What Is Man?

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What Is Man?

James R. Aist

“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You attend to him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Isn’t it amazing that the God who is so big that He created everything and rules and reigns over it, is mindful of “little old us” and attends to our every need and concern? Why is God so interested in us? I believe that answer lies in our peculiar nature and purpose and destiny, as God has established them. So, who are we, really, and how do we fit into the larger context of the fullness of God’s creation? Are we just another animal that God created, or are we uniquely special and set apart from the others for special purposes?

Like No Other “Kind”

The Bible says that God made all the animals according to their “kinds.” But, among all of these kinds of animals, we, alone, are the kind that was made in the image and likeness of God himself (Genesis 1:26). In fact, He created us “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5), making us far above the other animals in the hierarchy of God’s animal kingdom. Moreover, Psalm 139:14 declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” And it was not until mankind had been created that God looked at all He had created and said “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31). Thus, we are clearly a “kind” set apart from, and far above, all of the other animals. But, how else are we distinct from and superior to all other animals?

Made in The Image of God

Mankind is the only creature that God made in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). What does “Made in The Image of God” mean? “In a word, it means “godly.” God made man a free spiritual being, a responsible moral agent with powers of choice and action, able to commune with Him and respond to Him, and by nature good, truthful, holy and upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29) and wise. Tragically, the moral qualities which belonged to the divine image were lost at the Fall; God’s image in man has been universally defaced, for all of human kind has in one way or another lapsed into ungodliness.” – J.I. Packer in “Knowing God.” This undefiled image of God was possessed by the first humans, Adam and Eve, until they obeyed Satan and disobeyed God (i.e, sinned), and it is restored in all who are born-again by faith and trust in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:18-18).

The Triune Nature of Man

The Bible speaks of God existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also speaks of man as being comprised of three entities: spirit, soul and body. All three are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:23b, “And I pray to God that your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the true and full nature of man as he was originally created in the Garden of Eden. Man is not complete without all three entities together, and that is the reason why the resurrection of the body is necessary: when God restores all things to their original, created condition, the body must be reunited with the spirit and soul for man to be fully restored to the original condition. In the Bible, the human spirit is often referred to as the heart, or the inner man, and it lives forever. This is the entity that is born anew (from above) upon conversion. The soul of man is comprised of the intellect, the emotions and the will, and it also lives forever. It is renewed after conversion in ongoing processes called sanctification and spiritual formation. The body is the physical entity, is under the direct command and control of the soul and does not live forever. However, its death is not natural, because death separates the body from the soul and spirit. Only the complete man, with spirit, soul and body together, is truly natural. The body of the born-again person will be transformed into an incorruptible, glorified and everlasting body upon resurrection from the dead.

Mental Abilities

While we may be amazed at how intelligent some mere animals seem to be, the fact remains that human beings are endowed with mental abilities that far exceed those of all other animals, including learning, analysis, reasoning, cognition and abstract thinking, among others. So, when God gave us “…dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26), we were well equipped for the task.

Language

Animals possess a number of impressive ways to communicate with one another, yet no other animal has been endowed with anything even close to the breadth, depth and communicative power of human verbal language.

Morality

Among the animals, human beings are uniquely endowed with a sense of right and wrong and the freedom to act on those moral convictions (see, Made in The Image of God, above). And, we are unique among the animals in being accountable to God for our actions, whether they be good or bad. With freedom comes responsibility, but only for mankind.

Only We Can Know God

This is, perhaps, the most important characteristic that sets human beings apart from all the other animals: only we have been created with the ability to truly know God. And it is precisely that ability that defines our true destiny and purpose; namely, to know and be known by God in close fellowship and communion with Him. Of all the animals that God created, it is only we – who are connected with God through faith and trust in Jesus – that He calls “friends” (John 15:15). It is from this knowing of God that our primary purpose for being flows, that is, to worship, praise and glorify our creator, who alone is worthy and deserving of all the credit for all that is good. Therein also lies our true destiny. It is only in a properly subordinate relationship with our Creator that we can know and experience our true purpose, meaning and destiny. And we get to enjoy this relationship forever!

Our True Identity

Next, allow me to share with you a practical and important application of knowing and being known by God in this way. Once we grasp the breadth and length and depth and height and know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:17-19), then we can know, with complete confidence and assurance, that we are deemed of great value and infinite worth in the eyes of our Creator, and that the opinions of mere mortal men to the contrary are no longer even relevant. Then, its goodbye low self-esteem and self condemnation; God says you are “to die for”, and that’s exactly what He did! Loved by God is who we are, it’s our true identity, and nobody can ever take that away from us! (NOTE: if you are sensing that this may be a word for you, then please take a moment or two and reflect on it until it sinks in. It can be both freeing and empowering.)

What Man Is Not?

Finally, it’s also of paramount importance that we keep in mind what man is not. Simply said, man is not God! He is the potter, we are the clay. Man is not to judge the ways of God, as many Christians are quick to do when they find in the Bible something that they find hard to believe about Him. You see, the problem here is that we try to understand God from a human perspective rather than a heavenly perspective, and doing that will, more often than not, lead us to false assumptions about God, such as “That would be cruel and unfair!” The God of the Bible operates in each and every way that the Bible says He does, and it is not ours to pass judgment on those divine operations. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34). And, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). So, man is neither the judge nor the counselor of God, nor is he equal to God. It’s only when we have settled these matters in our hearts and in our minds that we can enter fully into our true destiny and purpose in life as God’s highest and most cherished creation.

Conclusions

Human beings are the only “creatures” that God made in His own image and likeness; we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In fact, we are the only “kind” of animal that can truly know God and purposely give Him glory and praise. That is the primary reason for our existence, and that is our true destiny. God’s opinion of us is that we are so valuable and precious in His sight that He, in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, died in our place so that our sins could be forgiven; God thinks we are “to die for”, and no contrary opinion of us stands before God. That is who we really are. However, man is neither the judge nor the counselor of God, nor is he equal to God. It’s only when we have settled these matters in our hearts and in our minds that we can enter fully into our true destiny and purpose and identity in life as God’s highest and most cherished creation.

(To read more of my biblical articles, click HERE)

Responding to the Gay Agenda

Responding to the Gay Agenda

James R. Aist

 “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

Introduction

Before I delve into the substance of this article, I want to make it very clear that I explicitly differentiate between people who have same-sex attractions but do not act on them, people who have same-sex attractions and practice homosexuality, and the “gay agenda” per se. Those are three completely different things, as just because someone is a homosexual person doesn’t necessarily mean that they push the “gay agenda”, and just because someone is pushing the “gay agenda” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a homosexual person. Thus, when I speak against the “gay agenda”, I am not speaking against any individual as a homosexual person, but against a social movement with which they may have only a fringe association.

Personal Response

The first thing you may want to do is to familiarize yourself with the details of the “gay agenda” (click HERE). Then think carefully about the components of it and ask yourself if the society envisioned by the homosexual apologists is the kind of society you want for yourself, for your children and for your grandchildren. Do you want your children and grandchildren to be indoctrinated and recruited into an abnormal, unnatural, immoral lifestyle that is inherently harmful to their health and will not produce grandchildren and great grandchildren for you to enjoy and love? Do you want our churches to be infiltrated by their heretical and damning theology and filthy morals? Do you want to be punished legally for merely disagreeing with them? In thinking about this, also bear in mind that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality, will, someday, have to answer to God for it.

I am not suggesting that all born-again Christians should devote a large percentage of their “free” time to opposing the homosexual movement. For the whole faithful Christian church to do so would be a serious distraction from our primary marching orders to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-20). But I do hope that we will all take appropriate measures to protect our loved ones from this insidious ideology and its immoral and dangerous lifestyle, insofar as this is possible. And I hope that we will all be diligent to consider this important social issue in choosing political candidates for which to vote. In God we trust, but we cannot afford to ignore the role of elected governmental officials. Above all, let us be quick to treat homosexual people with respect and dignity and to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. When the opportunity arises, show a willingness to pursue a genuine, non-sexual, personal relationship with a homosexual person of the same gender, sharing activities of common interest, such as golfing, reading, hiking or cooking, being careful to avoid giving the impression that you accept, endorse and/or want to facilitate the practice of homosexuality. And may we not let our hearts become darkened with hatred towards homosexual people, just because we hate their homosexual lifestyle. As the Apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).

Parents of Children Who Say They Are Gay

Christian parents who find themselves in this situation should be aware of the following encouraging facts: 1) the vast majority of teens up to 16 years of age who have identified themselves as homosexual will self-identify as heterosexual by the age of 17; 2) God is still in the transformation business, and that includes transforming homosexuals into heterosexuals; and 3) Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at success rates of around 25%-30%, which is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for treatment of psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism. I highly recommend the following article on how to respond when your child says he’s gay (click HERE).

Pastoral Response

And now, a note to born-again Christian pastors. Thank you for your willingness to be a pastor, perhaps the most difficult job there is! To those of you who are regularly preaching and teaching against sin and calling your flock to repentance, I commend you. To those of you who are not presently doing so, I have to ask “Why not?” One of the greatest deficiencies in the world of evangelical Christianity today is the dearth of preaching and teaching against sin and the calling of sinners to repentance. If your flock is ignorant about sin — all kinds of sin – and the need for repentance, then they are prime targets for the lies and myths of the homosexual apologists. They are going to be listening to someone’s version of the Gospel and of biblical righteousness, and if they are not hearing the truth from you, then they will hear false teachings from unbelieving liberals who can’t wait to win them over to their way of thinking. Don’t be afraid of the outcome if you provide this kind of preaching and teaching for your flock. Just be faithful to the word of God, leaving nothing out, and let God take care of the outcome. Jesus said “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), not “you will build my church.” Be faithful in this way, and God will be faithful to you!

Church Response

Welcome homosexual people to fellowship with your congregation, but be very careful how you show them the “love of Christ.” If you welcome them into church membership and/or give them leadership positions of any kind while they are still living a homosexual lifestyle, you will be, in effect, affirming and endorsing their lifestyle and helping them along a path that can only result in their spending their eternity in hell. (1 Corinthians 6:9). How is that showing them the “love of Christ”, who died to save them from their sins, not to save them and their sins? Moreover, in approving of their homosexual sins in such a way, you will be exposing yourself to God’s condemnation (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). The ultimate expression of the love of Christ to homosexual people is to share the good news of salvation with them and lead them to repent and leave the homosexual lifestyle. They cannot have it both ways.

I doubt that many Christian churches with openly, practicing and proud of it homosexuals are fully aware of the facts and biblical truths, and the magnitude of the issues, involved in dealing with this situation. So, in a nutshell, please allow me to shed some light on these things for you: 1) The claim that homosexuals are “born gay” has been proven conclusively to be a hoax (click HERE); 2) It is slander to accuse God of making anyone homosexual, because the Bible clearly says that the practice of homosexuality is sin and that God does not tempt anyone to sin (click HERE); 3) The claim that the Bible does not condemn the practice of homosexuality is a recent, modern heresy called “gay theology” (click HERE); 4) The claim that God’s grace covers the sins of unrepentant homosexuality is a recent, modern heresy called the “gay gospel” (click HERE); 5) If a church singles out the sins of homosexuality as being morally acceptable, then it relinquishes all biblical grounds for claiming that any other sin is morally unacceptable (e.g., the other sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, those being idolatry, adultery, thievery, greed, drunkenness, slander and swindling); 6) the biblical response for a church with an openly, practicing and proud of it homosexual (or any other sinner) who refuses to repent is not to welcome them into membership and promote them to positions of leadership; rather, the biblical response is to be found in 1 Corinthians 5:11-12, where the Apostle Paul says “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?”; and 7) If your church does not deal with such a situation properly, then it loses it’s moral compass and it’s moral authority, and it ceases to function as a faithful Christian church.

Final Thoughts

We born-again Christians need not panic or despair when we see the homosexual movement advancing. Jesus told us that things in this world would get much worse before His next coming, that we are not to become alarmed (Matthew 24), and that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). We may not like the moral degeneration that is going on in the world around us, but we can know that none of it is a surprise to God, that God is still sovereign and in control, and that in due course of time, God will bring righteousness and justice to the world and create a dwelling place for His elect that is free from evildoers altogether (Revelation 22:14-15). Our job is to remain faithful to His Word and to His instructions (Matthew 28:18-20) until the end, however and whenever that end comes for each of us. This is where we can find peace and joy in the midst of escalating spiritual darkness until that time. And remember “…Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)