than is found in animals.  Though animals often have keener eyesight, greater strength, faster reflexes, and a hardier stamina, it is at the point of his intellect and creativity that man is seen to be superior.


e.         Free volition.


Man has volitional capabilities and is able to make decisions.  That does not mean he is able to exercise that volition apart from his nature, but he does make decisions within the realm allowed by the bounds of his nature.


Such a statement does not discount or diminish the sovereignty of God.  Man’s free will operates within the framework of God’s plan and purposes.  Man’s will flows through the channels laid by the sovereignty of God.  The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. (Proverbs 21:1).


f.          Spiritual capacity.


It has been said that man is the only religious animal.  This is one of the things that sets man apart from the rest of creation.  No animal has ever been seen building an altar or praying to God.  It is true that this spiritual capacity to communicate with God has often been distorted by sin.  Men have turned away from the one true God to worship idols of wood and stone.  Yet even in this, man demonstrates his spiritual capacity, for there is within the unbeliever a God-shaped vacuum that he tries to fill with various religious systems and idolatries.  Man is a worshiping creature.  He always worships something.


Man continues to be in the image of God today, although that image has been tarnished and diminished by sin.


At Creation

Man made in the image and likeness of God

At the Fall

God’s image in man distorted, but not lost

At Regeneration

Man enters into a progressive recovering of more and more of God’s image

At Christ’s Return

Redeemed man will be completely restored to God’s image.


It is due to our understanding of man being in the image of God that we have a basis for seeing others with worth and dignity.  Because we are in the image of God, we can say that...


           Racism is wrong because we are all descended from the same parents who were made in the image of God.

           Abortion and euthanasia involve taking the life of that which is in the image of God.

           Civil rights are based on the idea that all men are created in the same image.  Genesis 9:6 is specific to link the reason that murder is wrong is because murder involves the slaying of one who is made in the image of God.


The evolutionist has no basis for seeing racism as wrong since a particular race or people might be seen as having a higher position up the evolutionary scale.  He has no basis for seeing value in the unborn or in the aged because he holds instead to the survival of the fittest and they do not qualify.  He has no basis for supporting civil rights for all people because not all people are equal.


3.         The Man’s Body and Soul:  Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7).

The Hebrew actually speaks of God breathing into his nostrils the “breath of lives.”  But we should not read too much into this plural usage.  It is a Hebrew colloquialism to speak of life in the plural.

Some have tried to take from this plurality that man was made as a trichotomy: a body, a soul and a spirit.  But a careful study of these terms shows that the Scriptures do not always make a distinction between soul and spirit.


Man’s body was formed of dust from the ground.  This is a play on words.  Ha-Adam was formed of dust from Ha-Adamah.  Man’s very name is taken from the source from which his body is created.  Yet the creation of man’s physical frame was not the sum of his existence.  He is more than a biological entity.  There is something special about His substance, for the Lord Himself is seen inbreathing life into him.


There is a sense in which we were all once like Adam before he received this breath of life.  We were all once spiritually lifeless.  We were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).  We could do nothing to make ourselves alive.  It took a creative act of God to bring spiritual life into us.


The fact that the body was created by God underscores the fact that the body is intrinsically good.  This stands in contrast to Greek thought that said the spirit is good while the body is bad.


Yet the creation of man’s physical frame was not the sum of his existence.  He is more than a biological entity.  The Lord then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being, literally, “He became a SOUL.”


The soul speaks of that inner part of a man.  It is your life force.  It is who you are apart from your physical body.


James tells us that the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26).  Likewise the Preacher speaks of how a man dies and then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  Speaking from the vantage of one who looks at life “under the sun,” he elsewhere says that the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).  Thus for physical life to be present, it seems evident that there must be both soul and spirit.


In view of all that the Bible says concerning the spiritual life, one is tempted to maintain that the spirit is somehow created and/or enlivened by the process of regeneration.  However both James 2:26 and Ecclesiastes 12:7 describe the human spirit as being a functioning part of mankind in general and not merely on behalf of the regenerate man.  When Moses wished to speak of all of the human life that died in the flood, he described it as all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life (Genesis 7:22).


4.         Man’s Rulership:  And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28).


We have already noted that man was given dominion and rulership over the world.  This was a delegated position as he was called to rule the earth on behalf of God by virtue of the fact that he was made in the image and likeness of God.


That likeness was distorted by man’s fall into sin.  When man sinned, he gave up his right to rule over creation.  The created was cursed on his behalf.  Animals became wild and would threaten him.  Thorns and thistles rose up against him.  The plant kingdom would no longer serve him and he must labor over crops in order to eat their produce.  To this day, the creation groans and travails over the effects of the curse.


            For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:22).


But there is hope.  The same Christ who died for us to redeem us from sin will also one day redeem the world from the effects of the curse.


            19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21).


Just as man was enslaved to sin, so also the entire creation today suffers under the effects of sin.  In the same way that we have been delivered from the bondage of sin, so also the creation looks forward to a coming deliverance.


5.         Man’s Sexuality:  And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).


Genesis 1 describes the creation of both the male and the female.  The term “man” in this passage is therefore to be treated as gender neutral.  Man was both male and female.  The details of the forming of separate genders is set forth in the second chapter of Genesis.


            Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18).


The woman is designed to be a “helper suitable.”  Of special interest to us is this term “helper.”  'Izer is the noun form of the Hebrew verb 'Azar, “to help.”  The noun is used most often in the Old Testament, not to describe the role of the woman, but rather to describe God Himself in His helping us (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7; 33:26; 33:29).


