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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church
March 25, 2007
Man as a Reflection of God
What is man? That may seem like a simple question, but the answer to it will
have a lot of ramifications including determining what value he may or may not
have. Here are some examples.
If humans are simply animals that have evolved along with all other animals,
then there is nothing to say that mankind is more important than any other life
form apart from their ability to survive. There are many in our society that do
believe exactly that with some seemingly valuing animal life more than human
life. At the foundation of this argument is an evolutionary philosophy which
does not give man any intrinsic value. If the evolutionary philosophy is strong,
then any individual human has value only in terms of what they contribute to the
survival and success of those who are closely genetically related. That is the
foundation for racism and all the atrocities associated with it including the
death camps of Nazi Germany.
If humans are just a higher form of animal and therefore valuable because
they possess certain intellectual and physical abilities that other animals do
not, then the value of any particular individuals life will be based on its
relative quality compared to others. Those individuals that do not meet the
quality of life standards set by whatever group is currently in power may lose
the right to continue to live. Ultimately that was the basis for the Terri
Schindler-Schiavo case in Florida. Her husband, Michael, did not think her
quality of life to be high enough to justify the care being given to her. He
demanded and finally succeeded in getting a judge to issue a ruling to withhold
all treatment for her including food and water so that she would starve,
dehydrate and die. Despite the efforts by her family to intervene and care for
her, that is what happened. She was passively murdered because she did not meet
a quality of life standard set by her husband and then affirmed by an errant
court swayed by a changing societal standard instead of the rule of law. I
should add that this was not even a so called “mercy killing” because Mrs Shaivo
was not in pain and Mr. Schaivo, who was already shacked up with another woman,
was concerned that the cost of Mrs Schiavo’s care was depleting her estate that
he wanted for himself.
If humans are social communities in which individual value is determined by
what they can contribute to society, then economics and any particular quality
that culture values becomes a major factor in determining the worth of a
particular individual. The rich and the societal elite would then have more
value than the poor and average. Now the arguments will go back and forth
whether society is better off with an increasing population to fuel its economic
engine and expand its influence in the world or is it better to kill off its
less productive members. In such a society abortion would be debated in terms of
the lifetime contribution of a worker compared to the welfare costs in raising a
child to adulthood. Many handicapped people would be at grave risk because their
potential economic contribution to society would be less than the cost for
medical care and rehabilitation. The old and sick would also be at grave risk
because vast amounts of money could be saved in medical costs alone if active
euthanasia was practiced. As harsh as these ideas sound to us, there are those
in our society that actively advocate them.
What is man and what is his actual value? Turn to Genesis 1:26.
The Creation of Man – Genesis 1
On the 6th day of creation God made each of the beasts of the earth and the
creeping things after their own kind. He also made man, but we find man is made
differently than the animals. In verse 26, 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.”
We find additional detail concerning this in chapter 2:7 which says, “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.” Later that day God took
a rib from Adam and from it fashioned Eve.
Neither man or animals are the products of evolution, an idea that claims to
be scientific but has much more in common with fairy tales. In a fairly tale a
frog plus a princess plus a kiss equals a handsome prince. In evolution the
formula is the same except the kiss is exchanged for time. God made man from the
material of the earth (except for Eve who was made from Adam’s rib — she is
refined dirt) and that is why man shares many common characteristics with
animals in our physical body makeup. But even in physical makeup the human body
has many differences from other animals. 1 Corinthians 15:39 states, “All
flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one [flesh] of men, and another flesh
of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.” Studies in
biology bear out the truth of that statement. More importantly, unlike the
animals, man had the breath of life breathed into him by God himself. Unlike the
animals, man became a living soul. Unlike the animals, man was made in the image
and likeness of God. Man has a living soul which means he has been given an
eternal nature, and he is a reflection of God his Creator. These are the facts
that separate man from the animals. These are the reasons that man is more
valuable than animals or any other part of Creation. These are the reasons that
man has an intrinsic value greater than just having life itself.
Man’s greater intrinsic value is brought out further in Genesis 9 when God
institutes capital punishment for the murder of a man. When Noah comes out of
the Ark, God includes in his diet not only the green plants but also animals
(vs. 3) with the restriction that he may not eat its blood. In verse 5 God
commands what is to happen to an animal or man that murders a man. “And
surely I will require your life blood; from every beast I will require it. And
from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever
sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He
The issue of capital punishment for those who murder is not about the value
of the life itself that was taken, but that human life is created as a
reflection of God. Murder is actually a rebellious act against God. The main
reason for capital punishment is God’s holiness, not determent, retribution or
human justice, even as important as those issues are. Some accuse those who
advocate the right to life as being inconsistent on this point. They say that if
a person truly valued human life they would be against capital punishment.
