“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psa. 8:4-5)
What is man?
(1) Man is a living soul: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7)
(3) Man is higher than the animals: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psa. 8:6-8)
Man consists of what two parts?
(1) The body: “It is sown a natural body . . . There is a natural body . . . The first man is of the earth, earthy.” (1 Cor. 15:44, 47) “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” (Gen. 2:7) “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Eccl. 3:20)
(2) The life-principle (called the “breath” or “spirit” of life): “And the Lord God . . . breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” (Gen. 2:7) “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood . . . to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life . . .” (Gen. 6:17) “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.” (Gen. 7:15) “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts . . . Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth?” (Eccl. 3:19, 21, ASV) “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones . . . I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. . . . Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind . . . Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” (Ezek. 37:4, 6, 9, 10)
What does the union of the parts produce? What happens when the parts are separated?
(1) Their union produces a living soul: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. . . . And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Ezek. 37:10-14)
(2) Their separation destroys the living soul: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” (Psa. 146:4) “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [Hebrew ruwach – breath] shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccl. 12:7) “For as the body without the spirit [Greek, pneuma – life-spark, breath] is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jas. 2:26)
In what condition was man created?
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness . . . So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Gen. 1:26-27)
“In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.” (Gen. 5:1)
“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” (Jas. 3:9)
What was the image of God?
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)
“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. 32:4)
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .” (Rom. 8:29)
“God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:24)
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” (Col. 3:10)
What was the likeness of God?
“And God said, Let us make man . . . after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26)
“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psa. 8:5-8)
“Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Heb. 2:8)
What are man’s chief physical qualities?
(1) Man is material: “The first man is of the earth, earthy.” (1 Cor. 15:47) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same . . .” (Heb. 2:14)
(2) Man is mortal: “Shall mortal man be more just than God?” (Job 4:17)
(3) Man is dependent: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. 3:5)
(4) Man is finite: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psa. 8:4-5; Heb. 2:6-7)
What were man’s original moral qualities?
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Pet. 1:5-7)
What was man’s original abode?
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden . . . And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Gen. 2:8-15)
What law was man under?
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the 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)
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days . . .” (Deut. 30:15, 19-20)
What is sin?
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)
“All unrighteousness is sin.” (1 John 5:17)
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7)
“And he that doubteth is damned . . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (Jas. 4:17)
How did sin originate among angels?
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14)
“He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
“He that committed sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8)
“And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example . . .” (Jude 6-7, ASV)
How did sin originate among men?
“Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:11-13)
“. . . the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety . . .” (2 Cor. 11:3)
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14)
What was the result of man’s transgression?
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12)
How many of the human race are sinful?
“. . . for there is no man that sinneth not . . .” (1 Kings 8:46)
“How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? . . . yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man . . .” (Job 25:4-6)
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6)
“What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. . . . Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. . . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:9-12, 19, 23)
“But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin . . .” (Gal. 3:22)
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, 10)
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19)
How did all become sinful?
(1) By heredity: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” (Job 14:4) “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psa. 51:5) “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” (Psa. 58:3) “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation . . . by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .” (Rom. 5:18-19) “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph. 2:2-3) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers.” (1 Pet. 1:18)
(2) By personal wrongdoing: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Eccl. 7:29) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of all.” (Isa. 53:6)
Sin can be committed in what ways?
(1) By thought: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)
(2) By desire: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto to you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28)
(3) By word: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (Jas. 3:2)
(4) By deed: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
What are the different kinds of sin?
(1) Sins of weakness and ignorance: “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47-48) “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression . . .” (Rom. 5:14) “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:19-20) “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim. 1:13) “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:17)
(2) Sins of willfulness: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:4, 6) “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” (Heb. 10:26) “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)
(3) Sins partly of willfulness, partly of weakness and ignorance: “And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47) “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:74-75)
What are the chief sins?
(1) Unbelief: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12)
(2) Atheism: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psa. 53:1)
(3) Forgetting God: “According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” (Hos. 13:6)
(4) Alienation from God: “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Eph. 4:18)
(5) Disobedience to God: “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” (Rom. 10:21)
(6) Tempting God: “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Psa. 78:40-41)
(7) Rebellion against God: “Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High.” (Psa. 107:10-11)
(8) Blasphemy: “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Rom. 2:23-24)
(9) Belying God: “Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.” (Hos. 7:13)
(10) Dishonoring parents: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (Prov. 30:17)
(11) Unchasteness: “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” (1 Cor. 10:8)
(12) Covetousness: “For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” (Psa. 10:3)
(13) Evil speaking: “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” (Jas. 4:11)
(14) Hatred: “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11)
(15) Scolding: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” (Gal. 5:15)
(16) Revenge: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
(17) Oppression: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.” (Prov. 14:31)
(18) Flattery: “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.” (Psa. 12:2)
(19) Falsehood: “And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.” (Jer. 9:5)
(20) Hypocrisy: “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matt. 23:28)
(21) Murder: “They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.” (Psa. 94:6)
(22) Misleading: “A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.” (Prov. 16:29)
(23) Stealing: “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” (Lev. 19:13)
(24) Pride: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psa. 10:4)
Sin is committed against whom?
(1) God: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” (Psa. 51:4)
(2) Christ and the brethren: “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” (1 Cor. 8:12)
(3) Mankind in general: “Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.” (Prov. 3:29)
(4) Self: “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” (Prov. 8:36)
Why is sin permitted?
(1) To illustrate its terrible effects: “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:13)
(2) To teach men to forsake it and turn to righteousness: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” (Psa. 76:10) “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. . . . And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:20-21, 28) “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:32)
What are the effects of sin?
(1) It dishonors and displeases God: “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (Rom. 2:23) “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” (2 Sam. 11:27) “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” (Psa. 95:10) “For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deut. 25:16) “. . . thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” (Isa. 43:24)
(2) It alienates, defiles and terrorizes mankind: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” (Col. 1:21) “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15) “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. . . . Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.” (Job 18:5, 11) “Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.” (Psa. 140:11) “Enter not into the path of the wicked . . . For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. . . . The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:14, 16, 17, 19) “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness . . .” (Rom. 1:28-29) “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17)
How can sin be overcome?
(1) By repentance: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)
(2) By faith in Christ’s blood: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Rom. 3:25)
(3) By consecration to the Lord: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1)
(4) By mortifying sin: “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom. 8:13)
What will those who overcome sin receive?
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14)
Taken from Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 17, pages 438-449, with additions. Edited for clarity and length.
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