Tom Hayes

The Doctrine of Man

Genesis 1-3

Although some modern day athletes have degraded the sports' world by their association with drugs, illicit sex, and crime, there are those who have maintained a measure of dignity, expanded their horizons, and become respected subjects in two worlds. Because of their uncanny athletic abilities, they are icons in the particular sport in which they excel. Then, by taking millions of dollars paid to them in the sports world and investing in various business ventures, they, in turn, have become strong forces in the financial world.

In a very interesting way, the word, "Anthropology," has become a term of two worlds. The scientific world, for instance, now uses the term to describe man's "psycho-physical organism and natural history" (John Miley). In the theological world, however, where man's relationship to God is emphasized, the term indicates "the doctrine, or the study of man." The present study, being theological in nature, will accentuate the latter usage.

Having meditated on "The Doctrine of God" (Theology), "The Doctrine of Christ" (Christology), and "The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit" (Pneumatology) in our previous studies, we certainly cannot go to a higher level. Thus, we condescend to the human realm to contemplate "The Doctrine of Man" (Anthropology). While the history of the human family is not very glamorous, man is the crowning work of God's creation, or, in the words of John Gill, "the master-piece of the whole creation," and very much a part of the divine plan.

That plan comes out of eternity, spans time, and moves back into eternity. The story of man, then, goes back further than the Garden of Eden, and reaches beyond the borders of this world. It is a very vast subject, touching both time and eternity. But, while the parameters are admittedly rather wide, our goal continues to be a very narrow one, to simply and briefly examine and state these truths from the biblical perspective.

In the light of the earliest record, we are confronted, firstly, with:


Although the triune God had determined man's creation (see 1:26), the introductory statement regarding the very act of his creation reads, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27). This creative process is further described in the words, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

Several facts concerning man's existence are clear, the basic one being that:

A. Man Was Formed By God

In that God personally and particularly “formed man of the dust of the ground,” man could not have come into being on his own. There was a definite Creator, a definite Cause and Source of man’s existence. As well, God created man independently of all other species, breathing “into his nostrils the breath of life.” On this basis, man could not have evolved. Directly, instantaneously, purposefully, God created or formed man, enlivening him as a living soul.

Another fact that is clear regarding man’s formation is that:

B. Man Was Formed Like God

Not only are we told that “God created man in His own image” (Gen. 1:27), but in His “likeness” (Gen. 1:26; 5:1). While various explanations have been given concerning this resemblance, the basic concept seems to involve authority, spirituality, and immortality. As God is Lord over the universe, so Adam was given a kind of lordship over the creation (see 1:28). As God knew and loved Adam, so Adam, in his original state, had the ability to know and love God. Also, being immortal Himself, the Creator gave man an immortal soul.

In the creation of man, it is also clear that:

C. Man Was Formed For God

Since God created man, and created him in His image, it must be concluded that He created him for Himself, for His Own purposes and glory. The wise man of old wrote, "The LORD hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. 16:4). We must agree with the answer to the question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "What is the chief end of man?" That answer reads, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever." While man was formed by God, like God, and for God, there is a very dark spot in human history.

We come then, secondly, to what is commonly referred to as:


The duration of time between man’s creation and fall cannot be determined. It does seem that lordship over the creation, and fellowship with the Creator, was experienced and enjoyed for a certain period. During this time, wrote J. L. Dagg, "A free intercourse with their Maker existed, and the token of the divine favor, the fruit of the tree of life, was not denied." Without question, everything was glorious and wonderful, heaven upon earth, until "sin entered the world" (Rom. 5:12).

The fall of man, and the entrance of sin, found its springs in:

A. A Conscious Disobedience

It is stated that the first woman "took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen. 3:6). While Eve was "deceived" in partaking of the forbidden fruit, "Adam was not deceived" (1 Tim. 2:4). He well knew the law of God in this matter. Yet, in human willfulness, he opposed the divine will. Consciously, selfishly, determinedly, he disobeyed the divine command and prohibition. He sinned with his eyes wide open!

This willful act brought Adam, his wife, and his future posterity into:

B. A Condemned Dilemma

With their sin came the reality of shame and degradation. We are told that "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked." And, aware of their wrong, they staged the first "cover-up." For, "they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" (Gen. 3:7). Furthermore, sensing God's displeasure, they also "hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden" (Gen. 3:8). That they did not run to God, but away from Him, shows the barrier of sin and the inability of man.

This leads us on to the subject of:

C. A Complete Depravity

When we refer to the fall of man, we do not mean that man merely stumbled, and with a little work, can recover himself. Rather, he has plunged to a state of total corruption. And, because Adam was the father and the federal head of the human family, we all plunged with him. "By one man's disobedience," Paul wrote, "many were made sinners" (Rom. 5:19). That is, not only did Adam fall to a state of utter depravity, but his entire posterity, every person born into the world, is "under sin" (Rom. 3:9). We have all been expelled from God's Garden (see Gen. 3:24).

Having looked at man's formation and man's fall, we must also observe:


When we speak of man's depravity, we do not mean that every person commits every form of sin, or that every one is as vile as is possible. But, we mean that man, even at his best, is a sinful being. There is no aspect about him that is not corrupt. To use the prophet's words, "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it: but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" (Isa. 1:6). "Depravity, or the sinful condition of man," wrote Henry B. Smith, "infects the whole man: intellect, feeling, heart, and will."

It must be concluded, then, that because of his total depravity:

A. Man Cannot Stop His Persistent Sin

We have established that we all are sinners. Of course, we do not become sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners! Our nature is Adamic, sinful, and corrupt! "A corrupt tree," Jesus taught, cannot "bring forth good fruit" (Luke 6:43). It might be said, also, that a tree cannot change the quality of its fruit. In similar fashion, none of us can produce fruit that is acceptable with God. In ourselves, we can only continue producing what is natural, what comes from our fallen nature.

And, what is worse, because of his inability:

B. Man Cannot See His Pitiful State

According to the Bible, Satan has "blinded the minds of them that believe not" (2 Cor. 4:4). And, we are not only blind to the realities of God, we are blind to our pitiful condition. Again, it is stated that "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). The only hope we have is that the Lord Jesus came to "open" our "eyes, and to turn" us "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that" we "may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:18).

In this light, we must also come to grips with the fact that:

C. Man Cannot Save His Poor Soul

By nature, we prefer sin and self to God. Jesus said, "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). In other words, we do not have a disposition for salvation. And, even if we did, we do not have the power to save ourselves. That power must come from God! By the regenerating power of His Spirit, we are "called . . . out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). We then see and know the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior!

Every time I view the earth from an airplane, and see our vehicles crawling around like ants, I think of man's smallness and insignificance. But, when we view man in his fallen state, in rebellion against his own Creator, and understand something of God's gracious dealings with him in Christ, we can really see his insignificance and unworthiness. Thus, with the Psalmist, we must say, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? (Psa. 8:4).