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WHAT IS MAN? and what makes him unique?
Plain Truth Magazine
November-December 1982
Volume: Vol 47, No.9
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WHAT IS MAN? and what makes him unique?
Richard H Sedliacik   
Church of God

Died: December 23, 2010
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Managing Editor of the Ambassador College Correspondence Course.

   MAN IS the most complex, truly unique physical mechanism ever designed and made.
   With such a marvelous mind and body, we might expect it was only natural that our Maker send along his "Instruction Book" just as a manufacturer sends along with the instrument or device he manufactures an instruction book describing what his product is designed to do.
   That Instruction Book God did send. It reveals the missing dimension in knowledge the incredible human potential.

God's Instruction Book

   This Instruction Book tells us what we are, why we are, where we are going, and the way to get there! We call it the Holy Bible.
   It reveals that God first created angels composed of spirit, though lesser than God and lacking in ultimate creative power. It reveals that the physical universe, including the earth, was next brought into existence. A third of the angels were then placed here on earth. They were put under the rule of the government of God, which was administered on earth by the great archangel called Lucifer.
   Under the government of God which is in reality the administration of God's way of outgoing love as spelled out in the Ten Commandments the earth was initially filled with peace, happiness, joy and wonderful accomplishment. But ultimately, Lucifer led his angels into rebellion. The government of God was rejected, no longer enforced. As a result, the earth became waste and empty, in confusion and darkness (Gen. 1:2). Then in six literal days God renewed the face of the earth (Ps. 104:30). He made physical life forms the flora and then the fauna that reproduce themselves. These life forms were created without the thinking, reasoning, decision-making processes, and without ethical or moral capabilities except for man, God's masterpiece of creative workmanship.

What Man Is

   In the FOUNDATION of knowledge, God's Instruction Book for man, the Creator God reveals much knowledge about man himself that is totally beyond man's ability to discover for himself including the knowledge and understanding of what man is, why he was made that way, and what he is to become.
   God created the first man. And he tells us how he made him so there would be no doubt as to what we really are. The first man was made from and therefore composed of earth the dust of the ground! (Gen. 2:7) It was the whole man "thou" that was composed of the dust of the ground (Gen. 3:19).
   After God had formed the manmade all the cells in his body God imparted to him physical life (Gen. 2:7). God blew into the man's lungs, through the nostrils, air "the breath of life" containing oxygen, and the man began to live! Notice that the verse does not say God breathed an immortal soul into the man.
   The source of physical life in man and all animals is the same. Not once does the "breath of life" even remotely refer to an "immortal soul" or life apart from the physical body. Otherwise animals, birds and even insects gnats, fleas, mosquitoes have immortal souls, for they all have the same "breath of life" (Gen. 7:21-22).
   When God breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of the first man, what did he become? "A living soul" (Gen. 2:7).
   Man does not have a soul man is a "soul"! (See the accompanying article in this issue "What Do You Mean... 'Immortal Soul'?" for an in depth explanation)
   Since man is a soul, and the soul is mortal then man is mortal, subject to death. That is why the Scriptures call human beings "mortal man" (Job 4:17).
   When an animal dies, it is dead. When man dies, he is completely dead, too. All men and animals alike go to the same place at death! (Eccl. 3:20) Why? Because they all have the same temporary source of life air. All men and animals become dust once again.

