“Are Men Basically Good?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Look around at our world, don’t you find yourself asking, “Where are the good ones?” If there was just one good man or woman who would act upon his or her goodness our world would surely look different.
The question of man’s goodness is fundamental. It is the foundation of knowledge concerning the nature of man. The answer to this question is one of the two main concerns of the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation to man. It is concerned with the nature of man and God.
The basic question that all of us must at some point in our lives ask is, “Are men basically good?” Men’s desires are motivated by self-interest. From our politicians to leaders in business we are learning by experience what God revealed. We are seeing Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 reported on every day. The reality is that men are not basically good.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
I look to Scripture, seeking God’s revelation concerning the nature of man. The Bible declares that God created man and woman. God declared on the sixth day of Creation that everything He had made was very good. The statement “very good” means that everything God made was complete, perfect and there was harmony in all of Creation. The declaration of goodness included Adam and the first woman, later named Eve by the man. This was the condition of our first parents. The Bible teaches that this condition did not last. Genesis 2 ends with perfect goodness and Genesis 3 ends with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden and being prevented from eating from the tree of life. The perfect goodness of Adam and Eve ended permanently.
Every human being inherits the sin of Adam. Therefore, man was no longer basically good. From the beginning God poured out His grace by establishing requirements for men to have a relationship with Him. The Bible reveals the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men. Only God is good, Luke 18:19. The One who made all things and called them very good is the only source of goodness, James 1:17.
God’s view of mankind quoted from Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 are inclusive statements. There is no goodness in man because of and since the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth and quoted the Old Testament. He wrote “no one does good, not even one,” Romans 3:12.
The plain truth is that men are incapable of doing good because their hearts desire self. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and revealed the absolute necessity of His action to give man a new heart, Ezekiel 36:28.
Even though I know that the Bible teaches that men are not basically good, I still hope against hope that our leaders would do good. I suggest that you are thinking in the same way. We all look around us and think that all it will take to solve our problems is for one man or woman to actually do what is good in any given situation. I thank the Lord, that our founding fathers understood man’s nature. They gave us a system of government with checks and balances.
We’ve been blessed throughout our history to have a few leaders who sought to do what is right. I thank the Lord for the courage they demonstrated, and some are even now demonstrating. Still, men pursue their own desires which are not good; they are focused in their own self-interest. No sacrifice is too great for others to make in order for these leaders to get what they want. What they want is their own power. They use fear to manipulate others to accomplish that end.
Don’t be surprised by this behavior; nor be intimidated. Rather stand against the evil that men do. God has revealed that only those who are in Christ have hearts that desire to do good. Know that only those who abide in Jesus will bear the fruit of Christlikeness. Above all know that all good is from God with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Only God is good. Unto Him be all glory!