Understanding Theology - Lesson 4

Humanity & Sin

This lesson is an overview of the doctrines of humanity and sin, including a discussion of the origin of humanity, what it means to be created in the image of God, the nature and effects of sin, and original sin.

Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Humanity & Sin

I. Humanity’s Origin: God the Creator of Human Beings

A. There is a Special Place for the Formation of Humanity

B. A Brief Theology of Humanity’s Creation by God

1. God is ultimate, while all of humanity is dependent upon God.

2. Humanity owes God obedience, loyalty, and worship.

3. Humanity, as created by God, was entirely (body and soul) good.

4. Humanity is invested with moral freedom and responsibility.

5. There is clearly an equality between the sexes and yet a differentiation in the creation of the man and the woman.

II. Humanity’s Constitution

A. Theories of the Structure of Human Nature

1. Monism

2. Dichotomy

3. Trichotomy

B. Transmission of the Soul

1. Creationism

2. Traducianism

III. The Image of God

A. Major Understandings of “Image of God”

1. Structural Understanding

2. Relational Understanding

3. Functional Understanding

B. The Image of God, the Fall, and its Renewal

1. Ancient Near Eastern Background

2. Image of God: Structural, Relational, and Functional

3. Effects of the Fall and our Restoration into the Image of Christ

IV. The Nature of Sin

A. The Essence of Sin

1. The Urge for Independence from God

2. Three Kinds of Urges for Independence (Gen. 3:6)

a. The Hedonist Urge

b. The Covetous Urge

c. The Prideful Urge

B. Total Depravity

1. Definition

2. Support (Rom. 8:5-8; Eph. 4:17-18; and Gal. 5:16-17, 24)

C. Total Inability

1. Definition

2. Support (John 15:5; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 8:5ff)

D. Acts of Personal Sin

1. Sins of Commission and Sins of Omission (Ex. 20:13-17; Jas. 4:17; Matt. 25:41-46)

2. Outward Actions and Inward Attitudes (Matt. 5; Deut. 28:47-48)

3. Conscious Rebellion and Ignorance (Num. 15:27-31; 1 Tim. 1:12-14)

4. Greater and Lesser Sins (Matt. 12:31-32; 23:23; 1 Cor. 6:17-18)

E. Systemic or Social Manifestations of Sin

1. Good Structures used for Evil (Amos 5:10-15)

2. Formation of Evil Structures to do Evil (Ps. 94:20-23; Isa. 10:1-4)

V. Original Sin

A. Definition

B. Theories of Original Sin

1. The Federal or Representative Theory

2. The Realist or Augustinian Theory

  • Studying systematic theology in this 10-hour course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith, from God and Christ to sin, salvation, the church, and the last things. By exploring these doctrines, you will strengthen your faith, gain hope and courage, and deepen your knowledge of God's character, work, and purposes. This course is liberating and will provide you with the truth that sets you free to live in the light of God's promises.
  • This is the first of ten lectures on Systematic Theology, a survey of the whole corpus of theology, and each lecture will be one hour long and each covering a separate doctrine or series of doctrines together. In this lesson Dr. Ware introduces the what and why of theology and discusses the foundational doctrines of Revelation and Scripture.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the Doctrine of God proper: why we need to know God, his incommunicable attributes, and those attributes that in some sense are communicable to humans.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the biblical basis for monotheism and trinitarianism. He also gives a brief overview of the history of the doctrine and the heresies that arose concerning the Trinity.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrines of humanity and sin, including a discussion of the origin of humanity, what it means to be created in the image of God, the nature and effects of sin, and original sin.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which includes his pre-incarnate existence, his incarnation, his deity and his humanity. He also discusses the important Christological passage of Philippians 2:6-8 and what does it mean that Christ “emptied” himself. Dr. Ware concludes this lesson with a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the past (Atoning Savior), present (Mediator and Lord) and future (Coming Judge and Reigning King) work of Christ.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the person of the Holy Spirit, both his personhood and his deity. He also covers the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus, and in the church.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrine and process of salvation, beginning with election and then discussing calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and, finally, the glorification of the believer.

  • Dr. Ware talks about the church universal and the local church. He discusses the offices of the local church, including the roles of elders and deacons. Dr. Ware also looks at how the church can be organized and what ordinances should be celebrated by a local body of believers.

  • In this final lesson, Dr. Ware gives a rationale for studying eschatology or last things. He discusses what happens to people just after they die and before the return of Christ. He also gives an overview of the various beliefs about the timing and events of the last days. He completes the lesson with a discussion of final judgment, heaven, and hell.

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate it or really understand it. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical understanding of God and his Word.

Recommended Books

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate them or really understand them. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical...

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Dr. Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Humanity and Sin
Lesson Transcript

We move on now to lecture four: the doctrines of humanity and sin. And it's important to distinguish these two. We sometimes use language like, well, he's just human. When some indiscretion takes place, and it sort of implies that because you're human, you are sinful but this is not the case. Adam was human and not sinful until he sinned. Christ was human and not sinful. We will one day be remade like Christ, human but not sinful. So sin is really a defilement of our humanity, not an expression of it. But nonetheless, in this age, until Christ comes again and he restores us completely, we are sinful. So we really do need to talk about both sides of this, our human nature as God created it, but also then what happened because of sin. So let's start with the humanities' origin.

