THE HUMAN CONDITION
Truth exists, and of necessity there must be a truth, an absolute reality, about the human condition. History is full of examples of excellent and noble people who have done wonderful things for the advancement of culture, religion, and the welfare of their fellow human beings. Even in our post-modern, post-Christian time, there are still people to respect and admire. But one does not have to look too far and at too many people to realize that there is something essentially wrong with human nature. Why do people act and live so selfishly, why do they steal, kill, and lie. Why do good people sit quietly by while the really bad people have their way?
In the Nineteenth Century the human race finally developed the marvels of psychology and social consciousness. Our first ventures into these new concepts were, undoubtedly, well intentioned and successful in helping the needs of peopleóand helping the greater population to understand the needs of others. However, in the process of time, these very same concepts have been abused and prostituted and now seem bent to excuse and explain away all wrong behavior. There are no more bad people, other than conservative, Christian, capitalists. Instead, it is poverty, lack of education and opportunity, genetic dispositions, and rules and laws that distort a personís perceptions and provoke wrong responses. (However, to say that a response is wrong implies that there is a right and some sense of truth and absolute that is applied to human behavior.)
Speaking of truth and absolutes, the Bible addresses the human condition and explains why people have a pathological addiction to wrong behavior. This explanation is recorded in Genesis chapters two and three in the story of Adam and Eve. I say story to mean something like a newspaper story, not a fiction, fable, or bedtime story we might tell our children. This is a fact in history that happened to real people and the consequence of their action has impacted all people that have lived on planet earth.
God created Adam as a good person having a personal relationship with his Creator; no evil, no bad habits, intelligent and hard working. God gave Adam some rules to follow that were not difficult to understand and were easily within his ability to obey. From this we understand that Adam, and consequently all people, are moral beingsówe know and understand the difference between right and wrong and we have the ability to chose to do either right or wrong. Right and wrong exist and that fact constitutes moral law, and a law provides reward for compliance and penalty for disobedience. The particulars of this moral law involved eating fruit from the trees in the Garden of Eden, of which the fruit of only one tree was forbidden to Adam. God called this particular fruit the knowledge of good and evil. The reward for obedience is LIFE: physical life, spiritual life, and eternal life. The penalty for disobedience is DEATH: physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death.
Adam deliberately and defiantly chose to disobey Godís law, somehow believing that he had the right to make the determination of right and wrong rather than the Creator God. Up to this time, Adam had known only good, but in his act of rebellion against the moral law of God, the Bible says that his eyes were opened and he knew both good and evil. The only way a good person can know evil is to become evil and that is what happened to Adam. He did not become ALL EVIL, but he now had the knowledge of good and evil. His act of rebellion produced a permanent change in Adamís moral constitution and this change destroyed the relationship with God in which he had been created.
Adam had been created in the image of God, but with the knowledge of good and evil being his moral constitution, that image no longer existed. After the rebellion in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve conceived and brought into the world their first children and of them the Bible says that they were conceived in the image of Adamónot the image of God. While it may be hard to understand, the truth is that all people born into this world, with the exception of Jesus Christ, have the moral image of Adam; that is, they have the knowledge of good and evil and they have no relationship with God. We call this native depravity. (Some call it original sin, others call it inbred sin and while there are some technical differences in theses terms, they all attempt to explain the natural moral nature of humans.)
[Just a short digression: some theologians believe that this inherited moral nature is actually sin for which a person is accountable to God and condemned to eternal hell. Some others explain that it is really sin, but because of a childís lack of moral knowledge, God does not charge them with sin until they reach an age of moral accountability. Our Arminian view of native depravity without demerit is that this moral condition is not actually sin, but is a state of moral contradictions, knowing good and evil, that is the reason why people sin when they reach an age of moral accountability.]
The truth is that all people have this moral condition of the knowledge of good and evil and that all people will commit sin. All people are under the moral law of God and accountable to God to obey His law. Because people are born into the world without a relationship with God, they are bent to the wrong because it is the path of least resistance for materially minded people in a material world. Godís moral law is revealed in the conscience of people, and we know this is true because people feel guilty when they do something they know is wrong. The Ten Commandments express some issues that God defines as immoral: idolatry, not honoring parents, adultery, murder, stealing, and lying, just to name a few. The Bible records stories of people over thousands of years where they dealt with these moral issues so that we have scores of examples of how Godís moral law is applied in many different situations.
The truth is that all people either sin or have sinned. There are no exceptions, other than Jesus Christ, who is God come in human nature to redeem us from sin. Since we violate the moral law of God we are subject to the penalty. The Apostle Paul says this penalty is death.Because of sin, people experience physical death, spiritual death, and are liable to eternal death.
The human condition is sin. People come into this world without a relationship with God and with a moral constitution that is bent more to the knowledge of evil than of good. All people sin and violate the moral law of God. In sinning, they do more than just disobey God, they hurt other peopleóoftentimes many people. In sin people develop habits, attitudes, and prejudices that shape their behavior and their relationships with other peopleónot for good, but in ways that hurt and destroy the good they would really like to do.
No psychology or social program can stop the advance of sin in a personís life or heal its destructive effects. No program can put people into a right relationship with God; in fact, we see that American society is actively trying to legislate God out of our culture with remarkable success. Changing the American paradigm and medicating the guilt that eats peopleís souls cannot solve the problem.
The human condition? Sin and separation from the God that created us. No hope and no way out.