The news is a complicated medium. It’s meant to tell us the truth, but that rarely sells us as well as the exaggeration. But while many of us aren’t as villainous or as heroic as the news portrays them, we’re still capable of both extremes.
Some people may not agree, especially when you consider that would mean we’re all capable of atrocities like Hitler’s genocide, but there’s no other explanation to why both good and evil are possible.
If it’s just some people’s nature to be evil, then why were they such normal children? And why was the “common man” persuaded to put them in power and keep them there?
It only makes sense if we all have both choices available to us. Here are 3 biblical proofs that we—not the circumstances or environment—are the problem:
1. Who Made Them Marry?
This was early earth, still populated by people who tended to live long and healthy lives. So what was wrong?
Why were the “sons of God,”¹ a term used to refer to those who worshipped God, marrying unsaved women?
Was it because these men were forced to by some tyrannical Nazi regime? Some environmental factor forcing them together? War, disease, or starvation?
The Bible tells us one reason: “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2, KJV).
So the tragic circumstance was that the women were pretty. Sounds like the problem was the men’s own lasciviousness.
2. Who Made Them Corrupt?
As God said, “All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:12, emphasis mine).
So God clearly states that people were the ones doing the corruption, trashing their own resemblance to God without external aid.
How is this possible? Consider this, no one had to teach us to lie. In fact, people had to teach us NOT to lie.
No one had to teach us to play one parent against another either. Or to stuff our toys and clothes under the bed and then claim that we’d cleaned your room. We knew how to sin instinctively.
Others had to teach us that deceit and other sins are wrong. And haven’t you noticed that, unless there is heavy societal pressure swinging in the favor of what’s right, it’s easier to copy others’ bad behaviors than their good behaviors?
That’s not a coincidence, friends. We’re all easily taken in by our sinful natures.
3. Who Made Noah Righteous?
If corruption comes from the outside and not from the inside, then how could one man choose to live righteously before God when no one around him could?
Surely, if our circumstances tyrannically dictated our behavior, one righteous man couldn’t be found in an entire world of people whose imaginations were wicked continually (Gen. 6:5)!
Yet that’s the scene that God paints for us, saying, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).
But how can we find favor in the sight of God if we’re inherently evil? How can anyone earn the title “a just man and perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9) when human nature gravitates to evil?
I think we can find the answers in this passage when study Gen. 6:13-21, which is a long lecture by God, the Architect of Creation, on how to survive his flood of judgement on the world.
And do you know what I learned was Noah’s great virtue here? Simply put, it’s that he listened, had faith, and obeyed (Gen. 6:22). Of course, that sounds easier than it really is, so let’s break that down into steps.
1. First, we need to discern when God is speaking. God speaks through His Word in this dispensation, and that’s why we can’t rely on Him to come to us with a loud heavenly voice.
But God’s Word is enough—it was certainly enough for those old saints who treasured the few Scriptures that they had.
2. And he had faith. I don’t think we appreciate this trait enough anymore, so we complete forget just how much faith Noah needed to build an ark. No flood like this had ever happened,² he had few people to help him making the project take decades,³ and the people around him probably thought he was insane. In fact, he preached to them for years without seeing any converts (2 Pet. 5, Matt. 24:37-39).
And Noah did all this without proof of a coming disaster outside of God’s words. No wonder the Bible says, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:6).
Truly, faith is the only way anyone can please God (Heb. 11:1-2, 6).
3. But none of this would make Noah admirable if he hadn’t done it. But he did. He listened to God, then he trusted in Him, and then he did as God commanded.
As James points out, “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (Jam. 2:17b). And when our faith doesn’t move us to action, we need to come back to God and ask Him to search our hearts for what’s gone wrong.
And before anyone says that this is an insensitive and negative way to view mankind, I ask you to rethink this falsely happy stance. It sounds nice to say that mankind is inherently good, but if you think about it, that’s pretty bad news.
Terrible news, actually.
Because if we’re inherently good, but our circumstances are what corrupts us, then we have no control as to whether we choose to do right or not. We may become heroes or villains purely based on chance.
So what? You may say, thinking that the biblical doctrine of man’s sinful nature—of man being inherently evil—is not any more positive.
But you’d be surprised. After all, the same Bible that tells us that we’re evil by nature tells us that God is greater than our nature. He promises to give us victory if we walk in Him.
When we choose to confess Jesus as our Savior (Rom. 10:9), then we have the right to God’s help living a victorious Christian life. It’s with His power that we can take down the strongholds of sin in our lives (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
Think about it this way: when we remember Memorial Day, we don’t honor people in the military who died heroes because we think they were born with supernatural courage. It’s a disservice to their sacrifices to think that their inherent goodness just came out by random chance or good circumstances. War is a sad necessity to ensure our country’s principles and people are safe, after all.
So it must be that these people, who were normal human beings like we are, had to struggle with cowardice, with selfishness, with laziness. But they overcame. They chose to defy those sinful parts of themselves and be brave.
And they did it because their cause was just.
Now here’s my question: is our cause any less just? Like them, we can choose to defy our evil natures, sinful cultures, and negative peer pressure. Just like the soldiers we can rise up for the sake of the loving God who died to save us and the world who needs saving.
We may not use tanks and guns to fight against a tyrant across the seas, but we do need to use God’s spiritual weapons (Eph. 6:14-18) like prayer and Bible study to fight against the demons in high places (Eph. 6:12).
Some of us will go back to work the next day and find ourselves easy targets for Satan because we wish that Memorial Day was a week long instead of a day long. But we can’t let that happen to us. We can’t let our guard down. We must raise Jesus as our banner and fight spiritual battles for His glory and for others’ sakes.
As the apostle Paul says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Rom. 6:2).
1. The phrase “sons of God” can have many meanings, as Blue Letter Bible notes when they outline the biblical use of the word “sons.” However, I have good reason to believe that here it’s describing people from the godly line of Seth. After all, sons can be used for characterization, like sons of Belial describing wicked men and sons of God describing Christians in other instances. Some people believe “sons of God” here refers to angels.
But that’s impossible because, when speaking of the resurrection, Jesus said, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22:30, KJV).
While the Bible certainly records instances of giants, like Goliath and his family, this isn’t one of these instances. Giant here translates to “noble, skillful”; in other word, in this passage, “giant” refers to a larger-than-life figure rather than a tall person.
2. “Some assert that ‘things not seen’ means rain, implying that no one had ever seen rain before Noah’s Flood. However, the passage more likely is referring to the impending catastrophic global Flood—certainly something not yet seen, not imaginable to anyone, and far more needful of a warning than a nice spring shower!”