This helps us to understand that woman was not created to be a mere underling (we would never think of defining God that way), but rather as one who standing beside and works together with him.  It was not until later, as a result of the fall, that sin brought about a change which has been reflected all throughout history.


It should be remembered that there was not a separate word in the Hebrew (or in the Koine Greek) for husband and wife.  Normally when you see the word "husband" in the Hebrew, it is either ISH ("man") or BA'AL ("lord" is the same term used of the false god of the Canaanites).  By the same token, when you see the word "wife" in the Old Testament, it is nearly always the Hebrew word ISHA (female of ISH) and can be translated simply as "woman."  The context makes it clear that ALL women are not designed to be helpers standing with ALL men, but rather that this is descriptive of a special husband and wife relationship.  The foundation for this relationship is described in this chapter.


            For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).


There are three verbs used in this verse.  They describe the action involved in the making of a marriage.



There is to be the breaking off from the old family as the two people come together to begin their new family.




The couple is now to be glued together.  There is a releasing from the first relationship so that there can be holding to this new relationship.  This is the ordinance of marriage.


Every once in a while, I come across someone who has the idea that marriage is what takes place in sex.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Marriage involves a commitment.  It involves the joining of two people so that they become a single entity.


           Become one flesh.


The joining together of a husband and wife is physically manifested in their sexual union.  This was designed to bring them into a physical intimacy that is to mirror their emotional and spiritual intimacy.  Both marriage and sex were instituted by God before sin entered the world.  The perfect environment of the Garden of Eden included sex and marriage.


Reproduction is not mentioned in this chapter.  Genesis 1 relates the command to multiply and fill the earth, but no such injunction is repeated here.  This implication is that the sexual union is to be more than a mere means of procreation.  It was designed to consummate and to bond a marriage.


Marriage involves a separation from the previous son/daughter relationships and a binding together of the two marriage partners in a new relationship.  This is a COMMITMENT.  It involves a joining of two people so that they become a single entity.  This is physically illustrated in the sexual union, but it does not end there.  It extends to every area of life.  You are no longer two separate people.  You are now a single entity.


This is not an easy process.  When two people who have totally diverse backgrounds get together and try to become one, there is going to be friction.  It will be like two porcupines who try to snuggle up together to keep warm.  There will invariably be sticking points.  This takes place because you each have been brought up with a different set of customs, a different set of values, and a different set of ideas.


I’ve heard couples comment, “Those things won’t matter because we are so much in love.”  Then, three weeks into the marriage, that loving wife tells you to take out the garbage and you answer, “I’m not supposed to take out the garbage.  After all, my father never took out the garbage.”


Do you see the problem?  It is that you were each raised under a different set of house rules.  Many of those house rules were unspoken.  They were simply understood.  But that new marriage partner is unfamiliar to the new mate’s house rules.  It takes some time for a new couple to adjust and to redevelop their own house rules.


That is why in-laws can be such a problem.  When a young couple go to visit the parents, the child of those parents knows and understands all of the unspoken house rules.  But the partner of that child is in unfamiliar territory.  It is like trying to graft a lemon onto an apple tree.  There is friction and that friction can turn into trouble.


The joining of two people into one is meant to be permanent.  It is “till death do you part.”  I believe marriage in the church today would be transformed if each couple going into marriage accepted the presupposition that there is no way out.  If there is no way out, then you will have to solve any relational problems that arise.  The moment you consider divorce as a fire escape, it will not be long before you are moving in that direction.





When you look at man today, he is abnormal.  He is abnormal because he is not the way he was created to be.  On the one hand, there is a nobility about him.  He sometimes reflects the greatness of the image and likeness of God.  On the other hand, there is a cruel part of man.  This part of man did not belong to man from the beginning.  There is a part of man that is evil and which fills him with guilt and shame.


The Biblical account of man’s transition from righteousness to sin is found in Genesis 3.  Genesis 2 closes with the man and the woman in the garden.  At the beginning of chapter 3, we are introduced to a new character.  It is the serpent.


1.         The Temptation.


            Now the serpent was more crafty than any east of the field which the Lord God had made.  And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

            And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’”

            And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die!  5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5).


Rabbinic legend has it that the serpent originally walked erect and that it was not until God’s curse on this animal in Genesis 3:14 that it was reduced to moving upon its belly.  There is nothing in the Bible to specifically state such a position and therefore such an interpretation is reduced to mere speculation.  The significant actor here is not the snake, but the true power behind the snake—that old serpent, the devil.


Satan often works through intermediate agencies.  He uses fallen angels.  We refer to them as demons.  He also uses human agents, either through possession or merely through indirect manipulation.  In this case, it seems logical to assume that he utilized an animal.  Such an example of the manipulation of animals was seen in Matthew 8:28-32 when Jesus can demons out of two men and permitted them to enter into a herd of pigs.


In this case, Satan was careful to appear in a form that would not arouse terror or revulsion in the woman.  He came in the guise of a beast of the field.  There is a lesson here.  It is that Satan does not go around with a red suit and a pitchfork.  He is a counterfeiter and a deceiver.  He dresses in the clothes of the clergy and he speaks religious words, making his lies attractive.


His tactics, as demonstrated in this passage, involved suggesting was seemed to be a harmless gratification of a natural desire.  He does not present himself as an enemy of God, but only as a neutral bystander who is somehow surprised by what he presents as God’s unreasonable demand.  He works to place God on trial in the mind of the woman.  She will be asked to pass judgment upon the actions of God.


People do the same thing today when they ask, “How could a loving God pass judgment upon people?”  When they ask such a question, they are following in the footsteps of Satan as he denies God’s promise of judgment.  The idea that there is no future judgment comes from Satan himself.


