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Sermons & Notes

God's Design for Man

By Jack Hayford
Ever wondered what was God's intended role for man?

 

The desperate need in our modern times is for men: men who will strike a blow of courage to be what God purposed them to be and leave an impression of character on a disintegrating society.

Observing the overwhelming confusion that has been brought about by the lack of distinctive masculinity that has plagued our world, the biblical model of manhood ushers in a breath of fresh air to an age suffocating from the humanistic approach to manhood, which has resulted in a society spiraling out of control (2 Tim. 3:13). If we ever hope to recover what God had in mind regarding living as a human race, biblical manhood must be revisited and its spiritual principles must be lived out in our lives amid a world that is crying out for help. Men who are children of God dare not do otherwise.

1. God's Original Design (Gen. 1:26-27). Underscoring the purpose in God's creating human life as He did is very needful. His majestic plan was to create distinctiveness within oneness. This is described by the words, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (v. 26). Although a human being is a creature with features similar to those of other living creatures, distinctive marks of the divine set him apart from other living beings (Gen. 2:7).

This distinctiveness is also seen in man's uniqueness. God created man "male and female" (v. 27). Although man was created in harmony with woman, they bear differences that are nontransferable. These differences provide for, among other things, the procreation of human life and the orderliness of human existence. Men have been given an essential role in society. Any deviation from God's purpose or trivialization of men's distinctiveness in uniqueness will result in catastrophe. (Compare Rom. 1:22-32.)

2. Leadership Through Headship (1 Cor. 11:3). For a man to serve in his God-appointed role as leader he must understand how he functions in that role. He functions through being "head" of the woman (v. 3). One of the root meanings of the word "head" as rendered in this passage is "woman's source" or "her reason for being" (compare Gen. 2:21-24). First Corinthians 11:3 suggests that men's leadership role in the smallest governmental unit of society-the family-was God's idea. This decision was not arbitrary but was employed to display a divinely functional plan for social order. It places squarely on a man's shoulders the obligation of leadership. This does not mean he is to lord it over the woman; rather, he is to serve as her protector under God's authority. Nor does it mean that the man is superior to the woman; rather, it is that they have different roles.

The case for real manliness is settled here and provides the source for a symphonic society. Therefore, as men apply the biblical principle of godly leadership, harmony and peace will be experienced in the home as well as in the world (1 Pet. 3:7)

3. Responsibility under God (Gen. 3:16). Along with a man's role as God's appointed leader in society comes responsibility. In Genesis 3:16 we are told that the man is to "rule over" the woman. This does not imply dominion in the sense of authoritarian or dictatorial rule but rather responsibility in the sense of providing care and protection. Although this decree was given as a consequence of humanity's rebellion against God, it should not be understood primarily in a negative sense. Understood properly, we see the restoring grace of God's adopting a plan for an orderly society.

At least three areas of responsibility are woven into the social fabric of biblical manhood: (1) material provision, which includes food, clothing, and shelter; (2) emotional provision, which involves love, security, and understanding; and (3) spiritual provision, which stresses guidance, maturity, and sensitivity (Eph. 5:23, 25-27; 1 Tim. 5:8).

If hurtful and chaotic conditions are to be avoided in our world, men must take seriously their essential role of responsibility.

4. Governing Through Authority (Rom. 13:1). The word "authority" as used in the Bible usually means a person's right to do certain things based on the position he holds. Since the family is the smallest unit of governmental authority, this suggests that men represent God's authority to govern.

Just as the physical body needs a head for life, so it also needs a source of authority to function properly. Paul described Christ as "Head" of the church (Eph. 5:23), and Christ declared that His source of authority was from above (John 6:38; 7:16, 18). Therefore, as God's representative, a man's source of authority is God. However, it is the same kind of authority that Christ demonstrated when He gave His life for the church. The husband is "head" of the wife as Christ is "head of the church" (Eph. 5:23). Jesus Christ was always motivated by love and served the church. In the same way, the husband's authority is based on servanthood.

The same God who gave men authority gave them the right and responsibility to exercise it. For men to refuse this role is to disobey God. For them to misunderstand it is to destroy their manhood.

