Category: What is human nature? What does the Bible say about human nature?

Human nature is that which makes us distinctly human. Our nature is distinct from that of the animals and the rest of creation in that we can think and feel. One of the chief distinctions between human beings and the rest of creation is our ability to reason. No other creature has this ability, and there’s no question that this is a unique gift bestowed by God. Our reason enables us to reflect on our own nature and the nature of God and to derive knowledge of God’s will for His creation. No other part of God’s creation has a nature capable of reason.

The Bible teaches that God created human beings in His image. This means that He enables us to have some understanding of Him and of His vast and complex design. Our human nature reflects some of God’s attributes, although in a limited way. We love because we are made in the image of the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Because we are created in His image, we can be compassionate, faithful, truthful, kind, patient, and just. In us, these attributes are distorted by sin, which also resides in our nature.

Originally, human nature was perfect by virtue of having been created so by God. The Bible teaches that human beings were created “very good” by a loving God (Genesis 1:31), but that goodness was marred by the sin of Adam and Eve. Subsequently, the entire human race fell victim to the sin nature. The good news is that at the moment a person trusts in Christ, he receives a new nature. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Sanctification is the process by which God develops our new nature, enabling us to grow into more holiness through time. This is a continuous process with many victories and defeats as the new nature battles with the “tent” (2 Corinthians 5:4) in which it resides—the old man, the old nature, the flesh. Not until we are glorified in heaven will our new nature be set free to live for eternity in the presence of the God in whose image we are created.

On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our  likeness” (Genesis  1:26). Thus, He finished His work with a “personal touch.” God formed man  from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath (Genesis 2:7). Accordingly, man is unique among all God’s  creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit.

Having the “image” or “likeness” of God means, in the simplest terms, that we  were made to resemble God. Adam did not resemble God in the sense of God’s  having flesh and blood. Scripture says that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and therefore exists without a body. However,  Adam’s body did mirror the life of God insofar as it was created in perfect  health and was not subject to death.

The image of God refers to the  immaterial part of man. It sets man apart from the animal world, fits him for  the dominion God intended him to have over the earth (Genesis 1:28), and enables  him to commune with his Maker. It is a likeness mentally, morally, and  socially.

Mentally, man was created as a rational, volitional agent. In  other words, man can reason and man can choose. This is a reflection of God’s  intellect and freedom. Anytime someone invents a machine, writes a book, paints  a landscape, enjoys a symphony, calculates a sum, or names a pet, he or she is  proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image.

Morally, man was  created in righteousness and perfect innocence, a reflection of God’s holiness.  God saw all He had made (mankind included) and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Our  conscience or “moral compass” is a vestige of that original state. Whenever  someone writes a law, recoils from evil, praises good behavior, or feels guilty,  he is confirming the fact that we are made in God’s own image.

Socially,  man was created for fellowship. This reflects God’s triune nature and His love.  In Eden, man’s primary relationship was with God (Genesis 3:8 implies fellowship with God), and God made the first woman because “it is not  good for the man to be alone” (Genesis  2:18). Every time someone marries, makes a friend, hugs a child, or attends  church, he is demonstrating the fact that we are made in the likeness of  God.

Part of being made in God’s image is that Adam had the capacity to  make free choices. Although he was given a righteous nature, Adam made an evil  choice to rebel against his Creator. In so doing, Adam marred the image of God  within himself, and he passed that damaged likeness on to all his descendants  (Romans 5:12). Today, we  still bear the image of God (James 3:9),  but we also bear the scars of sin. Mentally, morally, socially, and physically,  we show the effects of sin.

The good news is that when God redeems an  individual, He begins to restore the original image of God, creating a “new  self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). That  redemption is only available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our  Savior from the sin that separates us from God (Ephesians  2:8-9). Through Christ, we are made new creations in the likeness of God (2  Corinthians 5:17).