Why Created Mortal

   Past issues of The Plain Truth have revealed that the government of God ceased to be administered on this earth after the rebellion of a super-archangel, Lucifer (now Satan),
"Only man, of all God's physical creatures, has the seemingly miraculous ability to think, reason, plan and design..."
and one third of the angels. Later, God created the first human, Adam, with the potential of qualifying to replace Satan as ruler of the earth, thus restoring the government and way of God. But to qualify as successor to Satan, the human successor had to reject Satan's way and come under the government of God!
   God's master plan for accomplishing this purpose in the human race took form and shape even before man was made. If mortal man sinned by rejecting God's government as all but Jesus have God would make it possible for him to REPENT to turn from sinning, to be reconciled to God and to live God's way of life, finally to be born of God as members of his eternal family!
   Repentance is turning from the way of Satan to the government of God. It is accepting God's rule over our lives through his law of love. It is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and coming King the "second Adam" who finally qualified (where the first Adam failed) to reestablish the government of God on the earth by overcoming Satan. Those who are to reign with Christ must turn from or reject Satan's way, overcoming that way day by day, and actually live by God's law of love. If they continue in this way, they will be born of God become immortal spirit at the first resurrection (I Cor. 15:42-54; John 3:3-8).
   But those who will not repent and accept Christ's sacrifice in payment for their sins those who refuse to turn from Satan's way and voluntarily come under the government of God in their lives will ultimately perish (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14-15; Mal. 4:1-3).
   God wants every human being who has ever lived to have the opportunity to repent and live forever (II Pet. 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). But God will not force anyone to choose life. For those who refuse to follow God's way to eternal life there will be the "second death " the fate of all unrepentant sinners. They will cease to exist forever. They will be as if they had never been!
   We can now see that God chose to make man first out of physical matter instead of spirit for a great purpose. Before the creation of man, he had made angels out of immortal spirit not mortal flesh and blood, subject to death. And one third of these angels sinned by rebelling against the government of God. But the punishment of sinning angels is not physical death.

Angels Were Created Different

   Angels are composed of spirit and therefore cannot die. Since one third of the angels chose the way of sin, their punishment is eternal loss of the glorious opportunity God gave them to accomplish his purpose on earth. And their sins have resulted in hopelessness and frustration, their minds being filled with resentment, bitterness and rebellion. Happiness and joy have left them forever!
   God planned in advance that if man, composed of matter, sinned and refused to repent, he would die he would be as though he had not been. God will not allow any incorrigible human being to live forever in mental anguish and torment like the fallen angels. This plan reflects the great mercy of God toward mortal man!
   When called by God and made to realize that he has sinned, man can REPENT turn from his sin to God's way. And once his course is changed, with God's help he can pursue a life of obedience to God. He can grow in spiritual knowledge and develop the character of God overcome wrong habits, weaknesses and faults. And this is all done through the free will and choice of each human mind.
   Only man, of all God's physical creatures, has the seemingly miraculous ability to think, reason, plan and design, come to conclusions based on acquired knowledge. Animals cannot comprehend the concepts of good and evil. They don't repent.
   Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever thought about the vast difference between animal brain and human mind, and what could possibly account for it?

Animal Brain vs. Human Mind

   There is a great, uncrossable GULF between animal brain and human mind. The evolutionary theory assumes that humans are animals. But one thing evolution can never explain is the total difference between animal brain equipped with instinct, and the human mind with creative reasoning powers of intellect and devoid of instinct in the strict sense that animals possess it.
   Some animals have physical brains as large or larger than man's brain, and with similar cerebral cortex complexity but none has the powers of intellect, logic, self-consciousness and creativity.
   The physical brain of a dolphin, whale or elephant is larger than the human brain, while a chimp's is slightly smaller. Qualitatively the difference between them and the human brain is very little not enough to remotely account for the vastly superior intelligence and output of the human brain. The gap between animal brain and human mind is incredibly vast!
   When God molded Adam out of the dust of the ground, he was made in the "likeness" the out ward form and shape of GOD himself (Gen. 1:26). God didn't make any of the other creatures to be an exact clay replica of himself. This unique form and shape was given to man alone. This is because man was created with the potential to become God!
   Each animal was created with a brain suited for its particular animal kind. But animals do not have the potential of MIND and CHARACTER that God gave only to man. No animal was ever given the gift of mind power ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions as was man!
   It is this very SPECIAL ATTRIBUTE OF MIND AND CHARACTER that separates men from animals!
   Animals possess what we call instinct. Their brains are programmed, so to speak, by God with particular instinctive aptitudes to live and perform in a certain way. They follow instinctive habit patterns in their feeding, nesting, migration and reproduction. Thus beavers build dams, birds build nests. These aptitudes are inherited they are not the result of logical, cognitive or thinking processes.
   For example, thousands of birds flock south each year as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere. They don't stop to reason why, they don't ask themselves whether they should, they don't plan ahead an itinerary for the trip. At a given internal signal like the preset alarm of a clock they leave their summer feeding grounds in the north and travel thousands of miles south. Scientists don't fully understand why they merely observe the operation of this animal instinct.
   Each species or kind of bird builds different types of nests, feeds on specific kinds of foods, and migrates at different times to various destinations. But none of these actions is planned in advance by the birds as humans would. Birds merely have the capability and proclivity to do that which Almighty God built into the instinct of each at creation.
   But man's mind is vastly different from animal instinct. Man is able to devise various ways to do any one thing or to achieve a predetermined goal. Man can acquire knowledge and reason from it. He can draw conclusions, make decisions, will to act according to a thought-out plan.
   Man can design and build different types of houses, using different designs and different building materials. Some houses are built of wood, some of brick or stone, and some people living near the North Pole even live in ice houses called igloos. Men also eat different foods, prepared in many different ways. Men may live entirely different life-styles from one another. And if a man wants to change his way of life he can! Man is not subject to instinct. He is not governed by a set of predetermined habit patterns as animals are.
   Man can choose he has free moral agency. He can devise codes of conduct and exercise self-discipline. Man can originate ideas and evaluate knowledge because he has a MIND that is patterned after God's own mind! Man can devise, plan and bring his plans to fruition because he has been given some of the very creative powers of God!
   Man alone can wonder, "Why was I born? What is life? What is death? Is there a purpose in human existence?" Man, unlike the animals, not only "knows" how to do certain things, but he also KNOWS that he knows that is, he is aware that he has "knowledge. " He is conscious of the fact. He is self-conscious, aware of his own existence as a unique being.
   These attributes of mind and character make man God's UNIQUE physical creation. God has shared some of his own qualities with man. And God expects man to develop and become conformed to the spiritual "image" of God's perfect mind and holy character (Matt. 5:48) just as man now is formed in the physical "image" of God.

