The Characteristics of Man
In this essay we will look into five unique characteristics that man holds.
God created the whole universe, everything that you see, and last of all he created man. Man is special and is the crown of God's creation.
We know man is special, because we read in Genesis 1:27 that man was created in God's own image. This gave us many very special characteristics, including the ability to know right and wrong, a will to choose, an everlasting soul, and fellowship with God.
Man is the only creation that has an everlasting soul, and so we are very different from animals! Even though many people think we are similar, we are not!
We were also given great responsibilities. Man was given dominion over all the other creation. "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:" (Psalm 8:6) We must not forget our responsibilities that are listed in Genesis 1:28.
Man's body is also marvelously made. One only has to take a few moments examining it and he will be in awe.
So, we have seen that we were made very special and we were even made to have fellowship with God. We certainly were in a perfect condition! But all of this ended, as we will see in a few moments.
Shortly after man was created he disobeyed God. This turned the world from perfect to sinful. God created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. This garden was beautiful, with fruit trees and every kind of plant and animal you can think of. All of the animals were peaceful and man wasn't afraid of them. They were vegetarian, and there was no such thing as killing to eat. There was no death.
God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of every tree in the garden except for one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan had already fallen, and so he tempted Eve, and his first point of attack was to make Eve doubt what God had said. The saddest moment in history occured when Eve listened to the lies of Satan, and ate the fruit along with her husband Adam. Right at that moment their fellowship with God ended, they died spiritually, their bodies started to decay, and the world was now sinful.
This was the beginning of the biggest problem in the world. God killed a lamb to provide clothing for Adam and Eve, and this was the first death (besides the spiritual death that took place inside Adam and Eve). Because of their sin, death passed upon all men (Romans 5:12). Man was no longer able to live in the garden of Eden, nor have fellowship with the Holy God.
In Genesis 3:14-19 we read of the curse that God placed upon the world. Man now lives in a cursed world, that is full of sin and decay. All of this resulted when Man chose to disobey God.
This is a very solemn subject, but God offers hope and salvation, a way for us to escape the eternal punishment of sin.
Unlike God we are finite and helpless creatures. We are limited even more as a result of the curse, but we have always been finite. God is infinite, He is eternal, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). We can't comprehend how someone can have all of these traits, but God does!
We are without strength, and depend upon God for every breath that we take. Man has no control over death. When God chooses to end a person's life, it doesn't matter what that person does. No doctor can save you from death when God has decided to take you. (Ecclesiastes 8:8) This is a glimpse of how finite we really are, no matter what someone may try to tell you.
No one is their own spiritual master. God or Satan is your spiritual master, and one thing we are able to do is choose who we want as master.
Although we are so weak and finite, God places a great value on us. We have physical bodies that aren't worth anything, but as we will see in the next section, we are not something that just appears for a moment, and then vanishes away, never to be remembered again.
We are eternal beings. All of us will live forever, either up in Heaven or down in Hell and then the lake of fire. We own our bodies for a very brief moment, but our souls are eternal. If you really start to think of it, this life down on earth is just like a blink of an eye compared to eternity.
The world that we live in doesn't look at life through Biblical glasses, because if it did, a lot of things would change! This world tells man to get rich, live a fun life, do all he can, because once he dies that is the end. In actual fact we should be very busy, yes, but very busy preaching the gospel. People only have a short moment here, when they can decide to believe the gospel or not, and then they have eternity before them. In eternity, they will either enjoy the blessings of their choice, or suffer the consequences. It is a very serious matter.
When a Christian's body dies, it is buried and lies awaiting for the rapture when it will be resurrected. The real person though (his soul), doesn't die, it is in Heaven with God immediately after death. That person doesn't have a physical body until the rapture when it will be resurrected as a perfect immortal body.
The Christian who is alive when Jesus comes in the clouds and calls up his own (the rapture), will have his body with him. His body will be changed into a new, fresh body right at that moment. A lot of things will take place at the moment of the rapture!
Man is the only creation that has an eternal soul. This is a special characteristic of mankind alone. In our last section we will take a small glimpse of what we (Christians) will be doing for eternity!
Man was created to serve God. Man was God's servant even before the fall. (We read in Genesis chapter two of the jobs that Adam was given in the garden of Eden.) Since we were created for this purpose, we should willingly serve God. We also should not expect recognition for doing something that God commands us to do! In Luke 17:9 we read: "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not." To get a fuller understanding of this you should read the verse in its context, but it is basically saying what I stated in the previous sentence.
We should not be serving God just out of duty either. It should be out of love for Him. We don't have a hard master to serve, He is our friend. When Jesus was talking to His disciples he didn't consider them His servants, but His friends. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 15:15
We don't often think of the government as being a servant of God. But it is, and God has ordained it for a very important purpose (to punish evil people). We must be very careful that we are obeying our authorities. (Unless the authority's commands contradict God's commands.) There is quite a warning for those that resist the governing authorities, "...and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation," Romans 13:2
Think about that the next time you decide to go faster than the speed limit! We are to be servants of God down here, and we also have a glorious future of serving God for eternity! (Revelation 22:3) Man is privileged in yet another area, to be servants of the great God!
We have just looked at five different characteristics that man alone has. We are very special and very different from the rest of creation! Our great responsibility is to tell the rest of the world these facts, and to give the world a hope that many could not even dream of!