Beliefs and Practices of Christians - WHO IS MAN?
Now, my friend, having explained briefly, and in part, what Christians believe about God, I will try to tell you what they think about the nature of man. For having a correct idea of man is almost as important as having a true knowledge of God. Our understanding of who man is comes chiefly from the Holy bible.
In the very beginning of the bible? It is written, that when God had finished creating the heavens and the earth and all plants and animals. He then "created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." This of course does not mean that god has a body, and made a body for man like His own. Rather, it means that man was created in spiritual likeness to God. God gave man a mind with which to reason, a heart with which to love, a conscience with which to distinguish good from evil, a will to do what is right, a tongue that could speak, and a spirit through which he as able to fellowship with God. Thus, being created in the image of God, man was able to know God and to communicate with god. He was, therefore, the highest of creation.
Man was not God, as some have mistakenly affirmed. But he was very close to God, and was completely good, for there was no evil in him. He was not a machine, for God gave him a will with ability to choose. God made man a free agent, so that he of his own free will might choose to obey and love and serve his creator. It was God's desire that the people He placed on this earth should be his true children, loving Him as their Father, loving one another as brothers, and happily doing God's work on earth. Today there are on the earth many races of men, with differences in features and colors of skin and language, but all are of one blood, all belong to one family, and all are loved by god who created them all.
But, sad to say, God's desire for man was not realized. Instead of using his freedom of will to obey and serve God, man used it to rebel against God, as is told in the second and third chapters of Genesis. God had commanded Adam and Eve, our first parents, not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree was in the midst of the Garden of Eden where God had placed them. He told them that if they disobeyed and ate that fruit they would surely die. Satan entered the Garden in the form of a serpent and persuaded Eve to eat the fruit. Then she have it to Adam, and he also ate it. This act of our first parents was not just an error, a thoughtless mistake, but was a conscious act of rebellion against God their King. In other words, they wanted to be God. They did not want to be subject to the will of God, instead, did just as they themselves wanted. What was the result? God spoke to them, rebuked them severely, and put them out of the Garden to live in a world of suffering.
Much worse than that, however, Adam and Eve lost contact with God, and as a result were completely changed. Previously they had been holy and pure, but now they became impure. Before they disobeyed God they had been able to do all that God wanted them to do, but now, though they knew what was right, they lacked the power to do it. They began to hate what which was good, and to love that which was evil. This rebellion against God is, in the Holy Bible, called sin and its result is death.
This story of man's first sin is of great importance for us, for from it we are able to understand the condition of mankind today. The people of the world are not pure and holy as were Adam and Eve when God created them. To realize this we do not need to look at others, let us look at our own hearts. Do we not often do what we know is wrong? We say it is wrong to lie, but sometimes we speak untrue words. We know that love is better than hatred, but how often we hate others! Why do we act thus? Because we have inherited the sinful nature of our first parents, and like them are both unwilling and unable to obey God perfectly.
When a baby is born into the world it seems to be pure and sinless, but very soon evil begins to appear in him. As the prophet David said of himself, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5). So we are compelled to admit that all men are sinners, and to agree with God's Word which states: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it." (Jeremiah 17:9). For Jesus Christ said: "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man." (Mark 7:21-23). And God who knows the hearts of all men has said: "None is righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10). However, there is one exception, one person who is greater than man, about whom I will write later.
How terrible then, is man's condition! Having by his disobedience destroyed his relationship with God, he is like a lost sheep about to perish in the desert. Having ceased to be a true child of God he has become an enemy of God and a slave of sin and Satan. Being unable to walk in God's holy path he is indeed dead in sin. As God told Adam, the result of sin is death, both physical and spiritual.
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