"Human" Spirit Makes the Difference!

   Man was created to have a special relationship with God that is utterly nonexistent with animals. Man was made in the similitude of the GOD kind. He was made in God's image so that he might one day be born into God's divine family!
   God's purpose in making mortal man after his own likeness demanded mind power in man patterned after God's own mind. That is why the most remarkable thing about man is his mind.
   What is it then that separates humankind from the animal kingdom? What gives him this God-plane power of intellect?
   It all boils down to a nonphysical component in the human brain that does not exist in animal brain. It is this nonphysical component that makes man so vastly different from animals. It is what makes man truly UNIQUE!
   Man does not have an immortal soul within him that enables him to live on apart from his body after death (remember man is a mortal soul). But the Bible nevertheless does speak of a "spirit IN man" (Job 32:8, 18; Zech. 12:1:1 Cor. 2:11).
   Many passages of Scripture show that there is a "spirit" IN man! This spirit is not the man it is something that is IN the man. Joined with the physical brain of the man, it forms human MIND. It imparts to man's brain his unique powers of intellect and personality the ability to think rationally and make freewill decisions. It imparts the ability to learn mathematics, languages or other types of knowledge such as music, art, carpentry, flying.
   But that's all. The spirit that is IN man has no consciousness of itself. It is not an "immortal soul." This spirit is not the "man."
   The spirit that is IN man can be called "human" spirit, for it is in each human, even though it is spirit essence and not matter. It is not a "ghost," spirit being, or the Holy Spirit. It is not the man, but spirit essence IN the man. It is NOT a soul the physical human is a soul.
   The human spirit, added to every human being at birth, does not supply human life the human life is in the physical blood, oxidized by the breath of life (Lev. 17:11). But the spirit in man does impart the power of intellect to the human brain. This nonphysical component in the human brain does not exist in the brains of animals.
   The spirit in man is spirit essence; just as in the material world air is a gaseous essence. But this "human" spirit cannot see. The physical brain sees through the eyes. The human spirit in a person cannot hear. The brain hears through the ears. This human spirit cannot think. The brain thinks although the spirit imparts the power to think far above the level of brute animals' brain function. Without such spirit animals cannot do original thinking.
   The "human" spirit acts as a computer. Whatever knowledge enters the brain through the five senses is instantly stored (memorized) in the spirit within the person. It enables the brain to have instant recall of stored-up knowledge in the spirit, and thus enables the brain to utilize bits of related knowledge in the process of THINKING and REASONING.
   The human spirit imparts the power of intellect to the physical brain in two ways: 1) it gives the brain instant recall of whatever the brain calls for in the knowledge stored in this memory or "human computer"; 2) it supplies the brain whatever energy is needed to cause it to think that is, to put the pieces of information stored in the spirit together in the process we call "thinking," "reasoning" and "drawing conclusions. " The human spirit also is the means God has instilled to make possible a personal relationship between human MAN and divine GOD.
   The truth about the "spirit in man" is so important that Satan twisted and perverted it long ago. He clouded the minds of men and led them into believing his "big lie" as far back in time as the first human beings in the garden of Eden.
   Here was the origin of the "immortality of the soul" teaching so prevalent today! Satan told the first woman she would "not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). In other words, she had an "immortal soul" that would live forever. Eve believed this lie. And most of the world today continues to believe some variation of that ancient "big lie"!

