The problem between God and man
How did it all start for mankind? Genesis 1:26-31 "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them
rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the
ground." So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed
them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the
air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the
whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of
the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And
it was so. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day."
It all started very well. God created everything and finally created man and woman in the image of Himself.
What was man's purpose in life? Genesis 2:15-25 "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and
take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be
alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds
of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its
name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper
was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man's ribs and
closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the
man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,' for she was taken out of man."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife
were both naked, and they felt no shame."
God provided everything that man needed physically, emotionally and spiritually. Man's purpose was to look after and care for all
that God had made. Man was also created to enjoy face-to-face fellowship with God.
How did it all go wrong? Genesis 3:1-6 "Now the serpent was more crafty than
any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God
really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to
the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say,
"You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you
must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not surely die," the serpent said to
the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the
fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for
gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband,
who was with her, and he ate it." Man did not believe God. Despite all God had
done for him, man simply did not trust God and judged Him to be capable of lying. So man, as a result of his lack of faith in God's
word, disobeyed God's instruction not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This lack of faith,
resulting in disobedience, is called sin.
What was the effect of sin? Genesis 3:7-24 "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked; so they
sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was
walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to
the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And He said,
"Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman
You put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have
done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your
life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike
His heel." To the woman He said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire
will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about
which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days
of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your
food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Adam named his wife Eve,
because she would become the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand
and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground
from which he had been taken. After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming
sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."
The greatest effect of sin was the broken relationships that resulted. Man's relationship with himself was shattered and the seeds
of damaged self-esteem were sown, bringing with them the need for "masks" and the hiding of our true self from other people.
Man's relationships with other people were damaged, as everyone's self-esteem was damaged and all started to wear masks.
Blame entered into human relationships (and our relationship with God).
Man's relationship with God was also shattered and face to face fellowship ended.
Death became a reality for man. Hard work in order to survive became the norm. Women suffered pain in childbirth and were
made subject to men.
What can put these things right? John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the
world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he
has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
Man sinned and, as a result, has not been able to live in relationship with God or live in a way that pleases God. As a result of His
love for man, God provided a solution to man's problem. He sent Jesus Christ, His Son, into the world to take the punishment due
to man. The issue between God and man now is the same as it was in the beginning - that is, will we believe God's word? His
Word now is that Jesus has made things right between God and man. Will we reject God completely, will we continue to trust in
our own "goodness" to get us into heaven or will we believe God and trust Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves?
What does it mean to be "saved"? 2 Corinthians 5:19 "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the
ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."
To be "saved" means to be brought back into a relationship with God, through faith in Jesus. Now, through faith in Christ, man is
able to once again live in relationship with God and, through that, to live more in a way that pleases God and benefits man -
although, for the time being, some of the effects of sin remain in the world and in our individual lives. As not believing God
caused the problem of sin in the beginning, and so broke man's relationship with God, so believing Jesus solves the problem of
sin and enables man to, once again, enter into relationship with God.
What are the results of being "saved"? There are many results of being saved. The Bible outlines many, many changes and
benefits. We have our sins forgiven, we have eternal life - going from this life into heaven, we have peace with God, we come to
actually know God (rather than just believe in Him), we have peace with ourselves, our relationships with other people are
restored and we are able to do many of the things that Jesus did when He was here. We can eagerly anticipate spending eternity
in heaven with God and all other Christian believers.
As these benefits show, salvation is for the here and now as well as for eternity.
This is just a very quick overview of some of the facts about the problem between God and man. If you have any questions about
the issues referred to here, or any other questions, please e-mail your questions for a personal response.