The fundamental nature of Christianity

Although this post is about the fundamental nature of Christianity, it will also explore the masculinity as it relates to a wife.

Here’s a question to ponder:

What makes humans different from animals?

This is actually an interesting question because it has far reaching Biblical ramifications for the lives of Christians.

First, let’s go back to Genesis to see what God says about humans.

Genesis 1 (NASB)

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after [ag]their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after [ah]their kind”; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after [ai]their kind, and the cattle after [aj]their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [ak]sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [al]sky and over every living thing that [am]moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the [an]surface of all the earth, and every tree [ao]which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the [ap]sky and to every thing that [aq]moves on the earth [ar]which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus, one of the fundamental ways humans are different from animals is that we were made in the image of God. Quite obvious. But it bears note that the creation of animals was good (Hebrew: tob), but the creation of humans was very good (Hebrew: meod tob).

Secondly, consider the next passage.

Genesis 2 (NASB)

16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not [n]eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Here, God gives man a choice. And a choice means two things — two things that God imbued innately into man when He created them.

  1. That we have the ability to consider actions and consequences
  2. That we can overcome our [animal] behavior

These two choices are the essence of what we would call “free will.”

Now, consider a third passage.

Genesis 3 (NASB)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

The most interesting thing about this passage is that this is before the fall. Since God had imbued humanity with the ability to make choices, we know that innately that humanity has the ability to be tempted. The far reaching ramifications go back to the second point:

Without the ability to be tempted, humans do not have free will. Without the ability to be tempted, humans do not have the ability to make a choice whether to flee from temptation or give in to it. Without the ability to be tempted, we would not be able to reason the actions or consequences of our behavior. The free will we have — the ability to be tempted — is something that God made in us, and unlike the animals, it is very good.

As Christians, this should give new meaning to your understanding of temptation. This should give you new meaning to the understanding of the Lord’s prayer.

Matthew 6 (NASB)

9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [f]evil. [g][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

For God has created humans with the ability to be tempted, yet we should pray that He not allow us to be tempted. Just as 1 Corinthians 10 states:

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Now, what does this teach us about the nature of the flesh versus that of the Spirit?

Galatians 5 (NASB)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh [g]sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you [h]please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: [i]immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [j]factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who [k]belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The nature of the flesh is that of the selfish and the now. It is about instant gratification. It is an attitude of “what can you do for me?” It is divisive. It sets people against one another. It is every man for himself.

But the nature of the Spirit is that of the selfless and the eternal. The one who is in God is able to look past the selfishness and the now. He is able to exercise free will, and in doing so walk into the freedom that Christ has gifted to those who receive it.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the fall, it was about choosing their desires — their self — over that of God. Selfishness is focused inward, but God is focused outward to relationships.

As Jesus says in the parable of the rich young ruler,

16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

First, Jesus corrects him because there is no one good but God. And it is only in God that we can do good things. Any else is inherently selfish because we are fallen.

Ephesians 2 (NASB)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

The freedom/free will that God has given us in Him is to exercise our freedom to do good and overcome temptations.

Those that give into the the nature of the flesh exercise no free will. As one famous song goes,

You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals. So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.

Therefore, we know that the fundamental nature of Christianity is this:

Titus 2 (NASB)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, [f]bringing salvation to all men, 12 [g]instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of [h]our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

God desires to have a relationship with all men, and that all men live together in agapao love. Christianity is about unity in relationships — with God and with others.

This is the end of the discussion on the nature of Christianity because we know what Christianity is about: unity in relationships with God and others.

Therefore, as men of God striving to grow in Him, those of us who want to grow in godly masculinity and who seek a wife need to do two things:

  1. Master our desires so that we are not enslaved by them. This is an exercise of free will, and it is fundamental to the nature of humans. Will you give into temptation or not? Will you choose godliness over evil?
  2. Start to look outwardly — to give freely as Christ has given for us — showing the mastery of Christ in our own body as a witness to others.

To master these concepts is the essence of godly manhood because we know that women look to men for leadership.

The mastery over the desires of the flesh results in elimination of neediness and validation. This changes how you act and what you say, and it will make you more attractive to women.

To master your neediness for a woman is to understand the function of wife to a husband. She is not a completion of you, just a helpmeet to you.

When you expect a woman to meet a need that she is not created to meet, she will become unhappy because she bears a greater burden of responsibility that was not meant to be.

This is the mindset needed to understand the role of a wife in godly marriage, and it will pay dividends in your own search.

Understand then, that this is the same as Paul’s thorn we face as single Christian men looking to find a godly wife, which may seem hopeless.

2 Corinthians 10 (NASB)

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [c]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

As a good wife is a gift from God, I would like to receive this gift. But I don’t need it, even though man was not meant to be alone. His grace is sufficient for me, and his power will be perfected in my weakness.

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24 Responses to The fundamental nature of Christianity

  1. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    “When you expect a woman to meet a need that she is not created to meet, she will become unhappy because she bears a greater burden of responsibility that was not meant to be”

    This is spot on. Man was created for God, not for Woman. Therefore, only a relationship with God can truly complete him. Even a non-existent perfect woman can’t complete a man. Women need to take extra care to not put the burden of “complete me!” on men as well. It’s a bit harder I think for us because Woman was created for Man almost as much as for God (Eve’s purpose was to be Adam’s helpmeet after all). But even the non-existent perfect man can’t complete women either. We all need to look to God, and only God, as our primary source for everything related to being “complete”, rather than expecting a man or woman to fill that role. Only then can we be free to be selfless in fulfilling our roles as leader and helpmeet, because we aren’t looking to our husband/wife to fulfill us first.