A Second Spirit Needed

   Man has the intellectual capacity to design spaceships to take him to the moon and back, to invent the computer and to do other marvelous exploits in the physical, material realm. Yet during man's nearly 6,000 years on earth, he has proved that he cannot solve his problems with fellowman.
   Why has this been so? Because man's real problems are spiritual in nature and the natural man simply cannot solve spiritual problems. In producing the computer or in flying to the moon, he is dealing with physical matter that he can understand because of the human spirit within him. But he cannot solve problems with fellow humans because this involves knowledge and understanding of spiritual principles, which he cannot comprehend without the addition of another spiritual element to his mind!
   Man was made to need another spirit the Holy Spirit of God! Just as a human could not know the things of human knowledge except by the human spirit within him, so he cannot know the things of God spiritual knowledge except by the addition of the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:9-11, 14).
   Just as surely as no animal brain such as that of a cow, for example can comprehend or understand human affairs without the human spirit, so no human mind can have comprehension of spiritual truths on the divine plane unless and until it has received the Holy Spirit!
   Even the greatest scientific and philosophical minds simply cannot come to know and understand SPIRITUAL truths with their natural minds. They are "foolishness" to them. The natural man with his human spirit is limited to material knowledge.
   Spiritual things cannot be seen with the eye, heard with the ear, felt with the hands. The human mind, which can receive knowledge only through these physical channels, can never really comprehend spiritual concepts and principles without the Holy Spirit of God. Only when the Holy Spirit enters man's mind upon conversion, combining with the human spirit, can a man come to know that which is spiritual. Only then can the human mind receive and comprehend the knowledge of and attain God's GREAT PURPOSE for his existence!
   Man was created incomplete. He was made to need another spirit the Holy Spirit of God.
   How can one receive the Holy Spirit? Through Christ, the second Adam, we can receive God's gift of his Holy Spirit. Upon repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, whose death paid the penalty for sin in our stead, we may be reconciled to God and receive the Holy Spirit of God, which is added to our human spirit (Acts 2:38; John 7:38-39). Thus we become the begotten children of God (I Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:14-17).
   The human spirit in man and the Holy Spirit of God join to make a begotten child of God, just as the male sperm cell and the female ovum or egg cell join to make a begotten human, but not yet developed or ready to be born as a human being.
   God's Holy Spirit, when it combines with the human spirit in the human mind, does two things: 1) it begets the human with divine, eternal life to be later born into the God family as a divine being, then composed wholly of spirit; 2) it imparts to the mind the ability to comprehend spiritual knowledge to understand the things of God.
   The first human beings were freely offered this second and much-needed Spirit. Of the two symbolic trees in the garden in Eden, the "tree of life" represented God's Holy Spirit. To have taken the fruit of that tree would have been to receive God's Holy Spirit, which would have joined with their human spirits, impregnating them as begotten (not yet born) children of God.
   But by taking of the fruit of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," our first parents rejected God's Spirit, which would have begotten the very life of God in them and would have enabled them to understand revealed spiritual knowledge. Thus they cut themselves and their descendants off from access to God's Spirit and limited themselves and the human race to material knowledge and understanding (Gen. 3:22-24), except for those God specially calls (John 6:44).
   The Spirit-begotten Christian now has, conditionally, the presence of eternal life within him (or her) through a portion of the Spirit from the Father. But this does not mean he is an immortal spirit being. He is not yet wholly composed of God's Spirit. He is now an "heir" of God (Rom. 8:16-17) not yet an inheritor or a possessor, not yet "born again. " But, if the Holy Spirit dwells in us, God will, at Christ's return to earth as King of kings, give us immortality by his Spirit that dwells in us (Rom. 8:11).
   Now just as in human reproduction the impregnated embryo, which later becomes a fetus, is not yet born, but must be nourished for a period of time through the human mother, so the begotten Christian is not yet born into the God family.
Man, unlike the animals... is self-conscious, aware of his own existence as a unique being.
The divine life has merely been begotten. It must now grow!

