The Nature Of Man
Jack L. Holt
The eternal God had man in His mind before "the mountains were brought forth," or "ever the earth was formed." A. Campbell observed, "That which was first in contemplation was last in execution." God formed the earth as a habitation for man (Isa. 45:18). On the sixth day of creation God created the spirit of man in His image. The spirit God created had vast intellectual and moral powers.
For that powerful intelligent spirit, God formed a body from the elements of the earth. That body was perfectly adapted to the world in which man was to live and over which he was to rule. When man was completely formed, spirit, body and life, God gave him the power of instant communication. Adam could hear, understand, and talk with his Creator.
God doesn't conduct experiments. He had our marvelous body complete in His mind and He formed it by His infinite wisdom with all systems go. Man, the spirit already created, became a living soul. That doesn't mean man is merely a soul, it means he was given life. What kind of life? Human life. Man is not to be classed with animals. It is not said of any animal that "God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." This giving life to man was a peculiar gift to man from God. To abort a baby is not to kill an animal, but to take the precious gift of human life that God gave to men. No man has the right to do that. Human life came from God and is under His control.
The nature of man was not complete as he stood alone before God. God made Adam aware of his incompleteness and then acted to fulfill the plan He had for man when He decided to create the world (Rev. 4:11). Man learned that his Creator alone knows how to satisfy his needs. God created the spirit of the woman and formed the female body from man's side. The woman was made for man (1 Cor. 11:9). The male was first formed, then the female. This plainly shows priority in creation and a distinction in the sexes. Jesus said, "Male and female created He them." The spirits were created for the male and female bodies which God formed.
The sexual relationship was created by God and it involves the whole of one's being - body, spirit and life. Marriage is a holy, unique relationship, given by God that involves the whole of life and male and female do not reach this wholeness without that divine relationship. In the sexual relationship the two become one flesh, and in that relationship there is a spiritual knowing of each other and of God's wonderful workings that can be known in no other way. "Adam knew Eve his wife" (Gen. 4:1) has a deeper meaning that mere sexual activity. The Blessed God who created the spirit and formed our bodies, with the perfect blending of them in human nature perfectly knows our needs and provides for them. "Every creation of God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving" (1 Tim. 4:4).
Adam and Eve were both naked before they sinned and had no sense of shame (Gen. 2:25). The word "naked" carries the idea of transparent and open. There was nothing in their nature that led them to hide anything from each other or to have secrets that gave them guilt. There was a perfect openness and sharing of every desire with a sense of joy for God's creation.
In body, spirit and life, Adam and Eve were just like us. Their bodies were mortal, subject to death, just as our bodies are mortal. To sustain and invigorate the mortal body God gave the tree of life. The life was not in the tree, but in Him from whom all life comes. This tree served a unique function and through it could come the power to live forever (Gen. 3:22).
Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world and in glorious unbroken fellowship with God. God gave them great liberty. He said, "Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat." God gave liberty before He imposed a restriction. Then God said, ". . . but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:16-17).
As intelligent moral creatures, they were responsible to the word of God. They developed their moral powers by the choices they made. In choosing not to eat of the forbidden tree they followed God's word, the good way of life. When they chose to rebel against God's word they chose evil, the way of death. The word know or knowledge involves having the ability to discriminate between good and evil. As long as they lived within God's restrictions they were happy and free.
The original sinner, with the power of speech came into that perfect world with the purpose of turning Adam and Eve from the word of God. The devil attacked the nature of man by trying to turn him from God's word. He did this by lies. He asked Eve, "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" He put a question mark where God put a period. He works the same way today, "Does God say you must be baptized to be saved?"
The devil's purpose from Eden till the end of time is to murder souls by lying to them about the word of God. Neither the devil nor his preachers (2 Cor. 11:13-15) will tell you God's truth. The devil opposed God's truth and lied to Eve. He said, "Ye shall not surely die." Eve believed the devil's lie, turned from the will of God and ate of the forbidden fruit, gave it to Adam and he ate. They didn't break God's word for "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). God's word stands immutable for "He cannot lie." They broke fellowship with God by sin.
