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What is Man?
This question has been asked many times by the prophets of God and perhaps by every soul that has ever lived. What is man that you, dear God, are mindful of him? Man, it seems, has been called out, or raised above all other forms of life to have an awareness of himself and God. Man, it seems, has a void in his consciousness that pulls our thoughts and desires into it like a black hole in the center of our universe. Man feels inadequate, imperfect and in need of his true identity- his reason to be. Do the birds of the air care why they are birds, or for that matter, do they ponder what it means to be a bird? No, it would seem that man is alone in this higher consciousness and realization of self. From the beginning, man has been seeking who he is. Consequently, man ponders and agonizes over why a Higher Power- a Perfect Power has entered man's mind? Why has He created man? Why do we feel a deficiency within ourselves?
So many prophets of ALL religions have been driven by the same Spirit within and have asked the same question though expressed with different words perhaps. The Jewish prophets ask it this way.
JOB 7:17 "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention,
JOB 7:18 that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?
JOB 7:19 Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?
PS 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, PS 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? PS 8:5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
PS 144:3 O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?
PS 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.
So, what, or WHO do you believe you are? What do you say that man is? The Psalmist says that man is like a "breath" and his days on the earth are a fleeting shadow. The Psalmist also says that man was created by God a little "lower" than heavenly beings. Does "lower" mean in our conscious awareness? Is this where we feel the lack- in our minds? There are many who believe we are merely intelligent animals. Is man the highest evolved creature? But just a "creature" with no life outside of the body? Are we simply animals seeking only gratification of our natural senses? Are man's religions simply a response, a reflex to the fear of our own apparent mortality?
I, like so many before me, have asked the same questions even since a very young age. I believe that the "Truth that sets us free" is found by coming into the knowledge of our True Identity. Jesus spoke about being set free by the Truth.
JN 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Jesus said that if those following him could hold on to, or grasp his TEACHING then we are REALLY his. Further, then we would KNOW the TRUTH and would be set free. So I believe that we must come to know the Truth of who we are to be set free from our pain and suffering in this world. Yes, knowledge and wisdom are spoke of highly by the prophets of God.
PR 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
PR 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
1 TIM 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
As Paul says here, I believe. We must COME to the knowledge of the Truth. So what is the "Truth?" What is man that you, dear God, are mindful of him? Paul speaks often about coming to this KNOWLEDGE of who we are.
COL 3:9 ...since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Paul speaks of the "old self" and the "new self" frequently. It is central to the Truth of who we really are. We know that man was created "in the image and likeness of God," but man, it would seem, is NOT like God. God is Spirit and we SEEM to be flesh and bones. This is where the confusion, deception and ignorance come in. We must look into what man really is by peeling back the layers of the false self to find the "inner self" or "new self" that Paul teaches about.
I believe man to be a "triune being" consisting of a body, a soul and a spirit. We have a BODY that is a physical manifestation of who we are. We have a SOUL that is essentially our mind including our thoughts, emotions and will. Then we have a SPIRIT that is from God which gives us life. Now, it must be noted that many use different terms to describe these aspects of our being. Many will use the term "soul" to mean our holy self instead of spirit. This is not necessarily wrong, but we be clear with each other as to the definitions that one is using. I use these three terms primarily to attempt to identify and correlate with Paul's use of these terms as we will see. Paul, in his time, used these terms to describe our being. Take Paul's letter to the Thessalonians for example-
1 TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
This idea of man being a body, soul and spirit is a common belief of Truth Seekers of ALL backgrounds and religions. The "triune" concept seems to flow within God and His creation. It many ways, God works in "threes." We are told to baptize believers in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God's temple had three distinct areas- outer court, inner court and Most Holy Place. God told the Jews to observe three feasts- Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Even in God's creation we see a "TRIUNE" theme. Elements exist in three forms- solid, liquid and gas. There are three directions- x, y and z. The universe is described with space, matter and time. The list goes on and on. So, I believe man to be a body, a soul and a spirit. To find who we are we must look at each of these to see where our true identity is hidden.