2.         The Sin.


            When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6).


The Lord had given some very specific instructions regarding their behavior in the Garden.  There was a great deal of liberty regarding their actions with only a single prohibition given.


            And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).


This condition gave man the freedom to choose for God or against God.  He could obey and live or he could disobey and die.  There are several things which we ought to note from this temptation.


a.         First of all, notice that the temptation came from an outside source.


There was nothing within them to tempt themselves.  Allow me to let you in on a secret.  I don’t need an outside source to tempt me to sin.  And neither do you.  I have something within me that like sin - that finds sin fun.  It isn’t that the “devil made me do it.”  It is that I WANTED to do it.


We call this a sin nature.  It is an orientation to sin.  But Adam and Eve were not created in this way.  They had no orientation to sin.  They had the ability to choose not to sin.  And so, their choice to sin was all the more despicable.


b.         The temptation began by questioning and misdirection:  And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

The serpent plays the role of a neutral bystander who is shocked by the limitation God has placed upon His creatures.  He is placing God on trial.  The same argument is used when the unbeliever asks, “How could a loving God pass judgment upon His people?”


The serpent did not begin the conversation with an immediate denial of what God had said.  Instead, he merely posed the question of what God had said.  He did this by means of a deliberate misquote of the words of God.  He asked, “Is it true that God will not let you eat from ANY of the trees of the garden?”  The question is designed to make the woman focus upon that particular tree that was forbidden.


Satan’s tactics have not changed.  He continues to draw your attention to that which is forbidden.  In so doing, he draws your attention away from that which God has given you.


c.         The temptation proceeded with a misunderstanding of the danger:  And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” (3:3-4).


In repeating the prohibition, the woman says that they are not permitted either to eat or even to touch the forbidden fruit.  Yet when the prohibition is initially given in Generis 2:16-17, there is no mention of a prohibition against touching the fruit.  It is only eating the fruit that is forbidden.


This may reflect a misunderstanding on the part of the woman.  She may have thought there was something physically poisonous about the fruit.  This created a conflict in her mind when she looked at the tree and it looked good.


d.         The woman looked at the tree and it looked good -- she saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise (3:6).


If you let your life be driven by what looks good, you will doom your life to an existence of sin and misery.  We are never called to follow that which looks good.  We are called to follow that which IS good.


There are three areas of impact that are mentioned in light of this temptation.  These three areas correspond to three types of temptation outline in 1 John 2:16.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16).


The tree was...




for food

to the eyes

to make one wise

The lust of the flesh

The lust of the eyes

The boastful pride of life


Temptation is like that.  It does not just manifest itself in one form.  Its attractions are often multifaceted.


It is almost as though it were an afterthought that the text adds that she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  We are not given any further details as to his involvement in the temptation, though it is striking that her husband was with her and that this may have also been true throughout the temptations.  Some have speculated that Adam’s sin was deliberate while Eve’s was the result of her temptation.  The words of Paul are used to give evidence to such an idea.


            And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14).


Paul’s words are evidently citing the temptation and fall.  When he points out that it was not Adam who was deceived, he is citing the woman as the object of the original temptation.  It is an unwarranted assumption to conclude that Adam’s involvement in the transgression was beyond that of a passive participant in following the example of his wife.





A surface reading of the passage seems to indicate that the Serpent initially told the truth.  Their eyes WERE opened.   They DID come to and experiential understanding of good and evil.  And most importantly, they didn’t die!  Or did they?


If we may read between the lines, then let me suggest that a death DID take place on that day.  It was a spiritual death.  Their ability to freely communicate with God was disrupted.  This is seen in their reaction to the presence of God.


            And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8).


Have you ever walked into a room and turned on the lights and seen a big cockroach?  What does it do?  It scurries out of the light.  It hates the light.  It tries to hide from the light.  Adam and Eve tried to do the same thing.


            And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil.

            For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19-20).


It’s easy to be dirty in the dark.  It doesn’t show.  But put a bright light on dirt and everyone can see it.  So it is with sin.  Sin doesn’t look so bad when you get away from the presence of the Lord.  But when HE comes, sin looks awful.  That is why pagans don’t like to be around Christians.  It makes them feel strangely uncomfortable.


Furthermore, there was also the beginnings of a physical death that would eventually come upon the human race as a result of Adam’s sin.  They did not die immediately, but their eventual death and decay was no less certain.


Finally, the human race would stand in danger of eternal death.  Hell was not created for man.  It was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  But when man became a follower of Satan in his rebellion against God, hell became man’s ultimate destination.


We therefore can conclude that a number of things happened to Adam and Eve upon the eating of the forbidden fruit.  Three deaths took place.


1.         Spiritual Death.


In describing the pre‑regeneration experiences of the Ephesians, Paul says, You were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).  He goes on to say that there came a time when God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4‑5).  Colossians 2:13 speaks similarly of when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.


This is why a new birth is necessary.  Sin brings about a spiritual death and the solution is a spiritual rebirth.


2.         Physical Death.


The bodies of Adam and Eve began a process that would one day culminate in physical death.  They did not die immediately, but their eventual physical death was now a certainty.  This same curse of death was passed on to all of creation.


It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  This is evidently a reference to physical death.


3.         Eternal Death.


Adam and Eve and all of their descendants became subject to the final judgment and to the resulting eternal death.  Matthew 25:41 speaks of this eternal death as having been created for the devil and his angels.  As mankind has become a follower of Satan in his rebellion against God, so Satan’s destiny has become man’s destiny.