Roman numeral I on the handout, first of all is just a recognition that God is a creator of all things and therefore he's the creator of us, his human creation. Even so it's important to realize that even though in one sense we're just like the rest of creation in that we're created, God has designed a special place for his human creation. And this is evident in Genesis 1 in a number of ways. I mean, you think for example, how in verse 26, when you come to the creation of man, it's the last part of the created week, the last thing that God does is create man. Notice the language changes. Before then you read, then God said, "Let there be, let there be, let there be." But in Genesis 1:26, then God said, "Let us make man in our image." The plural us there that refers to the Trinity as we understand that now is distinctive of the creation of man. The fact that he's created in the image of God is distinctive of the creation of man as male and female.

And then it's interesting also that that's the only part of the creation week that is expanded in Genesis chapter 2. So it's sort of like Genesis 1:26-28 is the snapshot version of the creation of man and woman. But Genesis 2 is the movie version where you see the expansion of that unfolded. So indeed there is a special place that God places in the formation of male and female in his image. B, a brief theology of humanity's creation by God. Just some almost bullet points here to acknowledge. First of all is to recognize that because God is creator, he is ultimate. We are not. All of humanity and in fact all of creation, but focusing here on humanity, we are dependent upon him as Paul will put it in Acts 17:24 and 25, for life and breath and all things, we depended upon him. So breath at this moment, gift of God, food you eat at the table, gift of God. And hence how important it is for us to recognize how dependent we are upon God. He is the ultimate one and we indeed are dependent upon him. 

Secondly, humanity owes God obedience, loyalty and worship. That is we are made to obey God, made to follow him, made to glorify him. And of course sin disrupts that and we'll talk more about that in a bit where we want to make ourselves gods, we want to do things our way and so on. But this is not God's created design. His created design is for us to enter into life at its best by being obedient servants of his, following his ways perfectly. And in fact, that's what he's going to restore us to be one day in Christ where we will never, ever again sin, never, ever again go against the ways and the will of God. So that's his design, although we have violated that horribly as sinners.

Third, humanity as created by God was entirely body and soul good. So it is not the case as some have thought in the early church in particular, that there's something fundamentally wrong about the body, that somehow the body is a bad thing, but spirit is good. That's really Gnosticism, it's not true Christianity. And true Christianity, true biblical religion has affirmed that God is creator of both body and soul of our material and immaterial parts of us as human beings. And hence the body is a good thing. You notice, although the body because of sin is corrupted just like every other part of us, but you notice that the body in the New Testament is resurrected and will be perfected, we will have bodies like Christ, Philippians 3:20 and 21. Whereas the flesh when the Bible talks about the flesh, that's this center control within us that's hostile toward God, that is evil and absolutely irredeemable, but the flesh is a principle of opposition to God, which is all bad. The body though affected by the flesh and affected by sin is something that is redeemable, that will be resurrected and made new.

Fourth, humanity is invested with moral freedom and responsibility. It is just one of the most sobering facts about being a human being is that we face the reality every day of being moral beings, moral agents where we are responsible to tell the truth and not lie, where we are to make and keep promises, where we are to show consideration to others and be humble in our attitudes toward ourselves and the like. And these moral requirements are something that other parts of creation, the non-moral part of creation just doesn't have. Your dog or your cat may have certain responsibilities, but they don't have a responsibility to do what is morally right. They don't have those categories to think in. Your dog or your cat will never bow in prayer and thank God for something, but we should, right? So indeed we realize this is part and parcel of what it means to be human, is to accept and embrace the moral responsibilities that we have and by God's grace and the work of his spirit, live those out in ways that bring honor to him. 

And then fifth, the last point here in terms of a brief theology of humanity created by God, equality yet differentiation in the creation of man and woman. So God did create the man first in Genesis chapter 2 from the dust of the ground breathed into him the breath of life, he became a living soul. Then God put him to work in the garden, you remember? And he cultivated the garden. Then he began to name the animals. And so God said to the man, "It is not good for you to be alone." It's the first time the words “not good” appear in the Bible before the fall has taken place.

And so indeed, God understood it was not good for the man to be alone. He needed another to be with him. And so God created the woman and brought her to the man. And notice when what he says to her when she comes to him, he said, "She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called,” this is the Hebrew, "Isha for she was taken from Ish." So woman taken from man. So really what that signals, that language that Adam uses there for his wife, this bride that God has just created for him is really two things. One is bone of my bone, bone, bone, nature, nature. She has my nature. She's fully human as I am human. So she has partaken of my nature as she comes from me, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. She's Isha taken from Ish.

Again, that sense of the nature of humanity is passed on to her from him. But it also indicates that she is from him and hence there is a kind of primacy in the relationship in which he has rulership or authority in that relationship with her. This is certainly the point that Paul makes in 1 Timothy 2 and in 1 Corinthians 11 where he talks about the creation of the man and the woman. And he indicates that because of that, because of the way God did things, it indicates an authority that is attached to the man in that relationship that was built into creation itself. So there are some people who think that male authority came as a result of sin and sometimes they cite Genesis 3:16 to support that which is the statement made to the woman after the fall that her desire would be for her husband and he would rule over her.

So they say, "See the rulership of the man is a sinful thing that happens because of sin." But actually that misses the point of the verse. When God says, "Your desire will be for your husband," what that means is you'll desire to have your husband do what you want him to do. We know it means that because of the same phrase used in chapter 4 verse 7, where Cain is plotting to kill his brother Abel. And God confronts him and says to him, "Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." So you know what that means there is sin desires to make you do what it wants you to do, but you must rule over it. So actually back in 3:16, so what this means is the woman, because she's a sinner now, she will desire to have her way just like he will. He will desire to have his way because he is a sinner.

