What is a Woman? What is a Man?
What has happened to our culture? How did we get to this point, and how are we as Christians to think biblically when it comes to cultural issues such as maleness and femaleness? How are we as Christians to think biblically about cultural in general? What role are we to play when it comes to culture? What exactly is culture?
As we move forward in this study, the overall objective is that we would have a better understanding and appreciation of man being made in the image of God. And to this end, I’ll be introducing different aspects of image-bearing so that hopefully by the end we’ll be able to arrive at a good working definition of what it means to be made as the image of God. We’ll have to build up our definition in a piecemeal fashion because there’s so much contained within the concept of image-bearing.
But before we jump into this critical subject, watch THIS short 5-minute video to see for yourself why we say this issue is critical.
The Dignity of Man
When it comes to the subject of man being made in the image of God, the primary text that speaks to this is found in Gen. 1:26-28.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
In these verses, we find a great emphasis being placed upon the dignity of man, especially when we consider these verses within the broader context of the first two chapters of Genesis. Herman Bavinck (the great Dutch theologian of the late 19th - early 20th century) brings this out in the opening paragraphs of his profound essay titled: The Origin, Essence, and Purpose of Man.
"The account of the origin of heaven and earth converges in the first chapter of Genesis upon the creation of man. The creation of the other creatures, of heaven and earth, of sun and moon and stars, of plants and animals, is [succinctly] reported... But when Scripture comes to the creation of man it lingers long over him, it describes not only the fact [of his creation,] but also the manner of his creation, and it [even] returns to the subject [of man’s creation] for further [elaboration] in the second chapter [of Genesis]."
What Bavinck is saying here is that the special attention that the text gives to the creation of man, as compared to the matter-of-fact description of the rest of creation, points us to the dignity of man. For example, in the creation narrative of Gen. chapter 1, there’s a general pattern that is repeated seven times, “And God said, let there be,” or something similar to that (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24). But then in verse 26, this pattern is conspicuously altered. Verse 26 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” This is meant to grab our attention. It’s telling us that there is something unique about man.
Moreover, notice the striking use of first-person plural pronouns, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In Gen. chapter 1, the only time God speaks in the first person is here in the account of the creation of man. This linguistic change signifies a distinction with respect to humans and the rest of creation. There is a hint of intimacy that is present; God is speaking personally when it comes to humans (He’s using personal pronouns). It is language that is meant to foreshadow the peculiarly personal relationship between God and man that would be elaborated upon in chapter two of Genesis (e.g., the Spirit of God personally breathing life into the earthen vessel of man, and God beginning to dialogue with man and commune with man in the garden). All of this points to man’s special place of dignity within the created order. Herman Bavinck goes on to say:
"This particular attention devoted to the origin of man serves as evidence of the fact that man is the purpose and end, the head and crown of the whole work of creation. And there are [other] details which also illuminate the superior rank and worth of man among the creatures."
In the first place, there is the special counsel of God which precedes the creation of man. [This clues us in to man’s dignity] At the calling into being of the other creatures, we read simply that God spoke and by His speaking brought them into existence. But when God is about to create man He first confers with Himself and rouses Himself to make men in His image and likeness. This goes to indicate that especially the creation of man rests on deliberation, on Divine wisdom and goodness and omnipotence. Nothing of course came into existence by chance. But the counsel and decision of God is far more clearly manifest in the making of man than in the creation of the other creatures.
Moreover, in this particular counsel of God, the special emphasis is placed on the fact that man is created after the image and likeness of God and therefore stands in an entirely different relationship to God than all other creatures. [This clues us in to man’s identity] It is said of no other creatures, not even of the angels, that they were created in God's image and that they exhibit His image.
This last point that Bavinck makes is exceedingly important. It’s absolutely critical that we understand that no other creature in God’s creation has this identity, but man alone. Man alone was made as the image of God. No other creature has been given this dignity, not even the angels.
