The Foundations of Belief: Exploring the Core Doctrines of Christianity – Man and Sin

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things…”

How is it that man and sin play into a series on the doctrines of Christianity?

In the grand scheme of Christian doctrines, we have the one and only God, who speaks to all of humanity through His word, the Bible. He communicates His creation (Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the world.”), His love for men (John 3:16a, “For God so loved the world…”), as well as His desire to have an eternal relationship with men (John 3:16b “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ):

The problem, then, is that something stands in the way between God and man; something that is preventing His holy desire for an eternal union; the Bible declares that something is sin and explains in Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities [sins] have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

How, then, can a perfect God have a relationship with sinful mankind? As 1 John 1:5 states, “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” In future posts on doctrines, we’ll cover salvation, which is God’s plan to address this partition between God and man. Yet the truth is not that sin is entirely independent; in reality, sin is an aspect of all men, and unfortunately, men love their sin.

So, let’s discuss man and sin.

Is man so flawed? That is, does sin create or foster an evil humanity? Psychologists differ in their assessment of men. Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist, believes that humans have an innate drive toward growth, self-actualization, and positive behavior and emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and personal growth in fostering positive psychological development.

Conversely, Sigmund Freud proposes that humans have naturally aggressive and selfish drives that must be controlled by the superego (the part of the mind that internalizes societal norms and values). Freud’s theory of the id, ego, and superego suggests that humans have inherent instincts and desires that can lead to harmful or destructive behavior if not properly managed.

In economics, there is a theory regarding selfish individuals based on the assumption that people act in their own self-interest or seek to maximize their utility. This concept is typically called “rational self-interest” or the “self-interest assumption”. Of course, this doesn’t conclude that men are evil. Still, it guides how, generally, men will decide on a course of action concerning economics, which is ubiquitous in decision-making.

The Bible is clear that man is inherently sinful and depraved due to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It teaches that humanity is born with a sinful nature and is unable to come to faith in God on their own accord. There is a total depravity of man, meaning that every aspect of a person’s being is tainted by sin and separated from God.

Of course, there are several verses which support this concept.

Romans 3:10-12: “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'”
Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”


Apart from faith in Christ, no amount of good works or moral behavior can genuinely please God or make one righteous in His eyes. It is recognized that unsaved individuals may perform acts of kindness, charity, or morality. However, the natural inclination of the unsaved human heart is sinful and selfish, and even outward displays of goodness are ultimately self-serving or motivated by worldly factors.

What’s worse is an increasing moral decay and rebellion against God in society, as evidenced by the worsening condition of humanity. This is expressed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, which states, “But understand this: in the last days, there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power…”

Unfortunately, all men are condemned by their sinful rejection of God. Romans 1:18-32 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. What can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things…And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

God and man. Two polar opposites separated by sin. God, who is perfect, desires a reconciliation and eternal love relationship with man. But, man is profane and loves his sin as John 3:19 declares, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” Can he not live without God?  Certainly. The issue is one of destination; eternal life or eternal damnation.

What to do? Be sure and read the next post in this series: salvation.

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