Did God create mankind as an evil creature? Is every human child born already a sinner? These are questions that have baffled some, if not many. Some perceive the Bible as supporting those questions with a “Yes!” —
• The [human] heart is deceitful all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
• Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then you may also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23)
• For out of the heart [of man] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19)
• For from within the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:21)
• Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
• Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
On the other hand, some Bible verses seem to answer with a “No!” these same questions:
• Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…..Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:28, 31)
• Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2)
How reconcile these two views?
Genesis 1:26, 31 [quoted above] must be our starting point in understanding how God created man – “very good,” not evil like some defective product. Otherwise that would be a bad reflection on God as our Maker – just as a defective product [such as a piece of appliance] would be an embarrassment to its manufacturer, who could be sued for some “malpractice.”
As the wise King Solomon of Israel pondered: “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they [human beings] have sought out many schemes” [KJV, ‘inventions’] (Ecclesiastes 7:29 NKJV).
Just as a perfectly manufactured product can become defective through misuse, abuse or simply aging, so upright man [fittingly called Homo sapiens erectus by scientists] has become flawed and faulty through the misuse or abuse of man’s freedom of choice. [See: What Is This Thing Called “Will?” “My Brain Made me Do it,” and “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]
The same was the case with Lucifer, an archangel or cherub whom God created “perfect” in his ways (Ezekiel 28:14-15). Yet Lucifer allowed pride and vanity to well up in his heart) until he thought to overthrow God and take over the reins of the whole universe (Verse 17; Isaiah 14:12-14). But Lucifer was no match to God’s infinitely superior power. He was cast back to the earth, along with his angels (Revelation 12:9). He became Satan the devil and his angels became demons. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From? and https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select Books & Booklets, and scroll down to the booklet titled “Did God Create a Devil?”
As a result of Lucifer’s rebellion, and his being cast down to earth, the earth became a waste and void. Genesis 1:1-27 relates the story of God “re-creating” the earth and life therein, before He created mankind. [See: The Comings of Christ.] Lucifer has since become Satan the devil, and his angels now demons. Satan is called the “tempter” (Matthew 4:3; 1Thessalonians 3:5). He is behind every sin that takes place in human society.
Mankind’s first parents [Adam and Eve] sinned through Satan’s machinations, and had to be cast out of God’s garden, Eden (Genesis 3). But God’s love compelled God to save mankind by “fixing” man’s heart, mind, and spirit. He did this, and continues to do so, through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). [See: Two Goats Together, The True Christ, God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, Are We All God’s Children? and Christian Formation, and The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
A child’s heart
Every human baby born into this world starts out as “innocent” – not knowing what is right and what is wrong. That is one sense in which we can understand the “foolishness” in a child’s heart that leads him to many troubles, from which he has to be delivered and taught.
When Israel’s King David repented of his double sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12), he said that his mother had conceived him in sin (Psalm 51:5). That’s the way all of us were begotten/conceived and born – by sinful fathers and mothers. But we were not born as sinners. It is as we grow up in an imperfect family and in a sinful society that we “catch” and learn sinful ways, as egged on by Satan, the “tempter.”
The young King Solomon of Israel admitted that he was a “little child” and asked God to give him an understanding heart so he could discern between good and evil (1 Kings 3:7-9). Little children are also described as persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left (Jonah 4:11).
Numbers 14:29-31 shows that God looks on as “little ones” those below 20 years of age, whom He allowed to enter the Promised Land, while most of those older and who sinned were excluded from entry.
Does this mean that a child or even a teenager can go scot-free with any mischief or rebellion even after being chastised? No. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 commands that such a son [or daughter] be put to death.
When Jesus urged people to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:2), He meant that they should emulate little children in their humility, trust and faith in God. This is not to say that children are born perfect, despite their humility and trust in their parents’ provision. Children do commit things against God’s law – commit sin – more from ignorance than bad intent. Still they have to be taught and learn obedience. [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets, and scroll down to the booklet titled “The |Plain Truth About Child Rearing.”]
I trust that this article provides some added dimension to my previous articles Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.