What is the Human Condition?

by Lambert Dolphin



"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)



Man's View of Man; God's View of Man

Secular views of mankind which do not take into account information about ourselves given to us by divine revelation---invariably consider than human beings are basically good.

Many believe that lack of knowledge is the main reason people behave badly, and therefore education is what makes us civilized and tame. Third-World countries are eager to improve their literacy rates and educational standards. This of course does allow the rise of technology, culture and sophisticated social institutions. But educated people are not inherently less malicious, less hateful, or less adulterous than ordinary folk in underdeveloped nations.

Darwinian theory supposes that life on earth has developed on its own (without help from God or outside sources)---upwards from the simple to the complex. Many evolutionists believe what was originally a biological developmental process which lead to homo sapiens is now continuing on the social level. Therefore men will eventually learn by these same evolutionary principles to live together in peace and harmony, and thus the socially most-fit will survive, and flourish.

Many of the religions of the world presuppose that there exists a divine spark in everyman and that religious enlightenment results from the discovery of this portion of the self we have previously been out of touch with. Pious, moral behavior will surely result when an individual gets in touch with the ground of his being or the "god within."

All of these views though widely held are contradicted by the evidence at hand. The death rate remains a flat 100% in spite of centuries of education, evolution, religion, self-improvement---and medical research.

The Norwegian Academy of Sciences has determined that since 3600 BC there have been 14,531 wars and only 292 years of peace. This is approximately 2.6 wars per year, and one year of "peace" out of every two decades, or a little over 36 hours of peace per month, or about one minute of peace every four hours. So man's ability to live in peace and harmony continues to deteriorate with the passage of time---not to improve.

It is possible for most of us to acknowledge minor faults or flaws within himself, but even hardened criminals and cold-blooded killers find some good within themselves. The idea that we are all basically good is the one we accept without question in spite of the multiplicity of evidence to the contrary. All of us know people we see as evil but our own view of ourselves is usually that we are too good to do many of the bad things others do all the time.

But how does God see the human race? What is His view of mankind? Has our Creator made His insights known to us so that we may take the help and receive the cure He alone offers?

A good place to start in understanding God's analysis of the human condition is in found in the Epistle to the Romans in the New Testament, especially the first three chapters:

In order to unravel the meaning of the ancient text it is helpful to look up the Greek words used in the original text in a Lexicon or good Bible dictionary. Notes on individual word meanings follows the passage below.

Paul the Apostle writes these words, beginning in Romans, Chapter One, verse 18:

"...the wrath [1] of God is revealed [2] from heaven [3] against all ungodliness [4] and wickedness [5] of men who by their wickedness suppress [6] the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived 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 [7] in their thinking and their senseless minds [8] were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts [9] of their hearts to impurity [10], to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie [11] and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions [12]. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, [lit: "against nature"] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed [13] with passion [14] for one another, men committing shameful [15] acts with men and receiving in their own persons [16] the due penalty for their error.

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind [17] and to improper conduct. They were filled with all (kinds of) unrighteousness, fornication [18], wickedness [19], covetousness [20], malice [21]. Full of envy [22], murder [23], strife [24], deceit [25], malignity [26], they are gossips [27], backbiters [28], haters of God [29], insolent [30], haughty [31], boastful [32], inventors of evil things [33], disobedient to parents [34], foolish [35], faithless [36], heartless [37], implacable [38], unmerciful [39]. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)

"...all men...are under the power of sin, 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 gone wrong;
no one does good, not even one.'
'Their throat is an 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 do not know.'
'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'"
(Romans 3:9-18)

The [1] wrath (orge) of God is His abiding and constant anger directed against human evil. Another Greek word (thumos) is used to describe outbursts of anger commonly known to us all, which flare up and subside. Both words are used in Revelation 6:9 and 9:5 to describe the "fierceness of the wrath" of Almighty God. The wrath of God is continuously being poured forth and "rests" (or "abides") upon those who do evil. This divine resistance towards human evil is actively at work quietly and silently so as to produce the deterioration in quality of life described below. One way to think of the wrath of God is to think of it as "the law of consequences." When the Bible says that "the wages of sin is death," this is simply an expression of the inevitable consequences of a life lived apart from God.

