The Bible begins with the affirmation that both creation and humanity were created “very good” (Genesis 1:31). In last week’s article we discussed what it meant for humanity to be created good in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27).
If God created humanity and creation good, what happened? Why all this strife, conflict, division, and suffering? The Christian answer to this question, simply put, is sin. But what is sin? Most people think of sin as individual acts of violence or bad behavior. This is far too superficial a definition of sin, when compared to the biblical definition.
Our first parents were created innocent and with free will. They needed to have free will. God determined that for humanity to fulfill their role as his image bearers they needed to have the ability to freely choose. God provided for their every need in the Garden of Eden and gave only one prohibition. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).
Why would God give them a test? We need to remember that a test is not a bad thing in and of itself. A test can only lead to evil, if people use it to choose an alternative to God. Instead of prohibiting them from eating fruit from a certain tree, God could have simply said, “Do not murder.” We all would have understood that. There is a sort of tragic profundity about what happened. Even though they had it all, they still sought an alternative to God by partaking of a piece of fruit.
That was the first sin. Thinking God was holding back on them (see Genesis 3:4), Adam and Eve sinned. They misused their God given free will; they failed to bear God’s image to his creation; they used their dominion to form a coup against God.
Both the most frequently used Hebrew word and Greek word for sin in the Bible mean the same thing: to miss the mark. The mark or goal for humanity was to bear God’s image on earth. The biblical meaning of sin is to fail to be and to function as God’s image bearers.
Our first parents sin infects every human being. God created the world and its human inhabitants very good. We sinned. As a people and as individuals we continue to perpetuate our first parent’s sin. All the world’s misery can be traced back to a morose relationship with our Creator and creation, which our sin caused.
Is there hope? Yes. Join me next week, when we look at Jesus Christ.