Is Man Good or Evil?

What causes man to riot and rebel? What causes man to clean up afterwards?

For generations, thoughtful people have tried to understand and explain the inward nature of man. The philosopher Mencius asserted that man’s nature is intrinsically good, whereas Xun Zi insisted that man’s nature is wayward and evil. However, neither of these schools of thought adequately describes the complexities of human nature.

Man’s Two Natures

Man has a good nature because he was made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:2631). As a result, something within him aspires to be good, right, and honourable (Romans 7:21-22). This is why man goes out of his way to help people in need with good works and charitable contributions.

Man also has an evil nature, and this leads him to do wrong. The Bible explains that this evil nature comes from Satan’s corruption and is a result of the fall of man (Genesis 3:1-7). This nature is easily seen in a child’s behaviour. Parents do not teach their children to lie or to hit a person in anger. Yet, children do these things because of the innate evil nature within them.

It is Impossible to Change Our Nature

Recognising that there is a deep problem, political leaders have attempted to reform man’s morality through education, discipline, and rehabilitation. However, it has proven impossible to change human nature.

History is witness to the decay and downward spiral of morality (2 Timothy 3:2-4). The two natures within man are constantly at war with one another. No matter how hard we try, our good nature is unable to completely suppress our evil nature (Jeremiah 17:9). It is not a matter of wanting to be evil or choosing to be evil.

The apostle Paul described this dilemma in Romans 7:15 when he said, “What I will, this I do not practice; but what I hate, this I do.” This is the common experience of every person (John 8:7; Romans 3:12).

What is the solution?

God’s Intention is to Give Us Life

The good news is that the Bible reveals a wonderful Person in whom absolutely no evil was found (Luke 23:4; 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15). His name is Jesus, and He is God.

Jesus did not come to correct or to change man outwardly. His intention was to give man a new life, the life of God (John 10:10b). This life is stronger than the evil nature within us. It is this life that overcomes the power of sin.

Receiving the Life of God

This life is available to us, and it is now up to us to receive it. To receive the overcoming life of God, simply open up your heart to Him and say:

“Lord Jesus,
even though I have good intentions,
there is an evil nature within me.
I confess that I cannot change myself.
Lord Jesus, I need You.
I receive You as my new life.
Come into me and fill me now with Your life and Your nature.”