What Is Man?

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
A thorny question that! If any be so bold as to publicly ask it, it is almost needful to raise the hand and add, "Now don't all shout at once!"—the would-be answers are so many and so various. In one respect, however, they all agree. Each bids you pay no heed to the answer which lies plainly set forth in the pages of the Bible. According to them man may be anything from a chattering ape, in a somewhat improved form, to a god full-blown, but he is not what THE BOOK declares him to be—a fallen sinner.
What is man? That question printed in large type caught my eye as I was sitting upon a tramcar, traveling towards a suburb of a large city. Here was a valuable opportunity of obtaining some new light on an old question! I mentally resolved to look again when next I passed the spot where the words stood, and to note the answer. The opportunity was not long in coming. Returning on the car, I eagerly leaned forward, and getting a good view, I read:
it depends upon his clothes”
—more followed, which disclosed the end the advertiser had in view.
We passed on, and the answer turned itself over in my mind. What a strange thing to say! Yet, after all, it was not so strange, for it did but embody that which is the most popular thought as to man today— viz., that he is what his surroundings make him. Therefore, of course, instead of being as the Bible presents him, a fallen sinner accountable to God, and needing nothing less than "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 24), he is rather an unfortunate creature, cursed with distressing surroundings.
His unhappy environment is the cause of his trouble, and the cure is that he should be educated into better conditions, which will help him to shine in his true glory.
Does what a man is—but, no! I will be very personal, my reader, and ask, Does what you are depend upon your clothes? You know it does not. The matter really stands in precisely the reverse direction. Your clothes depend upon what you are. And not only your clothes, but your house and your surroundings of every description.
What are you? If still unsaved, there is but one answer. You are a fallen sinner-you are a spiritual leper. And what are your clothes? Possibly nothing but the filthy rags of your sins. But supposing the leper arrays himself in the splendid garments of ritual and religion, so that not one spot of leprosy remains visible to offend the eye, what is he then? A leper, yes, and a hypocrite to boot. His splendid robes cannot cleanse him; he will soon defile them.
You are not right. The poison of sin is in your veins, and is steadily working its way to your heart. Then will ensue paralysis and death! Even now it must be numbing your faculties, or you would be more alive to your fearful position in view of eternity. Like a fretting leprosy, sin is working within, and the many sins, which you must admit have disfigured your life, are but the outward effects of the leprosy within. When Job asked the question, "What is man?" he significantly added, "that Thou shouldst magnify him?" (Job 7:1717What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? (Job 7:17).)
Job was an excellent specimen of humanity, much above the average, but that God should inspect him through a magnifying glass was evidently a terrible idea to him. If you look at a perfect object, such as any part of God's handiwork in nature, through a microscope, the higher magnifying power you use the more its perfections are manifested. But, on the other hand, if you put an imperfect object, such as anything of man's handiwork, beneath its scrutiny, the more you magnify the more hideous it appears.
Read Rom. 3, verses 9 to 19, and you will find a clear statement of what you are—of what we all are—as God sees us. The source of the defilement is within. "Out of the heart" do all evil things proceed, as the Lord Jesus Himself declared. (See Matt. 15:19, 2019For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. (Matthew 15:19‑20).)
It does NOT depend upon your clothes. You cannot blame your circumstances and your surroundings, since you have largely helped to produce them. You have just yourself to blame. Be honest and own it. Say with David: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant: (or in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Psa. 143:2.)
Instantly you own that, there is the best of news for you. There is another and even more important question raised in Scripture— Who is the Son of Man?
"One in a certain place testified, saying, What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the Son of Man that Thou visitest Him?" (Heb. 2:6.)
Listen to the inspired answer to this question!
"JESUS... made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9).)
Praise be to God! The ruin of man is retrieved in the Son of Man. The grace of God gave His Son to endure the suffering of death, that He might endure and exhaust the penalty due to sin. God's glory raised him from the dead, and crowned Him in heaven. His redemption work is for every man. None are excluded. Every sinner involved in the ruin may share in the remedy.
See, then, that you do not miss it. Simple faith in Christ secures it. Then He will lift you out of the mire of your sins, and plant your feet upon the rock of redemption. You will be SAVED.
F. B. H.