Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
The title of this month’s article by Dr. Ernest L. Martin is “The Arrogance of Man.” The dictionary meanings of “arrogance” are (1) an overestimation of one’s own importance, (2) an inordinate sense of one’s own superiority, and (3) a shamelessly insolent boldness and self-assurance. 1 Dr. Martin’s discussion of mankind’s arrogance as a creation of God shows that even believers in God and Christ can be arrogant in their understanding of salvation.
The arrogance of man shows itself in three groups of people. The first group has the arrogance of those who refuse to acknowledge that God exists because they believe that they themselves are the pinnacle of a godless evolutionary system. They believe that everything came from nothing and that intelligence came from rock. Such is the arrogance of a godless faith.
The second group of arrogant people has a knowledge that God exists, yet for various reasons in their hearts they refuse to honor Him as Creator and Lord. The apostle Paul mentions these people:
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Many of those who acknowledge God in their arrogance and self conceit “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). In so doing they literally became haters of God (Romans 1:30). They turned the truths of God into a lie, with the result that they turn to worshipping and serving the creature, creation itself, rather than their Creator (Romans 1:25). Those who do not acknowledge God have a different kind of arrogance and pride. They ignore God even though they believe He exists:
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”
The margin of the King James Version and several literal modern translations have the rendering as “… will not seek after God: all his thoughts are, There is no God.” God says such men are fools (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).
The third group, believing Christians, can also have an arrogance which is the specific subject of Dr. Martin’s article. It is an arrogance of their belief that they can actively participate in their salvation, rather than acknowledging that everything in the salvation process is controlled and performed by God through Christ. Fortunately for all mankind, at a future time God will remove the arrogance of man from the earth:
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible [ruthless].”
The entire world will come to acknowledge that God exists, that He is indeed the Creator, and that He is in charge and controls every aspect of life, particularly salvation, to the benefit of all mankind and to the glory of God the Father. God does not appreciate arrogance and although we are God’s special creation to His glory, we have no reason or cause to boast. We are to glory in God, not in ourselves. At the proper time and under the proper circumstances He will raise us up to honor and glory from our present lowly state of suffering and mortality.
“The fear of YHWH is to hate evil:  pride, and  arrogancy, and  the evil way, and  the froward [perverse, duplicitous] mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I [wisdom] am understanding; I have strength.
By me [wisdom] kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early [earnestly] shall find me. Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.”
There is a great deal in these proverbs that could be examined. Several sermons could be preached on them. God is communicating through a literary device, as if wisdom is speaking (Proverbs 8:1). In other words, God is speaking through wisdom personified. 2 True wisdom is the antithesis of pride, arrogance, evil, or perverse speech. Some translations merge  and  into a single phrase “arrogant pride” but the point is still the same. Arrogance is an evil and has nothing to do with wisdom.
We all know with what visage God created man:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Man, as the image and likeness of God, is a representation of God. We look like God, even though He is spirit (John 4:24). 3 He sustains us from one breath to the next through the spirit of man (Job 12:10; Isaiah 42:5), preserving that spirit within us (Job 10:12, 27:3, 33:4; Zechariah 12:1). We are the offspring of God (Acts 17:29), and mankind was given dominion over all other creations of God (Genesis 1:28).
In man’s present condition and status the works of God are unknowable unless God reveals His purpose is to us. Speaking of God, Solomon wrote:
“He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world [olam, the age] in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.”
Although man is created in the image and likeness of God, and a little lower than the gods, nonetheless at present man is like the beasts:
“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men [adam], that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalls the sons of men [adam] befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man [adam] has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Who knows the spirit of man [literally “the spirit of the son of adam”] that goes upward, and the spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man [adam] should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?”
The answer to the question of verse 22 is that no one except God can or will show man “to see what shall be after him.” Mankind is like the beasts in that men die like beasts (Ecclesiastes 3:18–19, and Psalm 49:12) insofar as death is concerned, although man has a different spirit than beasts.
Man is like God through creation in image and likeness, yet man is also like the beasts in death. These descriptions seem discordant, even contradictory, yet they are not. God has a purpose. Let’s look at another aspect of man, God’s greatest creation.
At first glance you might think that mankind has reason to boast and to have pride. After all we are the pinnacle of God’s creation. What is mankind? First, of course, all mankind is descended from Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). Mankind was made, created, in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26–27). That is very important. Mankind is a wondrous creation of God, made a little lower than the gods (Elohim):
“O YHWH our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! …
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; What is man [enosh, mortal], that you are mindful of him? and the son of man [adam], that you visit him?
 For you have made him a little lower than the angels [Hebrew, Elohim], and
 have crowned him with glory and honor.
 You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands;
 you have put all things under his feet:
[that includes] All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas.
O YHWH our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1, 3–9
Mankind will have dominion over every work of God, at present limited to the earth. All things shall be put under the feet of man. Mankind is special, this verse says so. Is this not a cause for a little bit of pride, perhaps even arrogance? Consider each of the things that God did to make man special. It was God who made man in His image and likeness, a little lower than Elohim.
In Hebrews chapter 2 note how the apostle Paul quotes Psalm 8, starting with generic man, anthropos, mankind, and then Paul changes the meaning of the Psalm from mankind in general to a specific man, Jesus, who was also made a little lower than the angels 4:
“But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man [anthropos], that you are mindful of him? or the son of man [anthropos], that you visit him?