The body is what we see in the mirror each day. It is simply flesh made from the SAME elements as the earth. Even though there were no real chemists to tell the prophets this fact, God did reveal this to them.
PS 90:3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men."
PS 103:14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Unfortunately, many take that image of DUST and believe THAT is who they are and nothing else. They look in the mirror and judge themselves. "I am fat." "I am beautiful." "I am a strong man." The body of man is simply a jar of clay. It is a container to hold what God really deems as precious. All of our bodies grow old and die which really puts a damper on the idea of immortality or a lasting identity. That is IF one believes their identity to be their body. But WE ARE NOT OUR BODIES! This is one of the greatest deceptions man must overcome. If we believe that we are simply bodies then our hope is lost like the blades of grass that whither.
ISA 40:6 A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
ISA 40:7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.
ISA 51:12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass."
In fact, Jesus told us that the "flesh means nothing." (JN 6:63) Consider that the universe is perhaps 17 billion years old. The earth is perhaps 4.5 billion years old. Life may have been on this planet for the past 3 billion years. Man or man-like creatures have been walking this planet for perhaps 5 million years. Yet, each man's life is about 70 years. This is a fleeting splinter of time within creation- a proverbial drop in the ocean's bucket. Are we merely clumps of earthly elements that come and go in a flash of time? If we are simply bodies of flesh seeking contentment and procreation, then I should stop writing this paper right now. My thoughts are then futility and my search is in vain. But I won't because God has given us a MIND beyond all other minds for a REASON. This MIND is placed within the body. This is called the "soul" of man.
The mind of man is his soul. In fact, the Greek word for "soul" in the New Testament is "PSUCHE" which is pronounced "SUE-KAY." It is from this Greek word that we get "Psyche" which Webster says is our "soul, self or mind." Within the realm of the mind are our emotions, our thoughts and our will. While most have "evolved" to a point where they see themselves as more than just a body, many are still seeking their identity in the realm of their mind, or soul. Many believe that their personality defines who they really are, but let's examine that theory.
If I am my mind, or soul then this means that I am simply defined by my physical environment. This would include my genetic makeup handed down and the environment I was "formed" in. Then one might say Bob is a Christian who likes classical music and hates rice. But I am reasonably certain that if the BODY and SOUL of Bob were placed in China he would be a completely different "person." He may now be a Buddhist who doesn't like classical music, but LOVES rice. How can then this SOUL called "Bob" be defined if he changes within his environment? The examples of this could go on and on, but it should be clear that our SOUL, or MIND is influenced, taught and shaped by our surroundings. Who is Bob REALLY that God is mindful of him? To further the idea that WE ARE NOT OUR SOUL (mind), I would like to go to some Scriptures.
The Bible clearly shows that the SOUL can be LOST, DESTROYED and FORFEITED.
MT 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
MT 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
The mind, or soul of man is really more like a "machine" that bridges the Spirit and the physical world. This machine takes in information and processes it. This knowledge can be received from either the Spirit which gives Truth and life or from the physical world through our five senses which deceive us. Using our five senses, the soul machine then begins to learn (eat) what is good and bad- remember the Tree in the Garden? Carnal knowledge is that gathered by our five senses. This information creates the mind of a beast, but the knowledge from God will create the Mind of Christ in us(1 COR 2:16). The Spirit has ALL knowledge, but man must make the journey from knowing nothing of God (dead, spiritually unconscious) to knowing ALL as our Father in heaven does (alive, awakened, God-conscious). The soul of man can only learn Truth from the Spirit, and must realize that it can not be found by ourselves. This lesson causes the soul of man much pain and suffering.
