GOD USING DUST AND THE BREATH OF LIFE TO CREATE MAN
In Genesis 2 we are told what kinds of material God used to create man and how He created man. First, God used the dust of the ground to create man’s body. It is unmistakable that man’s body is of the ground. Genesis 3:19 says that man was taken out of the ground and that man is dust and will return to dust. However, God breathed the breath of life into man’s nostrils, into his body, and man became a living soul with a spirit (Gen. 2:7). There were two kinds of material used: one was dust, which is concrete and visible; the other was breath, which is abstract and invisible. The dust was used to form man’s body, and the breath was breathed into man to become man’s spirit.
Here we see two kinds of material: dust and breath. The dust formed man’s body, and the breath became man’s spirit. The combination of the two produces the soul. This is why the Bible says that man is a living soul. In the Bible the soul is the unit for counting people. Seventy people of Jacob’s household went down into Egypt, but the Bible says seventy souls went down into Egypt (Gen. 46:27, KJV).
In the Hebrew language, the word for breath in “the breath of life” in Genesis 2:7 is the same word for spirit in “The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah” in Proverbs 20:27. This proves that the breath of life that God breathed into man entered into man to become his spirit. Proverbs 20:27 says that the spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah. This means that man’s spirit is the lamp to contain Jehovah as the oil for the lamp to shine. Therefore, if the spirit within man does not have God, it becomes a useless lamp. The spirit within us is a lamp, and it needs God to come into it as oil for us to be lit and to shine forth.
This becomes clearer in the New Testament. Today, when we believe in the Lord and receive Him into us, this God who is oil enters into us and dwells in our spirit. The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 shows us that the five prudent virgins had oil in their vessels, but the five foolish virgins did not have oil in their vessels. This means that some Christians do not have sufficient oil within. This may be compared to driving your car to the meeting; if you do not have enough gas, it should not be a surprise to you when your car stops halfway. Today, many Christians are Christians with insufficient oil, Christians who have “stopped halfway.” The surest way is for us to first go to the house of God to get oil every day. We need to read the Bible and pray every day. We should first go to the “gas station” and get a full tank of gas before we start driving. We need to do this every morning to ensure that we will never be short of gas and stop short. Thank the Lord that God created a spirit for us! This spirit within us is the lamp of Jehovah God, and God is the oil within the lamp.
THE SOUL BEING CORRUPTED IN MAN’S FALL
When God created man, the soul was originally good. One school of Chinese philosophy advocates that man’s nature is good by birth, while another school maintains that man’s nature is evil by birth. Actually, both are correct. When man was first created, man’s nature (referring to man’s soul) was good. When Satan came in to damage man, man fell and was united with Satan; thus, man’s nature became evil. Therefore, when the Chinese sages were forming word characters, due to man’s fallen condition they included the word demon as part of the word for soul. The word for soul is made up of demon and speaking; hence, the soul is the demon speaking. This is true especially when a man is angry and loses his temper; the more he speaks, the more he becomes a “demon.”
Man’s soul became fallen and was united with Satan. This is why the Lord Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). To deny our self is to lose our soul-life, our natural life. Our attitude as Christians should be to never follow our soul, to always exercise to deny our self, and to take up the cross to follow the Lord.
Man was created in God’s image and after God’s likeness with a spirit, a soul, and a body for the purpose of containing God. However, the created life of man was not the life of God, and the spirit of man was not the Spirit of God but something that issued from God’s breath of life. Some Bible scholars say that the breath of God in Genesis 2:7 refers to the life of God. This is wrong, because after God created man, He placed man in front of the tree of life, which signifies God Himself. God’s intention was for man to receive the tree of life, which was to receive God Himself, but man fell, and Satan entered in. Therefore, God closed the way to the tree of life so that man had no way to approach the tree of life and receive God as life.
Then a time came when God Himself became flesh to satisfy God’s righteousness, meet God’s holiness, and express God’s glory. He declared that He was life, that He was that tree. Moreover, He told us that He came that man may have life and may have it abundantly. Finally, He died on the cross and opened a new and living way for us, so that we who were alienated from God, signified by the tree of life, can enter into the Holy of Holies to contact Him and take Him as the tree of life for our enjoyment.
(Five Great Mysteries in the Bible, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)