But why did they sin? Were they under the constraint of a sinful nature? Was there some flaw in their nature that forced them to sin? Absolutely not. If they sinned because they had a corrupt nature, where did they get it? All that they had and were came from God. They were absolutely pure in spirit, body and life; yet they sinned. Why did they sin?
They sinned because sin appealed to them with such power that they gave the consent of their minds to obey the lies of the devil rather than the truth of God. In this first sin lies the secret of all sin. Sin begins in the mind. Whoever controls your mind controls you. The greatest war raging on earth today is the war for the mind. Jesus said, "The things that come out of a man are the things that make him unclean. All these evil things begin inside a person, in his mind. . . " (Mk. 7:20-21, New Century Version). A person may have a "religious mind," but if that mind rejects God's word at any point it is under the control and power of the devil. Unbelief and sin are not the products of a fallen nature but of one's choices.
The devil gained the consent of Eve's mind, deceived her (Adam was not deceived 1 Tim. 2:14) but, both she and Adam ate and sinned. Sin was committed by those whose nature was sinless for they gave the consent of their minds to it. As intelligent, moral and responsible creatures they consented to reject the guidance of God and follow the devil. We suffer the consequences of their personal acts, but not the guilt. Sinners are separated from God not because of Adam's sin but for their own sins (Eph. 2:1 ASV). Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Sin is an act and an act can't be transmitted.
People sin today in the same way Adam sinned. They don't sin because they have a fallen, sinful or corrupt nature. They sin because they choose to satisfy the desires of theflesh that has been stimulated by appeals to the mind. Sin appeals to the mind, "But each person is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire" (Jas. 1:14, Berkley Version). When temptation gains the consent of the mind, desire conceives and gives birth to sin. If the fact we sin proves we have a fallen nature, it would prove Adam had a fallen nature. If sin is caused by "inherent depravity," 'we have Adam sinning without a cause for he certainly was not depraved.
Adam and Eve were free moral agents with power to choose whom they would serve. Every responsible person has that power today. All are responsible for the choices they make. This truth is clearly set forth in the parable of the soils or sower (Lk. 8:6-15). One decides for himself the kind of soil he is. This parable exposes the errors of the "theological triplets" of the Calvinists. First, a sinner receives the word into an honest and good heart, so it is not "opposite of all good." Second, faith is produced by the word, not by a direct operation of the Spirit. Third, in time of temptation some fall away, showing the possibility of apostasy. People are either willing or unwilling to receive the truth. If willing, no other power is needed. If unwilling, the use of additional power would be coercion not conversion.
One creed teaches that as a result of the original corruption brought into the world by Adam's sin we are "utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite of all good; and wholly inclined to all evil." According to this creed we are born with a sinful nature and "inclination to sin," is proof of it. But we are not more inclined to sin than Adam was before he fell. If "inclination to sin," proves depravity it proves Adam was depraved before he sinned.
We are sinners by our choices not because we are depraved "in all our parts." Adam was a free agent and became a sinner by choice and so do we (Rom. 5:12). If Adam had to sin by decree or corruption was he free? The Scripture says, "God made man upright, but they sought out many inventions" (Eccl. 7:29). We are born pure in body and spirit, but in time, just as all who have gone before us, we sin. Sin comes to us by our own actions, not by inborn corruption.
Some Calvinists teach that when one is regenerated or born again, the real man, the spirit can never sin again; but that the body is still depraved and continues to sin till death. One Baptist writer declared, "In Adam all sinned. The fountain head was polluted and the whole stream became fowl and impure. This sinful nature we carry with us to the grave. God does not convert the flesh." Ben M. Bogard, Baptist preacher said, "I am as perfect as God Himself as far as my soul is concerned. Then what about my body? It does sin" (Hardeman-Bogard Debate, p. 310). But sin involves the spirit (the mind) and the flesh (2 Cor. 7:1-2; Rom. 8:6-7). We sin, not because we have a sinful nature, but because we choose to sin. Did God create or make Adam with a sinful nature?
