The Enigma of the Double Image 2/5: The Inside Story of Human Life Genesis 5:3; 6:5September 10th / 11th 2011by Pastor Colin S. Smith “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” Genesis 5:3The theme of our series, “The Inside Story” is especially poignant thisweekend as we mark the tenth anniversary of September 11th 2001. Formany people that day brought pain, sorrow and irrecoverable loss. Manythings were shaken, far beyond the twin towers, on that day.In a PBS special this week, a thoughtful woman described the comfortableview of life she had adopted before 9/11: “Some people do bad things” shesaid. “But to me, evil was an adjective, not a noun.” Then she said, “I canno longer live with that explanation. I don’t know what I believe now, buton 9/11 I lost my easy answers.”For some years now, secular education has been teaching our children andyoung people the postmodern myth that there is no such thing as good orevil, that everything is relative… What people call “good” and whatpeople call “evil” is just culturally defined.But on September 11th we saw the face of evil. This was too awful andtoo dark for a social or cultural explanation. People reared in relativismbegan searching for language and for categories that could describe whathad happened. They found themselves saying, “This is evil.”The foundations of relativism and postmodernism itself shook. Once youadmit that there is evil, and that it is in human beings, you have to ask thequestion, “How did it get there?”The inside story of sin’s developmentThat’s what we are looking at in this series—the inside story of humanlife. The book of Genesis tells us the story not only of sin’s origin, butalso of its development. After Adam and Eve were expelled from God’sgarden, sin grew.The first family soon fractured. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain andAbel (You can read their story in Genesis 4). Cain became angry towards
2Abel and murdered his own brother. The man who declined to offer ablood sacrifice ended up shedding the blood of his own brother.It was an early sign of the devastation and destruction that sin would bringto the human family. Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters, andGod’s grace allowed the growth and development of the human race. InGenesis 5, God gives an account of the generations that came from Adam.Then we have an extraordinary statement of how sin multiplied andintensified as the human family grew, “The LORD saw how great manswickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of thethoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).It is an extraordinary statement. God is telling us about the growth of evilin the human family. How great man’s wickedness had “become.” Evilbecame pervasive in society, and for this reason God sent the flood.Genesis 6:5 is not saying that the world is always as bad as this. Thisworld is not heaven, but it is not hell either. In the time of Noah, theworld became so dark that “every inclination of people’s hearts was onlyevil all the time.”How in the world did that happen? How did we get from one sin thatAdam and Eve committed in the garden, to a world where every thought inthe hearts of men was only evil all the time?The difference between Adam and SethToday, we take the next step in following the inside story of the humanrace. I want to begin by drawing your attention to two verses in the earlychapters of Genesis. The first is in Genesis 1:26. Last week, we saw fromEcclesiastes that “God made adam upright” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…’ Godcreated man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; maleand female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Adam and Eve weremade in the image and likeness of God. God made “adam” upright.Then Adam and Eve listened to the tempter. They sinned, setting theirhearts on being their own god, and now they have children: “When Adamhad lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image;and he named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3).Do you see the difference? Adam is created in the image of God, and hisson still bears that image.1 But Adam’s son also bears the image of hisfather, who is a sinner. God made Adam upright, but Adam became a
3sinner and his son is born in the father’s likeness. This is true downthrough the generations of human history.Sons and daughters of Adam live with the enigma of the double image:Made in the image of God; born in the likeness of Adam. You need toknow this double truth about yourself. You’re made in the image ofGod—that gives your life meaning, dignity and worth. You’re born in thelikeness of Adam—you’re a sinner, alienated from God by nature. C. S.Lewis catches the enigma of the double image well… “To come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth”2This doctrine of the double image is foundational to the Christian faith,and it is of huge importance to our understanding of the world.1. Why is it wrong to fly a plane into the twin towers taking the lives ofthousands of people?If we are only developed animals who evolve by the survival of the fittest,how is that different from snuffing out a hornet’s nest? The answer is thatmen and women are made in the image of God. That is what gives everyhuman being value and dignity and worth.2. Why do men made in the image of God perpetrate deeds of evil in theworld?We are born in the likeness of Adam, and we’re sinners by nature and bypractice. We live in a dark and dangerous world. Nothing in this world isas it should be, and never will be this side of heaven.Sin Is In Us By NatureAdam came out of the hand of God upright, but Seth came out of thewomb as you and I did. He was born in the likeness of his father and hismother, a sinner.Poor Seth… and we are in the same position as he was. Sin was in hisfather and mother by their own choice. Sin was in him by nature and bybirth, even before he started!Not only was sin in him, but he was born into a fallen world. It’s effectswere all around him. God placed Adam in a garden paradise. Seth wasborn outside paradise, in a world under the curse of sin, a world that wouldbe marked by pain and suffering, a world in which the creation itself wasgroaning in frustration (Romans 8: 20).
