April 30, 2008

The Christian Life – “God’s Broken Image” – Sinclair Ferguson

Posted in Christian life, Gospel, Reformed Theology, Sin at 12:21 am by Dan Lowe

“We will never properly understand the work of God which takes place in the Christian life unless we first of all have some kind of grasp of why we need the grace of God” (Sinclair Ferguson, “The Christian Life”, Banner of Truth, pg 11.)

If we are to even begin to appreciate the greatness o f the grace of God in the gospel, then we must grow in our understanding of sin.

In his book, “The Christian Life”, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson discusses four aspects of the fallen and sinful nature of humanity:

1)      The image of God in man is defaced. 

God created all things for His glory (Rom 11:36, Rev 4:11, I Cor 6:20, I Cor 10:31.)  However, human beings are unique among all creation for we are created in the image of God to reflect His character within creation (Gen 1:26-27.)  However, the sin of Adam brought death upon humanity (Gen 2:17, Gen 3) and a defacement of image of God within us.  The image of God is not completely destroyed (Gen 9:6), but it is seriously defaced (Rom 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…”)

The gospel offers us hope in light of this problem, for in the gospel we have the promise of God that we are “a new creation” in Christ Jesus (II Cor 5:17.)

We have no ability to recreate ourselves… this work must come from God… and it is a consequence of regeneration (John 3:1-8, cf. Ezek 36:25-27.)

2)      People are under the dominion of sin and death.

The apostle Paul says it better than I ever could…

                Human beings under the dominion of death:

Romans 5:12 (ESV) – 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

Romans 6:23a (ESV) – 23 For the wages of sin is death…

                Human beings are under the dominion of sin:

Romans 7:18-20 (ESV) – 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The gospel alone is the answer to this problem…

Romans 6:6-11 (ESV) – 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

3)      Human beings are guilty before God.

Read Romans 1-3 carefully.  In this passage, the apostle Paul brings a devastating indictment against all humanity.  All human beings, without exception, are guilty before God.

Romans 3:10-11, 23 (ESV) – 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God… 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

There is a consequence for our guilt before God…

Romans 6:23 (ESV) – 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 1:18 (ESV) – 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Only through the work of Christ Jesus can the consequences of our sin be removed…

Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) – 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Romans 8:1 (ESV) – 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

4)      Human beings are naturally in the grip of Satan.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) – 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

The answer to this problem is found in the saving work of God alone…

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) – 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

“We need recreation by Christ in order that the image of God, once distorted by sin, may be restored.  We need deliverance form the dominion of sin in order that we may live freely for God.  We need to be rescued from the power of Satan so that our lives may be given to Christ the Lord as His glad bondslaves.  We need to be saved from the wrath of God so that, released from this most terrifying of all prospects, we may live the life of forgiven sinners.  It is the glory of the gospel that it meets our need” (Sinclair Ferguson, “The Christian Life”, Banner of Truth, pg 16.)

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