10 June, 2019

James 3:9—“… men, which are made after the similitude of God …”

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:8-10.

James 3:9 is often referred to as proof that fallen man is still God’s image-bearer.

“Violations of the ninth commandment are such dreadful sins (especially when hypocritically a man blesses God and curses his fellow man) because man was made in God’s image” (so it is interpreted).

What has all this to do with common grace? Well, if fallen man retains the image of God, even in a measure, he remains like God in certain respects, even though fallen. And it is easy to make the jump from saying that man, even in his fallen state, because he is still image-bearer, is still under grace, is less than as bad as he can be, and is capable of doing good things. And so the retention of the image becomes the avenue to introduce common grace as a restraining inner influence in fallen and unregenerate man.
But if the image is truly lost in the fall, in its entirety—as Scripture teaches—then man is truly depraved, incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil. Then he is not the object of grace, but of wrath. And grace comes to him only through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Another Look at Common Grace (2019 edition), p. 159]

[A careful] scrutiny of the [text], and the [context] in which [it is] found, will clearly show that the reference is to the original creation of man by God. Man is unique in God’s world. He alone, among all creatures, was originally created as image-bearer of God. That unique character of man remains even though he fell. The image does not remain in the sense that man still bears the image, but it remains in the sense that he is still unique and still capable of being an image-bearer, because he is rational and moral.



John Owen (1616-1683)

[Source: The Works of John Owen, vol. 12, p. 162]

They cannot prove that man, in the condition and state of sin, doth retain any thing of the image of God. The places mentioned, as Gen. ix. 6, and James iii. 9, testify only that he was made in the image of God at first, but that he doth still retain the image they intimate not; nor is the inference used in the places taken from what man is, but what he was created.



More to come! (DV)

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