When I was young, my father taught me to ride a bicycle. Once I had learned to balance the machine, I was let loose on the neighbourhood roads. What a menace I proved to be was highlighted by an irate motorist who told me to keep to the left—this was in England of course.
The primary rule of the road—to keep left—was so obvious to him, my father never told me. But without it, chaos would ensue, driving would be impossible, and a road system useless. Fortunately, I was warned in no uncertain terms to drive on the right when I arrived in Canada.
If life is to be meaningful, the primary condition of humankind needs to be recognized and granted: the innate wickedness of the human soul. Sin is not something we do, it is what we are, yet popular wisdom continually asserts the goodness of humankind.
This seems to go against all the evidence of the entire history of humanity up to the atrocities of this year, this week, even today, angrily and rightly condemned by the media. Yet the Bible asserts that there is none righteous: we are all in the same boat.
The idea that there are some bad apples in the human race, but most of us are good, does not stand up to scrutiny. If we are honest, all of us are ashamed or guilty of something we have done. Even the best we can do is infected with impure motives.
The difference between us and a butcher like Syria’s Al Assad is in degree, not substance. Haven’t we all wished, at some point, we could stop someone’s voice permanently? And Jesus said the thought is as good as the deed, Matthew 5:21–22.
Until we are aware of our sinful tendencies, and that they are innate, not superficial, any forgiveness offered us by God, or anyone else for that matter, will be rejected. We will then be left to accept the consequences of our life’s behaviour ourselves, Romans 3:19.