5. The Risk of Obedience (Heb. 11:8). Obedience stand out as one of the premier qualities of biblical manhood. It requires faith to obey God when all the facts regarding a matter may be unknown (Gen. 12:1-4; Heb. 11:8). Carrying out this day-to-day trust, this matter-of-fact belief, this down-to-earth reliance, is probably the most difficult to achieve of all the models of biblical manhood (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44).

The frightening aspect of obedience is very real because it carries with it uncertainties which, if realized, will result in agonizing consequences. It also carries with it real pain that is generated through conflict-whether human or circumstantial. However, God has called men to obedience. If they do not shrink from this call, they will experience miraculous and glorious results and enjoy the evidence of true manhood (Rom. 4:13-25).

6. The Valor of Self-Discipline (Dan. 6:1-5). The lack of resolve in Christlike living primarily stems from hesitation to apply the spiritual principles of self-discipline. Quite often, biblical principles and society's standards for right living do not match up.

It is conceded that in living out biblical principles there will inevitably be confrontational assaults made upon believers by those who reject Scripture's mandates. Therefore, if one is to exhibit true manhood, he must discipline himself in thought and deed to stand firm in his commitment to his God.

As a man practices standing in right relationship to God, he will find that God provides the strength necessary to move forward in the self-disciplined life. God will reward his courageous efforts as he draws upon the Spirit's resources, for in the final analysis, spiritual discipline can only be produced by a deliberate yielding to the Spirit's power (2 Chr. 19:11).

7. The Blessedness of Self-Giving (Acts 2:45). The worth of a man is defined not by how much he acquires [greed] but by how much he gives away [liberality]. The true greatness of a man is found in his capacity to share himself without any thought of what he will receive in return (John 3:16). Selfishness shrivels the soul and lessens its capacity to demonstrate the true nature of God, which is love. Man is never diminished by giving himself away. Instead, he proves correct the principle that God has set forth in Scripture: giving supersedes receiving (Acts 2:45; Luke 6:38). Nothing produces more relational harmony than the act of giving one's self away. By the same token, nothing creates more relational breakdown than the act of selfishness-the act of exclusive acquisition for the purpose of personal gain and indulgence (1 Sam. 18:5-11). The unpalatable product of selfishness is fear, but the boundless joy of self-giving is openness characterized by love (1 Sam. 18:12-16).

8. The Purpose of Love (Eph. 5:25). Self-giving, characterized by love, demands the highest degree of sacrifice (John 3:16). Love is not manifested in syrupy sentimentalism but in true affection. Man is provided the capacity to love as Christ loved His church (Eph. 5:25). This a demanding task. The more Christlike a man is, the more it will cost him to be a man of love.

Love demands perfection in the object of its love. However, that perfection is not primarily achieved through the demands made upon the one who is loved but through the sacrifice of the one who loves (Eph. 5:25-28). To love does not stop with who or what the "loved-one" is but seeks to produce in the one "loved" what he may become.

This will be the burning passion of the man who is disciplined in his walk with God-to love in such a way that the object of his love becomes as he is-a true lover.

9. The Wholeness of Integrity (Eccl. 7:29). A world influenced by the ever-mounting ills of humanistic philosophies and situation ethics fights against integrity. It is evident that today's moral values derive their source from the human experience with little to no concern for divine principles. Mankind has been given a command to walk with God in singleness of purpose (Mic. 6:8). Doing this, a man will bring glory to his Creator and find genuine peace (Is. 43:7).

An individual may attain worldly acclaim, social standing, and financial prominence through honest means, but if his emotions, mind, and will are not submitted to the Holy Spirit, he risks being pulled away from the wholeness of life and ultimately becoming a disastrous failure.

The battle lines are drawn: if a man is to be complete, he must walk with God in total integrity of heart (Ps. 7:8, Prov. 11:3).

10. The Standard for Moral Courage (Josh. 1:6-7, 9). Our society is declining morally at an alarming rate. While giving in to the overwhelming decadence in our world is generally far easier than standing against the tidal wave of indifference, the man of God has been given power to withstand the flood of evil. To take a moral position in a quiet yet steadfast way is a thoroughly "manly" act (John 18:4). The courage to do this comes from a conviction that God is sovereign and in control, no matter how bad things may look.

