Who Is Man?
The psalmist asked, "What is man that You are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4). Yet, mankind is very special to God. The pinnacle of God's creative work is His creation of human beings. God created both male and female to be more like Him than anything else in all creation.
"Then God Said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'" (Genesis 1:26–28).Back to Top
Why Did God Create People?
God did not need us.
Some people have said, "After creating our world and the animal life, God found Himself lonely, so He created man!" That's a sweet and heart-warming sentiment, but it's simply not true. God is independent of mankind. God does not need the rest of creation for anything. "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things" (Acts 17:24–25).
God asked Job, "Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under Heaven is Mine" (Job 41:11). No one has contributed to God anything that did not first come from the God who created all things. "For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine" (Psalm 50:10–11).
God created us because He wanted us.
Our lives are not some meaningless creation made by a disinterested Creator. Even though God does not need us, He is still intensely interested in our lives. He deeply and tenderly loves us beyond comprehension—not because He has to (out of need), but because He chooses to (out of love).
"The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).
He chose to make humankind in His image.
Because so many believe in the theory of evolution, many think that humans are simply better-developed animals. In our public schools, pupils are taught that man evolved from the lower animals, and that all of life developed over a vast expanse of time from a single life form that came into being from an unknown origin. Yet, this theory is being hotly challenged more and more in the scientific community.
One reason so many will subscribe to the theory of evolution is not because they have honestly researched it or have become intellectually convinced. They believe it because they think that it relieves them of responsibility before a holy God.
Yet, the Bible attributes the origin of man to an act of direct creation by God: "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" (Genesis 2:7).
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The Differences between Humans and Animals
We stand apart from all of God's creation, for we have been uniquely created in the very image of God Himself (Genesis 1:26). We are the highest of all earthly creations. Just contrast the human race to the animal kingdom, and you will see the difference.
Regarding the soul
Humans have a moral conscience.
The apostle Paul tells us that even nonbelievers have a sense of right and wrong. "[They] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Romans 2:15).
Animals do not have a sense of right and wrong.
Though they are capable of incredible feats and seem to have an impressive range of emotion, they do not have an innate desire to be good or moral. When we train them, they simply respond to the fear of punishment or the hope of reward.
Regarding the mind
Humans have the ability to reason and think logically.
It is certainly true that we are not as intelligent as God is. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8–9).
But even with our less-than-divine mental state, we humans are far beyond the animal world in intelligence. Humans continue to develop greater skills and complexity in technology, agriculture, science, and in nearly every other field of endeavor.
Animals do not have advanced reasoning skills.
Although they can sometimes exhibit remarkable behavior (such as in solving mazes), they do not engage in abstract reasoning. They also do not exhibit any mental advances. Their abilities have remained unchanged for thousands of years. Beavers still build the same kind of dams they have built for generations. Birds make the same kind of nests. Bees still build the same type of hives.
Regarding creative ability
Humans have the God-given ability to create works of music and art, and to invent scientific wonders.
This is perhaps our most significant ability as beings made in the image of God. Our Creator gave us a portion of His ability to create.
Animals do not possess the same creative capacity.
While animals can make nests and other forms of lodging, or make various sounds to communicate with one another, these are primarily instinctive capabilities. They cannot enjoy the same creative capabilities as man because they are not made in the image of their Creator.
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What Is God's Purpose for Humankind?
We all have a desire to rise above the ordinary to distinguish ourselves. We want our lives to count for something bigger and greater than ourselves. Yet, there is a right way and a wrong way we can pursue this goal. God has essentially put a desire for eternity in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God "will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath" (Romans 2:6–8).
God created us for His own glory.
God did not create us to bring glory to the created, but to the Creator. "Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, I have formed him, yes, I have made him" (Isaiah 43:7).
"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:11–12).
How do we live out God's purpose for our lives?
Since God has created us for His glory, we are to glorify God in all that we do with our lives. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
What are you doing with your life? Are you living for His glory or your own? The apostle Paul summed up his life with this statement: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
If we fulfill the primary purpose that God created us for, we will, as a byproduct, find what most of us are looking for in this life: happiness, purpose, and meaning (see Psalm 16:11). Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
When we realize that God created us to glorify Him, and we start to act in ways that fulfill that purpose, then we will begin to experience an intensity of joy and fulfillment in the Lord that we have never known before.
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The Problem With Man
One day, a scorpion wanted to cross a certain pond. He asked the turtle to give him a lift across the pond. The turtle exclaimed, "Are you joking? You will sting me while I'm swimming and I will drown."
"My dear turtle," laughed the scorpion, "if I were to sting you, you would drown, and I'd go down with you. Now where is the logic in that?" "You've got a point there," said the turtle. "Hop on."
The scorpion climbed aboard, and halfway across the river, he carefully aimed his powerful stinger, giving the turtle everything he had. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle said, "You said that there is no logic in your stinging me. Why did you do it?"
"It has nothing to do with logic," the drowning scorpion replied. "It's just my nature."
This story clearly illustrates the problem with man. In the beginning, God created human beings in His own image, set apart from the rest of creation. As a result, men and women possess a deeper, spiritual dimension. As Scripture says, God "has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
This creates a longing in our hearts to discover God's eternal purpose and meaning for our lives. C.S. Lewis poignantly describes the hints of Heaven God brings our way to intensify this longing:
"All the things that ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of Heaven. Tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. . .If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. . .Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy, but to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."
Yet, in spite of our best efforts to find that missing piece, we come up short. We keep running into some sort of invisible wall. It's called sin.Back to Top
Our Sinful Nature
We all would like to believe that man is basically good. That belief is reinforced by many psychologists, counselors, and even religious leaders. Yet, we still find ourselves doing things that we know are wrong to do, thinking thoughts that we shouldn't think, and saying things that we shouldn't say. As in the story of the scorpion and the turtle, it defies all logic, but we cannot help ourselves. It is part of our sinful nature.
This flies in the face of some of today's current thinking. We hear that we need to have a healthy self-esteem and learn to love ourselves. A recent Gallup poll revealed that this message seems to have had some impact on the way people view themselves: 90% of those surveyed said that their own sense of self-esteem is robust and healthy. Yet, while self-esteem appears to be thriving, the moral fabric of society continues to unravel at a rapid pace. Not surprisingly, Scripture tells us that one of the signs of the last days will be that "people will be lovers of themselves" (2 Timothy 3:2).
Many say, "But I'm not responsible for my actions. I'm a victim. I have a disease, a disorder." As a result, we live in a society where no one is guilty anymore. We can now blame our actions on something or someone else.
Still, while we claim we are not to blame for our misdeeds, we still can't seem to shake this pesky thing called "guilt." Columnist Ann Landers wrote, "One of the most painful, self-mutilating, time and energy consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt. It can ruin your day, or your week, or your life if you let it. . .Remember, guilt is a pollutant, and we don't need any more of it in the world."
But is guilt really a bad thing? Scripture takes a decidedly different view on this subject. Read Romans 3:10–26.
We are guilty
The Bible tells us that we feel guilty for one simple reason: we are! The guilt feeling is only the symptom of the real problem, which is sin. When it comes to guilt, you can pretend that it's not there, or find someone else to blame for your problems, but the only real and effective way to remove guilt is to get to the root of the problem—sin.
In Romans chapter three, it is as though we are in God's courtroom, and the apostle Paul is allowing us to give our defense. He patiently waits as every possible excuse for our behavior falls from our lips. Then, with absolute precision, he systematically destroys every potential argument. At the end, no one is left standing sinless.
Everyone has sinned—from the ignorant pagan, to the religious person, to the moralist. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
God's charges against us
Beginning with Romans 3:9, and continuing through verse 18, Paul introduces the testimony of God's Word as revealed in the Old Testament. Here he shows just how low man is in his sinfulness (Note that the word none is repeated four times in the text.). The 13 charges listed are presented in three categories: The character of the accused (verses 10–12), the conversation of the accused (verses 13–14), and the conduct of the accused (verses 15–17).
Man's sinful nature
It is essential to know that we are all born with a built-in sinful nature. We inherited this nature through Adam. Our sins don't make us sinners; they're just the evidence. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, "Sin is not weakness; it is not a disease; it is red-handed rebellion against God, and the magnitude of that rebellion is expressed by Calvary." Scripture affirms this sinful tendency:
"Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:4–5).
"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Psalm 58:3).
"[We] were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (Ephesians 2:3).
Of course, we do not all commit the same sins, and in many ways, some sins are worse than others. We might also agree that there is a certain innocence in a child. But make no mistake about it—the sin nature is alive and well in every one of us. You don't have to teach a child how to sin, do you?
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We All Fall Short of God's Standards
When God says, "There is none who does good, no, not one" (Romans 3:12), He is not saying that there is no good in humans in general. We all know some people—even nonbelievers—who have done some commendable things. God is saying that there is no good in us that can satisfy God. When the Bible says, "There is none righteous" (verse 10), it is not speaking so much of behavior, but of inner character.
God's standards are high, to say the least: you must be absolutely perfect. Jesus said, "Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). In other words, a person who is not as good as God is not acceptable to God. Man is not basically good; he is basically sinful.
We do not seek after God.
If that bothers you, look at Romans 3:11: "There is none who seeks after God." You would think that with all of the religious belief systems in this world, this simply could not be. Yet, God plainly declares in His Word, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).
Paul is not saying that human beings are not religious, because we are. But religion is man's search for God, while Christianity is God's search for man.
God was never lost. We are. He is seeking to save that which was lost.
The bottom line for why many people have not come to Jesus Christ is that they bristle at the thought that they are hopelessly sinful. They are unwilling to accept God's assessment as to the sinful nature of their being. The very fact that men react against this teaching is one more proof of it.
In one sense, this all sounds pretty hopeless. We have all sinned, and we cannot help ourselves. But here's some good news: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
We have the hope of forgiveness.
You might be trapped in some kind of sin right now. Your situation might look hopeless, and you might feel helpless. While we have all been born into sin, we do not have to stay under its control or face its ultimate penalty. Scripture promises, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). There is hope; we can escape from our nightmare of sin.
Do you want to do that? You can turn to God, confess your sins, and accept His forgiveness as you accept His Son as your Savior.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version™. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.