Revealed [2] is the Greek (apokalupsis) which means unveiled or disclosed. God must make known to us what we can not see for ourselves, or which we deny.

Here heaven [3] (ouranos refers to the invisible dimension of the spiritual world which surrounds us and in which we live and move. God is not remote, detached, and uninvolved in our lives---regardless of whether or not we know Him and serve Him.

Ungodliness, [4] (asebeia) means "without eusebia," godliness. The word means "without reverence to God" as well as active in opposition to God's purposes.

Wickedness (unrighteousness), [5] (adikia), means "not conforming to that which is right"; ( a + dike ), means, without righteousness, unjust. A comprehensive term for wrong doing.

Suppress, [6] ( katecho hold down, restrain, hinder, or repress the truth, or hinder it. All men know there is a God, and they also know He is just and righteous. From childhood this knowledge is resisted and buried by each one of us. The social institutions of society work with us in this conspiracy to deny God in all aspects of life.

Empty or futile speculations [7] or reasonings. (mataioo + dialogismos) These include the philosophies of society, much of what is called science, and the governing principles we set for our own lives when we ignore God's standards. Actually, our ignoring God puts into bondage to evil while God desires for us, "...the glorious liberty of the sons of God." (Romans 8:2)

[8] Literally, "their hearts were darkened without understanding." The heart is the inner man, the center of what and who we are. Jesus said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts..." (Matthew 5:9)

Or, "God handed them over to the power of sin." Lust [9] is (epithumia), can mean any strong desire; in this case, a reaching out for pleasure, especially passionate desire for forbidden things (Barclay). Rejection of God means we are open to error yet blinded to what is actually happening to us. This portion of the letter to the Romans refers to "mankind"---not specifically to individual men and women, although one person's personal rejection of God always sets him or her on a path of moral decay with one or more of the consequences described inevitably occurring. Moral decay of society can occur gradually over several generations, resulting finally in outbreaks of immorality that are no longer hidden or private and breakdowns of family life and family values. Increased terrorism, crime, and lawlessness follow. Note that the process that leads to total moral decay begins when men cease to worship and serve God for who He is. All men are without excuse since knowledge of God is available to all men. The first step in the downward spiral is to place another person first in one's affections instead of God. After that, our progressively increasing idolatry causes us to be enslaved to the love of money, power, prestige, selfish sexual gratification, etc. We lose our dignity and humanity in the process.

Uncleanness [10], (akatharsia means literally "not having been purged or cleansed." Our English word catharsis comes from the Greek root.

[11] Literally, the lie, not "a" lie. The lie is the widely-held notion men have that they can handle life on their own without God. It is the belief that man is master of his own fate and destiny and is capable of being god of his own life. This was the lie presented to Eve in the garden.

[12] Behavior which dishonors the body, "passions of dishonor." The word passions here is not epithumia but pathos, which is the more passive word meaning the diseased condition out of which the lusts spring (Barclay).

[13] The word consumed, (exekauthesan), literally means "burned out." Obsessive cravings that cannot be satiated, or desires that can never be fulfilled and only increase to produce a wasted, devastated, ruined condition.

[14} The word passion, or lust: (orexis) means "reaching out" (beyond proper bounds of moral restraint or decency) in order to appropriate something for oneself. This particular Greek word is used here only in the New Testament.

[15] Unseemly: that is, not suitable, not proper, or unbecoming. Related to disfigurement (Vincent) and contrasted with gracefulness.

[16] The penalty which is due from God as a consequence of violating the Divine Law. Older words for homosexuality are "perversion" and "inversion" which imply a twisting or reversing of sexual identity within oneself. That part of the personality which should be turned inward towards God becomes twisted outward producing a confused sense of masculine or feminine sexual identity.

[17] The term "base mind" (adokimon,) literally means a mind that cannot stand the test. Vincent says (noting the play on words in the Greek), "As they did not approve, God gave them up unto a mind disapproved."

[18] Greek, (porneia,) from which we get our common word pornography. The word refers to all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage, especially sex between unmarried persons. Illicit sex is associated with moral uncleanness and impurity of the heart and the affections.

