A Four-Part Series Emphasizing Biblical Masculinity
In the last post I ended with a short section on “Daddy Issues.” I attempted to point out a link between a man’s concept of himself in direct relationship with the father-influences in his life. I focused mainly on how men respond to authority as we work out our daddy issues.
Some men reading this post may reflect on their relationship with their earthly father (or lack of relationship) and doubt that his influence has much to do with his own struggles as a man.
But wait! I want to suggest that there are actually at least five father-influences bearing down upon each man. In this post, I want to give a brief overview of each one, and suggest how the influence of each one can shape and mold each man’s concept of true manhood and masculinity.
Father #1 – ADAM – The fallen father of the human race
In Genesis 1:26-28, Adam is created as the first man of the human race. He is the first husband, the first leader, the first father, and the first example of failure in manhood. In this sense, Adam is the original “father” of the human race. Because of this, each man carries two basic components within himself – each passed on from his “father”, Adam.
1. THE IMAGO-DEI (image of God). God created man with the capacity to know, fellowship with, and be like God. Man is the only earthly being who thinks of God, and attempts to relate to God. This is because God pressed His own image into the first man.
2. THE FALL (sin nature). Adam’s rebellion against the command of God brought physical and spiritual death into the world. Every man through the ages has a sin-nature that flows from his lineage back to Adam. In contrast to the Imago Dei, the sin nature is in rebellion against God, and seeks to hide from God.
Rom. 5: 12 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–”
Every man struggles because of Adam – our original earthly father. Adam’s particular struggles are seen in his…
(1) DERELICTION: Abandonig his protective role by failing to protect his wife from falling prey to the enemy,
(2) ABDICATION: Allowing her weaknesses, suggestions, and persuasive actions to over-power his convictions,
(3) MORAL WEAKNESS: Sinning against the truth that he heard from God Himself,
(4) SPIRITUAL ALIENATION: Running from God instead of to God when he sinned,
(5) SHAME: Trying to cover up his failure with “works”
(6) BLAME-SHIFTING: Blaming his wife for his actions instead of taking personal responsibility, and even blaming God for giving him a wife in the first place. (see Genesis 3:1-12)
Whether we had an earthly father who raised us or not, the power of Adam’s failure working in our own fallen-nature is enough to warp and bend each man’s identity away from God. Many men are living under the influence of their father, Adam.
Father #2 – SATAN – The father of lies and spiritual rebels
Have you heard people say, “We’re all God’s children”? Well, biblically speaking, that is not true at all. In fact, Jesus called some people “sons of Satan” who “want to do what your father does,” and called Satan the “father of lies.” (see John 8:44).
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul teaches that before we are followers of Jesus, we are actually followers of Satan, and we are living under his “paternal” influence – acting like him in the same way a son takes after his own father. For that reason, Paul calls some men “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath.” (see Eph. 2:2,3; 5:3-6).
According to the teaching of Jesus and Paul, a man is living under the paternal influence of Satan and his kingdom when he…
(1) is a liar who is gripped by lies and functions by lies,
(2) lives in perpetual and intentional disobedience to God in the areas of conscience, relationships, sexuality, and morality, and
(3) when he most naturally and normally submits to the Devil’s influence rather than God’s.
If the above description characterizes your life, then you have pretty good evidence that you are living under the influence of “your father, the devil, and you want to do his works.”
Father #3 – EARTHLY – The father who bore and/or raised us
There is a huge amount of information in the Bible about the influence of earthly fathers (for better or for worse) upon their sons. You can read about Adam’s sons, Cain and Abel, Noah’s sons, Isaac’s sons, Samuel’s sons, Jacob’s twelve sons, David’s sons, and many of the sons of the kings of Israel and Judah. In many of the narrative descriptions of these father-son relationships, there is serious brokenness and “father-failure.”
You will discover, as you read, that many of these fathers…
(1) failed to model a godly example in the eyes of their sons,
(2) failed to show love to each son equally, and instead, showed favoritism,
(3) failed to discipline some sons according to their sins, and over-disciplined others for lesser offenses,
(4) failied to model healthy sexuality and husband-wife dynamics,
(5) and failed to model healthy spirituality and devotion to God.
All of this father-failure “trickles down” to the sons, and many of them out-sin their evil fathers when they grow to adulthood themselves.
Interestingly, according to the writer of Hebrews – as much as our earthly fathers fail us, many of them believe that they are “doing their best” or are raising us in a way that “seems best to them”- and many are often shocked to learn later that their paternal influence is a central cause for our current struggles as men.
Heb. 12:9-10 – “9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Some earthly fathers do an incredibly good job raising their sons. Some do a terrible job. Some abandon their sons, or never have any hands-on influence in their lives. Some men are conceived and born the offspring of one man, but through adoption, death, or divorce, are raised by another (or none at all).
I have found that even if a man does not grow up knowing his earthly father – his own imagination about what his dad may have been like, or a limited knowledge of his father (from his young memories, or memories shared by others) still has a powerful influence on his own concept of himself.
For better or for worse, many men are living out the things we learned from our earthly fathers in one of three ways:
1. We are rejecting them and swinging hard in the oposite direction because we resent what we perceive in them.
2. We are taking either their imbalances or virtues to a whole new level – far exceeding their success or failures.
3. We are learning to embrace the good we’ve learned, and reject the bad.
Father #4 – SPIRITUAL – The fathers in the faith who mentor
1 Tim. 1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:”
2 Tim. 2:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, a beloved son:”
1 Cor. 4:15 “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
Luke 18:29-30 “So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
In the relationship between the aged Apostle Paul, and the young man, Timothy, a wonderful gift can be seen. The gift is promised by Jesus himself in Luke 18:29-30, where he promises, among other things, and abundance of “parents” in this life, and the life to come. Let’s call them “spiritual parents.” In specific, Christian men are given a model of “spiritual fathers and sons” in the example of Paul and Timothy.
In my own life, this has been a wonderful blessing. There are several men in my past whom God used to “re-parent” me and give me a healthy connection to a father. These relationships were used by God to help me grow in my faith, to pray, to study the Bible, to pastor, to teach me about money, sex, marriage, and how to change the brakes on my green Chevy Malibu.
The term “Mentor” is often used to describe these relationships. In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus and, in his old age, a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his palace.
A “spiritual father” or a “mentor” is one who stands in the place of an earthly father to care for, nuture, and re-parent / re-train a son until he reaches his full potential. If you are struggling in various areas related to your development as a man, you may need a spiritual father to help you along.
Look around your church. Look around at your circle of friends. Is there someone who may fit that role in your life?
Father #5 – HEAVENLY – The God and Father of Jesus Christ
When Jesus taught his disciples to address God in prayer, he began with the words, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Mat 6:9). Over and over in the New Tesament, God is referred to as Heavenly Father, God and Father, The Father, etc.
The Bible teaches that God becomes our Father when we accept and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (see Jn. 1:12-13). When you accept Jesus Christ – The Son of God, you receive equal position with God the Father. You become his son through faith. God becomes your Heavenly Father.
According to Paul in Ephesians, we are to imitate God in the same way a boy imitates his father (Eph. 5:1), and we are reflect the light of our Heavenly Father in our own lifestyles (Eph. 5:8).
John, the beloved Apostle gives a simple test for those who wonder, “Who is my daddy?”
1 Jn. 3:10 “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”
Do you claim God as your Heavenly Father? If so, your life will be marked by (1) love for God, (2) obedience to God, (3) increasing likeness to God, and (4) love for the other children of God.
Acting like a true son…
It is inevitable that you are living out the traits of one of your fathers.
Dear brother, – fellow man, you are either…
1. Submitting yourself to your sin-nature, and acting like your father, Adam… or
2. Obeying your flesh, living in lies and moral corruption, and reflecting your father, the Devil… or
3. Processing (by either embracing or rejecting) the influence of your earthly father, or…
4. Opening your life to the help and influence of older, more mature Godly men who can re-parent you in your areas of struuggle (or maybe YOU are the one who needs to embrace the role of “spiritual father” to a few younger men), so that ultimately…
5. Living in obedience to , and ultimately reflecting the image of your Heavenly Father. This is our call, dear brothers — dears sons of the Heavenly Father: Hebrews 12:9 – “submit to the Father of Spirits and live!”
In the next post, I will try to put together a sketch of a mature man of God who is living under the obedient influence of the Holy Spirit, impacted by the godly influence of other men, and becoming an influencer of everyone around Him as a “Man of God” and a “son of God.”
Becoming a man…
I invite you to jump into the comment section below. If I can help you to minister to the men in your church in any way, contact me here and let’s begin a dialogue.