For whatever reason, many people have a misconception about angels, thinking that they are somehow superior in rank or status to man. Even though angels have certain powers and abilities that we don’t have, nevertheless, we are the apex of God’s creation. “Yeah, but doesn’t Psalm 8 say that man has been made a little lower than the angels?” Yes. But really the way that passage is to be understood is that man has been made a little lower for a little while, and that one day when the redeemed in Christ are fully conformed to His image, when the people of God are glorified and brought into the fullness of what God intended humanity to be, then we shall judge the angels! (1 Cor. 6:3) Hebrews 2:5-9 proves this to be the case. The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8 and applies it to Christ. He says that Christ was for a little while made lower than the angels, but is now crowned with glory and honor and all things have been made subject to Him. And for those of us who are joined to Christ, we shall rule and reign with Him. As it says in 2 Tim. 2:12, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” And as Christ Himself says in Rev. 3:21, “To the one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne.”
All that to say, no other creature has been given the dignity that man has been given as the imagebearer of God. As the author of Hebrews goes on to point out a few verses later in chapter two, Christ did not take on the form of an angel to save fallen angels; He took on flesh and blood to save fallen men. Why? To restore the dignity of man who alone is made in the image of God.
Therefore, upon the authority of Scripture, we can say that man—as the image of God—is superior (i.e., has the highest rank or status) to all other creatures in the universe, including the angels. This should have many ramifications in your thinking. It should affect how you think about yourself; it should affect how you think about other people, regardless of their ethnicity, their sex, their age, their mental or physical abilities, etc. Perhaps it might even serve as a corrective to the idea of their being higher forms of extraterrestrial life out in the universe. The highest form of life in all the universe is man because man alone bears the image of God. Even if we were to discover alien life on some other planet, it doesn’t change the fact that Christ became a man to save men. Man is the pinnacle, the “Mount Everest” of creation. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is primarily focused upon the relationship between God and men—the creation of man, the fall of man, and the redemption of man by virtue of the God-man, Jesus Christ.
Resembling and Representing the Righteousness of God
Having firmly established the dignity of man, let’s look more closely at the terms image and likeness. To begin with, these two Hebrew words are virtually synonymous and are used interchangeably. For instance, if you notice in Gen. 1:26, it mentions the image of God and then the likeness of God, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” It first mentions “image” and then “likeness.” But when you go to Genesis 5:3, the word order is reversed: “[Adam] fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image.” This tells us that these two words are interchangeable and are synonymous for the most part. However, if any distinction is to be made between these two words it would be this: both words (image and likeness) refer to something that is similar or that resembles something else, but the word “image” is also sometimes used to bring out the idea of representation.
The Hebrew word for “image” is tselem, and the root of this word is tsel, which is the Hebrew word for “shadow.” Thus, we can infer from this word that man was made to represent God, to be God’s “shadow,” if you will. Our shadow is a representation of us, albeit an imperfect one. We obviously look very different from our shadow, though not entirely. But more importantly, our shadow is an exact representation of how we behave. If we jump, our shadow jumps; if we wave, our shadow waves. Whatever we do, our shadow does as well. And I think this is how we are to understand this word “image” with regard to the origin of man. Man was made to “behave” like God, to reflect the character of God, to think and act like God, to perfectly represent God upon the earth. To put it another way, we could say that man was created in such a way that he alone is able to cast a heavenly shadow—“the shadow of God”—upon the earth. Again, all of this points to the dignity and to the identity of man. Throughout all creation, the creature of man was uniquely made to represent the Creator.
By way of illustration, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is someone who represents the President and our country wherever he goes. He’s an ambassador; he speaks for the President and therefore has to know the mind of the President so that he can accurately portray what the President’s agenda is. He’s not out there on his own doing his own thing—saying whatever he wants and acting however he wants. He’s representing our nation. And if he was to go to a foreign country and speak to a foreign dignitary angrily or rudely, that foreign dignitary would not only see Antony Blinken doing that, he would take it as an offense from our President and our nation!
As Secretary of State, Blinken represents the President, but he’s not identical to the President. If we think back several years to when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State under George W. Bush we can see more clearly how dissimilar in appearance the Secretary of State can be compared to the President, yet still represent the President. And in analogous way, this is how it is with man.
Thus, the word “image,” when it’s used in the Old Testament, almost always refers to something that resembles something else, but it also takes on the connotation of something that represents something else. Both ideas—the idea of resemblance and the idea of representation—can be conveyed by this word, “image.”
Now, the other word, “likeness,” strictly conveys the idea of similarity or resemblance. Whenever this word “likeness” is used in the Old Testament, we find that it’s always referring to that which is similar or resembles something else; not identical, but similar.
