The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
Human nature confuses me. Many people tell me we are all basically good at heart — but when I see so many horrible crimes being committed by supposedly "good" people, I can't help but wonder. H. L.
It's time we had our eyes opened to the truth about "human nature." Probably, most people have assumed it is pretty good. They have taken for granted what most psychologists say — that human nature is not evil, but basically good. If you've thought that — you were terribly wrong! Today's psychologists have a lot to unlearn. Notice what God says about HUMAN NATURE. Paul tells us, "Because the CARNAL MIND [the natural mind of man] is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the LAW of God [it is, therefore, REBELLIOUS], neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). The normal, natural MIND of man is rebellious and hostile toward the things of God. Most men don't want "God" interfering in their business. They don't care at ALL what God in heaven thinks of their thoughts or activities. They want to go their OWN way, and do what "comes naturally." The law of God? It appears like so much foolishness to them — they don't have time to think about it! Consider what Jeremiah the prophet says. "The HEART is..." — what? kind? loving? and wonderful? "The heart is DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, and DESPERATELY WICKED: who can know [or fathom] it?" (Jer. 17:9.) These verses describe the heart and mind of MAN — YOUR natural mind and heart! There's no use denying it, or trying to cover up. It's TRUE! In God's sight, human nature is FILTHY-VILE-ROTTEN-DIRTY-WRETCHED — and UTTERLY DEGRADED AND MISERABLE! God sees it as a cesspool of filth and floating slime! But, what about one's supposed "good deeds"? Maybe you've done certain things in your life you are rather "proud of"? Maybe you don't think YOU are really quite "that bad"? What about it? Then you need to read this scripture found in Isaiah 64:6, and apply it to YOURSELF! "But we are ALL as an UNCLEAN thing, and all our righteousnesses are as FILTHY RAGS; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." In God's sight all our natural deeds, our supposed righteousness, won't get us anywhere — they add up to nothing! Job had to suffer to learn the lesson of real repentance. He always thought he was "pretty 'good." He believed he had done a lot of righteous deeds. He helped those in distress. He gave to the poor. Yes, he thought he was a pretty righteous fellow! Job — you see — had a terrible case of SELF-righteousness. God saw the problem, and took stern steps to correct it. To really HUMBLE Job and bring him to heartfelt repentance, God had to strip away from him his wealth, his children, and his health. Job had to sit on an ash pile and scrape his painful boils with a potsherd, lamenting his woebegone fate, despising the day of his birth! Notice Job's problem. Even in the midst of his sufferings, he exclaimed, "Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live" (Job 27:5-6). There it is, in all its "glory" — self-righteousness — spiritual VANITY — one of the very HARDEST sins to conquer! In essence, Job was saying: "I am righteous. I don't need to repent. I have done no evil." But finally, after all this suffering, when God revealed to Job his own utter insignificance and unworthiness, Job began to see the point. He finally learned his lesson. Finally, in real heartfelt repentance and personal sorrow, probably accompanied with tears streaming down his face, Job confessed, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I ABHOR MYSELF, and REPENT in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Job finally came to see his own human nature — in the raw. He came to abhor and despise his own filthy nature. And he repented of being such a selfish, self-centered "clod." Paul, also, came face to face with his human nature. And he was appalled! He saw his carnality dearly, and with anguish cried out, "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am CARNAL, sold under sin" (Rom. 7:14). Have you come to see the same thing about yourself? Paul confessed, trembling with emotion, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" ( verses 18-19). He saw human nature in its gruesome reality. He struggled with it; fought against it; only to find that it was more powerful than he! He wrestled with it; only to wake up that he'd failed, he'd sinned, and his depraved nature took him into the slavery of sin! What could he do? What was the answer? Paul cried out, "O wretched man that am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Read the answer to the problem in the Moffatt translation: "Miserable wretch that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? GOD WILL! Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:24-25,) Paul was helpless, of himself. His struggles against the pulls of the flesh were in vain — until he turned to God and received divine help from Him! Almighty God intervened, and through the Holy Spirit gave him strength to overcome, and delivered him! And God will do the same for YOU, if you turn to Him, CHANGE your thoughts and ways, and REPENT of your sins — what you are, as well as what you have done! Through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit, God will help YOU to repent — to conquer, and change, YOUR human nature, and gradually replace it with God's own DIVINE nature (Rom. 8:1-4). But you must decide for yourself!