It is a sad fact of life that no one lives above sin. Some teach they receive a "second blessing," or "sanctification," and live above sin. Solomon said, "there is not a just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not" (Eccl. 7:20). He also said, "When they sin against Thee, (for there is no man who does not sin). . . " (1 Kgs. 8:46).
There are differences in circumstances between Adam's sin and ours, but there is no difference in our natures. Adam sinned in a perfect world, we are conceived and born in a world of sin (Psa. 51:5). When David said he was brought forth in "iniquity," he wasn't saying iniquity was in him. Though he was "conceived in sin," the sin was not in David. David was not born a sinner, but in a world where sin abounded. We must distinguish between one born and the conditions that surround his birth.
The conditions and circumstances in this sinful world make it more conducive to sin than in a sinless world, but that fact does not relieve us of any responsibility nor remove guilt. Further, the devil has had about seven thousand years to perfect his act, and we must guard our minds "lest by any means as the serpent" turned Eve's mind from God's word so your minds should be turned from your single hearted devotion to any part of God's truth (2 Cor. 11:3).
God's wonderful work in creation was threatened by the entrance of sin into the world. God intended for man to live and rule forever upon the earth and God made his nature to do just that. Did God create man with his mate, join them in marriage and give them rule over a condition He foreordained to destroy? Did God plan the character of the devil and eternally purpose that he deceive the woman?
God created the creature that fell and became the devil. This creature was permitted to test man's loyalty to God's word. Man rejected God's word and sinned. Was God defeated by this? God's wisdom was perfectly adequate to the situation. God is never hemmed in by circumstances. He always knows what He will do (John 6:6). He has the perfect solution for any crisis.
When sin entered the world there came into the mind of the eternal, infinite God the grand and glorious scheme of human redemption. This scheme involved the nature of man, his spirit, life and body. Before one word of it was spoken, ere one word was written the scheme of redemption was complete in the mind of God from its inception to its perfection in eternity. This is "God's eternal purpose," or "plan of the ages," concerning the nature of man.
Before the "foundation of the ages," Patriarchal and Jewish, the plan of salvation was complete in the mind of God. When sin entered, the cross was erected. The blessed spotless Lamb stood as already slain for our sins. Foreseeing the love that some of His creation would have for Him God planned "to make all things work together for good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
"All things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ." All things of Him! "Without Him was not anything made that was made." The plan of salvation was made by Him and through Him (John 1:1-2, so v. 14).
These things were hidden under the types and shadows of the ages until the "due time" came for the Holy Spirit to 4 'uncover the deep things of God." Jesus said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent. . . " (Matt. 11:27).
The Holy Spirit tells us that "all these things God planned for us work for our good," not only in time, but in harmony with God's eternal plans for "our nature and its glory," in eternity. The Holy Spirit pictures God's purposes for us in its completeness in Romans 8:28-30. Those who love Him answer His call made through the Gospel. They are "the called. " The ones who love Him are the ones He before approved, and marked out to be conformed to the image of His Son. In our nature, spirit and body, we belong to the Lord. The nature of Christians is shaped as the spirit, under the influence of the truth presents the body as a living sacrifice to God. Those who answer God's call through the word, and who live as the called, stand before Him justified at all times, "for who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" The ones justified are glorified in God's eternal purpose for them.
Thus the nature of man, created and formed by the eternal God in the beginning can, through His infinite wisdom, defeat the devil in this sinful world by allegiance to God's word. God's purpose for man will be fulfilled in a higher world that can't be marred by sin. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed to us." And not the least of that glory will be the knowledge of God, not just as a wise, powerful Creator but as a loving, forgiving Father and Redeemer. With eternal spirits made perfect, with mortal bodies made immortal, in our glorified nature we can, with the redeemed of all the ages, forever praise Him round His throne.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 1, pp. 14-16