On four separate occasions the book of Revelation speaks of the "Second Death."  This is defined in 21:8 as that time when all sinners are placed into the Lake of Fire.  The righteous, on the other hand, are said to be unaffected by the second death (2:11; 20:6).


4.         The Federal Effects of Sin:  Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

Having followed his wife into sin, Adam now became a sinful being, different than the way in which he had been created.  Following God’s natural laws, Adam’s offspring would be “after his kind,” having a sinful nature and spiritually dead from birth.


When Adam sinned, there was a sense in which all men are said to have sinned.  He was acting as the official representative of the human race.  Adam’s sin was credited to all of his descendants.  It did not matter that you had not yet been born.  It did not matter that you had not yet been given to opportunity to sin.  Adam sinned in your place.


When Congress declared war on Japan in December 1941, most Americans did not have any say in the matter.  They had taken no active part in that decision.  This made no difference.  The United States and all of its citizens were now at war with Japan.  By the same token, when Adam sinned, he acted as the representative of the entire human race and officially declared war against God. 


Notice that sin did not come by "one woman."  The woman was not the head of the human race.  Man was responsible, even though it was the woman who first sinned.  Why?  Because man was the woman's head.  The fact that he stood back and took a passive role in her temptation does not change his headship.  What does Paul mean when he says that “all sinned”?  He does not mean that all sinned individually.  He means that all sinned in Adam.


            For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law. (Romans 5:13).


Paul has already demonstrated that sin and death always go together (Romans 3:23).  Wherever you see one, you will also see the other.  Satan always tries to divide them.  “You shall not surely die.”  And the world has always believed this lie.  You cannot sin with impunity.  If you sin, you will soon smell the odor of death.


Here he brings up another point.  It is that sin existed without law even though, by strict definition, there is no sin without law.  The syllogism goes like this:


Major Premise

Sin is imputed to the one who breaks God's Law.

Minor Premise

There was a time when sin was in the world but when the Law had not been given.


Sin was imputed some other way besides the breaking of God's Law - IE, through the sin of Adam.


It is impossible to sin when there are no commands to sin against.  It is impossible to break the speed limit when there is no speed limit.  Yet prior to the law, “sin was in the world.”  How do we know that sin was in the world?  Because death reigned.  Those long genealogies in Genesis over which we normally skip contain a continuing refrain with each name mentioned: “And he died.”


Adam sinned and death entered.  The result was that "all sinned."


Death reigned  


The Law was given to Moses at Mount Sinai.


Verses 13-14 prove the doctrine of imputation of sin presented in verse 12.

Sin is not imputed where there is no law (Romans 5:13c).  You cannot disobey God's law unless He has given a law.  Anyone living after Adam but before Moses could not break any of God's laws because God had not given any laws.  On the other hand, people continued to die during the period between Adam and Moses.


However, the penalty of death was not inflicted upon men because of their transgression of the Law.  Therefore, the reason that death reigned from Adam to Moses was because of Adam's sin.


            Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14).


If sin always is accompanied by death, then how could death reign in the period from Adam to Moses if sin had not been legally imputed?  It is because Adam’s sin WAS imputed.


We often ask, “What about the man in Africa who has never heard of God’s law?”  Paul goes one better by asking, “What about the man who lived before the Law where NO ONE had heard of God's law?”  The answer is found in the imputation of Adam’s sin.  Adam’s sin was imputed to all of his descendants, even though they had not sinned in the same way that Adam had sinned.


In this way. Adam was a type of Christ (“a type of Him who was to come” - 5:14).  Adam was a type of Christ in this respect — that he served as a federal head of many.  He sinned.  His actions were imputed to others.


Christ also served as the federal head of many.  He performed a single act - dying upon the cross.  Like Adam, the actions of Christ actions were imputed to others.  Just as all are said to have sinned in Adam, in the eyes of the law, all who were identified with Christ were crucified with Him.





Since the fall, unregenerate man has been characterized by a quality of sinfulness.  The Westminster Confession defines sin as “any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.”  This definition is taken from the pages of John’s first epistle.


            Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4).


            All unrighteousness is sin... (1 John 5:17a).


In addressing those who had rejected Him, Jesus spoke of the nature of the one who follows in the footsteps of Satan.


            You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. (John 8:44).


The word “nature” is supplied by the translators, yet the idea is present as it tells us that the devil speaks from what he is.  He is a liar and a liar tells lies.  That is what makes him a liar.  In much the same way, we can say that sinners sin because they are sinners.  It is who they are.  It is a part of their nature to sin.


1.         Sin is a continuing choice.


Though this sin has been both imputed and inherited, it is also the result of man’s continuing choice.  Man continues to be in a state of ongoing rebellion against God.


            For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).


Paul’s language is set in the most general terms.  He takes us to a vantage point from which we can look at unregenerate man as a whole.  It is not that unregenerate man has no knowledge of what is true.  God has revealed truth to him.  It is that he makes a decision to suppress that truth and to replace it with a lie of his own making.


This brings up an interesting point.  It is that no one can stop believing.  There is something within you that demands you believe in something.  You cannot help yourself.  You are a believing creature.  If you do not believe in God, then you will necessarily turn to believe in something else.


            21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four‑footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:21-23).


When unregenerate man worships, he does not do it to get to the true God, but to move away from Him.  Marx said that religion is the opium of the people, but the truth is that religion is an attempt to escape from God by constructing a substitute.  Unregenerate man wants to worship a god of his own making.


2.         Sin has an absolute character.


There is no neutral condition between good and evil, although there are degrees of both.  You cannot remain neutral either to God or to sin.  You are always on one side or the other.


