What is Human Nature?
The great majority of Christians believe that human nature is low down and sinful. But Scripture does not agree. The Apostle Paul says that a man may do, by nature, that which the law demands.
Rom. 2:14 (KJV) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Again he says that sin is beside nature, Rom. 1:26. Human nature is in accord with God. When a man commits sin he is doing that which is contrary to nature.
Not only is nature in harmony with the creation, it is also aligned with the order of the universe created by God. This is important. The fact that nature is in line with law is confirmed in Rom. 2:27.
Rom_2:27 (KJV) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
The Gentiles did not have the Mosiac law which was given to the Jews (Israel) but they had a nature that was common to all of humanity. This nature can be called instinct or conscience. It was instilled by God to all living creatures.
Paul actually appeals to the teaching of nature to support divine revelation. This is shown in Romans 11, verses 16 t0 22. Notice this verse:
Rom 11:21 (KJV) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
This would be unthinkable if nature were sinful, human or otherwise.
1Cor. 11:14 (KJV) Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
Instinct (nature) teaches us that there is a difference between the sexes, and this should not be corrupted by man which is happening in society today. What is the glory of one is the dishonour of the other. These points do not depend on the interpretation of scripture. All that is necessary is to see Paul’s approval of the teaching of nature or instinct. Such language is utterly out of line with present day falsehood, in which the natural is never appealed to for confirmation of truth. The fact that nature called for a covering, would probably be a good argument against the custom in these degenerate days.
The instinct of animals varies according to their habitation. Wild beasts live on the earth. They cannot fly in the heavens. It is instinct which teaches a bird to spread its wings, and navigate the air. Each kind of bird has a distinct nature. The eagle soars out of sight. Some birds live on the land. Others stay near the water. Who taught these creatures their peculiar parts in the scheme of creation? It comes from God. It is their instinct, their nature. Each animal keeps within its proper environment. The fish does not long to be on land. This nature is their most precious possession. It never is sinful. Only when they violate their nature is there sin and suffering and death. So is it with the nature of mankind. The babe breathes instinctively, naturally, without realizing that it must, or learning how to do it.
God’s Word would have us heed the teaching of nature, the leading of instinct. We should not do what is against nature (Rom. 1:26-27). For the gentiles (nations) it, in some measure, proceeded God’s Mosaic law, with the added advantage that it is written in our very constitution, not on tablets of stone. Sadly, tradition seeks to suppress this divine gift, and calls it “sinful,” but God declares that it is not.
Rom 1:26 (KJV) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Rom 1:27 (KJV) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
Instinct goes further. It tends to make the natural man conform to the law of God, even if he has never made its acquaintance (Rom.2:14). It is the unnatural man whom God condemns, who alters the natural to that which is beside nature(Rom. 1:26). It is those who are without natural affection who draw down God’s indignation (Rom. 1:31).
One perplexing scripture on this subject is Ephesians 2:3. In the KJV it reads:
Eph 2:3 (KJV) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
In this verse the meaning of nature seems to contradict all other verses regarding nature. What does this really mean. Every other passage in which the word nature occurs, it is never sinful, rather is the one aspect of man that has escaped, in some measure at least, the ravages of death and sin. It seems impossible that this single passage should be an exception. It is not. We need to understand the difference between nature and flesh.
This verse needs to read in its context. He is referring to the Jews (we) and the gentiles (you) who were waling according to the course of this world (in sin).
Eph 2:1 (KJV) And you (gentiles) hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2 (KJV) Wherein in time past ye (gentiles)walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 (KJV) Among whom also we all (both Jews and gentiles)had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by (in the state of nature – CLV) nature the children of wrath, even as others.
This suggests that the lusts of the flesh dominated and made mankind the sons of stubbornness and children of disobedience within the scope of nature. The differences between Jew and gentile do not affect the nature of either.
Despite the fact that the gentiles discharged some of the law’s demands because of their instinct or nature, that did not keep them from being sons of Stubbornness, because the spirit of the world, which is in conflict with their nature (as in the ease of Adam) operates in them to resist God and His revelation. The nations were not sons of Stubbornness because of their nature or instinct, but in spite of it. Paul expresses this so well in Rom. 7:
Rom 7:18 (KJV) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
The implication is inescapable: the Scriptures do not teach that good is not making its home in man’s spirit. They do not teach that man’s nature is utterly evil. On the contrary, man’s instincts are still good and should be heeded, like his conscience. That conscience can be dulled, but it cannot be put into reverse. Neither can his nature be turned to evil, even if it may be suppressed.
It is the mans flesh, his carnality that leads to sin and has nothing to do with the nature God has given him.
Rom 8:5 (KJV) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:7 (KJV) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The human heart has been so often confounded with man’s nature. The word “heart” is usually found in a figurative sense. Such as – she has a kind heart. Another illustration of this word is found in God’s words about of David, who was a man after His own heart (1 Sam.13:14).
Probably the most quoted passage on the subject of the human heart and its depravity is Jeremiah 17:9:
Jer 17:9 (KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart,
Much has been said by commentators about the phrase “desperately wicked.” It is defined as “crooked” in some bible versions. The Septuagint renders it “The heart is deep, beyond all.”
There are two things which make the human heart a problem no human can solve. The heart or human intent cannot always be depended on. Who can know it? Only the Lord, as the very next phrase affirms, the Lord is the explorer of the heart. We humans look upon the outside, but the heart” is invisible, inscrutable, except to the eye of God.
If we wish to conform to the pattern of sound words (2 Tim.1:13), when we desire to describe the enormity of human sin, we should do so in terms of the heart, and not refer it to his nature.
Let us shed the false idea which refuses to recognize the good with which God has endowed all His living creation, the instinct, or nature, which alone preserves it from decay and death. Let us thank God for this marvellous nature.
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