4Can you imagine Adam sitting down with little Seth, trying to come toterms with what is in the world, and with what is in him. Adam makes afire and sits down, putting his arm around his son, “You ought to knowson, that you have two brothers.”“Really? Where are they?”“One of them is dead.”“How did he die?”“Your other brother killed him. Your mother and I haven’t seen him sincethat day. He has become a restless wanderer on the earth.”Sin is in all of us by nature. This is the truth about all of us, even the bestof us. This was true even of King David, who was described as “a manafter God’s own heart” (ref?).He says, “Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my motherconceived me” (Psalm 51:5). He doesn’t mean that his mother conceivedhim through a sinful act. He means the new life conceived by David’sfather and mother was the life of a sinner.Sin runs in the blood; grace does notWe are all born alienated from God. I’ve often had a conversation thatgoes something like this, “Tell me, how did you become a Christian?”Answer: “I was born that way.” Maybe you’ve said something like this.Friend, hear me: That is not possible! Nobody is born a Christian. Youcan be born a Jew. You can be born a Muslim. You can be born a Hindu.But you cannot be born a Christian. It’s impossible. Christianity does notrun in the blood, sin does.Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh. The Spirit gives birth to spirit….You must be born again” (John 3:6-7). You may say, “I come from agood family. I was born to Christian parents.” Friends, that’s my story. Icome from a good family. I was born to Christian parents. But that didnot make me a Christian. I was born a sinner.Sin runs in the blood; grace does not. Some of us may have this the wrongway round. If you’ve been working on the assumption that grace runs inthe blood, and sin does not, I plead with you to listen to the Bible today.You can’t ride into heaven on the faith of your parents or your friends, orsimply by being connected in some way to the church. That’s why Jesussaid, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).
5Actually this is good news. If grace ran in the blood, then those who camefrom faithless families would have no hope. Sin is the great leveler. Weare all sinners by nature and practice. We all stand on a level playing fieldbefore God, who offers grace to all in Jesus Christ—sinners—to whomGod offers His grace in Jesus Christ.No doctrine is more repugnant to the natural mind and heart than this. Thesinful mind will never receive this. If you believe it, it is only becauseGod has given you light. I pray, even as I speak, that God will give yougrace to embrace this truth.Many churches are actively erasing this truth. Confession of sin is quietlydropped from worship services. Massive tracts of Scripture that repeatthis foundational truth are silently glossed over. There is an activemovement today to rewrite the great hymns and erase this truth, becausesome believe that it is not positive enough for Sunday morning.I plead with you to take this truth seriously today. If you cannot see thetruth about yourself, you will not receive the great salvation that Godoffers to you in Christ.Sin Is a Vicious Enemy“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your facedowncast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you donot do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you,but you must master it.’" Genesis 4:7Sin is like a wild animal, a predator, crouching at the door. God says toCain, “It desires to have you.” Not only is sin present in every one of usby nature, but sin is a destructive power. It is an active enemy. It desiresto have you.This weekend, the homeland security forces with be on the highest alertbecause we have powerful enemies who would like to destroy us. Theywill always be hatching some new destructive scheme. The work ofwatching and intercepting these schemes is never done. That’s how it iswith sin. But Cain didn’t listen, that’s why his life was destroyed by sin.The crayon and the moldSuppose you put fresh paint on a wall in your house, and a child marks aline of crayon over it. You can wash the wall and get rid of the crayon. Ifit’s really bad, you can paint over the wall—not that big a deal.
