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The Problem with Human Nature

The Problem with Human Nature

Despite the grand Purpose God has for this World and Mankind, we have to face the fact that we humans have not cooperated willingly with our Creator. Most of the time we have disobeyed Him in major and tragic ways and even people with good intentions fail sometimes.

The Bible calls this disobedience ‘Sin’, and we have seen how sin has resulted in death. However, one man succeeded where all the rest of us failed. That man was Jesus, and in him God offers to save all who really want to be part of that plan of salvation which will fill this earth with His glory.

Unpleasant Facts

First we have to face the facts about this human nature of ours. We learn from the Bible how the first human pair were tempted and chose to please themselves rather than God (Genesis 3).

Then their oldest son Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4) and within a few more generations human behaviour had become so bad that almost everyone then living was destroyed by a flood. Only one family – Noah’s – had the faith to be saved (Genesis 6).

The urge to please SELF had become so strong that it was the ruling principle in human life. It is true that in order to survive, men and women need courage and determination, and these qualities are gifts from God. But when people oppose the laws of God that leads to sin, which is defined as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

That is the situation that we find ourselves in now – we all have this resistance to the laws of God deep inside ourselves: we want to live our lives our own way, ‘to do our own thing’ is what this world fully encourages us to do, but is this right?

Human Waywardness

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul tells us how much he wanted to please God, but he described his experience this way:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. u For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  (Romans 7:14-25). 

Let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that this is a reflection of us all in all our endeavours, no matter how much we try to do what is right we found ourselves doing wrong.

Jeremiah’s Experience

The prophet Jeremiah said this about human nature:

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

In other words, we might think we know what to believe and how to live, but unless we go about it in God’s  way we shall go astray. Later in his book, Jeremiah gives us the reason for this – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Jeremiah knew this better than most people. He had to force himself to be a prophet of God when he didn’t want to be (Jeremiah 1:4-10). He tried to give up because he was so badly treated (Jeremiah 20:9-10), but he had to continue. And although he spoke God’s messages and warnings to his own people in Jerusalem for over 40 years, they refused to listen. At last, because of their unbelief, they were taken captive to Babylon, as Jeremiah sadly recorded in his 52nd chapter.

Not the Answer

Jeremiah’s fellow-citizens loved to think that they could please God and have their sins forgiven by performing rituals and ceremonies despite their bad behaviour. That was a big mistake, even when those ceremonies were part of the Law of God. People still make that mistake today.

This was also the case when Jesus was here. The religious leaders at that time had made hundreds of rules that covered every detail of life. Some rules for instance concerned how people should wash before eating.

People were taught that if they failed to keep these rules they were ‘defiled’ (meaning they were ‘not acceptable to God’).

The Heart

It is a matter of getting the heart right with God. Jesus said that what ‘defiles’ us is not what goes into our mouths but what comes out of them! (Matthew 15:17-20). Then he went on to say this:

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man (Matthew 15:19–20).

So human nature is a big problem; we need desperately to find the solution to this!  

Why did Christ Die for US?

Never forget that we are the problem and that will help us to understand what the Bible writers mean when they use the words ‘the devil’, and ‘satan’. The Bible itself explains these terms that it uses, and that we can only learn what its meaning is by starting at the beginning and allowing the Bible to teach us.

If we have ignored the Old Testament we are sure to misunderstand what we read in the New Testament.

Understanding that we (man) has a problem – or that we are the problem – is the first stage towards doing something about it. As Jesus once said, you don’t go to the doctor to get treated unless you first recognise that you are sick!

By John Woodall

See: God's Plan for Man and this World

Glad Tidings Magazine of the Kingdom of God