Basically Good or Bad to the Core?


Society defines people as either good or bad based on their choices and accomplishments. But God doesn't use that measuring stick.

I have been thinking about the traits we are all born with.

Understanding what's innate (present from birth) is a hot topic of debate. Are we born good or bad? Are we born with a sexual preference or is that determined later? Are our likes, dislikes, habits, and personality hardwired into our DNA or are they determined by our circumstances or experiences?

These are questions worth asking because understanding how God created us provides the framework for our worldview. So together we are going to work on understanding our essential nature.

Let's dig in.

I am sure you are a good person. You want to make wise choices, you long to treat others well, you seek to live lives of purity, love, and service. But...were you born that way? Is doing good something that's hardwired or something that comes unnaturally?

When natural disaster strikes, volunteers flock to the scene to help the victims. When a child is lost, their community organizes search parties to look day and night until they are safely returned home. When we look at humanity in snapshots, people generally seem to be kind, compassionate, and willing to help each other—leading many to ask, "Aren't we all basically good?"

This is truly a tough question. If man is essentially good, then we don't need a Savior. If we consider the alternative—that man is inherently evil—we must see ourselves as basically evil as well. That's tough!

Let's look at what God's Word says on the subject:

Psalm 51:5 provides a clear cut answer to our question. It says, Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

God's Word claims that we are all born with a predisposition toward sin. The more we dig into Scripture for the answer about our sin nature, the clearer it becomes that the tendency to sin is built-in to our nature.

Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:12 says, All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

This mystery would be easy to solve if we were looking for simple definitions. If we could label people who are kind and considerate, who follow the rules and make good grades, as good and people who break the rules, commit crimes, and live for themselves as bad, this would be an open-and-shut case. But the reality isn't so black and white.

When it comes to defining our nature, the most important question isn't are we good but are we holy. Good is relative. Society defines people as either good or bad based on their choices and accomplishments. But God doesn't use that measuring stick.

Culture's definitions of good and bad are irrelevant. God is our standard.

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:15-16).

You might be able to make an argument that you are a good person. But can you claim to be holy? Not without God's redemptive power.

That's why it's worth thinking through who you are at your core. There may be times when you feel like you're being the best person you can be. It is usually in that state that we forget our need to be made new by God.

His Word is clear that we are all born with a bent toward sin. Being aware of that truth makes us keenly aware of our innate need for a Savior. The next time you feel frustrated by your natural tendency to fall short, use it as a reminder of your need for God. The good news is that Jesus is holy to His core. He knows everything about you (and has since before you were born), and He's in the business of transforming you to be more and more like Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17).

The Mighty Savior
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
Authority for Life
Margaret Manning Shull
The One-Way Objection
Dr. Ed Young
The Gospel Sets You Free
Colin Smith
Wake Up
Life Today
Follow Us

Want to access more exclusive iDisciple content?

Upgrade to a Giving Membership today!

Already a member? Login to iDisciple