But in particular in this relationship where he has authority over her by virtue of being created with that she will want to take that, she will want to usurp that and he will have to rule in ways he didn't have to rule before. But of course he's a sinner and so because of his sin, he can act in ways that are wrong and sinful, either abusive, oppressive or apathetic and negligent in carrying out his responsibilities. And so indeed what happens is the perversion of that authority and submission that was established in creation as God had designed it. So, created equal, absolutely equal in image of God, equally human but distinct as male and female. And that includes also authority and submission in marriage and in the church as it relates to male and female.

Okay, well let's move ahead now to II: humanity's constitution. Really this is the question of what are we made? What's the parts list for a human being? And there is in the history of the church, really three views that are prominent out there. The first one would be to say that there is only one thing that makes us up, one substance. This is the monist view. The monist view would argue that indeed our creation by God is such that we are body, soul, unities and there is no division between the immaterial and the material. The immaterial, thoughts, feelings, things like that are simply emergent properties that come from the material. We don't have a separate kind of existence in a way in which body and soul can be divided. They can only be unified according to the monist view. Of course, one of the main problems with this is what the Bible teaches happens at death, both for a believer and an unbeliever, but you remember of statements for the believer absent from the body.

This is set in Corinthians chapter 5, absent from the body, present with the Lord. So your body goes to a grave, but you go to be with Christ or Jesus' statement for that matter to the thief on the cross today, today not at the end of history, but today you will be with me in paradise indicating of course that the thief who goes to a grave, Jesus who goes to a grave, their bodies are there, but they go to this place Jesus calls paradise where they are together. So it doesn't account for what is called the intermediate state of people who die. Their bodies are separated from their souls for a period of time, for some a long time, for others a very short time but ended when there is a resurrection of the body in the end for both believers and unbelievers.

The next view is the dichotomy view. The dichotomy view is the one I favor. I think it has the most going for it biblically and according to this view, we are made up of two things, both body and soul or material and immaterial. So you find in the Bible that spirit and soul really are used interchangeably a number of times that indeed there are places where they're virtually synonyms. For example, take a look if you would at Luke 1 verses 46 and 47, Luke 1:46 and 47, this is in Mary's song. She says, "My soul exalts the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." So really that's synonymous parallelism, there's no distinction really between soul and spirit at that point. And there are a number of passages in the Bible where you can find a virtual similarity between the two, between soul and spirit.

Another very interesting one in the Old Testament is Isaiah 26 verse 9, "My soul longs for thee. My spirit seeks thee earnestly." So that's another statement, an old Testament one that indicates a similar kind of a thing where soul and spirit are used as synonyms or virtual synonyms in that case. Another problem with a further division body, soul, and spirit as a number of Christians would do in the trichotomy that I'll come to in just a moment, is that the major statement on what our requirement is as human beings to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is the completest version of that, the most complete version of that. And it doesn't say spirit and it's just a tremendous omission. If indeed spirit were a separate part of us that had what trichotomists claim and that is the primary responsibility for spiritual apprehension of God, you would think that would be prominent then in that commandment, but it's not there. So I think again, it argues that the fullness of who we are can be understood as both physical and immaterial, and it can be called soul or spirit, that the two really are referring to fundamentally the same thing. 

The last view is the trichotomous view, which is held by a number of people. It became popular I think through the Scofield Reference Bible many, many years ago. That was really the only study Bible that was out for decades and many people learned their theology from it and it held to a trichotomy view. One of its primary supporting verses is from 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "May your spirit, soul and body be preserved complete till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful to you, called you who will bring you to pass and may your spirit, soul and body be preserved complete until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

So there it specifies, may you be preserved complete. Who is you? May your spirit, soul and body. So the trichotomous would argue, doesn't that indicate clearly that that's the three parts of who we are? The fullness of us is spirit, soul, and body. Well, it's possible that that's the case. I mean the trichotomy view may be right, I'm doubtful that it is. But here's the problem with interpreting that verse that way, that this is the definitive list as it were of the parts that make us up, is that it differs then from the great commandment, love the Lord your God with all, all of who you are. What is all of who you are? Well, there's even different synoptics accounts. They differ a bit over the terms that are used. The fullest account is love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

And notice spirit is not used. But the point I'm making here is it's a different listing of that which comprises all of you in the great commandment and that which comprises all of you in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. So I don't think either one of them is meant to be a definitive list of the parts that make up the human being. Both are definitive of what makes us up, aspects of our physical substance and aspects of our immaterial substance. So in any case, most of the church has held either the dichotomy or trichotomy view. Today I would say most scholars favor the dichotomy view that we are body and soul. But what that means is that we really are made up of something spiritual as well as something material.

And so then the question becomes this is B, how is the soul brought to us? What is the transmission of the soul? How does that happen? Because we kind of get the body part of it that's not as hard to understand, at least for us in these days. We understand biology and sexual reproduction and how the body is formed and the genetic makeup and so on. But what about the soul? So there are two main views that are held here on this. The first is the creationist view. It has nothing to do with the six days of creation in Genesis 1. It rather says this, that the soul is created by God directly and is implanted within the body as it forms within the mother's womb. The soul is created by God directly. Immediately you might say that is without mediation, God does it directly immediately and causes that soul to implant in the human body as that body is formed sometime between conception and the birth of that child.

And among creationists, there's not agreement on when that ensoulment takes place, that moment when the soul is implanted into the human body, which has allowed some in this movement, some who hold this view to argue for the legitimacy of abortion because they claim that that human body has not been in ensouled yet until say the point of birth. Actually, Bill Clinton who ran for president in his first term of office argued that view when asked about abortion, he said, "I just believe what my southern Baptist pastor taught me." This was obviously a moderate Baptist or liberal as you might say. And that is that the baby receives his soul when it takes its first breath modeled after Genesis 2:7, God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and then breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul. So modeled after that, you're not a full human until human person until you take a breath yourself.

So some have gone that way with it. But there are many, Roman Catholics, for example, are largely creationists. Most reformed people are creationists on this issue. So they hold that this implanting of the soul in the life of the biological human takes place very, very early, conception or immediately after conception, some point right there so that there never would be a point when it would be legitimate to abort this child because it is a full human person. But nonetheless, that's what they have held on this. One of the reasons that they hold this view is because they see this as indicative of how creation took place in the first place that God created first the body, and then he breathed into it a living soul. And so they see that the forming of the body and the forming of the soul as two separate things that take place and therefore the body can be formed by sexual reproduction and the soul brought in by God. And indeed, that surely could be the case, but it doesn't have to be.

The other view and it's the view I favor is the traducian view. It's an awkward word, traducian. It comes from the Latin term traduco and it simply means to carry over or pass across, to carry over or pass across. And so the idea is that in the formation of the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden, when God says to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth," that they reproduce full human beings, not just bodies, right? That's the creationist view. The bodies come through a sexual reproduction. The soul is implanted into that body by God, but rather in this view, the traducian view, the soul is passed over from the parents as the body is formed from the parents as well. So the traducian view really does, I think, put greater significance to sexual reproduction because you realize you're not just body factories, you're not just making human bodies. You're really reproducing full human persons in that sexual reproduction that God has granted us the capacity to do.

And it does match what you see elsewhere in the early account of the creation of God where animals beget who they are, giraffes beget giraffes and elephants, elephants and deer, deer and so on. So human beings beget human beings, not just the bodies of them but the fullness of who they are. I think another reason for arguing for this view is that it does account better for the similarities, not only physical similarities between parents and children, oh, she has her father's eyes, that sort of a thing, not just those physical characteristics, but also some emotional and psychological characteristics that can be part of that genetic passageway onto children that make a difference in terms of how they act as human beings.

And then one final argument is really an unusual argument, but it comes out of the book of Hebrews. That in Hebrews, if you want to turn there for a moment and look in Hebrews chapter 7, we read of the fact that Melchizedek has a higher priesthood than does Levi. The basis by which Hebrews makes that claim is this, let me read for you from chapter 7, beginning at verse 8. In this case, mortal men receive tithes, but in that case, one receives them of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. And so to speak through Abraham, even Levi who received tithes, paid tithes for he was still in the loins of his father. That is Abraham when Melchizedek met him. The point seems to be this, that when Abraham met Melchizedek as recorded in Genesis 14, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. I mean so Melchizedek, he's the King of Salem. He's a king of righteousness.

This one, little did we know when we read that is the prefigurement of Jesus Christ who is king of peace, king of righteousness and King of Jerusalem, Salem, which becomes Jerusalem. So indeed Melchizedek is the forerunner to the Messiah who is in the line of Melchizedek and Abraham in that meeting of Melchizedek paid tithes to Melchizedek indicating Melchizedek had a higher position than Abraham did. But what's the point that Hebrews is making? That when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, who else was it who paid tithes to Melchizedek? It was Levi. Levi paid tithes because Levi was in the loins of Abraham and Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek when Abraham did that. So the only way that really works is to say that Levi in who he is in his fullness comes from Abraham, which works much better with the Traducian model. That whole persons are reproduced in sexual reproduction, not just the bodies of them. 

Finally, image of God, we move on now to the last area in the doctrine of humanity. This is such a glorious area. It's something that is so important for us to embrace that we are made in the image of God. Now, there have been in the history of the church several understandings of this. One is that it relates just to ways in which our structure is made. So perhaps we have minds that are like God's mind. God is rational, he makes us rational. And so maybe that's image of God. There have been a number of people who have argued that's the core, at least of image of God is human reason or it could be our moral capability or the fact that we worship God, we're made by God to do that.

So certain things about the structure of us, rationality, morality, spirituality, things like that can be pointed to another argument that has been made on what constitutes image of God is the way in which we relate to God and to others. Karl Barth, a very prominent theologian of the 20th century, argued that Genesis chapter 1 indicates what image of God is when it names male and female. So in verse 28, so God created man in his image and the image of God, he created male and female, he created them. Barth said, "Isn't that interesting that it is the male and female that is the image of God." So he understood the relationship of a man and a woman as constituting image of God. And of course one of the main problems with that is what happens with single people then? And most notably what happens with the single person Jesus who doesn't have a spouse and is not united with another, with a woman, and yet he is the image of the invisible God according to Colossians 2:15, this really doesn't work well.

