WHAT IS MAN?
David spent his early
years as a shepherd. He learned much about providing the
sheep pasture and water...protecting them from bears and lions
that would harm them...doctoring them in times of sickness and
affliction and calming them when they were frightened. In
the process he learned to make and play musical instruments and to
be an expert marksman with his slingshot.
David also had time to
meditate on God's creation. From the smallest flowers
beneath his feet to the heavenly bodies over his head David
pondered the meaning of God's handiwork. A great question
arose in his mind which he addressed to God: "When I
consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the
stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful
of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have
made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him
with glory and honor." Psalm 8:3-5.
David's question has
been pondered by countless millions since and answers have been
offered from many perspectives. Biologists might speak of
man as being a composite of complex organisms. Chemists
might think of man as a living creature composed of the 18
elements that make up the earth's crust. Philosophers might
speak of man in glowing terms as being the creature with the
highest power of reason.
MAN IS A FALLEN CREATURE
As the last and highest act of God's creation man was created
in God's image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27). When God
made His assessment of His creation man was included as being
"very good". (Genesis 1:31). In his original state man was
innocent and sinless. He was the supreme object of God's
love and a partner in God's fellowship. Man lived in a
garden that has been described as "paradise". There was
abundant provision for man's every need and comfort. There
was no sweat, thorns, worry, sickness, growing old or death.
There was also no war. The indication is that if man had not
sinned none of these things would have come.
The sad and regretful fact is that man sinned by disobeying
what had been clearly forbidden by God. The Apostle Paul
informs us that Eve fell into disobedience because she was
deceived but that Adam sinned deliberately (1st Timothy 2:13, 14).
As a result, the Pandora's Box of ills that plague humanity was
opened. The worst of all, man experienced death as God said
he would. ". . .But of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you
shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17). God was not
referring to physical death but spiritual death. Physically,
Adam lived to be over 900 years of age. (See Genesis 5:5).
Spiritually, Adam and Eve died that day. Their spiritual
nature became dead to it's relationship with God. Moreover,
every descendant of Adam has been born with physical life, but
dead spiritually. "Therefore, just as through one man sin
entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to
all men. . ." (Romans 5:12). "For as in Adam
all die. . ." (1st Corinthians 15:22). No wonder
that Jesus said to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh
is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do
not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"
(John 3:6, 7).
MAN IS AN UNGRATEFUL CREATURE
The most graphic description in the
Bible of man's downward spiral from the noble estate in which he
was created to the lowest pits of evil is found in Romans 1:18-32.
It begins with man knowing much truth about God and ends with man
given over to every evil practice imaginable. We are told in
verse 21 what brought about that downward spiral ". . .Because,
although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were
thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish
hearts were darkened." Adam and Eve were
ungrateful for the relationship they had with God and the paradise
into which God had placed them. A proper attitude of
gratefulness for God and His blessings would have strengthened
them to say "no" to disobeying God. Whether it has been
individuals or entire cultural groups that have descended to the
depths of sin one contributing ingredient that got it started was
ungratefulness to God.
It has been my privilege to share the
gospel of Christ with tens of thousands of people. I have
been blessed beyond my ability to express it for those who
responded by renouncing the sin that held them in bondage and
receiving Christ by faith as their Savior. All to common,
however, the response has been "I'm sure that's good for people
who need it, but there are other things that are far more
important to me". The average person is ungrateful for the
sacrifice of Christ on the cross to make salvation available to
MAN IS A DEPRAVED CREATURE
Man is not only born in a spiritually
dead condition but he is also born with a sin nature. This
is exactly what David was referring to in his fervent prayer of
repentance, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in
sin my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5).
As a direct consequence of man's sinful nature he becomes a sinner
by choice. Although there have been many who have flattered
themselves that they are without sin the Scripture declares that
all are sinners. How can anyone read Romans 3:9-23 without
admitting this is true. "There is none righteous, no, not
one. . .They have all turned aside; They have together become
unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. . .
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
One southern preacher was heard commenting on this Scripture, "You
didn't become a bum by accident, you worked at it!"
MAN IS AN ETERNAL CREATURE
In the revelation of God's creation we
read, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became
a living being (or soul). (Genesis 2:7). The
spiritual component of man is spoken of in the Old Testament
Scriptures as being distinct from the physical component.
When Rachel physically died as a result of giving birth to
Benjamin we read, ". . .As her soul was departing (for she
died). . ."Genesis 35:18) We then read, ". . .And
the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived."
(1st Samuel 7:21, 22. In 1st Samuel 28 the
story of King Saul going to a medium is recorded. Saul asks
the medium to "bring up Samuel" who had physically died and whose
body was buried. To the great shock of the medium the soul
of Samuel did come up and delivered a message of God's impending
judgment on Saul. (See 1st Samuel 28:7-19).
The patriarch Job spoke rather clearly
about his spiritual nature patiently waiting between the time of
his physical death and the time his body experiences a
resurrection to be reunited with his spiritual nature. (See Job
14:14, 15, and Job 19:25-27). David prophesied graphically
about the soul of Jesus going down to Sheol but not remaining
there long enough for His physical body to experience corruption.
(Psalms 16:9-11). The apostle Peter confirmed this was the
meaning of David's words at Pentecost. (See Acts 2:23-35).
So did the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:34-37. Jesus spoke most
clearly of all about the eternal nature of man's soul. He
plainly stated, "And do not fear those who kill the body but
cannot kill the soul..." (Matthew 10:28). In Luke
16:19-31 Jesus told a story that graphically illustrates the
immortal nature of the soul:
A rich man and a beggar named Lazarus
died. The soul of Lazarus was carried to a place of comfort
in the bosom of Abraham,---"The father of all those who
believe". (Romans 4:11). The soul of the rich man
was taken to Hades where he found himself tormented in flame.
The rich man and Lazarus could see one another although they were
separated by an impassable space. Both were fully conscious
of their condition and the condition of each other. Both had
clear memories of their life on earth. The rich man was
informed that he could never pass from his place of torment over
to the place where Abraham and Lazarus lived in comfort.
For a further study on the immortality
of the soul please see John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; 1st Corinthians
15; 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 20 and 21.
MAN CAN BECOME A NEW CREATURE
Man can be born again. He does
not need another physical birth but he needs a spiritual birth.
Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I
said to you, 'You must be born again.'" (John 3:6, 7).
This birth comes when any man or woman receives Jesus Christ by
faith as personal Savior. "But as many as received Him to
them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who
believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
(John 1" 12. 13).
The glorious consequence of becoming a
new creature in Christ is that we become members of the family of
God. God is our Father and we are His child. We are
heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ (Romans 8:14-17.).
Our eternal glory is secure. Our life on earth is a walk
with God. What is man" Without Chirst hopeless.
With Christ, filled with blessed hope!
Copyright © 2002
Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.