Summary: We must understand who we are as fallen man to understand our need and dependency on God. "What is Man" borrows several quotes from the Chineese martyr Dr. Yu.
What is Man? 9-9-01
The Psalmist David while considering the wonder of the night sky and its myriad’s of stars asked, “What is man that you are mindful or him or the son of man that you should visit him?” The NIV translates that last part “care for him.”
Today more than ever before we are seeing the wonder of the simple phrase, “He made the stars also.” We can now see there are thousands if not millions of galaxies. Our own galaxy is whirling at the incredible speed of 490,000 mph. But even at that tremendous speed it will take 200 million years to make one revolution.
We need to consider the answer to that question, “What is man”, to truly understand our relationship with the Almighty. David went right to Genesis 1,2 to find his answer. Almost everything we need to know about man is right there in the first 3 chapters. He was the last and crowning act of creation. He was given dominion over all creatures. Most of all, he is made in the image of God. David said, “You have crowned Him with glory and honor.”
He was not the only creature formed from the dust of the ground but he is the only one in which God breathed the breath of life. When God did that “man became a living soul.” He had a body like all the animals. He had breath as did the other animals, physical life. He has a mind and will as do animals, though his is superior to the rest of creation. But this special breath in the nostrils that brought life to Adam was unique from other creatures. This is the crowning of glory and honor that separated him from the rest of creation. The breath or spirit of God gave him life that is a part of the eternal life of God.
This same breath of God is translated as ‘spirit’ in Job 26:4 and Prov 20:27. This life that is more than physical, means that we will go on after these bodies have quit breathing. Adam was given the breath of life was warned that if he ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil he would lose it. That is not physical life but the life of God – the breath of God. We use the word ‘inspiration’ which means to breathe into. He would lose that inspiration of God and be separated from Him.
We have this picture of man in the Garden with dominion (the rule) over all the creatures of the earth. They are to submit to him just as he submits to God. Man is clothed in the glory of God and walks and talks with God in the Garden. Eden means pleasure and this specially prepared place met all his physical needs. God even created woman to give him companionship and to be his suitable helper. They were a team as perfectly matched as any team could ever be.
They alone are made in the image of God. They can commune with God and have a relationship with Him. The image of God they bear is not his physical shape for God is a spirit. It is their ability to commune with God, to rule over creation, and be clothed in glory. Every man and woman born is made to be in the image of God. Our intrinsic worth is not in our physical body or mental ability. That is what the world would value. Our value is the breath of God each of us can share in. Every human life is priceless because of this capacity.
Dr. Chen Hua Yu described man in these words: “Like Adam and Eve, we are vessels, created to be fully dependent upon God for everything. We have a living soul, with a mind, emotion and will to love God; and our human spirit to receive Him as our eternal Life. Finally, we have our outer body – our vessel – to be filled with Him, in order to cooperate with God in expressing Him and reigning with Him. This is our purpose in His creation.”
But God gave Adam a clear choice. How could Adam know his relationship with God was of his own free will if he did not have the choice to leave the relationship? The temptation appealed to their physical senses as well as their pride. The Tempter twisted all the good they were surrounded by into a focus on the one thing forbidden. Genesis 3:1b "Indeed, has God said, ’You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?" Once he had Eve’s focus on the one thing forbidden, he did what he does today with us. He gets us to doubt God. He questions God’s intentions and purposes. God gave man a choice so that man could freely choose to walk in life of his own free will. Satan is telling Eve, “Not so, God doesn’t want you to try this because He knows when you eat it you will be like Him. He wants to keep the knowledge of good and evil from you so He can remain the boss. Come on, you really believe you will die when you eat that fruit. No way! You will be like God.”