Being a happy single requires being content with your state. Like the Apostle Paul, we all need to learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
In another important way, however, your true happiness depends on your recognition of a very important truth: that of and by yourself, you are incomplete.
This isn’t true of just you. It’s true of me, too—and every human being.
God made us out of dust. We are clay models out of which God can shape us spiritually into His character image. Our potential is to one day be born of spirit! But we’re not there yet.
Herbert W. Armstrong explained: “[W]hat God created in the first Adam was not yet complete. Man was made carnal, material—but he was made to need the Spirit of God. Without this spiritual life from God, man experiences a sense of emptiness, hunger and thirst for that which will satisfy” (Plain Truth, August 1962; emphasis added throughout).
God created man to need a relationship with Him! Man had to go to God to become complete.
Think on this: Every person on Earth is incomplete. You are incomplete without the Holy Spirit! You are like a car without gasoline—you’re not going anywhere.
A Sense of Emptiness
Everyone feels this need. We all experience “a sense of emptiness, hunger and thirst” for something to fill it, Mr. Armstrong wrote. So people look everywhere, trying this thing and that, searching and searching for what will satisfy that need. But “[t]he only thing that will impart to him this sense of satisfaction, completeness, abundance, is God’s Spirit—God’s nature—God’s fullness,” he wrote (ibid).
“Yet his carnal mind does not recognize that fact,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “Being incomplete, lacking in the spiritual waters and heavenly food—God’s Word—that would fill him to satisfaction, he has a gnawing soul-hunger that leaves him miserable, empty, discontented. He seeks to quench his thirst and satisfy his soul-hunger in the interests and pursuits and pleasures of this world.”
You see this everywhere: People chasing something. Many people try to fill that void with education, travel, work, entertainment, sports, music, drugs, pornography, or any number of other physical things. Not all of those things are bad, but none will ever fill the void that can only be filled by God’s Spirit!
You definitely see this happening in the world’s single scene. People think they just need that relationship—or maybe merely sex—so they hop around from one person to another. That didn’t fill it, they think. I must need someone else— another relationship— another encounter.
Another person cannot satisfy this need. Still, it is common for two spiritually incomplete people to grab hold of one another, hoping and believing that the other will make them complete. It never works. That relationship will only be great if each is first going to God for completeness.
How well do you recognize this void within you? Do you ever seek to fill it with something other than God’s Spirit?
“This very lack within him—this spiritual need—gives him an innate inferiority complex,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “He senses his inferiority, as compared to God—his lack of what he was made to need; but, not understanding what it is, he seeks to quell the painful sense of inferiority by conceit, and blowing up the ego—the self—with vanity and self-exaltation. This vanity, then, is a substitute for God and His Spirit—another god before the true God.” That is profound psychological insight.
To make progress spiritually—and to be truly happy and fulfilled in your life—you have to first recognize this inferiority complex and gnawing hunger. You must acknowledge that you are incomplete—and then seek God for wholeness! That is the foundation for true repentance. The recognition of this need undergirds a successful relationship with God: I can’t do anything—I need you, God. That is where conversion begins.
How clear is this spiritual reality in your mind?
There have been times when a baptized single has been interested in an unbaptized single. Some have even entered into a relationship, putting that person above God. Did that baptized person really understand this reality? Did he or she recognize that we are incomplete without the Holy Spirit? Was that individual using and being led by that Spirit?
Let’s look at the origin of human nature.
When Satan tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, Eve didn’t have human nature at that point. But she was obviously incomplete.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). Satan crafted this message to appeal to Eve’s innate inferiority complex. And she did not comprehend that the void in her could only be filled by God’s Spirit.
After Adam and Eve sinned, they had a mind change. They hid from God (verses 7-8). The spirit of vanity and rebellion had entered them.
“After Adam sinned, he and all his children after him were now receptive to the sway of Satan. Satan, who is a spirit, began to work in the minds of Adam and Eve even as God would have worked in their minds had they taken of the tree of life. As a result, Satan imparted to both their minds the attitudes of vanity, of selfishness, of ‘get,’ of resentment of authority. Those characteristics we call ‘human nature’— the carnal mind … come from Satan the devil himself!” (Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 18).
That is where human nature comes from: Satan the devil. We need to understand this nature so we can confront it and reject it.
In order to better understand “human” nature, which is really Satan’s nature, let’s first look at its exact opposite: God’s nature, which is the love of God.
The love of God is a way of life. That love is what God is trying to teach us—what He, in fact, wants us to become.
The Apostle Paul expounds on this love in 1 Corinthians 13. Note the point he makes in setting up this subject in the first four verses: If you don’t have the love of God—which comes from the Holy Spirit—then you can produce nothing. You are incomplete!
You could be a great speaker, understand prophecy, donate everything you have to the poor, even become a martyr! Yes, you can do some quite awesome-looking feats on your own, with just your human will. But none of that will fill the void within you. None of it has any spiritual value (Isaiah 64:6). It is all worthless if you lack the love of God, which comes from the Spirit (Romans 5:5). This means that you need to be able to discern the difference between what you’re producing and what actually comes from God.
1 Corinthians 13 lists 15 wonderful qualities of God’s love (verses 4-8). It is a passage worth regularly reading, studying and meditating on. Again—this is God’s nature, which we take on as we allow God to complete us and fill our inner void with His Holy Spirit.
