“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons… Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” — Genesis 3:7, 21
The Definition of Dignity
True honor; nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety (politeness), truth and justice, with an abhorrence (hatred) of mean and sinful actions; opposed to meanness. In this sense, we speak of the dignity of mind, and dignity of sentiments (view) This dignity is based on moral rectitude (behavior); all vice (evil) is incompatible with true dignity of mind. The man who deliberately injures another, whether male or female, has no true dignity of soul.
Adam and Eve were Created with Dignity
Dignity is a gift from God. Personal esteem derives from God. This is ours because we are created in the image of God. We do not receive it from anyone else, and certainly not from the state or any civil or political entity. Dignity inheres in us from the fact that we are human beings. Therefore, no matter what the conditions into which we are born, in wealth or either in poverty, what national or ethnic background we may have, no matter whether we are physically and mentally capable or have limitations of one sort or another, we are all equal and all deserving of having our dignity respected, because we are human beings.
The Enemy’s Desire is to Diminish Your Dignity
The Bible identifies this enemy as Satan, the Devil, who from the beginning of man’s history has challenged God’s right to rule. From Satan’s contact with Eve in the Garden of Eden, his goal has been to draw human beings made in the image of God away from serving their Creator. Think of the disastrous effects on Adam and Eve when they gave in to the Devil’s influence! The immediate consequence of their disobedience to God’s law regarding the forbidden fruit was that the two of them went into hiding from the face of God. Why hide? Adam confessed: “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Adam’s relationship with his Heavenly Father and his view of himself had changed. He was ashamed and no longer felt comfortable in God’s presence.
If the quintessential quality in the lacking personal dignity is to cause injury to another, then there is no greater enemy to your dignity than Satan himself. As a result of sin entering the world, the image of God has been marred. The result of this marring is a loss of human dignity. They were naked and ashamed. As a result of the fall, the human race has a loss of its own God-given dignity.
Why Would Satan Go After the Dignity of the Human Race?
Mankind is made in God’s image. If Satan can get mankind to act in a way that mars the image of God, and cause humanity to doubt their own dignity and worth, then the glory of God has been reduced. Thus, the underline motive of Satan’s attack is to undermine mankind’s dignity and to diminish God’s glory. However, as God through the gospel restores mankind their dignity, and the image of God has been restored, God then retains His glory.
God Dignifies Mankind at Creation and through Redemption
In the beginning, God dignified mankind. He placed them above all creation. God then gave them dominion and put all things under his feet. He was made a little lower than the angels, but dignified above the angles in two ways:
- Man is made in the image of God.
- Man was given administration of the earth before the fall, and will be given again that administration in the new earth under the reign of Christ. The angels will not share in that reign. “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” — Hebrews 3:5
“But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast 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 for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” — Hebrews 2:6-10
Jesus’ Ministry Restores Dignity to Human Beings
Jesus took particular interest in those who were disfranchised or written off by society. He gave much to many of them who had little, were given little, and were treated as little. The parable of the “Good Samaritan” is a good picture of the heart of Jesus Christ that put aside discrimination and social prejudices and gave worth to every soul. The “golden rule” is likewise the principle of human dignity and respect for the image of God in every man. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
The greatest two commandments spoke of the dignity of every human being, “Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart….and love thy neighbor as they self.”
James, the apostle, defined pure religion and undefiled before God as, ”Visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Jesus taught that He will judge us according to the respect of the dignity we hold and give to others.
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” — Matthew 25:31-46
One of the Essentials in the Ministry of the Pure Gospel is that of Restoring Dignity to the Poor
Paul, the apostle, in the epistle to the church of Galatia, and in the second chapter, he expounded of the Gospel of grace, and gave explicit instruction to the those who preached the gospel to the Gentiles and unto the circumcised Jew…” only they would that we should remember the poor: the same which I also was forward to do.”
The ministry of Jesus likewise was that of restoring dignity in every area of a person’s life… “The Spriit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recover of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
When John the Baptist was in prison and was doubting if Jesus was truly the Messiah, Jesus told his disciples to tell John… “Go your way and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.”
One of the Great Parables in the Bible that Speaks of Jesus’ Desire to Restore Mankind their Dignity is that of the Prodigal Son
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” — Luke 15:18-24
It is rightfully said, “God does not make junk.” Where does the attitude that God makes junk come from? It comes from a loss of a rightful view that all mankind has dignity. God does not make junk. He made you His image bearers. He has given you dignity, and He wants to restore your personal dignity both spiritually and in every other area of your life. When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, Satan may have tarnished their dignity, but it did not diminish God view of the dignity of the human race. He brought them clothes, to restore their dignity.
God’s Grace in Christ Jesus Restores Human Dignity:
- The best robe is a sign of dignity and honor (Isa 61:10).
- The ring is a sign of authority and sonship (Eph 1:5).
- Sandals for his feet was a sign that he would not be a servant in the household, but a son, for servants did not wear shoes (Eph 6:15).
- The fatted calf was a picture of atonement made and the partaking in the Lord’s supper (Lev 26:26-32) The party is a picture of celebration because of grace. If he was under the law it would have been a funeral. Instead of condemnation, it was full of rejoicing! God’s heart is to restore your dignity.