“We believe that man was created innocent and in the image and likeness of God but that he sinned bringing both physical and spiritual death to himself and his posterity. We believe that man has inherited a sinful nature, is alienated from God, and is in need of salvation (Genesis 1:27; 2:17; 3:19; Ephesians 2:1-3).”
What is humanity? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? These are the questions that have challenged the minds of philosophers and theologians for thousands of years. However, they are also questions that are of vital concern to each of us. It doesn’t matter much to me personally that light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second. But my origin, my destiny and my purpose for living are very important to me and to everyone else. Did we just evolve from matter that sprang into existence all by itself, or were we created by a living, powerful God? You may think, “What difference does it make?”
It makes a great deal of difference.
Charles Ryrie: “If man is the product of evolution, then the extent of the effects of sin and the need of a Saviour are played down, if not eliminated. If, on the other hand, man was created by God, then this concept carries with it the companion idea of the responsibility of man. If God created man, then there is Someone outside of man to whom he becomes responsible.... A doctrine of creation implies creatures who are responsible to that Creator. The evolutionary origin of man relieves man of responsibility to a personal Creator outside of himself.”
That is why it’s essential to learn what God’s revelation in the Scriptures tells us about the origin of the universe and of the human race. Genesis 1 and 2 are elegant in their simplicity and clarity.
Read Genesis 1:1.
Read John 1:1-3.
The triune God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--is the Creator of everything that exists, visible and invisible, on the earth, in the earth, in the heavens and in outer space. His power and majesty are revealed in the simple words, God said. This is repeated 10 times in Genesis 1. God spoke the word and it was done. When He had created a beautiful home for them, God created the first people. Genesis 1:26-28, 31:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
God saw all that he had made and it was very good.
This is what gives men and women their value, their significance, their status as the highest species of living creatures.
God created man and woman in His image!
The full image of God is the male and female together.
1. Man and woman were created equal.
A. In nature—persons with intellect, emotions, volition and spirit.
B. In responsibility and accountability
1. Blessing--be fruitful, increase in number
2. Dominion--co-rulers of the earth
C. In value--very good.
2. Man and woman were created different.
Genesis 2 gives us the details of how God created the man and the woman.
Read Genesis 2:7.
Formed is the word used to describe a potter shaping the clay. Notice the personal care of the Creator. Now it was not enough to just say the word. He shaped and formed and breathed life into this first man. He gave him work to do and freedom to enjoy the beautiful garden He had made for his home. But that freedom had one restriction.
Adam, you can have a banquet every day just tasting all the wonderful fruits I’ve made for you. Just don’t eat of that one tree. Why the prohibition? Why did God put the tree there in the first place? Because He wanted creatures who would choose to worship him with their own free will. And worship results in obedience. He could have made us robots. He took a great risk by allowing us the ability to choose. But He did.
Then we read of the only thing that was not good in creation.
Read Genesis 2:18-25.
The man’s aloneness was not good. He needed another person to love, to talk to, to work with, and to rule with. He needed a helper corresponding to him.
Helper means one who brings another to fulfillment. Without the woman, Adam could not reach his full potential. That is, he couldn’t fulfill the command to be fruitful. The word for helper in Hebrew is ezer. Ezer is used 19 times in the Old Testament, with four times being about people helping people. Fifteen times, ezer refers to God as our helper: the superior helping the inferior. It is never used of inferior helping a superior.
But before God gave him the woman he needed, he had Adam name all the animals. As they came before him, what do you think he noticed? They came in pairs, male and female. And when he came to the end of the line, he found no one like himself.
Woman formed from man to be his helper
Now that he saw his need and his helplessness, God provided that person who corresponded to him and yet was different from him. She could be his helper because she was a person like him, a special creation from the hand of God, but different from him so she could complete him.
Notice the personal attention God gave to building a woman from part of the man. (The Hebrew word for rib is translated side in other places in the Old Testament). When God brought her to Adam in that first wedding ceremony, he joyfully welcomed her as one like himself and from his own body. They were one flesh. Each supplied what the other lacked. They were naked with no shame. Do you have any idea what this meant? There was openness, vulnerability, honesty, love, communication flowing freely between this first couple. There were no walls, no fears, no prejudices, no disparagement of the other’s worth or work. Their sexuality was freely enjoyed without any taint of shame or sin. They lived in a state of untested innocence. From the very first, God made it clear that marriage is the relationship that takes priority over even the closest of human relationships and that marriage is to be permanent. This was Eden.
One can’t help but wonder what the world would be like today if when their innocence was tested they passed the test.