- You made him a little lower than the angels [angellos,angels plural in Greek];
- you crowned him with glory and honor, and
- did set him over the works of your hands:
- You have put all things in subjection under his feet.
For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [angellos] for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
The Hebrew of Psalm 8:5 states that man was created a little lower than Elohim, which is best translated “gods” (plural). In Hebrews 2:7 the Greek further defines the Elohim of Psalm 8 with the Greek term of “angels” (also plural). This indicates clearly that angels are Elohim, although they are low in power and authority, far lower than our ultimate status as resurrected children of God and members of the Body of Christ. 5 At present their power and position is temporarily that of ministering to us in ways we cannot know or understand (nor are we supposed to know or understand until God allows it) as they fulfill their service to us (Hebrews 1:14).
When we reach our full status as children of God we shall judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). We will probably judge the quality of their service to us because they sometimes do acts of folly (or error, Job 4:18). At present the angels earnestly desire to look into the salvation process of God’s children (1 Peter 1:12).
Everything is created by God for His pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:11; Revelation 4:11). The ultimate object of all creation is for God to be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). In accomplishing that goal God will bring us with Him and give us grace, glory, honor, and will set us up with Him and Christ to have a part in His being “all in all.” You are part of that process. God created the heavens and earth for us to accomplish His purpose through Christ and through us, His creation, His children. It can even be said the heavens and earth were created for you as a child of God. You indeed are special. We are special.
God shall fulfill His object of becoming all in all through Christ. Everything was created for Christ and through Christ (Colossians 1:15–16). So too, God’s reconciliation of all mankind shall be accomplished through Christ (Colossians 1:20). I wrote about this in the “August 2006 Newsletter.” 6 Note specifically the italicized words:
“God loves you, individually, as He loves the world. Christ saved you just as He saved everyone in the world. It is quite proper to say therefore, you are the object of creation. In other words, the heavens and earth were created for you as a preparation for your salvation and for your entrance into the Godhead, seated at the right hand of God the Father “in Christ.” How can I say such a thing? I can say it because you, and I, and all believers, are members of the body of Christ. Everything that Christ is, you shall be:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
1 John 3:2
We have God’s promise, the down payment of His Holy Spirit that guarantees our place with Christ at the right hand of God the Father. However, although you are the central object of creation, in like manner every other human being is also the central object of creation, and that the heavens and earth were also created and prepared for each of them, and they are loved no less than you. This is why John says “we ought also to love one another” (John 4:11, above). This is all a matter of God’s predestination for you and all humankind because “God was in Christ [Messiah], reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
God allows us to call Him “Father.” When Jesus gave the example of how we should pray to our God, His first two words were “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2, the Lord’s Prayer). He did not say My Father, but “Our Father.” This gives us a direct connection to YHWH, the Creator of the universe. We are not simply connected to God by being in His image and likeness, He is our Father. We are his children.
Even with man’s intimate connection to YHWH through Christ and our glorious destiny there is no excuse for arrogance. We should glory in our knowledge of YHWH and in the fact that He has a complete knowledge and understanding and delight of each of us as His child:
“Thus says YHWH, ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am YHWH which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says YHWH.’”
Everything man does and everything man creates is a mere echo of God’s creation. The works of man are transitory and have no efficacy toward our salvation. The wonders of our bodies, the wonders of our minds, the wonders of the creations of man, are all derived from the God-given capabilities and leave no ability for man to have undue pride or arrogance.
Pray that God keeps us from the arrogance and false pride that comes so naturally to us. Ironically God created us to be that way. Yet it is something that we must strive to overcome, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit that it might help keep our flesh in submission. By the generosity of your contributions you glorify God and acknowledge the Gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 9:13–14). I ask that those receiving ASK material freely should pray for you as those of you who contribute to ASK help provide the means to continue to produce these biblical studies for everyone, whoever they may be around the world. We will never know until the resurrection those who these studies have touched. In closing let me quote a passage by the apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians chapter 1, Revised Standard Version:
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers. For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God.
For we write you nothing but what you can read and understand; I hope you will understand fully. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
2 Corinthians 1:11–14, RSV
The truth of God spreads out like a fragrance. Everyone who comes in contact with it, we pray, will notice and respond, finally, as God calls them to respond as we approach exciting times. Thank you all for all your gifts.
David W. Sielaff
1 American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition (Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1994).
2 Wisdom has female characteristics in Proverbs. Christ is identified by the apostle Paul as wisdom personified: “Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30), specifically “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).
3 God has a shape, a structure, even though He is Spirit. He is composed by Spirit “stuff.” This is explained in Dr. Martin’s article “The Bodily Composition of God” at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d080601.htm.
4 The apostle Paul is changing the meaning of Psalm 8 from a general reference to a specific reference to Jesus. Paul has full authority to do so as he opens up and expands the meaning of Psalm 8 in Hebrews 2:6–9. Nevertheless, both Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 apply to mankind in general. Why? It is because eventually all mankind will be “in Christ.” At present only the Ekklesia of God is “in Christ.” Eventually the entire human race will be saved and will be “in Christ.”
5 Compared to physical humans their power is immense, but on the scale of divine beings they are servants.
6 Accessed May 21, 2009 at http://www.askelm.com/newsletter/l200608.htm.
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