However, the same reason that makes man’s life valuable and worth the efforts to
seek to defend and preserve is the same reason that demands capital punishment
for murder. Man is made in the image of God. The inconsistency is with so many
of the abortion and euthanasia advocates who stand against capital punishment.
They value the life of a criminal, but they do not value the life of an unborn
baby or those whose quality of life is below their standard.
Man as a Reflection of God
Since Genesis tells us that man is made in the image of God, then man
reflects certain characteristics that belong to God. The first and foremost
characteristic is that of personhood and the three qualities that make that up.
Man has an immaterial aspect that separates him from the mere material world.
Let me explain those first, and then later I will explain what the Bible says
Man is Rational. This means that man has a mind and can think. Rocks,
plants, water and fire cannot think. Animals have minds and can think in a
limited sense according to their instincts. Many animals can be trained to do
many wonderful things, but they are incapable of man’s ability to think in the
abstract. Man can contemplate not only such concepts as beauty and logic, but he
can also contemplate that which does not manifest itself in the material world
and even imagine things that cannot exist except in his mind.
Man is Emotional. This means man can experience feelings caused by the
thoughts of his mind. Things such as love, hate, compassion, anger, peace,
anxiety, joy, depression, etc.
Man is Volitional. This means man can make choices based on his
ability to think and experience emotion. Animals make choices based on instinct,
but man can make choices based on abstract thought.
These three abilities give us what is commonly referred to as personhood, and
that is a reflection of God. There are, however, certain other attributes that
belong to God that man does not share such as omnipresence, omnipotence,
omniscience, immutability, eternal existence (past as well as future) and
sovereignty. These attributes separate God from man so that man is only made in
the image of God and is not a replication of God, despite the claim that many
men have made over human history that they were a god.
But man, being made in the image of God, does mean that man was created to
share with God certain other characteristics which theologians refer to as His
communicable or moral attributes. These include such characteristics as
holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, kindness, justice, mercy,
longsuffering, graciousness, etc.
When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden they
possessed these attributes in perfection and their rational, emotional, and
volitional abilities were experienced in their fullness. But the fall of Adam
and Eve into sin affected all these things. Though made in the image of God,
that image was now tarnished. His shared attributes with God were corrupted as
were his abilities to think, feel and choose.
Man’s Fall, A Tarnished Image
It is easily observed and understood that all the moral or communicable
attributes where corrupted when man fell into sin. Man is no longer perfect in
holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, kindness, justice, mercy,
longsuffering, graciousness, etc. His sin has caused him to do acts of evil,
selfishness, greed, deceit, mischief, injustice, slander, hate, malice, cruelty,
etc. But in addition to these, the qualities that give him personhood have also
Man is rational, but sin has darkened his reason. In Ephesians 4:17,18 Paul
calls on the believers to no longer act as the unregenerate who walk “in the
futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the
life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness
of their heart.” Paul then goes on to list some of their specific sins. The
point here is simply that the mind of the unbeliever does not work properly. He
thinks he is completely capable of reasoning things out, but the truth is that
he cannot. As Proverbs 16:25 puts it, “There is a way [which seems] right to
a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Yet, at the same time, there is still enough ability there that God holds man
responsible for being able to reason through what God has done for him.
Throughout Acts we find Paul presents the gospel to the unbelieving Jews and the
heathen. Acts 17:2-3 describes his practice saying, “And according to Paul’s
custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the
Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and
rise again from the dead, and [saying,] “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you
is the Christ.” In similar way, in the Old Testament we find God speaking
through the prophets and calling the unsaved to “Come now, and let us reason
together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as
white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool”
(Isaiah 1:18). Man’s ability to reason is tarnished and darkened, but not
completely removed. However, the person who thinks they can reason things
through without God’s revelation and guidance is a blind fool on the path to
death just as Proverbs 16:25 warns.
Man’s emotional makeup is also affected in a similar manner. Emotions are a
God given ability to feel arising from what we perceive and think. Our emotions
are key clues to what we are actually thinking. When thinking is perfect, then
the emotions that follow them will also be perfect. When thinking is corrupted
by sin, then the emotions that follow will also be corrupted for they will be
based on wrong perceptions, things that are not true or even the approval of
sin. You may feel happy when you should feel sad or grieved when you should feel
joyous. Compassion and pity can be replaced with hatred and vengeance.