[19] Greek, (poneria,) from the Greek root word meaning "to toil." The word has come to mean active, outgoing, malignant wickedness, as opposed to kind, gracious, serviceable--- hence, destructive, injurious evil (Vine). The desire of doing harm to others, to assault, to corrupt the innocence or goodness of others. To drag others down to one's own level of destructive evil (Barclay).

[20] The word covetousness, (pleonexia) is the desire to have more, always in a bad sense; i.e., wanting more than one needs or more than one can use, craving something another possesses for selfish purposes, etc.

Malice or evil, [21], (kakos) means defective or evil in character, base; as opposed to fair, advisable, good in character, beneficial, useful (Vine). Grasping for money or goods, regardless of honor or honesty; ambition which tramples on others to gain something for oneself; unbridled lust which takes its pleasure where it has no right to take, (Barclay).

Envy, [22], (phthonos) means a feeling of displeasure produced by hearing of the gain or prosperity of others, always in the evil sense.

[23] Murder, (phonos) means to take the life of another out of hatred.

[24] Strife, ()eridos) means contentiousness, an argumentative attitude. The contention which is born of envy, ambition; the desire for prestige, place, office, and prominence---coming from a jealous heart, (Barclay).

The word deceit, [25], (dolos) means crafty, full of guile, ensnaring. The Greek word is used to mean to debase precious metals or adulterate fine wine. The quality of deceit in a man who can no longer operate in a straightforward way but resorts to devious, underhanded ways to get his own way (Barclay).

[26] Malignity, (kakoetheia) means malicious disposition, malevolence. An evil disposition that tends to put the worst construction on everything (Vine). To suppose the worst about other people, to place wrong interpretations on innocent actions. [27] This word, whisperers, or "gossips" (psithuristes) means those who spread secret slander.

[28] The Greek word translated backbiters, (katalalos) means to speak against the character of another person, especially when he or she is not present.

Haters of God, [29] (theostuges) means hateful to God.

Insolent, [30], (hubristes) means violent, despiteful. The attitude of a man when he is so proud he defies God, fate, and fortune. Extreme self-confidence. An attitude which takes devilish delight in inflicting mental and physical anguish on others (Barclay).

[31] Haughty, (huperephanos) means showing oneself to be above others or over them; i.e., disdainful, arrogant, proud, the opposite of humble and lowly. "A certain contempt for everyone except oneself" (Barclay).

[32] The word translated boastful, (alazon) means "one who wanders about the country," a vagabond, hence an impostor (Vine). The stock word for quacks who sell fake medicines, health foods, remedies, etc. Pretending to be someone who one is not, a braggart.

Inventors of evil, [33], (epheuretas kakon) means to invent, contrive. or seek out new ways of committing evil.

[34] Disobedient to parents: unpersuadable, obstinate; rejection of the will of God with regard to how one should treat one's parents.

[35] Foolish is (asunetos) and means "without understanding" in a moral and spiritual sense. Lacking in spiritual perception or discernment. The man who will not use the mind and brain God has given him (Barclay).

[36] Faithless, (asynthetous) means covenant-breaking; that is, refusing to honor agreements, pay debts, or keep promises.

[37] Heartless, (astorgous) means without natural affection, especially within one's family.

[38], Implacable, (aspondous) means "without a libation"; hence, without a truce. One who cannot be persuaded to enter into an agreement. Unreasonable, treacherous.

[39} Unmerciful, (aneleemon) means without mercy. Without pity, placing a low value on human life or another person's distress or rights.


Biblical Words Concerning "Sin," from the Old and New Testaments (Vine and Unger

An excellent commentary on the entire Epistle of Romans may be found in The Ray C. Stedman Memorial Library

For further word studies in the New Testament on the fallen nature of man see Times of Stress (2 Timothy 3:1-5).


And What is the Solution?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-20)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man--though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation. (Romans 5:7-11)

The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10)

"I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let him who hears say, "Come." And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)


What is the Human Condition?

by Lambert Dolphin
Web Pages: http://ldolphin.org/

September 13, 1995. Edited October 6, 1995.