CURRENT IDEAS ABOUT THE NATURE OF MAN
Section One: Faulty Ideas About the True State of Humanity
- The majority of Christians overlook, deny, or, at the very least, minimize the problems of what it means to be a fallen human being.
- The language of Scripture is not for the faint of heart. It teaches that man is an apostate creature, fallen from his original innocence, degraded in his nature, depraved in his thinking, prone toward evil, not good, and impacted by sin to the very core of his being.
- When the true nature of man is revealed in situations where Christian influence once held sway, depravity becomes even more obvious. … When you consider the biblical teaching concerning superior morality and obedience to the teachings of Christ combined with the truth that one day we will give account for our actions, it is a marvel that we have made so little progress in virtue. … It seems the rule that people are more willing to suffer the negative consequences of vice than take advantage of the blessings of living a life of Christian obedience.
- Maybe the best testimony concerning depravity comes from those whose commitment to Christ is wholehearted. They can testify how difficult it is to fight against their fallen nature as they attempt to live lives of obedience. They will tell you that by observing their own lives and the way their minds work, they have discovered how corrupt the human heart really is. Every day this conviction grows. They will tell you of how poorly they are able to live out their convictions, how selfish their desires are, and how feeble and halfhearted are their attempts to do the right thing. They will acknowledge and confess that the biblical teaching about the two conflicting natures has proven true in their experience. In the words of Paul, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom. 7:18). As someone has said, even the spirituality we do possess is corrupted by our nature. We have nothing to brag about. On the contrary, God must always give us grace to bear with our faults and mercy to forgive our sins.
- Even though we have the ability to say no to the lower appetite, it has become strong enough to overpower the inclination to do right. This tendency has created a resistance in our fallen nature to know the truth about God. We don’t want to know that there is a God who places moral restraints and ethical expectations on us. The more we sin, the more fixed this reality becomes. We have been locked in handcuffs of wickedness that keep us from doing good and seeking God. The deeper we sink into this folly, the less we understand of the truth and the harder the heart becomes in its ability to respond to God. … Instead of being sick about the true state of our being, we actually think everything is fine with us. This is the way sin works.
Section Two: Faulty Ideas About Evil
- The doctrine of the existence and activity of the devil is almost universally denied. … The issue of evil personified is… treated like an old fairy tale. We are given the impression that it is a subject any educated man has ceased to believe; like a superstition that belongs with stories about ghosts, witches and other phantoms that are remnants of a less-enlightened time. …Consequently, this is a subject people either ignore or ridicule.
For those who do believe, this is a serious matter. It makes us realize what a battle we are engaged in. We are flawed within and tempted from without.
- Sin has consequences. We see those consequences all around us. If all this is true, what can we do? Is there any hope? Is judgment our only destiny? Gratefully, there is hope. When we come to grips with the true state of our condition, we are ready to fully appreciate what God has done to rescue us from ourselves. It is imperative that we take seriously our true condition as fallen human beings. Without this understanding and acknowledgement, we will not have an adequate foundation on which to build an authentic faith.
Section Three: Objections to These Facts
- With all that has been said, we still have not faced our biggest problem: Pride does not like to be humbled.
- For those who acknowledge the goodness and justice of God as well as the fallen nature of man, the latter is never an adequate excuse to explain human sin. We are accountable, not excusable. The Bible specifically states that sin cannot be blamed on how God made us.
- We stand guilty and deserving judgment. Any other teaching dilutes and refutes the true significance of the cross of Christ.