A Quick Look
Ever since it all went wrong way back in Eden, we have been tempted to pursue wrong. Every one of us can look at our natural inclinations and know this is true. Doing right takes effort. Left to our own selfish desires we would all do wrong, and indeed all do from time to time at least. God makes this observation of human nature in Jeremiah 17:
Jer. 17:9 "The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; who can know it?
Anyone who has been a parent knows how true this is. The discipline we give our children, or that which we have received from our parents is all designed to teach us to uphold what is right in the midst of our desire to choose differently. But all is not lost. It is indeed this very thing from which the Bible message gives us hope to escape.
A Personal Analysis
Although we know that there are some who believe that we are innately good and that evil only happens because of outside influence, I feel that most readers are more likely to agree with us and with the Bible that, based on their own personal experience of lust and desire, in fact we are innately bad, as the Bible says. The Bible calls this innate badness ‘sinful nature’ and it is the very thing that its message talks to us about removing. Although we can none us of us change our nature by our own effort (we can make ourselves behave better, but we cannot change our innate nature) the gospel message is all about explaining to us how God, in His forgiveness and mercy, is willing to overlook it all, and count us as if we were righteous, or pure – without sin. God is willing to look on us as if we didn’t have sinful nature, and treat us in a way that we do not deserve, if we believe in Him and His message. This is indeed a marvellous thing. In our own lives, we strive for justice, and that is indeed a good thing. However, justice metes out what we deserve. In terms of our human sinful nature, what we deserve is death. But God is willing to show mercy. Mercy is a word to describe God’s willingness not to give us what we serve. Then it goes a stage further and God is willing to offer us grace, which is about giving us what we don’t deserve. In an illustration, suppose I was stopped by a policemen for speeding. If he gave me a fine, that would be justice. If he let me off the fine and sent me on my way, that would be mercy. If he offered to pay my fine for me – that would be grace. God has offered, not only to ignore our sinful nature, and pretend it is not there, in His mercy, but also to pay the penalty of our sinful nature for us (in the death of Jesus) in His grace.
Sin is serious, and on our own we can do nothing about it – but God can, if we believe.
More Detailed Bible Teaching
Adam was originally created ‘”in the image of God”, and, had everything gone differently, he would have remained that way in all aspects of his life and thinking and death (the result of sin) would never have been part of the picture. But that is not what happened. Adam and Eve sinned, and we have inherited that tendency ever since. It only took until Genesis 6 for it all to go wrong.
Gen. 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Several of the Bible writers make this point from their own experience too:
Job 15:14 "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?
15 If God puts no trust in His saints, And the heavens are not pure in His sight,
16 How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!
Psa. 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
Ecc. 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
And from the mouth of Jesus himself
Mark 7:21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
James (Jesus’ brother) also says in his letter
James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
This surely leaves us in no doubt about the problem we have – the problem God is offering to solve for us if we believe. God is willing to count us as if we had no sin, and save us from the permanence of the death we deserve as a result. What an amazing thing that is!
Eph. 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
These statements are truly amazing. Jesus willingly died a sinless death so that our sins could be counted as if they were no more by God’s mercy, and that by His grace we might be granted a great reward that we do not deserve. Why would we say no to this?