GOD’S CREATION OF MAN IN HIS IMAGE
AND ACCORDING TO HIS LIKENESS
AS A TRIPARTITE VESSEL
There are two crucial points in God’s creation of man. The first crucial point is that God made man in His own image and after His likeness. Man was made according to God, just as a photograph of a person is taken according to that person. Thus, man’s image and likeness are according to God.
The second crucial point in God’s creation of man is that man was created with three parts (Gen. 2:7). Hence, man is tripartite. Man’s body was formed of dust, and his spirit was formed of the breath of God. The breath of life out from God was not God’s being, but it was close to God’s being. The breath that came out of God formed man’s spirit. This is proven by comparing Genesis 2:7 with Proverbs 20:27. In both verses the Hebrew word neshamah is used, indicating that the breath of life out from God became man’s spirit.
The body is physical, but the spirit is not physical. In the study of medicine, medical doctors study mainly our physical body. But man has not only a physical part but also a metaphysical part—his spirit. The word metaphysics, in its popular usage, refers to the study of matters that transcend material reality. The spirit of man is above material reality, and thus it is very difficult for people to understand. The study of the spirit is more difficult than the study of medicine. If the medical doctors were to ask me about the body, I could not say very much. But if I were to ask them about the spirit, I do not think that they could answer me very well. Medical doctors know about the human body, but many of them do not know or even believe that man has a spirit.
The body is the outward organ of man, having physical consciousness to contact the physical world (Gen. 2:7a). The spirit is our inward organ not only to contact God but also to be the recipient of God (2:7b). It is like our stomach, which is a receiver of food and is also the place where our food remains until it is digested. Our spirit is for us to contact God, to receive God, and to retain God.
This morning I was very serious with myself. I considered that every minute, even every second, the Lord Jesus is in my spirit, yet my conversation was very careless. The way that I spoke made it seem as if the Lord was not in my spirit. This means that I lacked the fear of God. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure." We must be full of fear and trembling because God is operating in us. If the President of the United States were to visit us, we would immediately have a change and would adjust ourselves. We need to realize that the Lord Jesus who is with our spirit is much higher than the President. The Lord Jesus should have our highest regard. We should be full of fear whenever we assemble together with the Lord. But often we are not fearful. If we are not fearful in everything that we do, this shows that our realization that Christ is within us is not very serious. If we had a serious feeling concerning this matter, we could not exchange words with our spouse. Whenever we lose our temper, this indicates that we have forgotten that the Lord Jesus lives within us. It is a sign that we are not fearful and trembling, knowing that He is within us. Christ lives in us, and He even lives for us. He is in us not in an occasional way, but every minute and in every place. This is why we have a spirit. Our spirit as our inward organ is conscious of the spiritual things.
The body is our outward organ, and the spirit is our inward organ. Yet neither of these two organs is our person, our self. Our person, our self, is our soul. The soul was not formed of any element. The soul was brought forth by the combination of the two organs, the body and the spirit.
(The Central Line of the Divine Revelation, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)