Christians, no less than many of their critics, can get in an awful muddle about the question of whether we are supposed to have a positive or a negative view of human nature; whether we are to affirm or repudiate it.
John Stott clarifies by noting that what we are is partly the result of our creation by God in his image, and partly the result of the defacing of that image in the Fall. Stott explains:-
Whatever we are by creation we must affirm: our rationality, our sense of moral obligation, our sexuality (whether masculinity or femininity), our family life, our gifts of aesthetic appreciation and artistic creativity, our stewardship of the fruitful earth, our hunger for love and experience of community, our awareness of the transcendent majesty of God, and our inbuilt urge to fall down and worship him. All this (and more) is part of our created humanness. True, it has been tainted and twisted by sin. Yet Christ came to redeem it, not to destroy it. So we must gratefully and positively affirm it.
But, on the other hand:-
Whatever we are by the Fall…we must deny or repudiate: our irrationality, our moral perversity, our blurring of sexual distinctives and lack of sexual self-control, the selfishness which spoils our family life, our fascination with the ugly, our lazy refusal to develop God’s gifts, our pollution and spoilation of the environment, the anti-social tendencies which inhibit true community, our proud autonomy, and our idolatrous refusal to worship the living and true God. All this (and more) is part of our fallen humanness. Christ came not to redeem this but to destroy it. So we must strenuously deny or repudiate it.
We need, accordingly, great discernment in our self-understanding:-
Who am I? What is my ‘self’? The answer is that I am a Jekyll and Hyde, a mixed-up kid, having both dignity, because I was created and have been re-created in the image of God, and depravity, because I still have a fallen and rebellious nature. I am both noble and ignoble, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, upright and twisted, image and child of God, and yet sometimes yielding obsequious homage to the devil from whose clutches Christ has rescued me. My true self is what I am by creation, which Christ came to redeem, and by calling. My false self is what I am by the Fall, which Christ came to destroy.
The Cross of Christ, 282-285