Plus it's not the case that capital punishment that's stated in Genesis chapter 9 verse 6 is if you kill a couple, then by man your blood shall be shed, right? So it's if you kill a man, so every person is image of God. It's not the case that image of God is constituted by male female relationship, nor is it the case as Brunner argued that image of God is constituted by our relationship with God. This is the way he thought of it in relational terms, not that relationship with God doesn't matter, obviously it does, but it doesn't seem as though from the text of Genesis 1 and elsewhere in the Bible that that's the formative part of image of God. So in any case, relational has been argued, structural has been argued. 

Another view has been argued though in more recent years, and that is a functional understanding of image of God. And what it picks up on is what you see in Genesis 1, two times. So in verse 26, we read, "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image according to our likeness."" And now listen to this, "And let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air." And then in the next verse, "So God created man in his image, in the image of God, he created him, male and female, he created them and he said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it."" So rule over the fish of the sea, subdue the world. So there is this sense in which image of God has something fundamentally to do with our being made able to represent God in carrying out our responsibilities here on earth, on acting in God's place or on God's behalf in doing that in our relationship here.

So when you take a look at this in light of the Old Testament background, I think it's very helpful. B, the image of God, the fall in its renewal. So in the ancient Near East image of God was a commonly spoken of thing. And there was a scholar a number of years ago by the name of D.J.A Clines who decided to find out what the ancient Near Eastern people thought of image of God. The reason he wondered this is because he asked himself the question, when is it that you use a technical term that you don't define? And he was thinking in terms of image of God. Notice that the author of Genesis doesn't define what image of God is. It's a technical term, very important term. When do you use a technical term, a term of great importance and you don't define it. And the answer is when people already know what it means, right?

So he went to the ancient Near Eastern text to see if there was a common understanding, and sure enough there was. And so what he found was that when image of God is used of persons, the way it's commonly used is that the god or the gods would put inside the person who becomes the image of god some substance from the god, pour some liquid into him, breathe upon him, have him eat something. Something from the God would be consumed or taken in by the person. The person then would be qualified to act on behalf of god. In fact, in the ancient Near East, these people, these kings and so on, would often be thought of as gods because they were the image of god and they acted on behalf of god. And the third characteristic was that it was only given to high officials to the king and perhaps one or two others besides that.

So when you look at that, you realize, oh my goodness, this really does relate then to the text of scripture where Adam was created by God and then he breathed into him the breath of life, and then he put him to work representing God, cultivating the garden. Well, whose garden was that? Well, it was God's garden. And to name the animals, that's really significant, right, to name is to indicate your rightful jurisdiction over well, he names God's animals. Those are God’s. God has the right to name them, but he says Adam, whatever you name it, that will be its name. He says that in Genesis chapter 2, acting on behalf of God, doing God's work is part of what image of God is. So I would conclude that really the structure that God makes us, our body and soul together and the relationships that we have work together with the functioning that God calls us to do to represent him in being image of God. So indeed we can only live out our image of God responsibilities in representing God as we are made the way we are and are in relationship with others to help us to do this. 

And I think you see this in Christ beautifully. You see in Christ who came as the God-man, he had to be who he was. But not just to be it, he wasn't a museum piece. Oh look, the incarnation. Wow, how amazing. I guess that's it then, right? Yep. That's all the purpose of this was to make the God-man. No, the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many. So he had to be who he was to do what he did. So really image of God has most forcefully to do with what we are called to do in our service to God, in our representing him before others in this world.

All right, well let's move on now to the doctrine of sin and we'll spend our remaining time taking a look at this doctrine together. First of all, the nature of sin. I want to think about with you. First of all to think about this, what is sin at its essence? What is the very core of sin? And I've thought about this a number of times at some length and think that probably a phrase which captures the essence of sin, sin is at its heart an urge for independence from God. We're made to be dependent upon him, to rely upon him for everything we need in our lives and to give him thanks for his kindness to us. But what does sin urge us to do? To go independent of God, to go it our own way, to think we know better, to make our own plans and do things that we want to do in disregard of God.

And I think you see this in Genesis chapter 3 where sin begins. That the tempter, when he came to the couple, Adam and Eve in the garden, really the temptation was to go independent from God because he said to them very first opening question was, "Has God said you shall not eat from all of the trees of the garden?" And when he says that right off the bat in Genesis 3, it's obvious what he's trying to do. He's trying to lead the couple to think, oh, maybe God is not for us, maybe he's against us. Maybe God is not as generous as we thought. Maybe he's actually withholding good from us. And so indeed, he's leading the couple to want to go independent of God thinking they know better than he does. And then we realize that it worked because in verse 6 we read that the woman looked at the tree, this is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The woman looked at the tree, she saw that it was good for food, a delight to the eyes and desirable to make one wise. And so she took from the fruit and ate of it and gave to her husband who was with her and he ate. So they both were deceived into thinking that somehow that was better for them. So what happened was this kind of reversal in the way they thought about things. Whereas before they thought God is good, God is for us, his word is true but then the serpent convinced them to think, no, God is not for them. He's not speaking the truth. He's withholding something from you. And they used to think of the tree as harmful and destructive, but now they think of the tree as good for food, delight to the eyes, desirable to make one wise, and so they took from it.

So I think from this, there are three different kinds of urges for independence that you can see from Genesis 3:6 when she says that the tree is good for food. This is an example of what might be called the hedonist urge. The hedonist urge is the urge that says I will have my appetites satisfied my way. So we go independent from God by seeking to have the cravings and the appetites and the desires of our heart, satisfied our own way, disregarding what God says, disregarding what he commands of us. 

