The History of Man, from God's
Standpoint, and His Own
By the simple diagram herewith inserted,
[Click here] we
have attempted to set forth the inner history of man both
from God's standpoint and his own.
Firstly, we have man "in the day that God
created" him (Gen 5:1). His threefold nature
1.) Spirit: with three faculties, Conscience,
Communion and Intuition; the main value of which is
2.) Soul: with Reason, Emotion, Will or Volition; the
function of which is interpretation for human life.
3.) Body: of flesh, blood and bone; for executing or
transacting the business of spirit and soul.
Then we have the relationship to God by the
spirit. This is fivefold:
1. Likeness (basic, "spirit").
3. Knowledge (spiritual perception).
Secondly, we have the 'Fall'.
The results and effects of this were, and are:
1. The human spirit subjected to the soul.
2. The soul the seat of the Satanic attack and triumph,
having come under the power of evil forces.
3. The body, the instrument of the soul, under the
influence of Satan, especially for purposes of
procreation in man's own likeness, after his image (Gen
Then, by the spirit severed from God in what is meant
by spiritual death, the fivefold relationship was
disrupted—the likeness marred; the fellowship
destroyed; the knowledge obscured; the co-operation made
impossible; the dominion forfeited. So man is severed
from God, alienated, darkened, spiritually paralysed and
"subjected to vanity" (Rom 8:20).
From this point he is called flesh—"in their
going astray they are flesh" (Gen 6:3)—and we
know from the New Testament that this does not only mean
mortality, but the presence of an active principle which
is inimical to spirit and to God. Moreover, he is
thenceforth known as the "natural man"
(soulical). But, above all, he is actuated by "the
god of this world" inasmuch as he chose—in his
will—to believe in Satan in preference to God.
From this point a double history begins. This is
represented in our diagram by the two sets of lines one,
narrowing, the other broadening. The narrowing lines set
forth man's history from that time according to God's
mind. From being the piece of God's creative activity,
God has "concluded" him under sin because of
unbelief (Rom 11:32). So God introduces in type and
symbol the principles of the Cross of Christ. Along this
line nothing of man himself is ever accepted by God.
Certain things—three mainly—are always kept
clearly in view:
1. The fact of man's sinful state, under judgment.
2. Death, being the end of the natural man, to be the due
of all, and to be accepted.
3. The perfections of Christ the only basis of all, or
any further, relationship with God.
This is what is inherent in the instance of Cain and
Abel. This is why death has such a large place in the
whole Divine economy. And—wisdom, power and wonder
of God!—herein He is seen taking hold of the very
tail of the serpent, the very sting of death, the works
of the devil, and making death the way of a new life, the
pathway to His purpose in the resurrection of Christ and
the spiritual resurrection of believers in Him. This,
again, is why every offering acceptable to God, to bring
man nigh, is to be without blemish. The expert eye of a
priest, after the most thorough scrutiny, must be able to
say 'It is perfect'. This is actually what Christ cried
on the Cross as to the conclusion of all His testings and
fiery ordeal—"It is perfect", not merely
concluded or finished.
On then, ever on, with unvarying, unchanging
conclusiveness, God's mind leads to the Cross of Christ.
Whenever a man or a people comes under immediate
government of God, in relation to His eternal purpose,
they will have one thing brought home to them. It is that
in themselves "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom
7:18), that they are accepted only on the ground of a
righteousness which is not of themselves, nor of works,
but by faith—it is the goodness of Another. This
realization will smite the natural man hip and thigh,
that out of the smiting there may emerge one such as the
Lord can look to, "even to him that is poor and of a
contrite spirit" (or "heart").