Why We Must Grow Spiritually

   Included in God's purpose for creating man is the development of righteous, spiritual character within him! Notice again what God said in Genesis 1:26: "Let us make man in our image...." The original Hebrew here indicates far more than merely the form and shape of God his outward likeness, "Image" also refers to mind and character! God intended for man to whom he gave the gift of a thinking, reasoning mind to ultimately have the very mind and character of GOD.
   God's purpose in creating man is to reproduce himself with the perfect spiritual character only God possesses. Man was therefore created in God's own image and likeness, his own form and shape with a mind similar to his, so God could begin to develop the very character of God in him.
   Just as in human reproduction, when the human body and brain gradually begin to form during the gestation period, so now the righteous and holy character of God must begin to take form and grow once one is begotten by God's Spirit (II Pet. 3:18; I Pet. 2:1-2).
   Obviously, we cannot become absolutely perfect in character until the resurrection when God will complete the process by giving each of us a new, perfect spirit body with its perfect sinless (I John 3:2, 9) nature that will be like Christ's and the Father's. But meantime, God wants us to grow in his spiritual character daily by obeying his commandments and overcoming and rooting sin out of our lives growing toward that spiritual perfection!
   Such perfect, holy character cannot be created by fiat. It must be developed and that requires time and experience. God gives us time in which to learn that only his way of life brings real peace, happiness and a joyful, abundant life. We will have learned that sin causes only heartache, misery, suffering and death. We will have seen the results of Satan's way of life and rejected it, and will have been developing, with the help of God's Spirit, God's own holy, righteous character until our change to sinless immortal life!
   We become a spiritual "embryo" when, upon receipt of the Holy Spirit, we are begotten of God. And to grow spiritually, we must take in spiritual nourishment. Just as the embryo in a mother's womb must be nourished with life-giving food through the placenta, so we must be nourished by the Word of God. "... The words that I speak unto you," said Jesus, "they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Those words are recorded in the Bible and Jesus said we are to live by every word of God '(Matt. 4:4). We drink in these life-giving words from the Bible through reading, studying and meditating (thinking) on what we read.
   Spiritual character development requires time and comes largely by experience by putting the Word of God into practice in our daily lives. One builds the righteous character of God as he comes to discern, through God's revelation in the Holy Bible, right from wrong the true values from the false truth from error, then chooses the right and rejects the wrong and, with the help of God's Holy Spirit, resists the wrong and DOES the right!
   Actually, in many this divine character may form so slowly that it seems hardly in evidence at first, except that in some there may radiate a "first love" of spiritual conversion. But, so far as growing in spiritual knowledge and spiritual character goes, that is a gradual process that continues the rest of one's life.
   In addition to Bible study, earnest prayer is absolutely necessary.
   We also absorb spiritual nourishment through personal, daily contact with God. When you study the Bible, God is talking to you. When you pray, you are talking to him. You get to really know God in this manner, just as you become better acquainted with people by conversation.
   God's Church is the spiritual "mother" of all who have been begotten by God's Holy Spirit. God has set his called and chosen ministers in his Church to "feed the flock" so the individual members may grow spiritually (Acts 20:28). Christ has given his ministers the responsibility to instruct, teach and counsel the members of the Church (Eph. 4:11-15). So just as a human mother feeds her begotten child within her womb through the placenta and umbilical cord, God's children are nourished with spiritual food within the true Church.
   And as the human mother carries her unborn baby in that part of her body where she can best protect it from physical harm, the function of God's Church is to also protect the begotten children of God from spiritual harm the false doctrines of false ministers who appear as Christ's representatives, but who actually represent Satan and his way (II Cor. 11:13-15).
   Finally, when resurrected from the dead or changed from mortal flesh to immortal spirit at Christ's return, the incredible human potential will have blossomed into reality. We will have been BORN into the divine family of God possessing the fullness of the very character of God!
   Now we see clearly the great purpose the Creator God had in making man UNIQUE among all his physical creations. Mortal man has within his reach the glorious reality of attaining to the resurrection of the dead, and receiving immortality forever being a part of the universe-ruling family of God.

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Plain Truth MagazineNovember-December 1982Vol 47, No.9
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