Why are humans evil?

Last updated on April 19, 2022


This question assumes that people are evil. Many won’t agree with this assumption – especially not when it comes to themselves. But from a biblical perspective, human evil is a given. Three times over, the Bible plainly states that “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” (Psalm 14:3, Psalm 53:2, Romans 3:11). Apparently, the Bible doesn’t have a problem with generalizing human evil.

Everyone is evil

This doesn’t mean that they are all equally evil, nor are they necessarily as evil as they could possibly be. But it does mean that we humans will never be as good as we should be. Nothing in our lives is ever completely good and pure. As salt permeates every drop of water in the whole ocean, so evil permeates every human’s life.

None is righteous

How could it happen that humans became so evil? We can’t blame God for that. He created man good and after His image. When God had created humans and thereby completed His creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

But this original situation has changed dramatically. Adam and Eve, the first humans, decided against God. By their rebellion, sin came into the world (Romans 5:12). From then on, all humans are born with a sinful nature. “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). It’s not nice to hear that. But you only need to look around, or to look at your own heart, to know it is true. G.K. Chesterton correctly wrote that original sin is “the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved” (Orthodoxy, chapter 2).

Face the truth

It’s better to face the truth. For “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Indeed, if we deny our own evil, we deceive ourselves. We do know better. We are created after God’s image, and we can still discern what is good and what is evil (Romans 2:14-15). Deep within, we all know that we badly need the prayer “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12).

Christ conquers sin and evil

If we face the truth that we are evil, the next question pops up: is there a solution? Can we be redeemed from our evil? Yes, this is possible through Jesus. He deals with evil in three aspects: in the past, in the present, and in the future. Our sins from the past are forgiven by Jesus if we put our trust in Him. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

In the present, the Lord Jesus breaks the power of the monster of sin that had us in its grip. He makes His Spirit dwell in us, and thereby conquers the evil within us. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). That doesn’t mean that our evil nature has disappeared completely. Every believer who is honest with himself, has to admit that. Even the apostle Paul wrote: “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

The future: all evil will be gone

So, there is something left to look forward to in the future. When Jesus returns, sin will be conquered fully. Then there will be new heavens and a new earth. All people who believe in Jesus, will be there with Him. But there will be no more sin. “Nothing unclean will ever enter it” (Revelation 21:27). Then, finally, we can say: humans are good. They perfectly reflect the image of God, who is entirely good.

Do you want to become good?

The good news is that the Lord God forgives our trespasses (sin) through Jesus Christ. He transforms our nature, and when Jesus returns, all evil will be dealt with completely. The question for you is whether you want God to complete this work in you. Or are you so much attached to your own evil that you won’t let God deal with it? If you don’t accept God’s solution, human evil is incurable.

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