As we’ve been studying the book of James over the past couple months, I’m reminded that there’s much to work on in my faith. I’m reminded that my heart tends to gravitate toward those things that go against the nature of God – tends to gravitate toward what is instinctively inside of me.
Which leads to the question: Are we born righteous (good) and some evil comes out from time to time? Or, another way to ask this question is: Are we born evil and righteousness is seen from time to time?
From my understanding of what God has done for me, I understand that I am a person whose natural inclination is to curse, not bless; to fight, not seek peace; to satisfy my desires, not place others above myself. Why do my eyes gravitate to the beauty of other women when my wife is just as beautiful and more loving? Why do I want to rush to be first in line at the supermarket with a cartload of groceries when the person behind me has two items? Why do I put the blame on someone else for the mishap when I was clearly the one at fault? I could keep going on, but I think the point is made.
Humankind is not born righteous. We can only be made righteous through the repentance of our sins and misdeeds in the name of Christ’s blood. My natural tendencies are to do what is good for me. God’s tendencies, that He wants to see lived out in me, is to do good for others.
James 3 makes it very clear that man’s (all humankind) nature seeks to devour and curse his neighbor, but out of the same person comes praises to God. James says this can’t be. He says a grapevine bears grapes; a fig tree bears figs; a salt spring produces salt water. But the problem is when humans believe they are basically good, they fail to realize that the only way they can be made good (righteous) is through Christ alone. And once Christ’s nature enters a person, there is a battle that must be fought daily between the natures. Who will win out – the sin nature we’re born with, or the Spirit nature we’re born again with?
The battle between good and evil exists within all of us. We start evil – we start selfish. We can end up good by taking on the nature of the very Christ who saves us. James says in chapter 3, verse 17 – “But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.” James makes it very clear that these attributes come from Heaven, not within man. And the only way these attributes can become part of us is to ask Jesus to make them part of who we are. And the only way these attributes take over and win the battle for the nature in our lives is to nurture and practice them daily.
Humankind: Born righteous? or evil? Well fortunately, God makes the path to righteousness for us through His Son Jesus Christ. The evil nature within all of us doesn’t have to win out. It only does when we give it permission to do so. So let’s fight for the nature God desires in all of us – “the wisdom that comes from Heaven…..”