That is the reason that various scriptures warn about emotions and make
corrections to them. For example, there are many warnings about the emotion of
anger and especially of those controlled by that emotion. Proverbs 19:19 “[A
man of] great anger shall bear the penalty, For if you rescue [him,] you will
only have to do it again.” Proverbs 22:24 “Do not associate with a man
[given] to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, 25 Lest you learn his ways, And
find a snare for yourself.” Even though the emotion of anger is not in
itself sinful, we are admonished in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and [yet] do
not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil
Fear is an emotion that can be very good and helpful when it is fear of
something that should be feared such as God. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One
is understanding.” But fear of the wrong thing leads to failure and
unrighteousness as Proverbs 29:25 warns, “The fear of man brings a snare, But
he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” The fear of man is what caused
both Abraham and Isaac to lie about their wives (Genesis 20:11; 26:7). Fear of
man lead to King Saul’s great sin that cost him his kingdom (1 Samuel 15:24f).
Fear of man has caused many people to deny Christ even while He was walking on
this earth (John 7:13; 9:22; 12:42,43) and it still does in our own time. Jesus
put fear in its proper perspective in Luke 12:4 saying, “My friends, do not
be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can
do. 5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed
has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” The only one to
fear is God.
We could go on about the corruption of our other emotions as well and how
that results in sin, but I think you get the point from these two examples.
Because man’s perceptions and thinking are wrong so are his emotions and his
proper use of them.
Man is also volitional. Man has the ability to make choices, but the
corruption of sin results in making the wrongs choices. Understand clearly that
God still calls on sinful man to make choices between right and wrong, good and
evil and will hold man responsible for those choices. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses
called on the generation that was about to enter Canaan to make a choice. He had
given them both the warnings and promises of God in the previous chapters and
then said in this verse, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you
today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So
choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving
the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is
your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the
Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. “
After that generation conquered Canaan Joshua also called them to make a
choice in Joshua 24:15 “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the
Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which
your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in
whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
They had to choose whether they would serve the Lord or the false gods.
Man can make choices, but because sin has darkened his mind, which in turn
has affected his emotions, his ability to choose is also affected. In fact, it
is affected so much that man apart from God’s intervention will not choose to
follow God. Romans 3:10-12 quoting from Psalm 14:1-3 & Psalm 53:1-3 states,
“There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There
is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become
useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” 1 Corinthians
2:14 adds, “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.”
It is because of the corruption of sin affecting man’s reason, emotion and
volition that we say that man is totally depraved. That does not mean man is as
evil as he possibly could be, but rather that apart from God’s gracious
intervention man is incapable of understanding the things of the Lord and choose
to follow Him. Man has been so affected by the depravity brought about by sin
that left on his own he absolutely will not choose to follow God. Moses
understood that because God revealed to him in Deuteronomy 31:14-22 that Israel
would not follow God which was why he was to write the song that is recorded in
Deuteronomy 32 as a witness against them. Man has not changed since then. Yet,
even though man’s ability to think, feel and choose are so corrupted there is
hope because God does intervene. That is the message of the gospel.
Man’s Redemption, An Image Being Reconstructed
Salvation in Jesus Christ is much more than an exchange of beliefs from sin
and self to the Savior by which we received justification from our sin and its
penalty through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is also a
radical change in the very nature of the person. As Paul put it in 2 Corinthians
5:17, “if any man is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed
away; behold, new things have come.” What was dead in trespasses and sin has
been, by God’s grace, regenerated – made alive – together with Christ (Ephesians
2:1,5). As Paul explains in Romans 6, the person who is redeemed by Jesus is no
longer a slave of sin but has righteousness as a new master. This radical change
in the Christian also affects his rational, emotional and volitional abilities.
The believer in Christ can now do what he could not do before and that is begin
to think, feel and choose according to the righteousness of God. This is all in
the process of becoming conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28) which
will include an increasing reflection of all God’s moral attributes as well.
The believer’s rational ability is changed because he can now discern
spiritual truths for true Christians are given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians
2:16). The believer’s life is transformed as his mind is being renewed through
the power of the Holy Spirit and the washing of it that comes through the word
of God (Romans 12:2; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit teaches us
spiritual truth and leads us into righteousness (1 John 2:27). God’s revelation
of Himself and His will in the Scriptures enables us to increase in both our
understanding of Him and how He wants us to live. Non-Christians can read the
Bible, but it remains confusing and without proper application for them. The
Christian gains a discernment of its meaning and application that was previously
impossible. The Christian’s rational ability is being renewed to be able to
think again according to God’s design.
The disciple of Jesus Christ also has a change in their emotional makeup.
While emotions can still be very strong in the believer and the temptation for
many is to still yield to them, there is now a basis for bringing them back into
their proper place in subjection to the truth. Christians still get angry, but
they can deal with it properly so that unrighteous anger is properly corrected
and righteous anger is properly directed. The Christian can love and forgive and
leave vengeance in the hands of God (Matthew 5:43-45; 18:35f; Romans 12:19-21).
