Aren’t We Inherently Good?


When you look into a sweet baby’s eyes it’s hard to think of that baby as a sinner. When you look at yourself, you know your good intentions and you know the justifications for your own sins. It’s tempting to think the baby is good. It’s tempting to think we are good; that we aren’t “bad” people, committing “those” sins. We think we would likely choose the “good” choice the majority of time.

It might be tempting to think that humankind is usually basically inherently “good.” I know people who believe this.

This belief, or partial belief, of the basic goodness of humanity is called Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism.

The problem is that it contradicts the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word which lays out the total depravity of humanity. We are imperfect, unholy, corrupt sinners from conception. (Psalm 51:5) We don’t even have to do anything or a specific “sin.” In this fallen world, we just are sinners. Sin is as much in our heart attitudes, such as our innate desire to put ourselves first, as it is in actions.

Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament will show over and over how humans – the Israelites, who were God’s chosen people – would try to “straighten up” for short times, usually due to God’s anger against them, but would inevitably drift back into rebellion. Many times they would even go beyond what was before, into worse treachery.

That pattern has played out in modern history, and has probably proved true in our own lives.

The book of Judges in the Bible shows the cycle clearly. Taken from my study Bible, it seems that Judges covers approximately 299 years of Israel in peace, free from slavery, under various judges that could lead them mostly serving God. But then there is also approximately 111 years interspersed in that time when Israel’s judges would die and they would slide into worship of pagan gods and other sins that completely disregarded God. So God would give them over to the hands of their enemies as slaves. They would be released and have a good leader, be “good” for a while, and fall right back into disobedience.

“And the people of Israel did what was evil int he sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger… So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies…

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:11-19)

Judges closes with this verse:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (21:25, emphasis added)


None of us is inherently good. We are all sinners, and sin makes us terribly self-centered. With no direction, no moral compass, and especially without God’s grace working in us, we default to seeking our own comfort. It soon comes to the wheels falling off as greater sins are committed in pursuit of self.

Romans 3:10–18:

“…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.’

‘Their throat is pan open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.’

‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’

‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’

‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

and the way of peace they have not known.’

‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’

When any of us turns toward God, it is a miracle of His grace. We are terrible and desperate and helpless on our own. We are in dire need of a Savior, which God provided in Jesus Christ. He saves us and His grace helps us change.

The Gospel causes me to mourn for my sins, and the state of this world. I repent. I marvel at God’s redemptive plan, His grace, and His love. I rejoice and praise Him. I pray for His grace always abounding. All for His glory.

Turn to Him.


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Disciple of Jesus; student of the Bible; wife; mom of 3 "tween" girls; writer/blogger; consumer of coffee, dark chocolate & lobster rolls! Transplanted to Maine in 2015; homeschooling our 6th grader; and integrating into a new church. Bringing God glory through my story and shining the Truth in the world.

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