The last days of history – Part 3
Who are we? Contd.
(2) The soul (Heb nephesh; Gk psychê), often translated “life,” may be briefly defined as the non-material aspects of mind, emotions and will in human personhood that result from the union of spirit and body. The soul, along with the human spirit, will continue to live, when an individual physically dies. The soul is so closely linked with one’s inner personhood that it is sometimes used as a synonym for “person” (e.g., Lev 4:2; 7:20; Josh 20:3). The body (Heb basar; Gk sóma) may be briefly defined as that material element in an individual (sometimes called “flesh”) that returns to the dust, when he or she dies. The spirit (Heb ruach; Gk pneuma) may be briefly defined as the non-material life component of the human being, wherein resides our spiritual capacity and conscience, and by which we have most direct contact with God’s Spirit.
(3) Of the three components constituting the “whole” of human personhood, only the spirit and the soul are indestructible and survive death, either to live in heaven (Rev6: 9; 20:4) or in hell (Ps16: 10: Mat16: 26). However, the Bible insists that in this life, believers are stewards of their bodies and must keep them free from immorality and evil (Rom6: 6,12-13: 1Cor6: 13-20; 1Thes4: 3-4) and dedicate them to the service of God (Rom6: 13; 12:1). The body itself will also experience transformation on the day of resurrection, so that human personhood is totally redeemed in the end for those who are in Christ Jesus.
THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF HUMAN PERSONHOOD When God created us in His image and likeness, He entrusted us with several responsibilities. (1) God made us this way, so that He could develop a loving, personal relationship with us for all eternity. In this way, we will glorify Him as Lord. So much did God desire a people to enjoy Him, glorify Him, and live in righteousness and holiness before Him that, when Satan succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve to rebel against and disobey God, the Lord promised to send a Saviour to redeem the world (Gen3: 15).
(2) It was God’s will that human beings love Him above all and love their neighbours as themselves. This two-fold commandment of love summarises God’s entire law (Lev19: 18; Deut6: 4-5; Mat22: 37-40; Rom13: 9-10).
(3) God also established the institution of marriage in the Garden of Eden, as a covenant of love (Gen2: 21-24; Eph5: 22-33). He intended that marriage should be monogamous, a lifelong relationship between one husband and wife (Mat19: 5-9). Within the context of marriage, God commanded that the human race “be fruitful, and multiply” (Gen1: 28; 9:7). Man and woman were to reproduce godly offspring in a family context. God considers a godly family and the raising of children within healthy family relationships as a high priority in the world (Gen1: 28).
(4) God also charged humankind to “subdue” the earth and to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen1: 28). Already in the Garden of Eden, Adam was given the responsibility of taking care of the garden and of naming the animals (Gen2: 15, 19-20).
(5) Note that when Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, some of their dominion over the world was lost to Satan, who now as “the god of this world” (2Cor 4:4) controls this present evil age (1Jn 5:19; Gal1: 4; Eph6: 12). But God still expects believers to fulfil His divine purpose by taking good care of His world, by consecrating all things in the earth to Him and by managing His creation in a God-glorifying way (Ps8: 6-8; Heb2: 7-8).
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