            He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Matthew 12:30).


You are never in neutral.  You are either moving toward the Lord or you are moving away from Him.  You are either on His side or you are against Him.


The myth of philosophic neutrality says that man is able to look at God objectively and is able to make a decision about God merely by weighing the evidence for or against his existence.  The truth is that no one is neutral when it comes to God.  You are either for Him or you are against Him.  Jesus said this in very straightforward terms.


            He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Matthew 12:30).


The corollary to this principle is that its opposite is also true.  Jesus went on to say on another instance, “He who is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).  The point is that it is impossible to be neutral to the Lord.  You are either on His side or you are against Him.  You are either unregenerate or you are regenerate.  You are either born again or you are still in your sins.


3.         Sin is not limited to overt acts.


The Pharisees seem to have adopted the idea that sin only involved overt and outward actions.


            You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28).


The law of God forbids men and women to engage in sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage.  Jesus teaches us that this law does far more than to merely forbid outward actions.  It also teaches an inward attitude.


The Pharisees taught that you should not commit adultery, but it was assumed that anything short of adultery was permissible.  Such a stance ignores the commandment which says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17).  The law against coveting speaks against the corresponding inner attitudes pertaining to all of the other commandments.


The standard given by Jesus goes far beyond that which was held by the scribes and the Pharisees.  They were concerned with outward appearances.  They said, “Look, but don’t touch.”  Jesus said, “Don’t even look.”  He is saying that God is not only concerned with what you do but also with what you THINK.   This is not a new teaching.


If I regard wickedness in my heart,

The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).


Does this mean if you see a pretty girl and find her attractive, that you have sinned?  Does it mean that if you find yourself suddenly tempted with an impure thought that you are in sin?  I do not think so.  Rather, it is when you take that impure thought and begin to entertain it that you move from natural desires to sin.


4.         The Transmission of Sin.


Man was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  We have defined that in the context of Genesis to speak of his rulership over the creation, though these are likely many other points of similarity.  When Adam fell into sin, that image was tarnished and infected with the disease of sin.  Adam’s descendants were not born in the image of God, but in Adam’s fallen image.


            When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3).


Adam’s sinful state was passed on to all of his descendants so that all men find themselves in a sinful state.  Man continues to be in the image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9), but that is today a tarnished image in that God is without sin while man is a sinner.


5.         The Universality of Sin.


The Scriptures uniformly teach that all of mankind is in a state of sin.  All have sinned and all continue to sin.


2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men,

To see if there are any who understand,

Who seek after God.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

There is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3).


Who can say, "I have cleansed my heart,

I am pure from my sin "? (Proverbs 20:9).


Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20).


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).


The parallel passages in 1 John 1:8 and 10 are particularly compelling as they speak both to our present condition as well as our past condition.


1 John 1:8

1 John 1:10

If we say that we have no sin...

If we say that we have not sinned...

...we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

...we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.


Each of these passages bears testimony of man’s fallen condition.  We have all sinned and fallen short of that which is commanded us by our Creator.  We are sinners BOTH because we sin and also because it is our nature to sin.


            And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3).


Notice the part of this description that describes the state of the unbeliever as being “by nature” a child of wrath.  The story is told of a man living in India who was trapped by a flood.  He made his way to some high ground and found that a tiger had also come to this small refuge.  The tiger was completely docile in the face of the floor, yet the man took his gun and shot the tiger.  Why?  Because he knew that after a day or so the tiger would become hungry and that he would become a threat.  The tiger is a hunter and a meat eater.  It is a part of his nature.  So it is with the unregenerate man.  He is by nature a child of wrath and a sinner.


6.         The Extent of Sin.


It has become customary to speak in theological circles of “total depravity.”  What does this term imply?


It does NOT mean...

It DOES mean...

• That every man is as bad as he can be.

• That the sinner has no knowledge of God.

• That the sinner has no conscience that can discriminate between good and evil.

• That man is no longer in the image of God.

• That every part of man has been affected and infected by sin.

• That the sinner has no spiritual good within himself that makes him deserving of God’s mercy.


Total depravity means that you are a total sinner, but it does not mean that you sin totally.  When we speak of total depravity, we should also speak of man’s total inability.  By this, we mean that man in his own strength is unable to fulfill the demands of God’s law.  Indeed, he is unable even to appropriate the things of the Lord.


            But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14).


Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, the unbeliever does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.  He looks at the things of the Spirit of God and wants no part of them because he deems them to be foolishness.  It is only when the Spirit has come and done a regenerating work within him that he will begin to accept the things of the Spirit of God.


Paul describes the unregenerate man when he speaks to the Ephesians about their former lifestyle prior to coming to Christ.


            And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3).


Notice the elements of this description.  It speaks to your former condition, your former manner of life, and your former family connection.


           Spiritually dead:  You were dead in your trespasses and sins (2:1).


           Walking in sin:  You formerly walked according to the course of this world (2:2).


           By nature children of wrath: We... were by nature children of wrath (2:3).


A pig acts like a pig because he is a pig by nature.  It is a part of his makeup and nature to act in such a way.  You can dress him up and give him sheep lessons, but the pig nature will eventually emerge.


7.         Benefits of Understanding Total Depravity.


There are good and sufficient reasons why the doctrine of total depravity is presented in the Bible and why we ought to be aware of this teaching.


           It will stop you from unjustly judging others.  We are warned against judging until we have first judged ourselves (Matthew 7:5).  That does not mean you cannot discern the sin in someone else and it does not disallow church discipline to take place, but it means that we enter into such activities with a sense of our own failings.


