What a stupid statement he just made! That thought crosses our minds and sometimes our lips as we hear a politician, a news anchor or our neighbor say things that are clearly bizarre. And we wonder if they really believe the stuff they are saying. Surely, we think, no sane person could believe that. But as these same folks listen to Christians, they wonder how these Bible thumpers can function in the real world. They frequently view Bible believers as those who have disconnected their brains and instead live according to archaic traditions, resulting in lifestyles that are out of touch with today’s real life. Any real dialogue between “them” and us seems impossible. Much of this great divide has come about because there is a vastly differing view of the basic nature of human beings. The Bible teaches that man is born in sin and, therefore, does evil naturally. Our culture thinks man is born innocent and is corrupted by outside forces, often making the person a “victim”. This difference in the nature of man produces thinking that is very different in how one views “real life.”
The Biblical View of Mankind. Simply put, the Bible declares that human beings are sinful from birth. The theological idea is sometimes called “total depravity.” Total depravity does not mean that a person cannot do good things or be nice or generous. It does not mean that they are unable to think or make choices. What it means is that the mind, emotions, and actions of every person has been thoroughly infected by sin. (Sin is anything that is contrary to God and His righteous standards). People can choose, but they do not have the ability to choose what is righteous and holy, according to God’s standards. We are contaminated mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Apostle Paul states that:
“A NATURAL (unsaved) MAN DOES NOT ACCEPT THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD; FOR THEY ARE FOOLISHNESS TO HIM, AND HE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY APPRAISED (examined)” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
“AND YOU WERE DEAD IN YOUR TRESPASSES AND SINS, IN WHICH YOU FORMERLY WALKED ACCORDING TO THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD, ACCORDING TO THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, OF THE SPIRIT THAT IS NOW WORKING IN THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE AMONG THEM WE TOO ALL FORMERLY LIVED IN THE LUSTS OF OUR FLESH, INDULGING THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH AND OF THE MIND AND WERE BY NATURE CHILDREN OF WRATH, EVEN AS THE REST.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Jeremiah added that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (17:9). These statements are all inclusive. People may not like what the Bible says, but this is God’s view of fallen mankind. It was not supposed to be this way, as sin and death were not part of God’s original plan. It is not true that just some people were born bad, but rather that all were. King David said: “behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psa. 51:3) David was not saying that it was some immoral relationship that brought about his conception in his mother’s womb. His point was that he (“the man after God’s own heart”) was thoroughly contaminated by sin, and that reality existed from the moment of his conception. He does evil because that is his nature.
The Bible believer sees evil behavior coming from the person’s nature; and is evidenced in the one who shoots everyone in sight in a crowded mall or school; the one who hurts and abuses little children; the one who is a rapist impacting for life the other person; the one who mugs and robs that elderly couple in the Walmart parking lot; the one who deceives and lies in order to rise to power and position; the one who destroys families through adultery; the one whose pride and vanity plagues those around him/her; the one who badly damages the lives of others through gossip and falsehoods; the one who does immeasurable harm to others with their illicit drugs; and we could add much more by just watching the evening news. People do these evil things because they are born sinful. The Bible believer sees things differently than does the culture because the Bible reveals God’s righteous perspective. At the very core, mankind is evil. The Bible does give the wonderful solution to this mess that mankind is in. It is that God took on human flesh, and in the person of Jesus, makes it possible for believing people to be restored back eventually to God’s original design.
“AND WHEN YOU WERE DEAD IN YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS AND IN THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH, HE MADE YOU ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM, HAVING FORGIVEN US ALL OF OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, HAVING CANCELLED OUT THE CERTIFICATE OF DEBT CONSISTING OF DECREES AGAINST US AND ABOUT WHICH WAS HOSTILE TO US, AND HAS TAKEN IT OUT OF THE WAY, HAVING NAILED IT TO THE CROSS.” (Col. 2:13-14)
So, Jesus’ death on the cross completely took care of man’s sin and his sinful nature. And by simple faith in this Jesus, people can be set free from the bondage of sin and receive forgiveness and eternal life. But the view of culture is quite different.
The Cultural View of Mankind. It is, of course, quite true that there is not one single view of mankind that is found in our American culture. But there is a growing perspective of mankind that is dominating the culture that we live in. Simply put, culture has a favorable view of mankind; that is, man is inherently good. They were born innocent. People do bad things because of their environment. This persuasion that people are good allows a person to “see the best in others” and so to appear loving, and non-judgmental, and certainly not one of those “haters.” So, while admittedly a person does something that is bad, it is fundamentally outside factors that cause badness. So for example, the teenager who takes a pistol and shoots his teacher and classmates does a terrible thing to be sure. But the reasons are that he was bullied by his classmates, abused by his parents, flunked by his teacher, and of course the capitalistic gun manufacturers had their part as well. But he really is a good kid who has been corrupted by forces in the culture. The man who cheats on his wife with the office secretary probably should not have done that, but if his wife was not such a hard, cold person, he most likely would have not have been unfaithful. She bears some of the blame for the marriage dissolving. The individual who deceives and lies his/her way into political power is not an evil person but really is just doing what is necessary to get into office so that they can do the greater good. It is, after all, what everyone does. Well, we get the idea, don’t we? But it goes back to the view of the nature of man. People are inherently good and it is outside forces and persons that compel them to do evil.
This very different view of the nature of people is a major factor in the current harsh rhetoric that engulfs our culture. This, however, does not mean that Bible believers should cease from speaking. The Apostle Paul tells us how to deal with false views. And he observes where these false ideas originate, with the Evil One.
“…THE LORD’S BONDSERVANT MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME, BUT BE KIND TO ALL, ABLE TO TEACH (the truths of Scripture), PATIENT WHEN WRONGED, WITH GENTLENESS CORRECTING THOSE THAT ARE IN OPPOSITION, IF PERHAPS GOD MAY GRANT THEM REPENTANCE, LEADING TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, AND THEY MAY COME TO THEIR SENSES AND ESCAPE FROM THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL, HAVING BEEN HELD CAPTIVE BY HIM TO DO HIS WILL.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
We are to continue to speak God’s truth, and allow the Holy Spirit to use that truth to work on the inside of people. We now must point out one very sad reality. A recent survey of “evangelicals” reveals that 43% now believe that people are born innocent, which is the cultural view. The lack of good solid theological, biblical teaching has allowed so many of the culture’s philosophies to seep into the church. And the nature of man is one of them. In too many churches, healthy doctrinal teaching has been replaced by happy, clappy religious entertainment. But this terrible failure does not release any of us from our privilege and responsibility to be bearers of God’s truth. The culture, influenced by the doctrine of demons, does need what Jesus and His Word offers.