Chapter 4: The Nature of God and Man

Since Jesus Christ is both God and man, and we are studying the nature of Christ, it is necessary to understand the nature of God and of Man.

When we examine the nature of God and Man we are going to do so from the spiritual standpoint. By that I mean, we are only going to examine the components that are connected to or affect the spirit. See Appendix C for more details on the components of man.

God and man are spirit beings

The first thing to realize is that God is spirit. We get this truth from Jn 4:24.

Jn 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

What are the properties of a spirit? That is what we will explore next.

The spirit gives life to a being. We get this from Jas 2:26.

Jas 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Since God always exists, God’s spirit is uncreated. Man, who is also a spiritual being, is given a spirit at the time of conception. Man’s spirit is a created spirit. All non-divine spiritual beings, Satan included, are created spirits; only God has an uncreated spirit.

For a non-divine spirit being to thrive and flourish it needs to be connected to God’s spirit. Separation from God’s spirit is detrimental to any created spirit.

When man dies, his spirit leaves his body and returns to God. The final destiny of man’s spirit is determined by God, based on man’s moral condition, and God’s covenant with that man for his salvation, and man’s state in relation to that covenant.

The spirit in a spiritual being also serves as the identity of the spiritual being in the spiritual realm. We see this in the gospels when demonic spirits were able to identify Jesus. They were acquainted with Jesus (who before He became man was only in spirit form) and could identify Him by His spirit (the spirit of the Son of God). When He became man, His spirit was still that of the Son of God, and that is how the demons could identify Him.

Lk 8:28 Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me."

Lk 4:33,34 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Let us alone ! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!"

So we understand that God and Man are spirit beings.

God cannot be tempted but man can

The next thing to internalize is that God cannot be tempted but Man can.

God cannot be tempted. We get that from Jas 1:13.

Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

We are tempted through our lusts. See Appendix E for an in depth treatment of how we are tempted and the definition of the word ‘flesh’.

Jas 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

The flesh is that part of us that serves as the storehouse of our lusts (Rom 13:14, Eph 2:3). It is not the same thing as the skin and muscle over our bones, which is also called ‘flesh’. It is because we have a flesh that we can be tempted to violate God’s moral law.

Rom 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Eph 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

So we can say that the flesh (or storehouse of lusts) is another component of a spiritual being.

Satan had flesh through which he was tempted to be proud. Man was created with flesh. God does not have flesh.

From a philosophical standpoint one might ask how God cannot have something that man has – namely, the ability to be tempted. Think of it as God having infinite resistance to temptation and man having finite resistance to temptation. This is just like God being omniscient whereas man has a finite ability to see.

God has knowledge of good and evil and man acquired it willingly

The third important component is the knowledge of good and evil, also known as the conscience.

God has knowledge of good and evil. We get this from Gen 3:22-23.

Gen 3:22-23 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" – therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

The knowledge of good and evil is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Having that knowledge makes a spiritual being accountable for violating God’s moral law (see Appendix A for an explanation of why). As long as a spirit being does not have this knowledge it can violate God’s moral law without sinning and incurring condemnation for the sin – which is eternal separation of its spirit from the spirit of God. This eternal separation is called spiritual death.

When God created Adam and Eve He did not create them with the knowledge of good and evil. Instead, he let them choose whether they should get the knowledge of good and evil. That is why He put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.

God told Adam and Eve not to choose to have the knowledge of good and evil because He knew that they had a flesh but no power to control the flesh. As long as they didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil they were not accountable for the deeds of their flesh. However, once they had the knowledge of good and evil they became accountable, and since they had no power to control their flesh, the next time they violated God’s moral law they would die spiritually. That’s what God told them would happen if they chose the knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 2:16-17 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

If Adam and Eve had listened to God then they would be similar to the animals in terms of spiritual components.

We know what happened – they chose to have the knowledge of good and evil and died spiritually.

Having sinned, if they had then eaten from the tree of life they would live forever and it would be impossible to redeem them as removal of the flesh requires physical death. They would then have ended up with the same fate as Satan and his demons. Therefore, God then denied them access to the tree of life.

By denying them access to the tree of life God forced them to die physically so that they could be raised without flesh. Specifically, they would still have spirit and the knowledge of good and evil but no flesh (i.e. no ability to be tempted). This is what the resurrection body will be like.

Thus, we can now see that when God said that He would create man in His image (Gen 1:27) He went about doing it in several steps. We saw earlier that God is spirit + knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, a being created in the image of God would also need to be spirit + knowledge of good and evil. But God didn’t initially create man that way. In the first step, God created man as spirit + flesh. In the second step, man chose knowledge of good and evil, thus making man spirit + flesh + knowledge of good and evil. Those who die choosing God’s salvation are raised as spirit + knowledge of good and evil, and so their final state is exactly in the image of God.

I find this quite fascinating!

God has the ability to live forever but man doesn’t

We could consider the ability to live forever as another component of spirit beings. A being with flesh that can live forever cannot have its flesh removed. The only way to obtain this ability to live forever is to be created with it or to obtain it by eating from the tree of life (Gen 1:22).

God can live forever. Satan and the demons can too, as can the angels. Man does not currently have this ability but will have it after the final Day of Judgment and after the appearance of the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 22:14).

Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

Summary of the nature of God and man

Based on what we have read so far we can now summarize what we have learned.

The nature of God is:

  • S + KGE + LF

The nature of Satan and the demons and the angels are:

  • S + KGE + LF + F

The nature of Man is:

  • Man before the fall: S + F
  • Man after the fall: S + F + KGE
  • Man after being born again: S + F + KGE + HS
  • Man after his resurrection: S + KGE
  • Man after the appearance of the new heavens and earth: S + KGE + LF

where S = spirit, KGE = knowledge of good and evil, F = flesh, HS = having the indwelling Holy Spirit, and LF = the ability to live forever.

With these basics understood we can now work on figuring out the nature of Christ.

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