We’ve been talking about the biblical truth that God is our Creator. But the biblical story points to a force that works against God’s purposes in creation. It’s a force that undoes the good of God’s original creation. In this way, it is a force that “uncreates” what God sets out to create. That force is called “sin.” We don’t like to talk about sin — it doesn’t do much for our self-esteem and our happiness, so often times we avoid it. But this is another foundational truth in the scriptures: we’re all guilty of sin.
So here’s how this works: we are made in the image of God, made to reflect His light and His love and His goodness. But sin corrupts the image of God in us. We could say it pollutes that divine image, distorts that divine image; it changes the way we look. So Sin is the great “uncreator” because it creates something other than what God would intend. We may be made in God’s image, but there are times when we don’t look very much like that because sin has corrupted that image almost beyond recognition. Sin always does this — it distorts the image of God in us, driving a wedge in our relationship with God and also our relationship with others. The Bible is very clear on this one — sin is a game changer.
In the biblical story, the goodness of God’s creation is undone when Adam and Eve eat of the fruit that was forbidden — fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had already declared His creation to be good, but He had also declared that something was not good — specifically to eat of this fruit. And this is important: when they reach for this fruit, Adam and Eve are seeking to define good and evil for themselves. They are not simply reaching for a meal they’ve never had before; they are reaching beyond their station, reaching for God-like status.
We are made in the image of God but we are NOT God. We are incapable of defining good and evil apart from outside revelation from God. In fact, we often call evil good and good evil as it says in Isaiah 5:20, Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness. Adam and Eve sin when they decide it’s a good thing to disobey the direct command of God. And I think we understand that because we do the same thing, do we not? We reach beyond our station, we forget our place. In our world, evil is being called good and good is being called evil so much that it will make your head spin.
This is the sobering bad news of the biblical story. God looks at sin and it’s work of “uncreation” and He says, “This is very bad.” And I bet you can look at the consequences of sin in your own life and reach the same conclusion. I know I can. Sin keeps me from being the person God created me to be and it damages my relationships with other people.
But this is exactly where we need to look at the Genesis story through the lens of the Jesus story. The image of God is corrupted by sin; we’ve established that. But the good news is that God has acted in Jesus to restore the divine image in us. Only in Jesus are we able to live according to God’s purposes once more — through His death and resurrection.
The writers of the New Testament talk about the work of Jesus as “new creation” work. He rose on the first day of the week, which takes us back to the first day of creation in Genesis. If sin has the power to “uncreate” Jesus sets out to re-create — to redeem us from our slavery to sin, to reconcile us back to God, and to restore creation to God’s original good purposes.
And, to echo what God said in Genesis, this news is very good. It is very good news that we don’t have to be slaves to sin any longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.2 Corinthians 5:17
This verse contains Paul’s favorite phrase: “in Christ.” Paul is always contrasting the difference between being “in Christ” and to not be “in Christ.” To not be in Christ is to continue to live in the land of uncreation — to remain beholden to sin and it’s corrupting, perverting, distorting power. But to be in Christ is to live in an entirely different realm — it is to become a new creation.
And when we become a new creation, we are set free to once again pursue the purposes for which God created us — we are free to image Him once more. This includes the good works for which He created us.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10
When we are “in Christ” we are created anew. And Paul uses a unique word here — we are God’s “workmanship.” Paul intentionally uses the Greek word poiema — from which we get our English word “poem.” It’s a word that refers to a creative composition, like a poem, a sculpture, a song. In essence, Paul says that when we are in Christ, we are God’s masterpiece. God’s original good purposes are restored to us and we are free to pursue the good works He has prepared for us.
When we are in Christ, God once again looks at us and says, “This is very good.”
To be in Christ is to be a new creation.