So, putting this all together, we can say that man not only resembles God, but he also represents God upon the earth. Man is God’s “Secretary of Earth,” so to speak. And these two ideas—resembling God and representing God—come into play when we look at the nature of our lives now as Christians. Our lives now as Christians are nothing less than seeing that image of God being restored and renewed in us. The more we are sanctified and conformed to Christ, the more we are accurately resembling and representing God in our lives. Think about that for a moment. Our sanctification, our being conformed to Christ, is directly proportional to our accurately resembling and representing God. This gives us an indication of what lies at the heart of being made in the image of God. What is occurring through the process of sanctification? What is taking place in our being conformed to Christ? We are growing in righteousness (imparted righteousness, not imputed righteousness). As we grow in righteousness, we more accurately resemble and represent God; therefore, righteousness lies at the heart of being made in the image of God. Indeed, in Ecclesiastes 7:29 we’re told that God made man upright. Adam was not created morally neutral; he was created positively righteous. The moral law of God was written upon man’s heart from the very beginning. Thus, the primary way that man was made to resemble and represent God, was righteousness. Man’s purpose was to reflect God’s holy character, first and foremost.
Some people mistakenly believe that Adam didn’t have any knowledge of good and evil prior to partaking of the forbidden fruit, that it was only after Adam ate of the forbidden fruit that he came to understand good and evil, that prior to that he was morally neutral. But this was not the case. Adam was specifically created to represent God, and certainly God is not morally neutral. Moreover, God had given Adam a moral command—do not eat of this tree—with a penalty attached to it—you will die. Thus, Adam was a moral creature; he perfectly understood the moral imperative that he had been given. He understood the concept of justice, of the necessity of being punished for immorality. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a symbol—a symbol of authority. It was the tree that would demonstrate whether or not man would be content to obey the word of God. Would Adam live in submission to the will and word of God? Or would Adam, in a symbolic act of defiance, stretch out his hand against God and partake of the fruit, thereby declaring his desire for autonomy? Is God the one who determines the knowledge of good and evil, or man? When Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, it was a symbolic gesture. In that act, Adam was essentially saying, “I can determine for myself the knowledge of good and evil; I can do whatever is right in my own eyes; I don’t want to be your representative, I want to represent myself and my own self-interests; I want to be the one to define my identity, not have it dictated to me by you.” But this, then, raises the question: what happened to the image of God once Adam plunged mankind into sin?
Ruined, But Not Revoked
If righteousness is at the heart of what it means to be made in the image of God, what has happened now that man has fallen? Is man still to be considered the image of God even though sin has corrupted every part of man’s being? If every aspect of the heart of man has been contaminated and polluted by sin, can man still be regarded as the image of God?
There are two verses that give us an answer to this question, and the answer is a resounding yes. Man is still to be considered a creature of the highest dignity, despite the fact that he is fallen. The first verse that we need to take into consideration is Genesis 9:6. Here we obviously have a post-fall reference; the fall has already taken place, as recorded in chapter three of Genesis. In fact, God has just destroyed millions of people in the flood precisely because of their wickedness, because every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually. (Gen. 6:7) That is the context of Gen. 9:6. And here we find God enunciating something very clearly to Noah, and it has to do with the dignity of man. It has to do with man being made in the image of God. This new society that will begin to repopulate the earth after the flood is to remember first and foremost the creation principle that man has been made in the image of God. Notice what God says in verse 6, “Whoever sheds the blood of man [1st degree murder], by man shall his blood be shed [capital punishment], for God made man in His image.” God is reinforcing the dignity of man. A 1st degree murderer is to be executed. Why? Because man is the image of God. Thus, even in his post-fallen state, man is still an image-bearer, and as such he is to be regarded with the upmost dignity.