Secondly, the phrase the tree was a delight to the eyes, it represents the covetous urge. Now notice there was no prohibition to look at the tree. I'm sure they had observed it many times. The woman says it was in the middle of the garden. So probably it was a prominent tree. Very beautiful to look at. So when it says a delight to the eyes, I don't think it means just merely they notice how beautiful it is. I think rather it means it's a covetous attitude. You look at it and you think, I want that for myself. I want that to be mine. And that's in fact what they did is they took of the tree and ate of it. So indeed they succumb to that covetous urge and the last, the tree is able to make them wise. So the prideful urge is represented there where they seek to want to be the ones on top, the ones who know the most, the ones who are able to be honored and applauded for what they do. So indeed these three different urges are different ways of expressing this fundamental urge for independence from God. Whether it's by seeking to have appetite satisfied your own way, by seeking to have what God has forbidden you to have and the covetous urge, by seeking to have yourself be glorified and honored in the prideful urge.

Okay, let's move on then. In the nature of sin, to think together about this doctrine of total depravity, which is the doctrine that states that because of sin, every aspect of us has been affected by sin, our mind, our body, our appetites, our soul, every aspect of us has been affected by sin. So notice that the term in total depravity is used in an extensive sense, not an intensive sense, extensive not intensive. That is extensively every part of us, every aspect of us has been affected by sin. There's no part of us that is not sin-infested, but it's not used intensively. It doesn't indicate that we are as bad as we could be. Think of our minds, for example. Yes, our minds have been affected by sin, but we can still add two plus two and get four. I mean, we can still think some things that are true by God's grace. Thankfully we're not as bad as we could be.

So total depravity then though indicates every part of us is affected by sin. So take a look with me for a moment at just a few passages of scripture. Ephesians chapter 2:1 to 2 is very helpful. It indicates that sin has infected us so deeply that it controls our lives. He writes in verses 1 to 3, Paul does, "And you are dead in your trespasses and sins 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." Well, when you look at that, you realize, oh my goodness, our minds are affected by sin. The lusts of the flesh indicate these desires that we have that are contrary to God in his ways. We are governed by those things. So indeed that sin takes over in our lives and we are unable to get rid of it and unable to control it. It is controlling us according to Paul. 

Take a look at Romans 1 for just a moment. Romans chapter 1, as you read through especially verses 21 to the end of the chapter, 21 to 32, you see many examples of how sin affects different parts of us. Let me read just a little bit with you here. We can't take time to go through all of it. Verse 21, "For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but became futile in their speculations, their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the form of corruptible man and birds and beasts, four-footed animals and crawling creatures."

So indeed it indicates here that their minds are affected by sin. They have foolish hearts. Their affections are affected by sin. Their understanding of the world is affected by sin. Their object of worship is affected by sin. They exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for worship of creatures. And then notice verse 24, God gave them over and the lust of their heart to impurity so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. So indeed, even physical bodily type urges and activities are affected by sin. So you just realize every part of us is affected by sin according to Scripture's teaching. Another passage you could look at later if you like, is Galatians 5:16 and 17. Also, Ephesians 4:17 to 19, Galatians 5:16 and 17 and Ephesians 4:17 to 19.

So every part of us is affected by sin according to the doctrine of total depravity. Total inability flows right out of it because we are affected by sin in every part of who we are, it results in being completely unable to do what pleases God. So total inability refers to the fact that because of sin, we are totally unable, completely unable to do what pleases God. Probably one of the most forceful statements of this is in Romans 8 verses 7 and 8 where Paul writes that the mindset in the flesh, which is a way of his talking about an unbeliever because he contrasts it with the mindset in the spirit, a believer, one who has the Holy Spirit, the mindset in the flesh, an unbeliever does not subject itself to the law of God and it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Very direct, very straightforward, isn't it? That indeed because of sin that affects us and governs us, we cannot do anything that pleases the Lord.

Here's another passage. Jesus says in John 15 verse 5, "Apart from me, you can do," do you remember? "Nothing." Nothing. Of course, he doesn't mean you can't do good things for other people. I mean Jesus will say that if you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children. So yes, there are many, many parents out there who are not believers, who nonetheless can do good things for their children and provide for them and so on. But when Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." He means nothing of eternal value, nothing that God would look at and look approvingly at it. So indeed, apart from Christ, we cannot do anything that pleases God that would last for eternity. Total inability then renders us unable to come to Christ. In our sin, we cannot in and of ourselves ever repent of our sin, believe in Christ and be saved. It indicates the necessity of the work of the spirit to bring us to salvation because we cannot do this apart from the work of the spirit to bring us to that place.

So total inability then is the state of every person who is in sin because of total depravity because every aspect of us is affected by sin. It results in our being unable to do what pleases God. Sometimes people will ask me, but can't people do good things? And isn't it pleasing to God that they do like helping an old lady across the street? And my response is, a person can sin in one of two ways. They can sin by hitting the old lady on the head and stealing her purse or by helping her across the street. Now how is the second one a sin? I think we'd all agree the first one is a sin, hitting her on the head and stealing her purse, that's a sin. But helping her across the street? Well look inside that person as he's helping this old lady across the street and see what's going on inside of him.