So we see that the Cross of Christ is God's mind as to
the natural man, for there the Son of man took not only
our sins but ourselves in His representative person, and
died under the judgment of God in our stead, or as us
(Rom 6:2-10; Col 2:12; 2 Cor 5:14,15,etc.). This Cross
throws its reflex back to the hour of Adam's sin. It is
for want of a complete or adequate realization of the
meaning of the Cross, that so many Christians are
"carnal", or try to live for God out of
themselves. This goes to the root of the ever-present
weakness and poverty of spiritual life. There is much
prayer for 'revival', and much effort for 'the deepening
of the spiritual life'. The only answer to this is a new
knowing of the Cross, not only as to sins and a life of
victory over them, but as to Christ as supplanting the
The conditions at Corinth which caused Paul to write,
"I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but
as unto carnal, as unto babes" (unduly so), were
explained in the opening chapters of his first letter as
being due to their living so much on the basis of the
soulical ("natural") man; and his only remedy
was "Jesus Christ, and him crucified". Yes,
believers, "called saints" (1 Cor 1:2) can do
this, and can even bring spiritual gifts into the realm
where they are soulishly valued and exploited. It is
something to make us very sober and steady when we
recognize that what is called the 'baptism' of the Holy
Spirit, with 'tongues' and other 'gifts' following, does
not necessarily carry with it the knowledge of the major
things of the spiritual life. Hence Paul had to teach
those who had such experiences the real meaning of
baptism, the Cross, the Lord's Table, the Body of Christ,
and Sonship. Revelation is something more than gifts or
experiences. The manifestation gifts are no marks of
spiritual maturity; often the reverse. Herein lies
Satan's most subtle snare. The mistaking of such
experiences for deep and real spirituality provides him
with his most desired opportunity to lead the most
sincere children of God into a false experience. The
Cross as deeply applied to the soulical man is the only
safeguard against the presentation of what is psychical
as a marvellous imitation of what is spiritual.
To continue with our diagram, there is the other
aspect. Man has ever refused to recognize and accept
God's verdict about him. Hence he pursues a course of
self-expression and self-realization. From his beginning,
even when the way of God in Abel's offering was so
definitely enunciated, he pursued his own course. He went
out to build a world, to create a civilization, and to
constitute a kingdom. Babel or Babylon is its name. It is
the expression of and monument to man's power, ability,
and glory. "Let us make us a name"
(Gen 11:4). "Is not this great Babylon,
which I have built...?" (Dan 4:30). Thus, he
inflates, expands and asserts himself. Yes, it is
a wonderful world which he has produced, and it has got
quite beyond him. He cannot manage it. Full of wonders,
yes—but full of tragedy! It is fast leading to his
undoing, and his own productions will wipe out his
civilization. He has set something going which, by its
own momentum, has got out of his hands. God will have to
step in to shorten the days of this issue, or no flesh
will be saved (Matt 24:22). That is what is immediately
on the horizon. What an amount we could write on this
line! but we refrain. Only fools, blind fools, Satan's
dupes, see Utopia as the natural outcome of this present
world course. Civilization has only accentuated
soul-sense or sensibility, and we already know something
of the meaning of "men's hearts failing them for
fear" (Luke 21:26).
Yet still God's position is unchanged. Man may build
his kingdom, and build it to the clouds, but heaven is
closed to him. The Cross of Christ proclaims that God
settled the end of all that long since. So that 'Calvary'
is zero! So far as God's eternal purpose is
concerned, there is no way past the Cross but by death,
in identification with Christ by faith. When that place
has been taken and all its implications accepted, then a
New Man is brought in as by resurrection-union with
Christ. "If any man is in Christ, there is a new
creation…" (2 Cor 5:17).
From that point another double process begins. There
has to be a definite crisis in which all the
meaning of God is accepted, whether wholly understood
or not. The crisis involves and potentially carries
with it everything.
The twofold process is, on the one hand, the
ascendency of the new man, the spiritual man; and on the
other hand, the subjecting of the natural or old man.
This is a life education. It is necessary to
understanding. Were God to actually blot out,
'eradicate', the old man, then the whole basis of
spiritual training would be removed. We have elsewhere
pointed out what this "newness of life" means
in learning everything anew, in a different world, with
new spiritual faculties. This new man is the
"hidden man of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4) and the
training of him by "the Father of our spirits"
(Heb 12:9) will be in keeping with the earlier statement
in the same letter, "the dividing of soul and
spirit" (Heb 4:12). If the remainder of the
diagram is studied, the meaning of this will be clear;
for here is a new and altogether other law "the law
of the Spirit of life". This life has its own law or
laws, which have to be known.
It is a faith life. "That life which I now
live... I live in faith..." (Gal 2:20). So,
knowledge is the fruit of faith. We need go no
further, but return to a final emphasis upon the crisis
of the Cross. God has nothing to say to man, but
there only. Every new development in the life of a
child of God will in some way be by a new expression of
the meaning of the Cross; deeper death unto fuller
life. God keeps the balances with a steady hand,
and eventually the last phase of our self-emptying here
will issue in enthronement with Christ there.