Moral choices fall to all of us. The man who is willing to accept the consequences of his stand is courageous indeed. Although he may seem to stand alone, God has promised to be with him (2 Chr. 19:11).

11. The Strength of Humility (Matt. 11:29). One of the most remarkable yet perplexing qualities of manhood is humility. It is remarkable because of what it can develop in the soul of an individual, yet it is perplexing because of what the term has come to imply about one who possesses it-that one is weak of resolve or character.

Society's idea of a real man is the blustering take-charge type. From the world's perspective, any show of yieldedness is not only a sign of weakness but serves a death-blow to all that is considered manly. However, the way in which a man shows his true strength is simply to submit himself to another through Christ's love in genuine humility (John 13:4, 13-17). In doing so, he models the example Christ left for us.

12. The Freedom Forgiveness Brings (Eph. 4:32). Forgiving those who have wronged us brings us freedom. When one has been hurt or humiliated, it may seem impossible to believe that letting the perpetrator "off the hook" can be freeing, but it can be. In reality, forgiveness frees the one who forgives and releases him from the tyranny of the one who has acted against him. On the other hand, not to forgive holds one in slavery and produces psychological and physical distress; but, even more tragically, it blocks spiritual growth. The results of this resistance to "let go" are evidenced by the myriad of social and personal strains in relationships.

In our Lord's model guide to prayer, we are instructed to forgive those who have sinned against us as we ask our heavenly Father to forgive us (Luke 11:4). The glory of biblical manhood is the ability to set others free from their indebtedness to us, thereby liberating ourselves (Matt. 18:21-35).

13. The Force of Faithfulness (Gal. 5:22). Faithfulness is a quality of biblical manhood that represents the very nature of God. Scripture is replete with examples of God's faithfulness to His people (for example, see Deut. 7:9). The term speaks of dependability, loyalty, and stability. It carries a far greater impact upon human relationships than appears on the surface, for it is the bridge that links us with those around us. This quality in our lives tells others that we are solid, consistent, and trustworthy.

The man of the world depends upon the scaffolding of power, prestige, intimidation, and the like to support the world order and not upon the true structure provided through faithfulness. Because he has disdained faithfulness, our very institutional base for an orderly society-family, interpersonal, social, national, and global relationships-is being destroyed. But hope reigns supreme for every man who remembers God's faithfulness and honors Him through his manner of life (1 Thess. 5:24; 1 Pet. 4:19).

14. The Peace of Patience (James 1:4). Trusting God in the face of adversity challenges our faith while we wait for His answer. It is human nature to respond to crises based upon the information at hand. Yet our Lord teaches us that it is in our patience that we possess our souls (Luke 21:19). In other words, as we stand firm in the quietness of our hearts during the stressful conditions of life and wait for God's timing, we then lay hold of true peace.

Our Lord, in the face of overwhelming circumstances, endured His real-life trial, so greatly trusting His Father's wisdom and promise that He did not even attempt to avoid His trouble (Heb 12:1-3). Trusting God in troublesome times is another way we live out Christ's example of biblical manhood (2 Tim. 2:3).

15. The Ultimate in Biblical Manhood (Phil. 2:5-8). All qualities of biblical manhood come full circle in the life of our Lord (Phil. 2:5). The sum total of true biblical manhood rests in submission-an act of obedience to the will of another. This submission is borne out of reverence to God. Our Lord demonstrated this by His complete submission to the will of His Father in thought and deed (John 5:19, 30).

Man's search for himself culminates in submission to his Creator. If he rejects this submission, he is separated from God and no longer experiences communion with Him that he was meant to have. Not only is he alienated from his Creator, but also from himself and others, which ultimately ends in a complete breakdown in human relationships. A man finds his manhood not in self-sufficiency, but in total acceptance of self-insufficiency in order that he may become more than sufficient in God (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5). Only in this way can the image and likeness of God be reflected in man (Gen. 1:26-27). R.P.A.

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[1]Hayford, Jack W. ; Thomas Nelson Publishers: Hayford's Bible Handbook. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995

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