Does your understanding of the gospel start with the Fall or with Creation? It makes a difference in your understanding of the pursuit of holiness…
Perhaps the most common imbalance in American evangelicalism is to overemphasize the Fall. Consider the typical evangelistic message: “You’re a sinner; you need to be saved.” What could be wrong with that? of course it’s true that we are sinners, but notice that the message starts with the Fall instead of Creation. By beginning with the theme of sin, it implies that our essential identity consists in being guilty sinners, deserving of divine punishment. Some Christian literature goes so far as to say we are nothing, completely worthless, before a holy God.
This excessively negative view is not biblical, however, and it lays Christianity open to the charge that it has a low view of human dignity. The Bible does not begin with the Fall but with Creation: Our value and dignity are rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God, with the high calling of being his representatives on earth. In fact, it is only because humans have such high value that sin is so tragic. If we were worthless to begin with then the Fall would be a trivial event. When a cheap trinket is broken, we toss it aside with a shrug. But when a priceless masterpiece is defaced, we are horrified. It is is because humans are the masterpiece of God’s creation that the destructiveness of sin produces such horror and sorrow. Far from expressing a low view of human nature, the Bible actually gives a far higher view than the dominant secular view today, which regards humans as simply complex computers made of meat–products of blind, naturalistic forces, without transcendent purpose or meaning.
…if we begin with the Fall instead of Creation, we will not be able to explain Redemption–because its goal is precisely to restore us to our original, created status. If it were true that we are worthless, and that being sinners is our core identity, then in order to have something of value God would have to destroy the human race and start over again. But He doesn’t do that; instead He restores us to the high dignity originally endowed at Creation–recovering our true identity and renewing the image of God in us. (Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey)