Concept of Man
Modern man's self-image has become both more individual-centered and human-centered. Understanding of the fact that man is responsible to both God and his fellow man has dimmed. The view that man is basically good is also widely held. This view is contrary to God's Word. While God created man in His image (Gen. 1:26) and has intended that man live in unity with Him, man was corrupted when the first human pair, Adam and Eve, fell into sin. As a result of this original sin, man's basic nature is no longer good but corrupted by sin and inclined to evil (Gen. 6:12, 8:21; Rom. 3:10-12,23). It is because of sin that there is so much evil in the world.-(LLC Position Statement, Section 2, Item 2)
Today's Self-Centered Man
Man's self-image, or his concept of man, is an individual's understanding of his nature, what his essence is, and what his position among others and the environment is. In the last 200 years people in the Western societies have become more individual-centered. Values like equality and liberty have been emphasized more and more. The existing institutions such as Church and State and their traditional values have been questioned. Man has not wanted to accept instruction from any authority but seeks to find the truth by himself using his reason and experience. This trend continues and appears as an extreme phenomenon in our time. In many ways, modern man has become an autonomous, or a self-governing entity.
Modern man believes he is autonomous, or independent, from the authority of the Word of God. Modern man is oriented to things in this world and time: money, belongings, enjoyment, etc. The values in God's Word are rejected as not valid to this world and the decisions thereof. The deciding factor is man's own experience and reason. For instance, the sanctity of marriage has been widely rejected. An autonomous man requires the right to determine the boundaries of the relationship between two individuals. Proverbs warns about trusting in your own understanding in matters of life (Prov. 3:5,6). The consequences of rejecting the instruction of God's Word in one's life are grievous: One out of two marriages break up, and children in these families suffer the most.
Another indication of modern man's autonomy is his concept of self. The humanistic illusion of the basic goodness of man has replaced the biblical truth that invites us to see man as a sin-fallen and sin-corrupted being (Gen. 6:12, 8:21; Ps. 14:1,3; 53:1-4; Rom. 3:10-12,23). Although humanism, as it emphasizes the value of an individual human being, has made positive contributions to human life-including strides against slavery-this aspect of the humanistic image of man when applied to faith matters hinders the ability of God's Word to awaken the conscience of man.
Man's Attitudes Have Consequences
While modern man is largely autonomous from other people, he in his self-centeredness and selfishness requires services and admiration from others, nonetheless. This attitude may lead him to violence against neighbors. Jesus' example was the opposite of self-centeredness. (See Matt. 20:28). Modern man also feels autonomous from the previous generations. The enormous knowledge and advance in technology has made him feel omnipotent. Many have forgotten the importance of the authority of parents at home. This has contributed to behavioral difficulties in school and to juvenile crimes. In the extreme, autonomy from society may lead to tax evasion or even terrorism, for example.
Modern man's concept of man also favors the evolutionary explanation of man's origin. This theory is often interpreted with a view that sees man's creation taking place autonomously, without the hand of the Creator of heaven and earth. The book of Genesis expresses the simple belief of a Christian that God has created everything by His Word.
The apostle warns the recipients of his epistle of the appearance of the man of sin at the end of the world: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:3,4). Later he describes this man of sin further: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Isn't this picture of the man of sin the picture of the modern man, who has always dwelled in the flesh and blood of man, but been revealed, become public in our times?
Children of God Need to Watch
Children of God in our time need to be watchful for the dangers of autonomy as practiced by this world. The enemy of souls tempts us to disregard what the Spirit says in the congregation (Rev. 2:19). The enemy also tempts us to only go by our individual conscience, which may be directed by our carnal reason, more than spiritually, by the Word of God. The apostle warns us of being carnally minded (Rom. 8:6).
The apostle also gives a picture of a man of God. Through faith a believer is righteous and endeavors to live battling against sin in his corrupted flesh. "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6:11,12).
Sources: Holy Bible
Keijo Nissilä: "Nykyajan ihmiskuva-Raamatun ihmiskuva,"
SRK Yearbook Vanhurskaus Korottaa Kansan 1987, pgs. 45-52.
Matti Kontkanen: "Freedom of an Individual Believer," 2008.