6But suppose you have mold in your house. Painting over the mold won’thelp. Our home took on some water, as many of yours did, during theheavy rains a few weeks ago. So, I am having fun cutting out dry wall.A crayon leaves a mark that is easily dealt with. But mold is a livingthing. It spreads—it will take your health. It will destroy your house.Some folks think that sin is like the crayon. When you mess up, cover itover, clean up the mess and move on.But sin is not like a crayon—it is like the mold. The crayon is static; themold is on the move—it spreads. It needs to be cut out or it’ll destroyyour house. Sin is more than a list of things you’ve done wrong. If this isyour notion of sin, you have not understood it from the Bible. It’s a livingpower, a vicious enemy, and it is at work in you and it is at work in me.Are you taking the power of sin seriously in your life? This power isbigger, greater and stronger than you. Some years ago John Stott, who isnow with the Lord, spoke at our church. He was a godly and graciousman marked by integrity, one of the most highly respected Christianleaders around the world.His visit here was before my time, but several folks have told me about itand they all remember the same words that he said… “There is no sin that my flesh is not capable of committing within 30 minutes of leaving this church.”Sin Leaves Us Needing the Intervention of God“At that time, men began to call on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:26This is the first mention of prayer in the entire Bible, “At that time…”What time? What was it that caused men to pray for the first time? Whenthe destructive effects of sin became obvious in the world—brokenfamilies, violence, murder. Men saw evil in its ugly colors, and theybegan to ask God for help.It doesn’t say that all men did this. All men will not ask God for help.But some did. They saw what sin was doing, and they knew that theyneeded to pray, “God we need your help. We’re facing incredibledarkness. This is bigger than me.”What does God do? Two things…1. God restrains sin
7This world is not as bad as it could be. God restrains sin. If God took Hishand away, it would be hell itself. As a matter of fact, that’s what hell is.How does God do that?i. God restrains sin through lawIf there were no laws our streets would not be safe. The law restrains sin.It is a good gift from God. Thank a policeman. Tell him or her they are agift of God in a fallen world.ii. ConscienceAdam was a law to himself. He did not need the law because God wrote itin his heart. Even among those who do not acknowledge God, there issome residue of that impression. We call it “conscience.” So Paul says,“Their consciences bear witness” (Romans 2:15).iii. Common graceThis is not the same thing as saving grace. Common grace is the kindnessof God to all people, just as He causes the sun to rise on all people, notjust on those who love Him.When you see a woman who has no time for God, but she is a goodmother, you should thank God. Or when you see an atheist who showskindness to an elderly neighbor, thank God for him.Where does that come from? It is an echo, an evidence of the image ofGod. Every act of kindness ought to result in thanksgiving to God, evenwhen it comes from an unbeliever.iv. JudgmentSin is like a massive weed that would destroy the world except that God,in His kindness, cuts it back. He doesn’t destroy it, but He cuts it back.That is what happened in the flood. When nations become intolerablyevil, God sends revival or He causes that nation to fall. That is why theBible says, “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to apeople” (Proverbs 14:34).2. God redeems sinnersGod cuts back the weed of sin. But the day is coming when He will pull itup by the root and cast the whole thing into the fire. Sin will be no more.There will be a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.Suffering came into the world on the coat tails of sin. And when sin isexcluded from the planet, suffering will go out on its coat tails too. Therewill be no death, mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). God willwipe away all tears from the eyes of His people.
8How can sinners be in the home of righteousness? There’s only one way.When John the baptist began his ministry, he pointed to Jesus and he said,“Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John1:29). The hope of the world lies in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.A woman spoke to me after the service on the Sunday after September 11th10 years ago. She was very distressed. I had never seen her in the churchbefore and I don’t recall seeing her since.She rushed up to me and she said “Pastor, pastor… How can I tell mychildren that they are safe?” I said to her, “You can’t. The world isn’tsafe.” She looked completely stunned.We need to learn to live in this world in such a way as to be prepared forthe next. That’s what I need to do. That’s what you need to do. Andthat’s what we need to tell our children.1 Genesis 9:6 affirms that the image of God is still in fallen man.2 Cited by Phil Ryken: “Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters,” p. 178, Crossway, 2010