7460 - Man's Nature

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Audio transcript

Thank you for joining us today as we study the truths found in God's word.

The study we will be working on today is on man's nature, that is, his relationship to original sin. We will look at man's natural inclinations and how those affect his behavior and relationship with God.

Any discussion of original sin, and man's need for salvation, will probably eventually come around to the contrast between two historical extremes. Augustinian, named after it's founder Augustine of Hippo, and Pelagianism, named after it's founder Pelagius.

This conflict with these two apposing views came to the forefront during the early 5th century, and boils down to two opposing views of man's inherent sinfulness.

Augustine stated with great conviction that man, after Adam and Eve's sin in the garden of Eden, was a "mess of sin". Totally incapable of overcoming spiritual death on his own. This "total depravity" reflecting the scriptural statement, "No one is good, not even one."

Pelagius on the other hand saw that Adam's sin only affected Adam alone, and that all infants are born just as Adam was before he sinned. He insisted that Man is not burdened with Adam's original sin, and that he is capable of choosing good or evil without divine aid.

Now the early church ruled quite fully that Pelagius was wrong and declared his beliefs to be heresy. Now heresy is not really a word that gets thrown about much in society, but it refers to something that is so wrong that it is dangerous and damaging to be believed. It is counter to the very truth and absolute nature of God and right belief.

These were the two sides in the early 400s, and to a certain extent these two sides still exist today. Augustinian views are the preeminent view of most Christian denominations, and are heavily supported by many passages from scripture.

Pelagianism may not exist in name, but common secular mindsets are that man is either inherently good or that man is amoral. Neither good nor bad. A tabula rasa or blank slate upon which the influences of nature and nurture write his character.

This secular viewpoint is summed up quite succinctly through Mary Shelley's man made monster in Frankenstein, “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

Even many Christian's may have this erroneous idea that man is inherently good. They understand the Bible, and believe that Jesus died for them, but they don't quite understand the dire position that each one of us is in as a person.

In Psalms 51:5 David clearly writes "Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me." (NET)

The prophet Jeremiah wrote in chapter 17 verse 9 that "The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad." (NET)

One of the most comprehensive passages in scripture about this topic is Romans chapter 5. Paul wrote that sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and as a result of this one man’s sin, everyone experienced the spiritual consequences, spiritual death. I encourage you to read the entire chapter should you desire additional insight from the Apostle Paul.

In the words of the classic rock song, each of us is "Bad to the Bone". Through and through we are incapable of goodness, it goes beyond just starting out in life as a sinner, it permeates our mind and spirit. Paul also tells us clearly in Romans that we are a bond-servant, or slave, to sin.

Just as a slave is not free to do what he wishes, we are not capable of being good on our own. Isaiah writes in chapter 64 verse 6 that our so-called righteous acts are like filthy rags in the Lord's sight. The Hebrew here for filthy rags refers to a specific type of filthy and unsanitary rag. Not just dirty and worthless, but unclean according to Jewish law.

We are trapped in our muck and filth and unable to struggle free no matter how hard we try.

But God has stepped in. Psalms 40:2 "He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing." (NET)

Are you still trapped? Call on God to set you free through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ.