A fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith is that of original sin, which teaches that through Adam’s sin, all mankind has received an inherent sinful nature. Scripture explains this saying, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so death spread to all men…” (Romans 5:12). So, at conception, along with our DNA, there is also the inheritance of a sinful nature.
It is not difficult to find proof in the Bible to support this position. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is the most deceitful thing there is and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is!” (Jeremiah 17:9). And David stated explicitly that, “I was born a sinner, from the moment my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).
Employing an analogy from the snowflake might be helpful. While each flake is both unique and beautiful, they have at their center a bit of dirt. Every snowflake starts with a tiny speck of dust or dirt that has been carried into the atmosphere by the wind. Ice collects around the speck and snow crystals are formed, later combining to form snowflakes. Men, like snowflakes are both unique and remarkable, but there is this speck at their core.
I can see why some might find this a difficult concept. The distinction, however, needs to be made that belief in man having a sinful nature or being inherently evil is not the same as saying he is entirely evil. Men, even without faith in God, are capable of a great deal of good. Nevertheless, until we connect with God, the core issue will continue to be a problem. Pascal possibly had this in mind when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.”
Some deny that Man has a sin nature and espouse that mankind is essentially good. They claim that there is a spark of good in each of us and by changing one’s environment and fanning that spark of goodness into a flame, all will be well. Well, that is a nice thought and doing those things are good, but it does not address the core issue.
If man’s greatest need was environmental change and self actualization, then God should have called for social reform and engaged a band of counselors. But mankind’s greatest need is forgiveness and reconciliation, so God sent His Son to die on the cross and engaged disciples to spread His message. And He has not suggested that we enhance our environment or fan a flame, but He lovingly, “…commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church