I've been thinking a lot lately about both the power of sin and the even greater power of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. The more I ponder the depths of sin, the more I cherish what Jesus endured at Calvary.
That has led me to a question: Just how sinful is mankind?
All Christians (I hope) agree that all people have sinned. However, Christians tend to disagree over just how damaging and pervasive sin actually is. In light of that, in the next few posts I'd like to look at several different bible passages that shed light on this issue. They should help us come to some conclusions about just how chronic, ugly, deadly, and devastating sin is.
(For the sake of this topic, sin will be defined as "any thought or action that transgresses the law of God.")
As with any discussion, a good place to begin is Genesis. After the perfection of creation in Genesis 1-2, we run into the Fall in chapter 3. Interestingly and sadly, the first murder occurs just one chapter later. Then, after only two more chapters, we read this frightening critique of mankind in Genesis 6:5-8, "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
We read that man's wickedness was great. That is bad enough. However, what really catches my eye is what happens next. We read that "every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." This is an amazing statement. Basically, all day long every day all of man's thoughts, intentions, and desires were only sinful all the time.
This statement shows us that mankind is completely corrupt. At that time, everything within man (all thoughts and actions) was only evil. The biblical statement is clear in both the depth of the sin and the all-encompassing nature of it. There was not only no good in man, but no possibility of him doing any good.
There is no reason to think that man is any different today. As we look around this world, what we see only confirms exactly what we read about in this passage.
We would all agree, I believe, that once a person comes to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he is then capable of living a holy life that pleases God. What we see in this Genesis account is the state of man prior to salvation. Unless man has changed significantly since that time (which he hasn't), this continues to be his state prior to salvation.
Genesis 6:5-8 shows us an ugly picture. It is clear that man is, apart from God, morally bankrupt, exceedingly sinful, and totally corrupt.
When we ponder the reality of this, it makes the cross look that much brighter.
I Peter 2:24, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed." (NKJV)