Is that really the explanation for our wrongdoings, that we’re just human and therefore imperfect? Some who believe in God as their Creator suggest that that is how God made them… imperfect. But is God really the cause of our imperfection?
God’s word, the Bible, relates a very different truth. We read that, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). And for these first humans, Adam and Eve, to have been truly created in God’s image implies that they were morally perfect as God Himself is.
Further, God placed them in a state of probation, promising them eternal life if they would obey Him by not eating from the forbidden tree. However, Satan, in the form of a serpent lied to Eve regarding the consequences of eating the fruit of the tree. The “You shall not surely die”, was followed with the deceitfully presented benefit of becoming like God (Genesis 3:4,5).
The sad irony of this temptation was that she and Adam were already like God, being created in His image. But in their minds, they became convinced that their happiness and welfare was not in being like God in their perfect reflection of His moral character, but in their being like God in their presumptuous idea of moral autonomy. Ultimately, we read that “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6).
Man, thinking himself now to be self-sufficient and autonomous, turned against God and His claims for loving obedience and submission. He no longer viewed his Creator as his greatest good. He became spiritually blinded and unable to spiritually discern the things of God, thinking them to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). This distortion and corruption in man’s understanding, will, and affections became a permanent fixture in the makeup of man. Adam, and all those bearing his fallen image became fallen man; morally corrupt and guilty of breaking God’s perfect law. The Apostle Paul wrote concerning man’s present state that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
And so, the image of God in man became radically corrupted and marred. Like the sunken Titanic under miles of ocean water, never to sail again, but still bearing the image of its former glory, so too man, buried under miles of sin and corruption still reflects something of his once glorious state. But he is unable to be that perfect moral reflection of God’s image that he once was.
So what did God do? Did He simply say, “Well, that whole thing in the garden didn’t work. My expectations were too high for man. I should just overlook all this and save everybody. After all, they’re just human”? Some imagine this kind of a God that they can get along with, who overlooks sin, who is indulgent in forgiveness… you know, the God who would never eternally punish man for his sin. After all they say, God is love.
Indeed God is love (1 John 4:16), but the Bible also says that God is holy, that He hates evil, and that “the wages of sin is death” (1 Peter 1:16; Proverbs 8:13; Romans 6:23). We also read, “Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). But who can honestly say that in God’s eyes they have “clean hands and a pure heart”?
What God did do was to send His only begotten Son into the world to accomplish what Adam and all mankind didn’t do. That is, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, obeyed God’s moral law perfectly, and that obedience is now credited to the moral account of the believer. But there’s more! Jesus, God in the flesh, paid on the cross the legal debt due to God for the believer’s disobedience.
And so God, Who is just, is now able to be “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:26)! In this way God shows Himself to be abundantly merciful, gracious, forbearing and forgiving to repentant and believing sinners. But the genius of this way of salvation is that it does not come at the expense of God’s holy, righteous and just character.