“Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it,” (Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7).
God made all creatures, but the human being is by far the most complex. Humans, because of pride, often forget that God is their Creator. They forget that they are created beings and therefore dependent on God. What is the Biblical perspective on humanity?
Human person-hood In the Image of God
Scripture clearly states that humans were created in God’s image and after His likeness. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1: 26-27)
Adam and Eve were not products of evolution. They were created in the image of God. They acknowledged and had fellowship with God. Adam and Eve were created to reflect God’s love, His glory and His holiness. They did this by knowing God and obeying Him.“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die,’” (Genesis 2: 15-17).
Three facets of the image of God in humankind
1. Adam and Eve possessed a moral likeness to God. They were righteous and holy. “…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (Ephesians 4:24). Adam and Eve were created with hearts capable of loving and a desire to do what was right.
2. Adam and Eve possessed a likeness to God in intelligence. They were created with a spirit, a mind, emotions and free will or the power to choose.
3. Adam and Eve’s physical make-up was in God’s image. The image God has given to mankind is the same image that God presented in the Old Testament. “The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground,” (Genesis 18: 1-2). This is the same image that His Son, Jesus, would one day assume. “…rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness,” (Philippians 2:7).
The corruption of humankind
When Adam and Eve sinned God’s image in them became corrupted; but not totally ruined. After disobeying God Adam and Eve were no long perfect and holy. Now they had a tendency toward sin which they passed down to their children. By the fall of Adam and Eve, sin gained a powerful entrance into the human race. Sin and corruption entered Adam’s heart and life and he transmitted sin into the life of the human race, corrupting all people thereafter.
Since the beginning, all humans are now born into the world with an impulse towards sin and evil. “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time,” (Genesis 6:5). All humans are guilty before God because of their own personal sin. All have sinned. The New Testament verifies the corruption of the image of God in mankind when it says that redeemed believers must be renewed to the original moral likeness of God. Yet, sinful humans still have the likeness of God in intelligence and the ability to fellowship and communicate with God.
Elements of humankind
“Then the Lord God formed a man the from the dust of the ground (body) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit), and the man became “a living soul,” (Genesis 2:7) God intended Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life and stay away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they had obeyed, humankind would never die, but would live forever.
Death entered the world as a result of human sin. Scripture speaks about the separation of a person’s body into the dust of the earth while the spirit returns to God. “And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it,” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The separation of the body from the spirit and soul is the result of God’s curse on the human race because of sin.
The soul is the nonmaterial aspects of mind, emotions and will in mankind and results from the union of the spirit and body. The soul, with the human spirit, will continue to live when a person physically dies. The body or flesh returns to the dust when we die.
And the spirit is the nonmaterial life component of the human being. One’s spiritual capacity and conscience reside in the spirit. Our spirit is where we are most in contact with the Spirit of God.
These three components make up the “entire” human being. Only the spirit and soul are indestructible and survive death where they will exists forever either in heaven, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained,” (Revelation 6: 9) or in hell, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16: 26).
The Bible tells believers, however, that as long as they are alive, they must take good care of their bodies, keeping them free from immorality and evil things. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness,” (Romans 6: 12-13). On the day of resurrection, the bodies of those who are in Christ Jesus, will experience transformation and mankind will be totally redeemed.
Responsibilities of humankind
God created Adam and Eve and entrusted them with certain responsibilities.
1. He made them in His own image because He wanted to establish or develop a loving, personal relationship with them for all eternity. In return, Adam and Eve and all future mankind would glorify Him as Lord. God had a strong desire for His people to enjoy Him, to glorify Him and to live in righteousness and holiness before Him. So much so that when Satan succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve to rebel against and disobey God, the Lord promised to send a Savior to redeem the world. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel,” (Genesis 3: 15).
2. It was God’s will that mankind love Him above all others and to love their neighbors as themselves. This dual commandment of love summarizes the entire law of God. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,’” (Matthew 22: 37-40).
3. God also established the institution of marriage in the Garden of Eden where He placed Adam and Eve. God intended for marriage to be a monogamous, lifelong relationship between a husband and a wife. Within the context of marriage, God commanded that the human race “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground,’” (Genesis 1: 28). Man and woman were to produce godly offspring within the family. Establishing a godly family, and raising children within a healthy family relationship, is of great importance to God.
4. God also charged Adam and all of his descendants to “subdue” the earth and to “have dominion over it.” When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit; some of their dominion over the world was lost to Satan. Satan is now “the god of this world.” He controls this present evil age. “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one,” (1 John 5:19).
5. God does not desire or cause all the suffering in the world. And, everything that occurs in not the perfect will of God. Presently, the world is not under God’s dominion, but is in rebellion against His rule and is enslaved to Satan. It is because of this condition that Christ Jesus came to die and to reconcile the world unto God. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation,” (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19). For this reason, we should never assert that “God is in control” in order to free ourselves from the responsibility of earnestly battling sin, evil, or becoming spiritually lukewarm. God is sovereign. All things happen under His permissive will and supervision. God has limited His supreme power and rule over the world. However, this self-limitation in only temporary. At the time determined by His wisdom, He will destroy all evil and Satan.
God still expects believers to fulfill His divine purpose by taking good care of His world and by consecrating all things in the earth to Him. We are to manage His creation in a God-glorifying way. “You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet. In putting everything under them, God left mothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them,” (Hebrews 2:-8.) In this fallen world dominated by Satan, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Christ. Yet Jesus is already crowned with glory and honor in heaven. This means that all the evil powers in the world are doomed to defeat and judgment.
It is because of the presence of sin in the world that God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem the world. God’s people have been given the awesome task of bringing the message of God’s redemptive love to others. They have been called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and his salvation to the ends of the earth and to be the light and salt of the earth. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 5: 13-16).