A wrong view of the disease will always bring with it a wrong view of the remedy.

           It will clear up any false teachings regarding your own works for salvation.  We ARE saved by works; but it is not our own works of righteousness, but those done by Jesus Christ and imputed to us through faith.


           It will help you to understand yourself.  God, in His grace, only lets you see the tip of the iceberg of the sin in your own heart.  As you grow in Christ, He sometimes allows you to see just a little more.  Such self revelations are designed to drive you to the cross.





The Scriptures portray two kinds of men.  There are those who are saved and those who are unsaved.  There are those who are spiritually alive and those who are spiritually dead.  All of mankind was plunged into spiritual death through the fall of Adam.  If man is to have life, it must be through the process of regeneration.


What is Regeneration?  It is that process whereby God, operating through His Holy Spirit, makes the believer alive and renewed unto Himself.


1.         From Death to Life.


            And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

            Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3).


This passage begins with our past condition.  It was one of death.  There was a time when we were all spiritually dead.  The sphere of our death was in our trespasses and sins.  No matter what our nationality, our religious or cultural background, we all share in this common heritage.  We were all dead in our sins.  We were helpless.  A dead person cannot help himself.  A dead person can do nothing for himself.  There is no question of a dead person being able to help himself.  All the preaching in the world will not save him or move him to action.  He is dead.


When was the last time you saw a revival meeting in a graveyard?  A corpse cannot respond to injunctions to change his life.  He cannot do anything.  He is dead.  If you are going to do anything at all with a dead person, you must raise him from the dead.  He needs a new life.  He needs a resurrection.  The turning point of this hopeless situation comes in verse 4 with the words, “But God...”


            But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).


This section is introduced with the conjunction, “BUT.”  We were dead, BUT God made us alive.  We were disobedient in following after the world and the devil, BUT God raised us out of the world and out of the domain of the devil.  We were depraved, BUT God seated us with Christ and gave us a new nature.  We were doomed, BUT God showed us the surpassing riches of His grace.


The contrast shows how we were apart from Christ versus what God did to being us to life in Christ.  You have seen those “before” and “after” advertisements that are shown on television.  This is a similar showing.  It portrays a “before” and “after” we came to Christ:


The Way We Were

What God Did




Were dead in your trespasses and sins








Made us alive together with Christ


according to the course of this world

according to the prince / the spirit

Raised us up with Him

Formerly lived in the lust of our flesh

Seated us with Him


With this simple conjunction (de), we are transported from death to life - from the darkness of the grave to the light of everlasting life.


a.         He made us alive:  Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5a).


We have been reborn into God’s family.  Just as a baby is unable to give birth to itself, so we had nothing to do with causing our own birth.  It was given to us, not by our own will, but in accordance with the will of God.


            12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13).


We have been born into a new life.  We have a new relationship with God and a new position in Christ.  There is a wonderful newness in the life of the Christian.


b.         He raised us up with Him:  And raised us up with Him... (Ephesians 2:6).


We have already been resurrected in the mind of God.  Just as Jesus rose from the dead, we are also considered and reckoned to have risen from the dead.  We have been identified with Christ and that means we share all that belongs to Him.  We are reckoned to have been raised up with Him.


c.         He seated us with Him:  And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).


What does it mean to be seated?  It means that the work is finished.  That the victory is complete.  When a priest went into the temple, the one thing that he never did was to sit down.  He was always standing in the presence of God.  Even when the animal sacrifice had been offered, he still stood.  Because the next day there would have to be another sacrifice offered.  And another.  And another.  It was never-ending.  But Jesus was the final sacrifice.  When He died upon the cross, He said, “It is finished!”


When Jesus ascended into heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Father.  He sits at the side of God.  It is a position of honor and authority.  We hold the same position.  We are reckoned to be seated in heaven with Jesus.  We are co-heirs with Christ.


The utter magnitude of God’s gift to us beings us to an obvious question.  Why?  Why has God acted like this?  Why has God so richly gifted us?  The answer is seen in verse 7:


            So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7).


The purpose of your salvation is everlasting.  It is so that throughout eternity you might be a trophy of God’s grace and His kindness in Christ.  You will be the display of what God has done to deliver a human life from the bondage of sin.


In the second year of the War Between the States, an informer in the prison camp at Palmyra disappeared.  The Commander in charge ordered that 10 men would be shot in reprisal.  One of those men was William T. Humphrey, a husband and father of a number of children.


Hearing that Humphrey was under the sentence of death, a young man named Hiram Smith came forward, explaining that he was unmarried and without a family.  He asked permission to take the place of Humphrey, stating that perhaps it would be better for a single man to die than a man with a family.


I am told that if you go to the cemetery of the Mount Pleasant Church in what used to be the town of Mount Salem, you will find a stone that has been erected with the following inscription:


            “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith.  The hero who sleeps beneath the sod here was shot in Palmyra, October 17, 1862 as a substitute for William T. Humphrey, my father.”


That is what Christ has done for us.  He has become our substitute.  And as a result, we have become an eternal monument to the riches of His mercy and to the overabundance of His grace.


2.         The Death of the Old Man.


            3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4).


The major significance in baptism is IDENTIFICATION.  When you are baptized, you are being identified with the movement or church or religion or system of beliefs held by those into whom you are being baptized.

The same identification truth is seen in this passage.  When we were baptized into Christianity, we were being identified with Jesus Christ and specifically with His death on the cross.  Because He died on the cross, you are declared to have died with Him.  You were condemned to death because of your sins and the sentence of death was carried out against Christ.