The Christian will still experience fear, but that fear diminishes and subsides
as they learn to fear the right things and walk with God knowing that His
perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). The same is true with all other
emotions. Godly love replaces hatred (Matthew 5:43-45). Passion is directed by
holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:4). Anxiety is cast on the Lord and we can be filled
with peace (Philippians 4:16). Depression is exchanged for joy in the Lord as we
learn to trust Him (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:4).
The true Christian’s volitional ability is also regenerated. That doesn’t
mean that there is not a struggle in this area. Even the apostle Paul struggled
in this and described it in Romans 7:14-25. Though his flesh was still bent
toward sin his mind had changed and desired to fulfill God’s will as defined by
God instead of the religious system that he previously followed and which gave
excuse for his sin.
As pointed out earlier, the choices given by God to unregenerate man are
real, but they are so against a man’s sinful nature that he will not choose God
and righteousness. A regenerated man is also given many choices by God, but the
redeemed spirit within him now can choose God and the pursuit of righteousness.
That is why God’s commands in the New Testament to believers are directed at the
Christian’s will. He commands us to cease sinful behavior and practice
righteousness and has legitimate expectation that we should do so. As Galatians
5:16f puts it, in choosing to walk by the Spirit you cannot carry out the deeds
of the flesh. In Colossians Paul says we are to consider our earthly bodies dead
and lay aside the practices of our old self and instead “put on the new self who
is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who
created him” (Colossians 3:5-10). Romans 6 tells us that we have a choice to
either yield ourselves to sin or to righteousness, but you are a slave to the
one you obey. If you are a Christian you are called to stop obeying sin and
start obeying God. The apostle John tells us that the choices that characterize
us in this is the evidence of whether we are born of God or not – “the one
who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who
practices sin is of the devil . . . “By this the children of God and the
children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is
not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7,8,10).
What do your choices reveal about you?
God has redeemed the Christian from sin that he should live blameless and
holy before Him (Ephesians 1:4). When the true Christian sins he will have the
sorrow of repentance and choose to confess according to 1 John 1:9. He then
becomes more conformed to the image of Christ and a better reflection of being
made in God’s image. When the non-Christian or false Christian sins there will
only be the sorrow of the world at most (2 Corinthians 7:10) and they will
choose to excuse the sin or deal with it in some way contrary to God’s commands.
They then only demonstrate that they remain a corrupted image of the God who
Man has intrinsic value because he was created by God in His image. It is
because of that reason that we stand solidly opposed to all things that would
remove that value and therefore be a defiance and rebellion against God. That
would include all forms of murder including abortion, infanticide, and
euthanasia as well anything that treats man as a mere animal to be used and
exploited. It also means that we stand solidly in support of all things that
affirm that value including ministries of compassion to the sick, aide to the
handicapped, comfort to the dying along and just punishment for crimes against
While man was created in God’s image, that image was corrupted when man fell
into sin resulting in man being without hope apart from God’s intervention. But
there is hope because God does intervene and begins restoring that image in
those who become disciples of Jesus Christ and are regenerated by the Holy
Spirit. That image will be fully restored when the redeemed are resurrected and
enter heaven in their new incorruptible bodies. Your salvation from sin is for
the purpose of God’s glory and as a redeemed individual you must do your best to
use your mind, emotion and choices to bring that about by reflecting Him in your
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you
hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch.
Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the
Scripture references made. 2) Count how many times references are made to being
rational, emotional or volitional. Talk with your parents about what those
attributes mean, how they are affected by sin & how salvation changes them.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is man? What does society commonly say gives man value? What does God
say gives man value? Describe God’s creation of man? What is man different from
animals? What is the Biblical reason for capital punishment? What does it mean
for man to be rational? Emotional? Volitional? What other ways does man show he
is made in the image of God? How has sin affected man’s ability to be rational?
How have you seen this in your life and the lives of others? How has sin
affected man’s emotional characteristics? How have you seen this in your life
and the lives of others? How has sin affected man’s ability to be volitional?
How have you seen this in your life and the lives of others? What is the meaning
of the theological phrase, Total Depravity? What changes does salvation
make to man’s rational ability? Emotional characteristics? Volitional abilities?
Reflection of God’s moral attributes? Why did God redeem man? How can man
fulfill that purpose? How are you doing at fulfilling that purpose? What changes
would help you do better?
Sermon Notes – March 25, 2007
Man as a Reflection of God – Selected Scriptures
The Creation of Man
Man as Reflection of God
Man’s Fall, A Tarnished Image
Man’s Redemption , A Restored Image
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