Introduction: Have you ever stopped to consider the “big question” of
the world of good and evil? If God exists, why does sin exist? Is
there a supernatural conflict between the forces of good and evil?
How did evil arise? Are we players in that conflict? If God is in
charge, why are we even allowed to sin? Let’s dive into our study and
see what the Bible has to say about these topics!
- God’s Image
- Read Genesis 1:26. Our text brings us to the last part of
the Creation week. It reports God speaking. To whom is God
talking? What does God mean when He says, “Let us make
man…?” (This shows that the creation of man was a matter
of discussion, therefore planning, in heaven. The
reference to “us” is an early indication of the Trinity
(Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Compare John 1:1-4.)
- When God says in Genesis 1:26 that He is making
people in “His image, in our likeness,” what do you
think this means?
- Why would God say “image” and then say
“likeness?” Is He just repeating for emphasis?
Or, does God mean two different things?
- Read Colossians 1:15-16. What does this
reference to Jesus suggest is meant by “image?”
- Note the logical problem of being in the
“image” of someone who is “invisible.”
Doesn’t this limit our options in defining
- Read Hebrews 1:3. What does this suggest is
meant in Genesis 1:26? (These texts in
Colossians and Hebrews suggest that the primary
meaning of Genesis 1:26 is not actual
appearance. Jesus was not a glorious, radiant
being while here on earth. And, it is difficult
to be in the image of someone who is invisible.
Instead, Genesis seems to say that we reflect
God in our thinking. We are more like God than,
say, the animals.)
- Read Isaiah 55:8. If we reflect God in our thinking, how
do we explain this statement by God?
- Read Genesis 8:21. How can we claim we reflect God in our
thinking when God makes statements like this?
- Let’s get back to our story by reading Genesis 1:27-28.
What does this suggest about how humans are like God?
(This gets us to the heart of our likeness. Even though
our thoughts are below those of God, even though our
inclination is evil ( Genesis 8:21), nevertheless, God has
given us a “ruler” role on this earth. We get to make
decisions about what happens around us.)
- Read Genesis 2:8-9 and Genesis 2:15-17. What is a critical
part of the “ruler role” of humans? (Free choice. That
role as ruler is centered on our ability to decide how we
“rule” our life.)
- Notice that humans were not allowed to eat of the
tree of “the knowledge of good and evil.” Assume you
are Adam or Eve, and you are sitting on a hill in the
garden from which you can see this tree of the
knowledge and good and evil. You put on your
philosopher’s hats and ask yourselves the question:
“How much free choice do we have if we do not even
have knowledge of some of our choices?” How would you
answer that question? (If I were Adam, the simple
answer would be, “I’m dead if I eat. If I’m dead, how
much choice will I have then? I’m not eating.)
- Do you think Adam and Eve had a discussion like
- God’s Image Under Fire
- Read Genesis 3:1. Is this a memory test? What kind of
choice is Eve asked to make here?
- Read Genesis 3:2-3. Why was it in Satan’s best interest to
have Eve recite God’s command? Can you imagine being late
to an appointment, asking the driver to exceed the speed
limit to get there on time, and at the same time say to
the driver, “You know fines are doubled in this area – the
fine is twenty dollars for each mile you go over the speed
limit?” (I suspect Satan did not want any argument about
whether Eve understood the nature of her actions.)
- Read Genesis 3:4. How is being made in the image of God
under the most extreme test right now? (The rulership of
humans, their free choice, is now being put to the test.
Will these rulers remain loyal to God? Will they honor the
trust God has given them? The test gets back to my
imagined discussion between Adam and Eve about the tree.
The most practical basis to avoid eating is that you will
die. Satan specifically attacks God’s statement on that
issue. The question become one of trust – does Eve trust
- What other issue is involved for Eve? (Does Eve
desire to “become like God?”)
- Read John 15:9-11. Did the test end with Eve? (No.)
- How are you employing your ruler role? How is free-will working out in your life? Does your life reveal
that you trust God?
- In Genesis we see that the “serpent” encourages Eve to
disbelieve God. In John 15 we find Jesus encouraging us to
obey God. From where did the serpent, Satan, come? What is
the source of this desire to do evil – in the face of
God’s instruction to do right?
- Read Revelation 12:7-9. What is the goal of “that ancient
serpent, called the devil, or Satan?” (To fight God by
leading us astray.)
- Read Revelation 12:10. What other activity does Satan
engage in that involves us? (No only does Satan attempt to
lead us into sin, but he then he goes to God and accuses
us of betraying God!)
- The Bible gives us some hints at how it came to be that
Satan, a heavenly being, ended up fighting against God and
being hurled to earth. Read Isaiah 14:12-14. What caused
Satan’s break with God? (Pride. A desire to be like God.)
- Consider again Satan’s statement to Eve in Genesis
3:5. Why is this a strong temptation? (It was Satan’s
- How many supernatural allies work with Satan? (Read
Revelation 12:4. The Bible does not give us a detailed
account about Satan. However, the picture that emerges
from these texts is that Satan was an exalted angel in
heaven who entered into sin because he wanted to be like
God. In his rebellion, he convinced one-third of the
angelic host to follow him. War resulted in heaven and
Satan and his angels were thrown to earth. Satan then
began his project of persuading humans to be disloyal to
- Given this background, why would Satan want to
“accuse” us ( Revelation 12:10) before God? How does
this make any sense? (If Satan were involved in a
continuing war with God that he could win, this would
make no sense. Satan would brag about his increasing
number of “soldiers.” However, if the war has been
lost (a major subject of our new series of lessons),
then Satan is reduced to adding more victims. Since
God is the Victor, Satan’s “best” is to try to
embarrass God by accusing us of being disloyal to
- The Future
- Summarize what we have learned about the nature of the
conflict between good and evil and our role in it? (In
heaven, one of the most exalted angels made the decision
to become like God. This rebellious plan spread to other
angels until God had a full-blown rebellion on His hands.
War began in heaven, and this exalted angel, together with
a third of the rest of the angels, were defeated and
exiled to earth. In the meantime, God created humans in
His image – meaning that God gave them free choice and
authority over the earth. The exalted angel, known as
Satan, the “serpent” or the “dragon,” embarked on a
mission to spread the rebellion to humans. This succeeded
when Eve and Adam disbelieved, distrusted and disobeyed
God by eating the forbidden fruit so they would become
like God. Thus, the conflict, the rebellion, spread to
- Read Genesis 3:8-9. Was God asking about geographic
location or spiritual location?
- Friend, where are you? In the conflict between good and
evil, God wants to know where you stand. Why not give Him
a positive answer today?
- Next week: His Glorious Purpose Foreshadowed in Types.