You might be inclined to think it might have been better if the sentence of death had merely been forgotten.  But God does not forget.  He is righteous.  His righteous nature demands that the sentence of death be carried out.  It was carried out in Christ.  He died in your place.  When you believed in Him, you were identified with that death.


3.         The Birth of the New Man.


            22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-23).


I have a friend, Bill Iverson, who used to pose the following riddle: “Born once, die twice.  Born twice, die once.”  The answer to the riddle is that the believer has been born twice.  His first birth was a physical birth.  His second birth is a spiritual birth.  The first birth brings a life that will eventually perish.  The second birth brings a life that will never die.


Just as the first birth gives certain characteristics and attributes to the newborn baby, so also the new birth brings certain characteristics and attributes.


a.         The new man is your identity.


Many Christians have been taught that the new man is merely a force or a “new nature” that has come into them and which helps to guide them to do good.  But this is too shallow a view compared to the richness of what the Bible teaches.  The new man is not something that has come into you.  It is what you have become.


            Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).


The believer is not just one who is indwelt by a new creature.  He has actually become a new creature.  We became a creature by the fact that we had a Creator.  We become a new creature in the same way.  There is One who performed a new creation and made new creatures of us.


When you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you were born again into the family of God.  You might not have felt any physical change.  Perhaps you experienced no great emotional release.  Maybe you did not feel any different.  But you became a new person.


b.         The new man is growing.


When you were born physically, you were a complete person.  You probably had all of the usual number of arms and legs, fingers and toes, eyes and ears.  However, this did not mean you were fully grown.


The same is true of the new man.  You have been born again.  You have become a child of God.  You are a new person, complete in your new identity.  But you still need to grow.


            Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16).


Scientists tell us that from the day you were born, your physical body began to die.  It continues this process until it finally goes to the grave.  Your eyesight will dim, your hearing will fade, and your strength will wither.  But you need not lose heart.  The person that you have become is being renewed day by day.


            ...but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).


We are becoming like Jesus Christ.  When we first believed, we became like Him in the same way that a baby is like the old man he will one day become.  Our goal is to grow within the realm of those communicable attributes.


c.         This brings a new responsibility.


Privilege always brings with it responsibility.  If you have been declared by God to be righteous, then you are also to live in a righteous way.  If you are deemed holy by God, then you are to be holy.  If you are a son of God, then your manner of life should be such as befits a son of God.


            22 ...that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24).


You are no longer the old creature.  He has passed away.  He is dead and buried.  You are a new creation and that calls for a new way of living.


The problem is that many Christians continue to wear the rags of their former manner of life.  They continue to indulge in the sinful habits of their old life.  Those things need to be laid aside.  They no longer have a legitimate part of your life.  They do not fit you any longer.  You should not be wearing them.  They are like wearing someone else’s clothes.  You have a whole new set of clothes.  This new set of clothes matches your new mind and your new self.


This is not talking about physical clothes.  It does not mean you have to run around wearing a t-shirt that says, “Holy Spirit” printed on it.  This is not physical clothing.  It speaks of your manner of life.  You need to clothe yourself in a manner of life that is in keeping with the new man that you have now become.


This brings us to a crucial question.  What about the presence of continuing sin in my life?  If I have become a new creature, then why do I continue to sin?  The answer is found in the problem of the flesh.


4.         The Problem of the Flesh.


            But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17).


There is an opposition between that which is “of the flesh” as opposed to the Spirit.  They are by nature in opposition in the same way that the two poles of a magnet are opposed to one another.  The practical result of this in the Christian’s life is that you may not do the things that you please.


            For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. (Romans 7:14-19).


Paul says the problem of the believer is that he is still “of flesh.”  It is this flesh—this presence of sin within the believer—that remains in bondage to sin.  When the old man died, his corpse remained.  Paul is not talking about your physical body, for that would be Greek dualism that says the soul is good and the body is bad.  Instead, Paul is speaking of the presence of sin that continues to make itself known  within you.  This sin is like a foreign invader—a cancer.  Because of this invader, you find yourself doing the very things you know are inconsistent with your new life.  The result is a battle.


            20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. (Romans 7:20-21).


Paul uses his own experience as a Christian to describe the ongoing struggle that is experienced by the Christian as he seeks to follow Christ.  He finds that he now has a new desire in his new relationship with Christ, but that there is still a continuing struggle with sin.


            22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:22-23).


You are involved in a battle.  The battleground is within you.  The enemy is that continuing presence of sin.  Many Christians have become virtual prisoners of war.  But there is still hope, both for the present and for the future.


            For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:4).


This is not to say that the Christian is a schizophrenic.  We are not two separate people.  We are a new person.  We have a new identity and that identity is rooted in Christ.  The Christian is one who has been made a partaker of the divine nature.  This new nature provides both the motivation and the strength for a new way of living.


            9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. (Colossians 3:9-10).


Paul says the reason you are not to lie to one another is because you have a new identity.  You have laid aside the old identity and have put on the new identity.  Furthermore, this new identity is constantly being renewed into the original image of the Creator.


5.         Provisions for the Battle.


We are not left without the necessary provisions and supplies for our battle.  The Lord has provided four sources of strength.


           The Word of God.


Psalm 119:11 says, Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.”  When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He utilized the word of God to defeat those temptations.


           The interceding Christ.


Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus lives to make intercession for us.  Hebrews 8:34 speaks of Christ who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.


           The indwelling Spirit.


John 16:13 says that one of the ministries of the Spirit is to guide us into all truth.  He is our Guide and our Helper.  Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Romans teaches us that the Spirit also helps our weaknesses with regard to prayer.


           The encouraging Church.


