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In the Image of God

The spiritual gut punch felt through the ages; this is how I view the fall of man and the impact it had and has on mankind’s humanity. As creatures that were made in the image of God through the breathing of God’s spirit into man, falling from our origin state was like Roy Jones Jr. slamming his power packed right hook to the body of Virgil Hill (Slumz, 1998). The fourth round knockout blow left Hill unable to continue on fighting in the manner and style that he was so used to; in essence the wind was knocked out of him. Without his breath, not only could Hill not continue fighting but he could not even continue to stand. All of his training, preparation and focus were immediately rendered useless. With no breath he was reduced to lying on the floor in the fetal position, as a newborn entering into the world again, yet this time not as a confident prize fighter but a weakened, helpless image of the man he just recently was. What a punch in the gut! This article will discuss the spiritual gut punch that mankind suffered at the hand of sin. With this shot came all of the practical ramifications that the pugilist suffered. It will examine the original creation of man in the image of God and how it relates to the nature of humanity. Additionally, this article will discuss the fallen nature of man due to sin and how God’s grace and faith play a pivotal role in the restoration of man to its original form.

So, God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27a, NIV). This concept of the image of God has been considered through the ages by many great thinkers. Among these thoughts is that of Lactantius, who asserts that man’s creation in God’s image granted man a commonality with God through identity (McGrath, 2011, p. 349). In other words it is through the idea of being in God’s image that man can relate to God. Humans were created in a way that allowed for direct communication, communion and co-existence with their creator. The door was wide open for man to talk and listen to God, knowing what God’s will was for man and his place in the world as a creature having dominion over the rest of creation. There was no separation or strife in the relationship between God and man prior to the “tree incident,” which I will leave described that was since we have yet to get to that point. Man’s freedom to know God’s wishes are evident in the direct instruction given in the creation story (Genesis 1:28, NIV). This direct contact shows a relationship not veiled in burning bushes (Exodus 3) or writings on the wall (Daniel 5) but one of direct report. An attribute to being made in God’s image is the eternal nature of man’s spirit. Man was meant to dwell with God for eternity. This is most strongly implied in the cost of sin which brought about man’s fall. Sin caused not only a separation in the relationship with God but death, a death which God never designed for man. Paul asserts that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23, NIV), however, to understand the fall of man one must come to understand the concept of sin.

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Sin as expressed during the Pelagian Controversy of the early fifth century (McGrath, 2011, p. 351) in three parts. Augustine’s concept of the tri-fold nature of sin is first as a disease. Sin is like an untreatable disease that man contracted at the fall of Adam. The illness as Augustine refers to it is a sickness that is passed down from generation to generation and is inescapable and incurable (McGrath, 2011, p.352). However it is vital to understand that the fall suffered by man in the garden left mankind in the state of sin. Mankind’s fall, to close up any gaps, came about when he and Eve disobeyed God’s command to not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden (Genesis 3:3, NIV). God warns that eating from the tree would bring death and upon ingesting the fruit Adam found the threat to have merit. The condition of sin brought a spiritual death to man. Sin caused a rift in the relationship between God and man. The communion was broken; the spiritual death severed man’s connect with the image of God. Man was no longer eternal, but would taste death due to sin. The second Augustinian concept of sin was that of power. Sin, in this thought, holds man captive, unable to break the bonds of its restraints. The third concept offered is that of judicial concern. Man was found guilty of sin and was sentenced generationally to suffer its affect. Helpless to defend against the disease, power and guilty stain of sin, man required grace.

[pullquote_left]The body blow of sin knocked the breath of God out of man, stealing from him the eternal nature of God[/pullquote_left]

Grace is, according to Pelagius, instruction and guidance on how to reunite the relationship with God (McGrath, 2011, p. 354). Therefore grace is not God giving man extra divine power not to sin, but the gifting of the Decalogue whereby man can learn God’s character and strive to reconnect with God. Through perfect or holy living, man can rejoin God in a healthy relationship. Perfect, as pointed out by McGrath (2011) is vague, so the map to follow has been granted through God’s grace via the Ten Commandments and the teaching of Christ. God has revealed himself through these mediums, offering an opportunity for man to get back to Him. Between the Decalogue and teachings of Christ, all roads lead back to God, yet one must be justified to take this journey.

[pullquote_right]Sin is like an untreatable disease that man contracted at the fall of Adam[/pullquote_right]

Justification or being justified means to prove or show to be just, right or reasonable (Merriam-Webster’s, 2012). In this light, glancing back to Augustine’s concept of sin and guilt, mankind has a guilty verdict and therefore is barred from the presence of God. To gain re-admittance to God’s presence one has to be found right or have the verdict lifted. Mankind needed more than an acquittal, it needed an overturned sentence. To be justified in God’s eyes would take one thing, and one thing alone, faith. To say faith in Jesus alone is the deciding factor of God’s justification to re-enter into relationship is making it as parochial as possible. This statement may hold a vast depth of meaning for a knowledgeable theologian; however, to the ungodly, and/or unlearned layman it fails to cover the scope of necessity involved in the faithful acceptance of the complicated, in-depth work of the cross. Faith in Christ means that a person has come to understand and accept the fact that God manifested Himself in the flesh through Jesus Christ and was born of a woman to dwell among mankind (John 1:14, NIV). Further, Jesus, following the instruction of the Father sacrificed His life as the blood offering for the redemption of man. Paying the penalty of sin by death, Jesus fulfilled the requirements for man’s possible restoration with God. The rest is left to man; it is man’s responsibility to accept Christ’s sacrifice and thereby be restored through Jesus’ work and man’s faith in that work.

In conclusion, man was made in the image of God, an eternal being in good fellowship with his creator. The body blow of sin knocked the breath of God out of man, stealing from him the eternal nature of God and the ability to have a personal relationship with God. The condition which separates man from God is sin, a condition which carries with it the debt of death. Through God’s grace man has been shown the way out of debt and back to his destiny in God. This justification to re-enter into relationship with God is found through faith in Jesus and the redeeming work of the cross. Through acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice man can re-enter into the promise of eternity with God, as God meant it to be.


By, Dr. William C. Luff


Slumz (1998) Ring Magazine: knockout of the Year Located at

McGrath, Alister E. (2011) Christian Theology: An Introduction Fifth Ed. King’s College London

Tyndale House Publishing (1988) Life Application Study Bible, New International Version Carol Stream Illinois

Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary (2012) Located at http://www.merriam-

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