We are not inherently good, we are inherently evil.

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The Lance Armstrong fiasco has been filling the media outlets the past few weeks. We have heard crys demanding better monitoring, demanding the truth, demanding justice. The social media realms have been ablaze with cries for the truth. Many were appalled at the interview he had with Oprah. They weren’t satisfied with his comments. I agree that it seems like Armstrong still does not want to come clean, but should that be such a surprise? Most of these feelings arise from an idea that people are naturally, deep down, good people. Much of society suggests that if we educate, have better laws, etc. we can become a utopian society where nothing bad happens. That we should know better. However, history has proven this to be a false notion. The bible gives the only real answers. It says we are not inherently good, but evil. I read a recent tweet by Tullian Tchividjian put this in perspective. He wrote: Us: “Lance Armstrong is a pathetic liar.” God: “Your deception is worse than Armstrong’s because you assume he is worse than you.” As Christians, I think we tend to forget throughout all of this…we are not inherently good, but are inherently evil.

I read an interesting quote by Timothy Keller who said “If God wiped out all sources of evil in the world we would no longer be here, the evil is inside us.” The bible is clear. We are not naturally good. We are naturally evil. Jeremiah 17:9–10 says the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The word “desperately sick” literally means, “incurable,” that is, without any ability to heal its own evil, (1). Here in Jeremiah we have an emphatic denial of a popular belief that people are basically good, (2). Notice the words of David in Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Job echoes this in Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. The harsh reality is that we are not inherently good, but inherently evil. Therefore greater laws, or lesser laws, is not going to solve the problem. Ever since there have been laws to break, we’ve been breaking them. I think we should advocate things we believe in. I believe we should seek justice. However, we need to keep our eyes on the real problem. In our cries for justice we need to remember that God chose to give us mercy and grace instead of justice. If God gave us justice instead of mercy He would have wiped us out! He chose not to give you what you deserve, but rather gave it to His son instead. The real problem, which humbling as it is, can be found in each of us.

Since sin entered the picture. Ever since Adam and Eve broke the first law God gave; we have been a species obsessed with breaking laws. Every war, every crime, every evil thing can be traced back to the sin which underlines all sins, self-exaltation. Everything which is evil from Adam to our own day, from the great horrors of world history down to the little lies and acts of unfriendliness with which we have mutually poisoned our lives, springs from human hate of God’s grace. (3). To live in God’s grace means to trust in Him as savior and king. It means rather than thinking I know what is best for me, I trust that God knows what is best fore me. The problem is we were born in sin. It’s all we have ever known. We were born with this innate desire to be our own lord and masters. God even gave us His perfect law as means to continually point us to His providential grace, and our need for that grace. God’s law reveals to us our need for something outside of ourselves that can save us from ourselves.

It’s easy to point the finger at Lance Armstrong; but are we not somewhat to blame? We want our athletes to perform at the top of their abilities and if they don’t we abandon them. We have made alters to ourselves, and our earthly demi-gods. We think we know the solution to the problem. That if we find the right law, or monitoring system, we can solve the cheating problem. However, the cheating problem is in us. We forget that people are not inherently good, but evil. G.K. Chesterton was once asked by a London newspaper to join other authors and thinkers to address the weighty and important question of “what’s wrong with the world.” His response:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,

G.K. Chesterton

So what is the solution? Should we fight for justice? Yes! Should we advocate for truth? Yes! But we have to see that the solution isn’t found ultimately in a philosophy, stricter monitoring, or a human right, but in a person. Jesus Christ is the only person who was born inherently good and remained good. He is the only one who has ever lived in human skin and not sinned. He had perfect freedom and yet chose to be subjected to our human laws, which are a joke in comparison to His. He was lynched and killed by our courts, so that one-day we could enter into the courts of heaven. The next time you cry for justice, remember Jesus cried forgive them Father they know not what they do from the cross. He chose to give His justice to His son, so that He could give you and I grace. Everything good comes from God. Christian ethics has to do with man, who is wholly lost, wholly rescued and therefore is claimed as a whole man. (4). If everything good comes from God; and we are not inherently good, but evil. Contrary to contemporary thinking, we should not be surprised when people lie and cheat and proceed to try and cover it up. It is what sin has been doing to God’s children since the fall. Trust in God’s grace today. Practice forgiveness. See how Jesus experienced God’s justice so that we could be recipients of His grace. Let that change you today.

Copyright 2013 Richie Halversen

(1). The SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 4. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (423). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

(2). Huey, F. B. (1993). Vol. 16: Jeremiah, Lamentations. The New American Commentary (174). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

(3). Barth, Karl. “God Here and Now.” Routledge, 2003

(4). Ibid

6 thoughts on “We are not inherently good, we are inherently evil.

  1. Great one Richie! I loved this post! Much appreciated. I’ve been saying for years two things: 1) We need to stop following the gods of this age – sports and hollywood stars and focus on the one and only true God, and 2) it’s not politics, new laws, new leaders who wil save us, it is Jesus Christ alone!

    Thanks for sharing man!

    • Wow, thanks for reading Roger. Absolutely! What’s ironic about the Lance Armstrong situation is we loved him when he was winning. And when we find out he was cheating we turn on him. I’m not justifying what he did. But he is a product of our culture.

  2. This was a powerful and bold post Richie – one that I pray many will read. Thank you for your courage in listening to the Spirit of the Lord and in your obedience to Him in writing this post that reminds us of the truth. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and there is not one of us who is righteous, not even one…

    God bless you brother,
    Cheryl

  3. Was reminded by this blog title of something I heard recently, “What must we do to be saved? ‘Believe and the Lord Jesus Christ…’ What must we do to be lost? Nothing, we are already lost.”

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