Once evil had entered the world, it spread quickly and deeply. The crown of God's creation, the creature in the image of God, had set up himself as his own idol in place of God.
If the world is to reflect God's glory and goodness, the evil in it must be destroyed. But the evil lies inside mankind, in our self-worship. So to destroy the evil, the simplest solution is to destroy us, both body and soul. Our spirits were breathed into us by God; our spirits die without fellowship with him. As long as we remain our own idols, we have no fellowhip with God. Our death, both body and spirit, became inevitable.
On some level, mankind understood the corruption in ourselves. The system of blood sacrifice for sin became a part of religion in many places, recognizing the justice of linking evil and death -- yet held out hope that some substitute might be found for us. And in his goodness God had still not abandoned us.
But the idea of substitution held out a problem: if the one who sins is not the one who dies, how is the evil destroyed? And the continuation of sin held out another problem: will goodness itself ever be fully restored? Will there ever be a creation without the stain of evil? A new creation is in order for the sake of God's goodness. But a new creation raises its own question: what becomes of God's faithfulness to his former creation?
God showed his wisdom, his faithfulness, his goodness, and his love: he purposed to redeem his creation, restoring us to fellowship with him, destroying the evil in us and re-creating us in his image. He purposed to breathe his spirit into us again. In this, he remained faithful to his former creation by not purposing to replace us with another creation who had never known sin, but instead by taking us sinful creatures and recreating us as our own selves, renewed.
Index for systematic theology series