Something New Under the Sun: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living - 32. ORIGINAL SIN

And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judg­ment-wickedness was there, in the place of justice- wickedness was there. I thought in my heart, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.”

Ecclesiastes 3:16-17


No doctrine of the Bible is as easy to prove as the doctrine of original sin.” When I read those words by Donald Grey Barnhouse, they seemed to leap off the page. That’s the doctrine that says that left to yourself, with no outside influence, whenever you have a choice, you’ll always choose to do wrong. G. K. Chesterton said it this way: “Whatever else may be said about man, this much is certainly true: He is not all that he could be.”

I’m sure I don’t need to spend a great deal of time de­bating that point. Something has gone wrong with the human race, beginning with the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. No one can successfully deny that fact. We are not all that we could be. And no matter how much we boast of our technological achievements, the sorry story of man’s inhumanity to man always grabs the front page.

Call it what you will-a twist, a taint, a bent to do wrong. Or as one hymn writer put it, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Somehow, somewhere, somebody injected poison into the human bloodstream. That’s why, even when we know the right thing to do, we go ahead and choose to do wrong. Delib­erately. Repeatedly. Defiantly.

There are many ways we might discuss this truth. We could discuss it in cosmic terms, or international terms, or national terms, or local terms, but I think it’s better to talk about it in personal terms. What do you see when you look at the man or woman in the mirror?

One writer answered the question this way: “There is no [person] on earth who, if his secret thoughts were fully exposed, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life­time.” My comment is, only ten times? For I know that when I look into the mirror what I see is a man who all too often knows what is right but chooses to do what is wrong. And I freely confess that sometimes impulses come into my mind that, were I to follow them, would destroy me, my marriage, my family, my career, and even my life. And yet I still think about them and I still some­times want to do those things.

Who among us would say differently? You think about things-and sometimes want to do things-that you know would destroy you if you did them. And some­times you want to do them anyway. And sometimes-if we are honest we must say this-you go ahead and do them.

What is it that makes us repeatedly do that which can only hurt us? It is our condition of original sin. We know what is right and yet we deliberately choose to do what is wrong. There is something in us that bends us toward evil. The apostle Paul admitted that even as a Christian he struggled with this sinful nature. (See Romans 7:15-25.) He concluded that ongoing deliverance comes only in God’s work “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). Apart from God’s grace there is no telling how much greater your sin and mine would be. With the apostle we can only thank God for His lasting gift of deliverance.


Lord God, what would I do without the imputed righ­teousness of Jesus Christ? He took my sin; I gained His righteousness. May I never lose sight of that blessed transaction that saves me from damnation. Amen.



* We know that God will bring all things to judgment. When do His judgments begin? Can you think of ways in which God judges the wicked and rewards the righteous even in this life?


* How can we hang on to our faith when we see the wicked triumphing?



Read Malachi 7:2-3; Matthew 23:13-15; and James 1:27.    


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