Not to get too far off course here with the idea of capital punishment, but we ought to realize that when we fail to observe capital punishment for 1st degree murder (willful, intentional, premeditated killing), we are degrading man. We are bringing man’s dignity to a very low level. One of the purposes of the law is to be our teacher, to instruct us. And when it comes to God’s law, the severity of a penalty that is attached to a precept, indicates the value of that precept. For example, if the penalty for committing rape or pedophilia was simply a $50 fine, what would that teach us? That protecting women and children from sexual assault is really not that big of a deal. The severity of the penalty indicates the value placed upon the precept, and here in Gen. 9:6 we see the severest penalty (capital punishment) being attached to 1st degree murder, which teaches us just how much God values the dignity of man. In the eyes of God, the only thing that will satisfy justice for the willful, intentional, premeditated taking of human life—the life of an image-bearer, the life of a creature that has the upmost dignity, the life of a creature whose status and rank exceeds the angels—is to take the life of the murderer. If you cheapen the penalty, you cheapen human life. That’s God’s law for man. Nevertheless, we find here in Gen. 9 God reinforcing the sanctity of human life, even though man is now in a fallen state.
Now, there’s another verse in the NT that tells us that fallen man is still to be regarded as an imagebearer, and that verse is James 3:9. Here, James is talking about the tongue as being a restless evil, full of deadly poison. And he says, “with it [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” Again, we see that man—even in his fallen state—is to be shown honor and dignity because he’s still the image of God.
To give another illustration, it would be like someone saying, “I love America, this is a great country,” and then they turn around a burn the flag. Such a person fails to understand that the flag represents America; it is a visual image of what America stands for. Thus, to bless America, and then curse the flag by burning it, is self-defeating. It’s hypocrisy.
What James would have us understand is that when we bless God and then turn around and are cruel and hateful to those who bear His image, God takes that personally. God takes it personally when a human being is murdered or treated cruelly or unjustly because man is made in His likeness and is His representative on this earth.
It’s easy to lose sight of the dignity of man in a society that has fully imbibed an evolutionary anthropology. It’s easy to belittle man’s worth when we’re taught to believe that man is merely the ancestor of an ape; that man is simply a highly-evolved animal. What happens to the sanctity of human life when man is no longer regarded as being made in the image of God, that there’s nothing inherently special about man? What happens when we reject the notion that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights by virtue of being made in His image? We need only to look back at the last century to see what happens to common decency when a biblical anthropology is replaced with an evolutionary one. The 20th century was by far the bloodiest century ever recorded in the history of man, and a significant contributor to this was the widespread acceptance of an evolutionary anthropology within the Western world. If man is told that he is nothing but a beast, we should not be surprised when he lives like one.
Nevertheless, no matter how much fallen man embraces an evolutionary anthropology, it will never change the fact that man has been made in the image of God. Being made in the image of God is man’s identity. Sin did not cause man to lose his identity; it simply caused an identity crisis. While sin has significantly ruined the image of God in man, it has not revoked the image of God in man; it has defaced the image, but has not erased the image.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to go and visit the site of an ancient city, such as Rome or Athens, you can still appreciate the vestiges of the city’s former glory. Even though such cities largely lay in ruins, there are still traces of the beauty and splendor that these ancient cities once possessed. And that is how it is with man. Fallen man still bears the vestiges of his former glory. Even though fallen man largely lies in ruin because of sin, there are still traces of the beauty and splendor that he once possessed in his pristine state. Man has not completely lost his identity, but his identity has been so distorted and marred by sin that his former glory can be difficult to recognize.
Regenerated, Reborn, Recreated, Restored
What needs to happen, then, for man to return to his former glory, to get back to where he needs to be—fulfilling his purpose in life by accurately resembling and representing God upon the earth? Answer: regeneration; he needs to be reborn; he needs to be made a new creation in Christ. This is what regeneration is all about. It is God restoring His own likeness in us by conforming us to the perfect image of His Son.
In Christ, we see the epitome of what it means to accurately reflect the image of God, and we are told in Scripture that the Spirit is conforming us to His image, and that ultimately, we will be like Him in glory. Then, we will see humanity as God originally intended it. The final lines in Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, says this, “Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp thine image in its place: final Adam from above, reinstate us in thy love.” That is what God is doing in our lives as Christians. He’s salvaging our souls. He has taken our souls out of the wrecking yard of sin, and is now in the process of restoring our souls back to their classic, vintage state, back to mint condition. He’s taking out all of the dents, putting all of our parts back in proper working order, and He will one day paint our bodies in the colors of glory so that we shall all shine like the stars in the heavens.
