By Pastor Jonathan S. Ferriol
“Is man inherently good or evil” was the probing question of Will Cain, a CNN contributor, a day after America was shocked by yet another mayhem – the bombing of the world renowned Boston marathon that killed 3 people, and seriously injured more than a hundred more.
Will Cain had asked the question that philosophers and the academe love to discuss among themselves. But I don’t think that this question should be answered from a mere academic standpoint. I believe it is a sobering question that demands an honest answer.
The Bible clearly and accurately teaches the true nature of man without any equivocation. At the onset, the holy Scriptures teach that as God’s creation, man was created to be “good” – Genesis 1:31. God particularly created man after His own “image and likeness” and also “blessed” man and made him as His vice-regents over the whole earth. There’s no question that man was created by God to be inherently good – v.27-28. Yet, man is also evil. We are sinners and rotten to the core. We are corrupt and flawed. King David said, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Apostle Paul echoed it when he wrote, “There is nothing good that lives in me…” – Psalm 51:5, Romans 7:18.
I would like to make this point, though. Yes, we are inherently good and evil; yet, we are not absolutely good or evil, either. This means that even in our best of days and good intentions, our goodness remains tainted with evil and our evil is also tainted with goodness. I recall what Jesus once said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11. Apostle Paul said it also, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” – Romans 7:21.
So man is good because God created him to be good but man is also evil because man has fallen to sin. This dichotomous nature of man is quite perplexing as anybody could see. Even the Apostle Paul could not help but vent out his frustration about this dilemma. He said,
“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 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. What a wretched man I am!” Romans 7:22-24. But what is disturbing is this – man has a stronger tendency to choose evil over good. This is not hard to see. This was the predicament of the Tsarnaev brothers – their parents and relatives said that both were “good kids” but after they have been radicalized by their brand of Muslim religion, both turned out to be monsters bent on killing as many people as they could on that day.
So where does this leave us then?
Many today seek redemption through religion, ethical living, education and humanitarian activities. These pursuits are commendable; if it is mere morality or civility or the environment, which is at the root of our problems, but it is not. Our real and most urgent crisis is our soul in bondage of sin. And sin, being the work of Satan, is beyond man’s ability to resolve effectively. Hence, man needs a Savior — someone who could effectively resolve this crisis and give man a real fighting chance against sin. The Bible, points out that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to specifically deal, once and for all, with the problem of our sin. “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” 1 John 3:8.
Knowing who we are is just a start, but we must ultimately decide, which between these two natures, we will live by. Today, if you will decide to live your life for Jesus and serve Him in His true church, you will be able to experience His transforming power in your life.
What is going to be your choice?