  2. Sis says:

    I think you should write a book, I’d buy it.

  3. femininebutnotfeminist says:

    “I think you should write a book, I’d buy it”

    +1. 🙂

  4. Looking Glass says:

    He needs to get working on a few other book projects, as well. Haha.

    As for “Free Will”, it will *always* be one of the most attacked concepts by Christians inside Christianity. And that’s always due to the final result: God sets, gives & sustains our Free Will, which means we are wholly responsible for the *Choices* we make.

    My master’s thesis would have been a fairly radical, by academic terms, assault on most of Modern Theology via Free Will. The Old Testament doesn’t make a single lick of sense apart from Free Will being the *unique grant to Humanity*, setting us apart from the Earth and with the ability to interact with God. Further, “Love” cannot exist apart from Choice. Thus, Free Will, Love and Responsibility are utterly inseparable. This is anathema to the Age and would have, quite enjoyably, pissed off many a Christian.

    I also tend to take the concept a step further. A Human’s Free Will is the one God will not violate. He won’t turn him into an automaton and move him around. Oh, the Spirit will put a real bug up your butt and, depending on what needs to be done, God won’t make “choosing against his Will” enjoyable (Re: Jonah. Actually, this entire chain of thought started from reflecting on Jonah). However, he still hasn’t taken over your body and made you do something. You *always* have the choice to disobey. I just don’t recommend doing that.

    There’s also the whole issue of making a Donkey deride a Prophet. God will show you up, if you’re stupid enough to mock him.

  5. donalgraeme says:

    I’m really glad you’ve taken to blogging mate. This has been a great series of posts.

  6. @ LG

    > “Free Will, Love and Responsibility are utterly inseparable.”

    That’s a great observation. Want to write something up on it?

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  8. Looking Glass says:

    Sure, give me a day or two to think & write about it.

    Fair warning, my writing can come off like nearly pure Philosophy, which makes it hard for most to get into.

  9. Looking Glass says:

    Sort of some notes for myself, but I was trying to think through the process before bed.

    “Free Will” is the granting of “Choice”. It is to deny instincts (separates from Animals) and effect changes not previously possible (more classic Agency) against the natural expectation.

    “Responsibility” is the out-flow from “Choice”. By making a “Choice”, you change the outcomes from the previously expected result. Thus the current outcome is utterly *dependent* upon the “Choice” of the person. (Classical “Cause & Effect”, though with Humans, it causes responses by others with the ability to Choose, thus making dependent choice conditions) Thus, to make a “Choice” is to cause the Outcome. While one can make Choices to avoid the negative outcomes of previous Choices, it does not remove the explicit casual reality of the original “Choice”.

    “Love” is utterly dependent upon “Free Will”. In this case, I’m talking about agapeo or “chosen” love. (Though it does apply to pretty much everything but “Eros”, which is probably a signal for Deti & SSM to descend and argue about the issue. 🙂 ) “Love” requires “Free Will” in & of the regard that “Love” produces Actions (via “Choice”) that go against the Self-Interest of the person performing “Love”. We, in fact, view this as the exact display of “Love”. (Classically, tending a sick person)

    So, while I was trying to make a Triangle approach, where “Love” and “Responsibility” connect at the bottom, I can’t quite pull them off. Also, the Philosophy & Theology I just compacted in the last paragraph could cover a 100,000 words. I’m not quite sure how I managed to get it this compact, but I’ll make a run at a full post (and send it via e-mail) Sunday.

    I also just completely answered some questions I had about 1 Corinthians 13:13, which is mostly due to how messed up “Love” has become within Christianity. Love *is* choice not for yourself.

    Which is exactly why Humans were made. We were given Knowledge of God, but not the constant, manifest presence. By granting us the Will to Choose, God has allowed us to truly Love him, for we are in his Image. The part of God within us all is what allows us to Chose, but it is also why the very Earth cries out God’s Glory, yet we can Chose not to see it. Without the ability to Chose, we are not different from the Animals. And without the manifest presence, we are not left with the binary option of acceptance or rejection, which makes us different than the Angels.

    And thus a PhD thesis in Theology was compacted into 5 paragraphs. You don’t want to know what my head was having to work through to get all that.

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  11. infowarrior1 says:

    You will find this interesting then:

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  15. Bobbye says:

    1John 4:7-21 “God is love”…….”“Love” is utterly dependent upon “Free Will”. In this case, I’m talking about agapeo or “chosen” love. (Though it does apply to pretty much everything but “Eros”, which is probably a signal for Deti & SSM to descend and argue about the issue. 🙂 ) “Love” requires “Free Will” in & of the regard that “Love” produces Actions (via “Choice”) that go against the Self-Interest of the person performing “Love”. We, in fact, view this as the exact display of “Love”. (Classically, tending a sick person)” Please explain how God has and exercises His ‘free will’ thus making it possible that God can love. Or is God exempted from the ‘free will’ debate like the lower animals are.
    “I also tend to take the concept a step further. A Human’s Free Will is the one God will not violate.”
    This concept make God utterly worthless to powerless people like me, or say a mother of a wayward child, the husband of a wayward wife and many others who depend upon God to ‘violate’ the entire body,soul,and spirit of those we love in order to bring said loved ones to repentance and salvation. Look at Is 29:15;Is 45: 9; Rom 9:21. Your view of what you call ‘free will’ causes your view of God to be very small.

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