Our Natural Self: Good or Evil?

Psalm 14

Psalm 53

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Romans 3:12

A repeating theme throughout the Bible. So important to David, in fact, that he writes two different psalms about it (Psalm 14, 53). He must have taught this to his son because Solomon writes about it later in Ecclesiastes (7:20). Finally, the apostle Paul quotes it in his letter to the churches in Rome (Romans 3:12).

Why is this such a prevalent theme in Scripture? That’s a big question, and I can only come up with a small answer: it’s important for us to know.

As a follower of the Way, am I not called to love Christ first and love others secondly? It’s clear that I can not do this without the power of Christ in me. God Himself through 3 different people has said, “You are not good.” I can only assume then that people are not inherently good. We are born into a world smeared with, and shattered by sin. Everywhere you turn, you can see the effect of sin on the hearts of mankind.

Take a young toddler for example. If you have two children together, playing with the same toys, what is their natural reaction? “MINE!” Grabbing. Taking. Pushing. Do you think they learned that from their parents? No. These babes were not taught how to be selfish, they are born into it.

These babes then grow up to be you and me. And we aren’t any better. We haven’t out grown our selfishness, or our sin. In fact, we become better at sinning, not worse. If you’ve grown up in the church or been around the church scene for a length of time then you may have heard, “All sin is the same to God.” To Him sin is sin, whether you murder someone, or lie to your parents you’ve separated yourself from Him. From a human perspective, that is really hard to grasp and comprehend. Here’s the point: from a human perspective, the older we get, the longer we live in this sin stained world, the worse our sins get.

We grow from grabbing a toy from another child, into sexual immorality. Please do not mishear my words. It’s not that your child is going to grow up to be a terrible person because they took that toy, nor are you a terrible person now because you stole a toy as a child. The point is “There is not one who does good, no, not one.” We are all selfish; we are all sinners. This is the world we have been born into.

If you spend any amount of time with someone who doesn’t follow Christ, or really, even those who have been led astray, it won’t take long until you hear the statement, “They’re a generally good person.” Maybe referencing someone they know, or perhaps even referencing themselves. But unless you have Christ guiding your choices and your thoughts and your life, this can’t be true.

It’s a fascinating truth to meditate on.

I was listening to a sermon the other day about this topic. The pastor related that in America we may have this tendency to think that people are inherently good because we live in a Disneyland of a nation. If you look at the basis of just about any other country in the world, what do you see? Evil. Sin. Inherently bad. China deciding that men are better than women, so they murder female infants. Middle Eastern countries do not allow women much of any rights. Russia, oppressing their people for years because those in power don’t want their people to believe they matter. Hitler. Stalin. And if we’re being completely honest, we should look at our own history too. The concentration camps we put Japanese people in during the Second World War, the mass genocide and theft from the Native Americans.

No one is immune to sin. No, not one. Not even our great America. We just choose not to remember our past mistakes. The path of a nation is similar to the path of an individual: if we choose not to look back at our past, and learn from it, we will keep stepping into the same sin over and over again. Different day same story.

Now, I didn’t set out to make this a political post, nor do I want to continue that way. But I believe the point remains, and I won’t ever be convinced otherwise. All have sinned. There is not one who is good. The only good we have ever seen in this world comes from God.

Please don’t think that all hope is lost for mankind. No. That will never be true. Hope is never lost or gone. And there is a faith you can have that is in something more secure than mankind. Because over 2000 years ago a child was born, Jesus. The promised Messiah. He came to bring peace to those who choose to believe and trust and follow Him. For those of us who have chosen and will choose Him are filled with His righteousness. We have so many spiritual weapons and blessings available to us so that we may be different than our natural nature. We can choose righteousness rather than sin. We are now slaves to righteousness rather than sin.

Lord, I thank You for Your infinite wisdom. Thank You for revealing truth and knowledge to us. I pray that we would not sit stagnant when faced with truth. I pray that You would erase any words that are not Yours, so that my words would not settle in the hearts of those who read this. Rather, my God, I ask Your Word would take hold and grow in their hearts. In Your Holy, Mighty name I pray, amen.

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