The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 NIV
Ligonier ministries commissioned Lifeway Research to interview 3000 Americans and ask them 43 questions about faith. Included in the survey are questions about human nature, sin, and the afterlife.
Ligonier founder and chairman, R.C. Sproul, says, “What comes screaming through this survey is the pervasive influence of humanism.”
Bob Smietana of Lifeway Research analyzed the results:
About 6 in 10 Americans (61 percent) say hell is a real place. Black Protestants (86 percent) and Evangelicals (87 percent) are most likely to say hell is real. Catholics (66 percent) and Mainline Protestants (55 percent) are less convinced.
Overall, Americans don’t seem too worried about sin or being sent to hell. Two-thirds (67 percent) say most people are basically good, even though everyone sins a little bit—an optimistic view of human nature at odds with traditional teaching about human sin.
Humanism is a philosophy or way of life that focuses on humanity and argues that people are basically good. Instead of God being on the throne, people take center stage. Yahweh and the authors of Scripture take a radically different approach to human nature. Before He judged the world with the Flood, the Lord observed:
…how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 NIV
King David in confessing his sins of adultery, lying, and murder; wrote:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5 NASB
Other sections of wisdom literature address our depravity.
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASB
The prophets also spoke and wrote about the human condition.
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 NASB
Jesus, teaching on our nature, noted:
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries Mark 7:21 NASB
Paul agrees concerning the condition of the human heart. Romans chapters 1 to 3 make a strong case for human depravity and the need for the Savior
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 NIV
Acknowledging our sin is incredibly important in our relationship with God. Why should we care about this belief? The first step towards a solution is to acknowledge the problem. If people are basically good, there is no need for a savior. Why would God the Father send His only begotten son to die a gruesome death on a cross for us if we are good people already? Why should we share the gospel, witness to people, and send out missionaries if we are good without God?
There also is a historical problem with saying that people are basically good. War, oppression, and violence are ancient problems that have not gone away. Europeans at the turn of the 20th century embraced an age of optimism believing that scientific advancement and European civilization would transform the world into a peaceful place. The two most destructive wars in history followed this blind optimism. The Nazis believed that racial purity would lead to a thousand-year reign of the master race. Many people believe that education will solve evil. People are only evil because of ignorance according to this view. Germany had the highest literacy rate in the world when the Nazis took over. Communists thought that getting rid of capitalism and greed would lead to a worker’s paradise. Getting rid of religion would free people from the chains of superstition and bigotry. The Soviet Union and China killed more of their own people than any other countries in history.
We need Jesus Christ as much today as the Jews, Greeks, and Romans did two thousand years ago. Education, technology, philosophy, and politics can not cure our fallen nature. The only lasting solution is Jesus, our Lord.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving us so much that You sent Jesus to be our precious redeemed and friend. To you be the glory for saving and purifying us. May we acknowledge our sins and transgressions while relying on Your Spirit to cleanse us from all our trespasses. In the name of the Lamb of God we pray. Amen.
Read the complete survey from LifeWay Research.