Read Genesis 3:1-5.
Why did Satan approach the woman with his temptation? I don’t think it was because she was morally weaker or more prone to sin. Adam was the one who had received from the mouth of God the command forbidding them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve had it secondhand from Adam. Satan knew how influential she was and how much Adam needed her, so Satan spoke to her through the mouth of the serpent. He used a strategy he still uses today and he gets us to fall for it just as he did the woman.
God is not good, because He is not letting you have something you need.
If God were good he would not withhold anything from you. But since he won’t let you eat of this tree, He cannot be good. You should have no restrictions. Restrictions limit you, frustrate you. How can a good God put restrictions on you?
God’s word will not come true. God is a liar.
You won’t surely die. Don’t believe it. God doesn’t want you to be like Him. He’s keeping you from reaching your potential. Go ahead and eat of the tree. See how beautiful it is.
Don’t you find that most of the spiritual problems we have today are caused by these two lies about God?
God is not really good.
God’s Word is not true.
When tragedy strikes--when the unexplainable happens-doesn’t it ever cross your mind to think, “How can a good God permit this?” Or maybe, “Well, God may be good to other people, but he’s not good to me. If He were good to me, He’d give me a husband. Or He’d give us a child. Or He’d make my marriage happy. Or He’d heal me or my husband or child. Or He’d give me a job I could really enjoy. I really don’t believe that God is good.”
What about His Word? Do you believe it’s true? Do you believe that God keeps his promises? If you believe His Word, then it follows that you’ll obey it. That was really all these first people had to do: just believe God’s Word and obey Him--but another voice planted the seeds of doubt and they disobeyed God.
Read Genesis 3:6-7.
Notice how the woman rationalized. It is good for food. It is beautiful to look at. And it will make us wise. What could be the harm in it?
So she ate and gave to her husband who apparently did nothing to stop the conversation.
Something happened immediately. That openness and free flowing love between them was now tainted with guilt and shame. They covered themselves with fig leaves, hiding from each other. The first tangible consequence was the effect on their marriage. But there were worse consequences to come.
Read Genesis 3:8-13.
They hid from God. They were afraid of their loving Creator, the One with whom they had walked in fellowship till this awful day. That loss of relationship with God is spiritual death. God said, “When you eat of the tree, you will surely die.” Spiritual death, separation from God, happened immediately.
But did you notice that God came looking for them? He initiated the search. When he questioned them, Adam blamed his wife and God. Eve said the serpent deceived her and she was right. First Timothy 2:14 says that she was thoroughly deceived. By obeying Satan, these first people had placed themselves under his dominion. Now the far-reaching consequences of their disobedience were pronounced. God told them how the world would be from now on and how the relationship between men and women would change.
Read Genesis 3:14-15.
The serpent was cursed and by implication. Satan, who used his body, was cursed. The serpent would now crawl on his belly.
It’s significant that it was to Satan that God gave the first promise of a Redeemer, one who would defeat Satan.
This Savior would be the offspring of the woman, predicting the virgin birth of Christ. Satan used the woman to introduce sin into the race. God would use the woman to bring salvation. There would be hostility between Satan and the woman which would culminate in Satan striking her offspring’s heel. That was Christ’s death on the cross, but His resurrection conquered death. And by His death and resurrection Christ crushed the serpent’s head. This predicted the final victory over Satan which we read about in Revelation.
Read Genesis 3:16.
Now God told them the way life would be in a fallen world. For the woman, child-bearing would be with great pain. But I think the worst thing was that the wonderful relationship with her husband was changed. Instead of being one of the rulers, she would now be one of those ruled over. The word used here implies harsh domination. We know how true this is. Women have been and are chattel, property, toys, servants and slaves all over the world where Jesus Christ is not known. And even where He is known, the struggle goes on. There are many misconceptions about women that come more from bias than from Scripture.
Read Genesis 3:17-20.
Notice that only the serpent and the ground were cursed. Now instead of fertile soil bursting with fruit, Adam would have to extract their food with painful toil from a hostile earth. And in the end they would die. Those wonderful bodies created to live forever would die. It took those first generations hundreds of years to do so. Adam lived 930 years!
God let them know from the moment they disobeyed His prohibition they had changed and their world had changed. Their destiny had changed.
Adam named his wife Eve. It was an act of faith believing that the race would survive.
But God didn’t leave them without hope. He had promised that one day a Savior would defeat their enemy. Now he gave them a picture of what the Savior would do.
Read Genesis 3:21.
The fig leaves weren’t adequate. God made them clothes of skins. How did He get them? God killed animals to clothe his fallen children. He taught them several things by doing so.
He taught them how awful sin was in the sight of God. Without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness.
He demonstrated that a substitute could die in their place. The animals were the sin-bearers who died instead of Adam and Eve. What a picture for us from our vantage point. That’s what Jesus did on the cross for Adam and Eve and all the generations born after them. We can be certain that God gave them some instruction about the way to worship Him because of Genesis 4: Abel offered the animals and was accepted, but Cain offered the fruits of his labors and was rejected.
We should notice that sin didn’t just start as a little germ that slowly permeated the race. It came into full development when the first child born to Adam and Eve killed his brother. When Adam and Eve became sinners, they passed on their sin nature to all their descendants.
Read Genesis 3:22-24.
This is the simple record of what took place at the beginning of human history. The significance of these events is explained more clearly in the NT.
Read Romans 5:12-14.
Adam became a sinner by nature and all of his descendants inherited that sinful nature. What is sin anyway? The Bible describes it in many ways: lawlessness, rebellion, trespassing, iniquity, and evil. There are eight different words used in the Old Testament for sin, and twelve different words in the New Testament.
Definition of sin: sin is anything that does not conform to the glory of God, what God intended us to be. Romans 3:23 shows us that Jesus Christ is the standard by which we are measured and we all fall short.
Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and death came as the penalty. And the proof that all men are sinners by nature is the fact that all people died during the thousands of years before the Law was given to Israel, and they didn’t have a code to tell them what was right and wrong. When the Law was given, those with the Law disobeyed it and those without the law also sinned. The fact that they died proved it.
Now Paul tells us about the one man through whom the gift of forgiveness, justification and eternal life are freely given.
Read Romans 5:15-21.
In this section, the contrast between sin and the grace of God is revealed. As great as sin is, the grace of God is much greater! How much more did God’s grace overflow through Jesus Christ!
1. One man’s trespass---many died
One Man’s gift of grace overflows to many.
2. One trespass---judgment and condemnation
3. Through one man’s trespass---death reigned
Through one Man’s obedience---believers reign in life.
4. One trespass---condemnation for all men
One act of righteousness---justification offered to all men
5. Disobedience of one---many made sinners
Obedience of One ---many made righteous
6. Sin increased.
Grace increased all the more.
7. Sin reigned in death
Grace reigns to bring eternal life.
The contrast is overwhelming. There is no one who does not have a sin nature at birth. There is no one who has not sinned in thought, word or deed in their lifetime. No matter how good and moral a person may try to be, he or she cannot reach the standard God has set for righteousness. On the other hand, there is no sin, no multiplication of iniquity, which the grace of God (demonstrated in His provision of Jesus Christ) cannot forgive. There is no one so evil that he cannot be made righteous through Jesus Christ. But again, it’s a matter of exercising our will. Did you notice in verse 17 the words, “those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness”?
God has given the gift--His own Son, Jesus Christ. He shed His blood as our substitute. He rose from the dead and proved that all our sins were paid for and that God accepted His sacrifice. But a gift is not yours until you take it. Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? God cannot and will not do anything more to give you eternal life. God will not accept any effort on your part to save yourself or earn merit in His eyes. His abundant grace has overflowed. Just be sure that you have received it.
1. What do you learn about the Creator and His creation from these passages?
2. How did God create the universe? What was different about the way He created the man and woman (Gen 2:7, 21-22)? What significance do you see in that?
3. In what ways did God provide for these first people? What was the only prohibition He gave them?
Read Genesis 3
4. Why do you think the serpent (Satan) approached the woman? What did he say about God and His Word? Why did the woman eat of the fruit? Where was her husband? Why do you think he ate?
5. What was the immediate effect upon them? What significance did that have? Who came seeking them? How do we know their relationship with God had changed?
6. How did the consequences for their disobedience change their lives and those of their descendants? Did it change their nature?
7. What promise did God make to the serpent? To whom was He referring? How was the “seed’s” heel struck? The serpent’s head crushed?
8. What is implied by Gen 3:21? How did God get the skins? What lesson did they learn about sin?
Read Romans 5:12-21
9. Through whom did sin enter the world? Who were affected? What is the penalty? Through whom did righteousness become available? Who are the beneficiaries? What is the gift?
11. List the contrasts between Adam and Jesus.
12. Do you have a problem recognizing that everyone is born with a sin nature, even good, moral people? Does what it cost God to make us righteous give you some insight into His view of sin?
13. In verses 15-21, the words “gift” and “grace” are each mentioned 4 times. Have you taken God’s gift of His Son?