He's thinking to himself, aren't I wonderful. I mean I hope somebody out there is capturing this on their camera, on their phone and showing it to other people. Or at least if nobody else is watching, I know I'm such a good person. So you realize that even though we do good things, if we're sinners, we're not doing it for the glory of God, we're doing it for selfish purposes. This is why Romans 3:23 really needs to be understood rightly. Romans 3:23, Paul say, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Now what that cannot mean is all have sinned by failing to attain to the same level of glory God has falling short of the glory of God. That must mean attaining to the same level of glory God has that constitutes our sin. Impossible. We never could attain to the full glory that God has.

We're finite creatures. It can't mean that. So what does it mean? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Here's what it means. All have sinned by failing to ascribe to God, the glory that is exclusively his. You hear it? All have sinned by failing to ascribe to God. That's how we fall short of the glory of God. We fail to ascribe to God the glory that is exclusively his. So what we do in our human nature as sinners is we seek to take glory to ourselves. And so bring dishonor to him as we attempt to honor ourselves in this. 

Okay, acts of personal sin. Just some categories here that are helpful to think about. The most obvious category is sins of commission and sins of omission. That is sins of commission are things we do that we should not do or should not have done. And sins of omission are sins for we fail to do something we ought to do. I think that makes sense. Obviously a sin of commission would be like breaking the 10 Commandments. Thou shalt not steal. So stealing is a sin. Murder is a sin. Committing adultery is a sin. And sins of omission failing to do things we ought to do. For example in James 4:17, the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it to him, it is sin. And another, you can read this on your own later. Another remarkable passage is Matthew 25:41- 46. Matthew 25:41-46, where the whole point of these people who are being cast into hell is what they did not do. They did not visit these followers of Christ in prison. They did not give them water to drink. They did not give them food to eat and so on. It was their sins of omission that are being focused upon in that judgment account.

Here's a second category, sins of outward action and sins of inward attitude. So here it is both the things that we do outwardly like stealing, committing murder and so on, but also inward attitudes that are the point of the sin. So things like anger, unrighteous anger and jealousy and bitterness. These are sins that we commit that are evil in God's sight. And so God cares not only about the things we do, but the attitudes of our heart. It's just a remarkable thing to notice that. And by the way, you can toy with this on your own. There are outward action sins that are both commission and omission. So things that we fail to do that are sins of outward action, like helping somebody in need, when the Lord is leading us to do so and we say no, but also sins of inward attitude that are not only sins of commission, things like jealousy and bitterness and anger and revenge, but also sins of inward attitude that are sins of omission, like not rejoicing always. Again, I say rejoice, right? So failing to have the attitudes we ought to have as believers.

Then third, there's a distinction made in the Bible between sins that are conscious rebellion and sins of ignorance. For example, in Leviticus chapter 4:27-31, we see an example here of these sins that are done in ignorance. In Numbers 15, there's actually both kinds of sin are stated together. Numbers 15:27 to 29 are sins of ignorance, but then deliberate willful sin. What I'm here calling conscious rebellion sins is in Numbers 15:30 and 31. 

And then finally the last category is greater and lesser sins. So indeed it is the case that all sin is sin, but that some sins are more grievous in God's sight than others. So for example, Jesus will say in Matthew chapter 12, "Woe to you, Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would've believed they would've repented in sackcloth and ashes. It'll be more tolerable on the day of judgment for them than it will be for you." So indeed, where greater revelation is given greater accountability, and so the severity of the judgment will be greater for some than it will be for others. Look also if you wish at Matthew 23:23, Matthew 11:20 to 22 and 1 Corinthians 6:17 and 18. 

All right, moving on then to systemic or social manifestations of sin. This is a big topic for the day in which we live. That it's not the case that sin just resides in the hearts of individual people. That sin that is within us then gets manifest in structures of human relationships that we devise that end up reflecting a sinfulness in the way in which those relationships are carried out with each other. So systems of social relationship can have elements of sin in them, and it can be one of two forms. It can be good structures that are used for evil, something like marriage but you have an abusive husband or a police force and you have an abusive policeman or other examples of good institutions.

A judicial system is a good thing but if judges are taking bribes, that's evil. So good structures used for evil. But then the other one that is even worse is the formation of evil structures to do evil. That is you create them specifically to be unjust and oppressive to others. I mean, you can think of apartheid in South Africa or the ways in which laws were constructed here following the Civil War that still resulted in harm to Black Americans. The Jim Crow laws as they are sometimes called. Forming laws that are in and of themselves unjust and oppressive is another way this can be done. And look if you would at a couple passages, Psalm 94:20 to 23, Isaiah 10:1 to 4 and Amos 5:10 to 15, for examples of these categories of sin.

And then finally, this brings us to the doctrine of original sin. First of all, a definition here. Original sin does not refer to the doctrine of where sin originated. That's what you might think it is referring to, but it's not that. It's rather how the propensity to sin and sinfulness originates in us as human beings, how we become sinners, how the propensity towards sinfulness is passed on to or originates in each individual person. How the propensity towards sinfulness is passed on to or originates in each individual person. And here there really are two main views that have been held through the history of the church. One is called the federal or representative theory. This is the dominant view in reformed theology and it holds a view that Adam was the representative head, legal head of the human race. And so his act of sin, though it was not our act, we didn't have anything to do with it. Adam's act was imputed to us. His sin was imputed to us because he was the legal head of the whole human race. And so his action became our action, not because we had anything to do with what he did, but because he stood over us as the legal head of the race. The advocates for this view point to the similarity with this understanding of how we become sinners, with how we become righteous in Christ. It's not because of anything that we do in participation with what Christ did. Christ who is the head of the new race, the second Adam, but rather it's simply his work period that we receive by faith. So his work is imputed to us in faith. Therefore, the parallel to that is Adam's work is imputed to us simply because we are in Adam. So in Christ and in Adam are seen as parallels and hence that view argues the importance of maintaining that parallel of the first and second Adam.