This spiritual restoration process is not speculation, by the way. Colossians 3:10 tells us that we have put on the new man (we are not what we used to be; we have been changed), and are being renewed in knowledge (we are continuing to change) after the image of our Creator. We find a similar passage in Ephesians 4:24. There Paul tells us to work cooperatively with the Spirit so as to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus, from these two verses we see that we were originally made to reflect God in our knowledge, and in true righteousness and holiness. And we are now in that restoration process, that salvaging process, working cooperatively with the Spirit so that we might accurately resemble and represent God in our lives more and more. We are being transformed into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another, as Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 3:18. And in this way, our dignity is raised, and our identity is recovered.
1. Appreciate and uphold the dignity of man.
Though sin has distorted the image of man, we’re still to treat all men with dignity and respect by virtue of the fact that they are image-bearers. As was said earlier, to sin against man is to sin against the one whose image man resembles and represents.
Now, this observation may seem rather obvious—of course we need to appreciate and uphold the dignity of man. But brethren, let me tell you, in preparing this sermon series I’ve been repeatedly convicted on this particularly point. I do not appreciate and uphold the dignity of man as I ought to. I’m so quick to have contempt toward those around me because of the way that they look, or how they’re behaving (or driving), etc. And it’s wrong. And I’ve been trying to reprogram my thinking; to repent; to change my mind. I try to think to myself, “that’s an image-bearer, and as such, they deserve to be thought of and treated with the upmost dignity.”
We must all strive to fully appreciate and uphold the dignity of man.
- See the exceeding sinfulness of murder, cruelty, ethnic bigotry, and slander.
"We must remember that even fallen, sinful man has the status of being [made] in God’s image. Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being [made] in God’s image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God’s image bearer. This has profound implications for our conduct toward others. It means that people of every [ethnicity] deserve equal dignity and rights. It means that elderly people, those seriously ill, [those who are] mentally/physically [handicapped], and children yet unborn, deserve full protection and honor as human beings. If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life."
The inconsistency of the world is astounding is it not? On the one hand, the world tells us that we’re just an evolutionary accident (the product of chance, of random unguided chemical reactions), while on the other hand they talk about certain inalienable rights that we have as human beings. In other words, as a human being, you’re nothing special, but at the same time, as a human being you’re uniquely special and deserve all these rights. Which one is it? You can’t have it both ways. Evolutionary anthropology does anything but protect the dignity and sanctity of human life. Evolution promotes bigotry and ethnic tribalism because it teaches that there are different races of men, rather than one human race as created by God to bear His image. It was evolutionary naturalism that fueled Hitler to try and exterminate the so-called “inferior race” of the Jews so as to make way for the so-called “superior Aryan race.”
Only a biblical anthropology—where man is made in the likeness of God—can secure us with human rights that promote the dignity and sanctity of human life, and can provide us with a moral basis for condemning murder, cruelty, ethnic bigotry, slander, etc.
- See the exceeding sinfulness of abortion.
As we observed from Genesis 9, immediately following the flood, God told man to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, and then He goes on to say that, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image.” And with abortion, we see both of these imperatives being violated simultaneously. Instead of being fruitful and multiplying, innocent blood is shed without any legal consequences.
Notice the context in which God is speaking. God has just judged all of mankind and has left only Noah and his family to remain as His representatives upon the earth. He reaffirms that man has been made in His image and that man, as His image, is to once again be fruitful and multiply and to have dominion over the earth. It’s in this context—God covenanting with mankind anew—that He proclaims to man that capital punishment is to be the penalty for 1st degree murder. This is not a suggestion. God is not telling Noah and his family (the remaining image-bearers upon the earth) that as they are fruitful and multiply and develop new societies and civilizations that they can eventually disregard this universal moral edict. God is making a sweeping statement here. Going forward, all of mankind is to observe capital punishment in the case of 1st degree murder—regardless of the time or society in which we live—because this is what protects the dignity of man. There are to be no exceptions. Thus, the only just penalty for willfully and intentionally shedding man’s blood, whether in the womb or at any point beyond the womb, is capital punishment.
Consequently, the legal system of any nation is to provide full protection to preborn human beings because they too bear the image of God. Here in America, the Dobbs decision has given power back to the states when it comes to abortion law, and we ought to relentlessly advocate for equal protection under the law for preborn human beings in every state.
