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Bible verses about Are Humans Good or Evil?
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 6:5

God's response to humanity's sinfulness was to send the Flood to wipe mankind almost completely from the planet. He would start again with Noah's family, his sons and their wives.

Immediately after the waters receded and the ark was emptied, Noah makes a sacrifice to God for their deliverance. “And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, 'I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth'” (Genesis 8:21).

Did the Flood change anything? Millions of people died, billions of animals died, uncounted trees and other plants died. But the human heart did not change; it remains “evil from his youth.”

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Numbers 15:39

“Harlotry” here is a metaphor for idolatry. Their hearts and their eyes were inclined to worship something other than God, just as every other human being has tended to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Psalm 51:5-6

Those who believe in original sin believe that David is saying that he was born a sinful person. However, that is a misinterpretation.

The truth is a bit simpler. He means that he was born into a sinful world, and even his mother, whom he probably loved more than anyone else other than God, was a sinner. Put in other words, his mother was a sinner when he was conceived, and when he was born, the world was full of sin. Sin and sinful people had surrounded him his whole life. A baby is born a fairly blank slate, certainly having done no sin, but the influence of sinners along with his fleshly nature invariably get the better of him, and before long, he sins. In his way, David is telling God, “With all the sin around me, it's not surprising that I sinned too.”

In the next verse, he declares that God “desires truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). In other words, He wants people to change their natures, which only He can help us to do, as the last half of the verse explains: “And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”

David is essentially repeating what God said in Genesis 8:23, “. . . man's heart is evil from his youth.” But he wanted his nature changed from evil to good, from dirty to clean, from lies to truth. Only repentance and a renewed relationship with God would enable that to occur. And, truth be told, it will never be completely changed until the resurrection from the dead.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Proverbs 14:12

Solomon is telling us that even the deeds we think are right are sinful, for if they were not sinful, they would not end in death. Death is the result of sin (Romans 6:23). So even the “good” things that we do without God are ultimately sinful because they arise from a corrupted nature.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Notice that Solomon is speaking of “a just man,” not an evil man or a corrupt man. The best citizens among us, those we raise to judgeships and listen to in church, have their own sins, and even in their doing of good, they cannot keep out the taint of sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Ecclesiastes 9:3

People's entire lives are full of sin, evil, madness—and then they die. Not even good and just men, as others think of them, are truly good and just. Like all the other “sons of men,” their hearts are full of sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Isaiah 1:4-6

God describes Israel as totally cancerous with sin—and Israel had His revelation! If the Israelites, to whom God had revealed Himself (Amos 3:2), were this corrupt, how sinful is the rest of the world without God's revelation?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Jeremiah 17:9

Our hearts are unfathomably corrupt and deceptive. Trying to feel good about ourselves, we lie to ourselves about how selfish and self-serving we are. So God asks, “Who can know it?” We do not recognize the depths of our own sinfulness.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Matthew 7:11

He calls the people in His audience—His own disciples (Matthew 5:1)—“evil.” It cannot be any plainer—and from the mouth of our Savior!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Mark 7:20-23

In the Judgment, we cannot say, “The Devil made me do it” or “The world was so corrupt, I didn't have a chance.” Despite outside influences, each of us makes the choice to sin or not. Our choices reveal what is in our hearts, and too often we choose these wicked activities and others beside. We cannot foist the blame onto others because our sins come from within.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Romans 3:12

English writer G.K. Chesterton, known for his wit as well as his insight, once wrote, “The word 'good' has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

His words strike at the heart of a question theologians, philosophers, artists, and many others have debated for millennia: Are people good or evil? Is man's nature on the side of the angels or the demons? Are we beings of light or darkness? Why do otherwise good people do evil things?

People are split on the subject. A few years ago, Debate.org, a website devoted to arguing such questions and polling the public on them, asked, “Is human nature good or evil?” Their results, which are not scientific, show 49% of respondents answering that it is good and 51% saying that it is evil.

Some Christian churches teach a doctrine of total depravity. Theopedia defines this doctrine in this way: “. . . as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.”

This belief does not mean that humankind is utterly evil, that is, that people are totally incapable of good. It means that, while not all of human nature is depraved, all human nature is totally affected by depravity. Even the goodness that we do, then, is tainted by our sinful nature. This agrees with God's description of the tree from which Adam and Eve partook in Genesis 3: It was a tree that allowed them to know good and evil (Genesis 2:17; 3:22). Human goodness is insufficient to satisfy the righteous requirements of God.

It is somewhat surprising that more people, especially Christians, do not know the basic nature of mankind. It should be evident from the lives of men and women throughout history. For Christians, who should know their Bibles, a cursory survey of Scripture brings out many plain statements that show what God thinks of human nature. No philosophizing or critical thinking, even by the greatest of human minds, will change God's view into something else.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Ephesians 2:1-3

We were always influenced by Satan, the prince of the power of the air. We all walked according to the sinful course of the world. We all fulfilled our lusts. All of us were children of wrath, that is, we were under judgment because of sin. Our nature is corrupt to the core.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

Titus 3:1-7

By the grace of God, we have been given a rare and wonderful opportunity to rise above the rest of humanity. We are now heirs of God, possessors of the hope of eternal life and of the knowledge of God's purpose. We are, as Jesus said, to be lights shining in the darkness of this evil age. So, Paul says, it is our responsibility as God's children in this world to fight the evil human nature within us and instead to display the nature of God in all of our actions—toward the world and toward one another—as we prepare for our ultimate work in His Kingdom.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

1 Peter 4:3

He could have named a hundred more sins, but the point remains: We were all like the unconverted people in the world. We were all cut off from God and living in sin, just like all the rest of humanity from the time of Adam and Eve. There have been no exceptions apart from Jesus Christ.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


 

 




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