“Suffers long” means enduring patiently even when things go wrong; bearing up under pressure. “Kind” means being concerned for others’ needs, and helpful. “Envies not” means not being jealous of others’ blessings and opportunities. “Vaunts not itself” means not bragging, showing off, seeking to impress others or hunting for attention. “Is not puffed up” means not being arrogant, proud, haughty or vain; not harboring ideas of grand self-importance. God’s nature is humble and modest.
“Does not behave itself unseemly” means not being rude; not acting in an unbecoming way, but rather being polite and courteous. It means using care with your words; seeking to do and say what is proper, appropriate and becoming for the circumstances. “Seeks not her own” is not being selfish or self-seeking, but putting others before self—sacrificing personal comfort and time for others.
“Is not easily provoked” means not being prone to anger or exasperation with others; not having sudden bursts of emotion. God’s nature isn’t overly sensitive or touchy. “Thinks no evil” means not being suspicious; not imputing evil motives or keeping records of other people’s sins. God’s nature desires to think well of others; it allows for mistakes and forgives on repentance. “Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” means not gloating over people doing things wrong; but rather rejoicing in their virtues and being pleased when they do well.
God’s nature “bears all things,” meaning it covers others’ personal faults. It doesn’t gossip; it conceals private matters (Proverbs 11:13). It “believes all things”—is willing to believe the best about someone. It allows for the fact that people can change and overcome with the power of God. It “hopes all things.” No matter how the situation appears, it holds out hope; it doesn’t make assumptions and jump to the worst possible conclusion. True godly love “endures all things”—even provocations, persecutions and miseries—with faith and patience. It bears up under adversity and doesn’t complain. It accepts all hardships and rejections, and continues to build others up and encourage them.
God’s love “never fails.” It never fades. It is permanent just like God—because God is this love.
We need the Holy Spirit that can give us this nature! This is the opposite of human nature. It smashes human nature!
That is God’s nature. What is Satan’s nature? It is vanity—exalting the self.
God pins Satan to the wall in Ezekiel 28:17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” This is actually where sin started (verse 15)—when Lucifer, whom God had created perfect, changed his attitude. He went from loving God to loving the self. He got absorbed in his own brightness, obsessed with his own beauty. He became self-centered. Self-impressed. Vain.
That is Satan’s nature!
“Lucifer was like a speck in all of God’s creation, but he selfishly focused on himself,” Gerald Flurry explained about this passage. “In his own eyes, he became more important than God and all His creation. Can we become that vain about beauty? Or about things? Can vanity corrupt our wisdom? Certainly. Oftentimes, human beings become self-absorbed—wrapped up in our own beauty or looks or things” (John’s Gospel: The Love of God).
That is our human nature! Do you really see how much you love your self? How much self-love you have?
As Mr. Armstrong said in a sermon in 1982, “Self-love is the very essence of sin.” God’s way of life is always outflowing—it is give. Anything other than that is sin—it is a result of loving our self more than God, or more than the other guy.
“God’s law is, simply, love!” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “It is the perfect way of life. Every particle of human suffering, unhappiness, misery and death has come solely from its transgression!” (The Plain Truth About Healing). Whenever there is a problem—conflict, discouragement, unhappiness—sin is the cause, which means that self-love is in there somewhere! Every particle of unhappiness is caused by sin, and self-love is the essence of sin.
Are you unhappy as a single? Then examine yourself for self-love. You are trying to satiate that gnawing inner hunger with something other than God. To some degree, most probably, you are combating your inferiority complex with conceit, self and vanity!
This Satan-inspired human nature makes us miserable. Sin makes us miserable. Self-love makes us miserable! Yet, so often, in specific situations, we put ourselves first because we think that is going to make us happier. We are certain that putting the other person first is going to make us miserable! We prioritize our own desires. We focus on how we want to be treated. Our service and sacrifice are required somewhere—someone needs us—but we are into what we’re doing, so we insist that we’re too busy, or we pretend like we don’t hear or don’t see the problem.
We do these things all the time—and we may even feel justified in doing so. But the reality is that self-love is sin! It is not the way God thinks! It is not His nature to do that. It is not His love.
A Call to Action
How much is your human nature affecting the way you live as a single in God’s Church?
How much is your self-love impacting your interactions with other singles and Church members? How much is it interfering with your relationship with God? How much are you allowing your vanity to be a substitute for the Holy Spirit flowing in your life? How much does your human nature prevent God from using you to serve His Family? How much is vanity directing your choices—your dating—your marriage preparation? How much is self-love driving your thoughts—your motivations—your emotions?
Ask God to help you answer these questions honestly. Ask Him to help you see your human nature. Ask Him to show you that void within—to help you see how incomplete you are without Him!
Look for specific ways that Satan’s attitude of vanity and self-love is manifesting itself in your life as a single in God’s Church.
Human nature is tough, deeply rooted, pernicious and extraordinarily resilient. If you are not fighting it ferociously every day, then it is almost certainly influencing your thinking and your life more than you realize.
The better you understand human nature, the more you will want to destroy it! Recognizing it will help tremendously in your battle to purge Satan’s nature—and to grow more and more in exhibiting the beautiful love of God.