With regard to our own state, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June of last year, Texas law has prohibited the performance of an abortion on a woman. However, the current law does not prohibit a woman from performing an abortion on herself through abortion-inducing drugs, nor does it prohibit others from pressuring or otherwise coercing a woman into performing an abortion on herself.
But in late February of this year, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) filed HB 2709, a bill that would outlaw abortion-inducing drugs being shipped across state lines into Texas. By banning the delivery across state lines of abortion-inducing drugs, HB 2709 would close these loopholes, thereby completely abolishing abortion in Texas by providing equal protection of the law. At the time of the filing of
HB2709, in a news release, Rep. Slaton said, "My legislation will ensure that the life of every person, including innocent babies in the womb, will be equally protected by law, and women cannot be preyed upon and pressured into an abortion."
Brethren, this type of legislation is good and commendable. Equal protection under the law for preborn human life should be our goal, not only for Texas, but for every state in the nation. As was pointed out earlier, one of the purposes of the law is to be our teacher, to instruct us. Thus, our aim should be to put laws in place that would serve to instruct all men and women that life in the womb is sacred, so that women could no longer be lied to, or pressured or coerced into shedding innocent blood. Our hope and desire should be that our nation’s laws would reflect God’s law, that our nation’s laws would teach all men and women the dignity of preborn human life. Our ultimate goal should be to put legislation in place that would fully protect life in the womb; that the dignity of human life in the womb would be made abundantly clear to all men and women through the law; that anyone who would willfully and intentionally perform an abortion would be subject to prosecution, up to and including a maximum sentence of capital punishment. This should be the goal. We’re not there yet; there’s still a lot of work to be done. But this should be the goal if we would have our nation’s laws reflect God’s law in upholding the dignity of man.
Now, I know that for some here, the subject of abortion can open up old wounds, and all I can say to you is that if you are in Christ, all of your sins have been forgiven. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had a left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Or to quote from another hymn: “My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” To quote from Ps. 103: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” If you are in Christ, your sins have been forgiven, not in part, but the whole.
However, if you are not in Christ, I leave you with this final observation/application:
- See the exceeding sinfulness of all sin.
All sin is a misrepresentation of God and slanders His good name. If we have been made for the purpose of accurately representing God, especially the righteousness of God (His moral character), then whenever we sin, we are misrepresenting God and slandering Him. Just like if our Secretary of State went to another country, and began to speak and act in ways that would misrepresent our President, and that would bring shame upon the reputation of our country. If the Secretary of State did this, he or she would cause incredible damage and would be brought up on charges; they would be a criminal in the eyes of the State. And in a profoundly greater way, that is what all human sin is. Having been made in the image of God, man’s sin is always a misrepresentation of God. Our representation of God is either accurate or slanderous, but never morally neutral.
This being the case, God can never be indifferent to wicked behavior; He is committed to clear His good name and shall avenge Himself upon those who insist on misrepresenting Him. Indeed, hell exists to clear His good name. You see, then, why it is so important that we understand our purpose in life, to understand why we have been created. If we don’t understand that we were created to accurately reflect the image of God, then we will not truly understand what sin is.
"Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God, and just as God necessarily and eternally delights in Himself and in all that He is, so God necessarily and eternally hates sin. Sin is, in essence, the contradiction of the excellence of His moral character; it contradicts His holiness, and He must hate it."
Many people think to themselves, “Why is God so angry with me? I don’t hate God. I’m not really interested in Him, but I don’t hate Him.” They don’t understand their job description. They don’t understand that they were created to be His royal representative in everything they say and do, and that they’ve been misrepresenting Him from the moment they entered into this world. If you are not a Christian, you need to see the exceeding sinfulness of your sin. You need to understand that with every sin, you slander and misrepresent God as His image-bearer, and you are treasuring up wrath for yourself in the day of judgment. Repent and believe in Christ, the perfect image-bearer of God. Be conformed to Him. Have your soul salvaged from the wrecking yard of sin before it’s too late, before the arm (the crane) of God’s justice takes your soul and casts into the fires of hell to be eternally crushed under the weight of God’s holy wrath forever and ever and ever. Only Christ can salvage your soul. Only Christ can restore your dignity and solve your identity crisis. Come to Him.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pgs. 449-450.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg. 492.