The second view is the realist or Augustinian view. And that is to say that sin is passed on through sexual reproduction. That is, it comes through the parents. And again, Augustine did appeal to that passage in Hebrews 7 of Levi who's in the loins of his father Abraham, and saw that Levi comes from Abraham through that then would have the very nature of Abraham that would include his sin nature. So even though Adam is the head of the human race and the legal head of the race, the way in which his sin is passed on to us is through the act of reproduction. One of the advantages of this view that I have held to over the years is that it does help explain the sinlessness of Christ insofar as he did not have a human father. And it does look as though the sin of Adam, not the sin of Eve, the sin of Adam has passed on to us.

The sins of the fathers are visited upon the third and the fourth generations. There is this male headship idea that indicates the sin of the fathers are passed on down. So when you come to Christ, if he is conceived by the Holy Spirit of a human mother, but there's no human father, then that would eliminate the passageway of sin. So he would be fully human but not sinful. But in any case, these are both orthodox views, both ways that we understand how sin is passed on to us. The fact of the matter is it is. We all in Adam are sinners until Christ does a work to remake us fully, which will happen in its fullness when he comes again and praise be to God that day is coming.

So regarding the intentional sin and sins of-

Sins of ignorance.

Yeah. So in Leviticus, at least in my translation, it refers to one of those sins as unintentional sin. At least that's the translation in 4:27 to 31 and then there's the conscious rebellion sin. So my question is, in studying Leviticus, I felt that the teaching was saying that the animal sacrifice was pleasing to God only for the unintentional sin, but not for the conscious rebellion sin.


I had never really actually... Is that a correct way of looking at it?

Yeah, I think that's right. Yes.


That's what it says. And I think in Numbers it confirms that as well. So I think this has to be understood as sins of a kind of ultimate defiance against God, where the person is turned away from God in a decisive way. Because at one level, almost every sin that we commit, we know something of what we're doing. There are times when we don't, but we do. But what it differs from are those sins that some commit that are, I think the King James used the translation sins of the high hand. So it's like your fist is shaking at God and you're saying, I'm done with you. I think that's what he has in mind. There can be no sacrifice for that. Good question. Thank you.

So the question about the old lady going across the street.


What if you're doing it because you think it's the right thing to do? So the motive would be, well, I just think it's right. How would you comment?

Yeah. So I would still appeal there to Romans 3:23. Even though the person does it because he thinks it's right, this can remain in the category of moralistic rightness. What he's not doing is acknowledging I'm doing this under God as one who owes to him my behavior and giving glory to him for the privilege of being able to share what he's given me and help to another. So it's not that. It really is not glorifying God, even though there's part of it that is correct, but that part that's correct, still is not the most important thing that needs to be acknowledged. I owe everything to God and I'm doing this under his authority and for his glory.

Because you're still saying it's my authority, it's my idea of what's right and wrong rather than what's God's idea?

And I suppose even if you had someone who was in a sort of Christian-like context and believed they were doing this as part of God's law, it still is a moralistic thing unless they acknowledge that they owe everything to God for what they are and have. So all have sinned by failing to ascribe to God the glory that is his and his alone. So I think that's what's lacking.

Going back to the earlier part of the lecture when you were talking about transmission of the soul and you said that you favored the traducian, the pass-across method, which I think makes sense. It seems like that sort of ties into the discussion of the realist or Augustinian theory on sin, both of which are being in some way sort of semi-physically transmitted, like you mentioned, this sexual act.


I guess my question is, when we talk about having a sinful nature that we received, inherited from Adam, would you say then that our nature is fully and totally contained by our soul and not physically by our body? Because as you mentioned, when we die, our body just disintegrates. But it would seem like we still have our nature.

Well, I would say that our nature, human nature necessarily involves both body and soul. That this intermediate state where we continue to exist apart from our bodies is what? A abnormality. It's not the norm. It's not what God intends either in creation or in recreation in the new heavens and new earth because we will have resurrected bodies. It simply means God has a purpose for us not having a body yet as we await the resurrection of Christ. Yet he gives us the privilege of being with him spiritually as opposed to soul sleep or something like that, which is not what the Bible teaches.

Well, Moses saying Elijah had some form and we know him from the transfiguration.

Yes, they did. So some way God enabled them to be manifest. I don't think that indicates that they were in their bodies that would just go against Philippians chapter 1 where Paul says that he doesn't know which to do, he desires to depart and be with Christ for that's very much better, yet to remain on in the flesh is necessary for your sake. So to remain on in the body, he contrasts that with depart and be with Christ. So I take it again, he means when he dies, he will be with Christ and his body goes to a grave, but he knows also the body will be raised one day. So yeah.

So just to follow up on previous question, so the difference between doing nice things and good things is a distinction of where you're giving the glory. Because I can do nice things out of my own understanding or out of my own motives or things like that, but to do good things, we're doing them, recognizing that God gives us not only the power to do it, but the ability to do that. Would you say that that's correct?

Yes. Yes. And we owe him thanks and praise for that privilege. Yeah. Yeah, that's right.


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