Hebrews 10:25 warns us against forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.  By contrast, that verse goes on to charge us with the ministry of encouraging one another.


6.         Victory in the Battle.


We are not left in doubt as to the outcome of this spiritual battle.  The message of the Scriptures is that Jesus wins.


           The victory of the cross:  And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (Colossians 2:13-15).


When Jesus died upon the cross, it looked for all the world as though the powers of Satan had won.  The Son of God nailed spread-eagle on wooden crossbeams.  The enemies of Christ rejoicing and mocking Him.  Thieves on either side of him joining in the taunting.  Even the governor's taunting inscription nailed to the cross, as if to say, “Here is what I think of the concept of a Jewish king!”


Do you remember the inscription?  It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  The Jewish leaders didn't like that and they petitioned Pilate to have it changed, but he would not.  And so, it remained.  It was the custom of that day to post the crimes for which a criminal was being executed on the cross where he hung.  This would serve as a warning to other would-be criminals.  What was the crime of Jesus?  His crime was in being the KING.


This passage tells us there was another inscription posted on the cross that day.  It was an inscription unseen by human eyes.  It was the inscription "consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us."  It was the inscription of our sins.  Don't miss this!  Your sins were nailed to His cross.  This indicates that He died for you.


            Christ died — that's history.

            Christ died for you — that's salvation.


A student was taking a test in college and he wrote on his exam, “Only God could pass this test.”  When he got it back, the professor had written on it, “God gets an A and you get an F.”


Christ took the test and nailed it to His cross.  He passed the test for you.  And then He said, “NO MORE TESTS!”


           The present victory of faith.


1 John 5:4 tells us that whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.


           A continuing assurance of victory.


Philippians 1:6 says that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.


           The ultimate victory.


1 Corinthians 15:54 says that when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.





There are three differing views that are held by scholars as to the essential nature of man.


1.         Trichotomy.


This view states that man is composed of a body, soul, and spirit.  It sees a triune makeup in the being of man.  The soul is seen as the life force of man while the spirit is that part of man that communes with God.




The realm of man’s relationship with other men

The realm of man’s relationship with God


·        Hebrews 4:12 speaks of how the word of God is sharp enough to be able to pierce as far as the division of soul and spirit.

·        In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul gives a closing benediction and says, “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


2.         Dichotomy.


This view sees man as primarily existing in two parts: the material body and the immaterial part that is unseen and unmeasured.  This is not a denial of the soul versus the spirit, but sees these two as aspects of the immaterial part of man.


·        The Scriptures to not clearly delineate between the soul and the spirit of man.  For example, we can read of one’s soul being troubled (Genesis 41:8; Psalm 42:6) as well as of one being troubled in spirit (John 13:21).

·        The terms for both spirit and soul are used of animals:  Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? (Ecclesiastes 3:21).

·        At the time of death, the Bible speaks of both the departure of the soul (Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21) as well as the departure of the spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7; John 19:30).

·        The Bible speaks of both the salvation of the soul (1 Peter 1:9) and also of the saving of the spirit (1 Corinthians 5:5).

·        We regularly read of God’s Spirit, but both the Old and New Testament also make mention of God’s soul.  In the Hebrew of Amos 6:8, God swears “by His soul.”  Isaiah 42:1 describes the delight of God’s soul.  In Jeremiah 9:9 God says His soul will be avenged.  Hebrews 10:38 points out that God’s soul has no pleasure in those who do not believe.


3.         Monism.


This is the secular view that states man is a collective whole with no separate soul or spirit and nothing beyond his physical body.  By contrast to this view, the Scriptures speak of an immaterial part of man that exists apart from his body.





The Bible tells us that Adam became a living soul at the time God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  This explains the origin of Adam’s soul, but it leaves the question of from where do our souls come?  There are two common answers to this question:


1.         Creationism.


This view states that all souls are created by God and thus produced from nothing and without pre-existing materials.


·        Ecclesiastes 12:7 describes physical death as that time when then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.


·        When Adam sees the woman, he says, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” but he does not say, “This is soul of my soul.”


·        In Isaiah 57:16, the Lord speaks of “the breath of those I have made.”


·        Zechariah 12:1 introduces the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him,


·        Hebrews 12:9 refers to God as the Father of our spirits and contrasts Him with the “fathers of our flesh.”


One branch of Creationism states that God created the souls of all men in the beginning.  Those who hold to this view would therefore maintain the pre-existence of all souls since the creation of Adam.


2.         Traducianism.


This view is taken from the Latin and speaks of the propagation (Latin: traducem) of the soul.  This view sees those verses that speak of God giving and forming the spirit of man as being descriptive of God as the Creator through Adam and not necessarily creating each individual soul.  For example, the Scriptures teach that God sends the rain upon the just and the unjust, but most would agree that God does this through secondary causes and would not deny the reality of clouds and weather patterns and evaporation and water vapor and the part they play in the bringing of rain.


·        Just as all animals reproduced after their own kind, so also man is said in the Scriptures to reproduce after his kind.  In Genesis 5:3, Adam bore a son who was in his own image and likeness.


·        God has rested from His work of creation and is not actively creating either bodies or souls.


·        The Hebrew of Genesis 46:26 speaks of “all the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, who came from his loins” (see the KJV which gives a more literal translation).


·        Hebrews 7:9-10 speaks of how Levi was in the loins of Abraham and thus was involved in giving the tithe to Melchizedek.


Indeed, the Scriptures describe not only God’s creating and forming of our souls, but also the creating and forming of our bodies.


13 For Thou didst form my inward parts;

Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14).


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

And before you were born I consecrated you;

I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5).


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