Monday, October 5, 2009

Are we essentially good or are we born evil?

Paul wrote to the Ephesians saying we “are all by nature children of wrath.” This could only mean that we are born into sin and are sinners by our very nature. God did not create man to be sinful but man fell into sin as a result of a poor decision made possible by his free moral agency. The same passage of Scripture (Eph. 2) declares we are all “children of disobedience.” The Psalmist declares in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”

Humanity was infected with sin after the fall. Sin became an actual property of being human. Therefore, all who are human are also sinful. To be human is to be sinful. All people, until and unless they repent of their sins will remain sinful forever. Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

This basic teaching of the scriptures is clearly contrary to modern day teachings regarding the nature of man. In the mid 1700’s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau declared that “man is essentially good”, a “noble savage" when in the "state of nature" (the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society), and that “good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society.” Rousseau taught that an “artificial and corrupt” society ruined the natural goodness of man.

Certainly Satan’s greatest tool of deception in dealing with man is to convince him that he (Satan) does not exist. Would it not also be beneficial to the Evil One to successfully convince man that sin also does not exist? The next logical step is to conclude that if Satan does not exist, and sin does not exist, there is certainly no need for a Savior, therefore, God does not exist.

Though most of the modern world would embrace Rousseau’s premise with gusto, they would cringe at hearing that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Charles Manson were all essentially good. If something in their environment caused them to do evil, why is it that others who grew up having been effected by the same culture, turned out to be very good, even preachers of the gospel of Christ?

I have a four year old son. From infancy he has at times shown a very uncooperative spirit. No one taught him to kick his feet on the floor when he got angry. His mother asked him to read up his room the other day. He came out saying the deed was done. She checked on his work and discovered that he had been deceptive. “Who taught him to lie?” she asked. I gave her the simple, scriptural answer, “He was born a liar as we all are.” Some sin is learned, but there is a basic, original sinful nature that we don’t have to learn, we are born with it.

My son asked me in early one morning, “what happened to the stars, where are they.” Later that night I took him outside and he saw silhouetted against a black sky all the magnificent diamonds of God. The black background makes the stars visible to him.

Why does God allow us the disadvantage of being born in sin? He allows it because we chose it. Also, the black, dark image of sin makes the holiness of God visible to us. And most of all he wants us to see his holiness.

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