Now there are some who say the soul and spirit of man are one in the same. That idea doesn't really float because of several passages speaking of both spirit and soul as separate entities. Here is one of those:
HEB 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The soul and spirit are not the same. In some terminology, the word "soul" is used to mean our spiritual identity. When I speak of the soul of man, I am speaking of his mind and not his spiritual identity. I prefer to use the word "spirit" to mean our spiritual self, or True Self. I believe that it is apparent that man can not find his True Identity from association of his body, nor his soul (mind) which are both mortal and unstable in this world.
The spirit of man is the key and therein lies the secret of man's True Identity. Man has been created in the likeness and image of God. Adam is called the son of God. God is SPIRIT, and God is the Father of all mankind. God's spirit is in everyone, and therefore we are all spiritual children. It is important to understand that even though God's Spirit is in every man, woman and child, this doesn't mean that it is actively interacting with the soul of man. First it may be good to show a few Scriptures concerning this Spirit that lives in us which is from God.
ZEC 12:1 This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares:
ECC 12:7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
MAL 2:10 Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?
NU 16:22 But Moses and Aaron fell face down and cried out, "O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?"
EPH 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
HEB 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
I hope this short list provides enough evidence to keep pious, prideful Christians off my back. You see many Christians seem to be filled with the same pride that consumed the religious Jews of Jesus' day. If the truth be known, God is closer to the weeping sinners than He is to those religious Scribes and Pharisees of today. GOD IS THE FATHER OF ALL MANKIND! This must be understood and believed. We are God's children whether we believe it or not. Ah! This is the key!
Some don't KNOW or don't BELIEVE who they REALLY are. Jesus said that these were following their father the Devil, or spirit of the world. Yet, this was true of even the disciples of Jesus before Christ set them free! The disciples followed the spirit of the world and were enemies to God.
GAL 4:3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
ROM 5:10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
COL 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Here is the great Mystery hidden from man! Here is man's True Identity in Christ, God's Son! Our TRUE IDENTITY is Spirit! Paul speaks frequently about the "old self" vs. "new self," "old man/new man" or "outer man/inner man." Do you understand that Paul is saying that our TRUE IDENTITY is the "NEW SELF"? This New Self is being RENEWED in KNOWLEDGE in the Image of its Creator! Our True Life is in God through Christ! We must take our "old self" off and put on our True Self!
COL 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Our True Life and Identity is in Christ and IS CHRIST! This is the mystery that man seeks deep within his being.
COL 1:25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Paul had put off his old self enough that "Paul" really didn't live anymore!
GAL 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Paul also uses the SPIRITUAL MAN vs. the NATURAL MAN to describe our condition. This is to say our false, carnal soul (mind) vs. our True Spiritual Identity. The CARNAL mind, or soul of man must be destroyed, but it is the Spirit that will be saved as Paul tells us.
1 COR 5:5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
The bottom line is this. God created us in His Image. His Image is Christ (2 COR 4:4). Christ is His Son. We are God's children through Christ Jesus. We are to mature in Christ until we become the fullness of God Himself and inherit all He is! This is our TRUE IDENTITY! This is what God had planned for man from the beginning!
EPH 3:19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
EPH 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
PHP 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
PHP 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
As we are CALLED by God, we must come to realize WHO we are and WHY we are. This knowledge brings peace to man's soul (mind). Our false identity must die and we must accept Who we really are- sons of the Most High God! Our Father is SPIRIT, and WE ARE SPIRIT! We are NOT our SOUL, nor our BODY. These pass away until transformed by the Spirit. So, who is man? Who again is the "son of man?"
PS 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
MT 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
MT 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
It was revealed to Peter who the son of man is. We "appear" to be the sons of men (flesh) on our surface- the "old self." But within all of us is God's Seed that will bring forth God's nature in us- our New and True Self. God is raising SONS- the Body of Christ, and Jesus was the First, the Head of this Glorious Body. Jesus was the Cornerstone of this Magnificent Temple that God is building! I will leave you with this Truth from the mouth of our Lord and Savior:
JN 14:20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
May God's peace and understanding be with you,
return to the Savior of the World