Are Humans Basically Good?


People will easily admit that “nobody’s perfect”, but will also strongly endorse the idea that “people are basically good”. Human wickedness is often minimized in conversation, yet we see sin everywhere, and in everyone. Were we born this way? Or did we learn to sin from others? From society? If we learned sin from others, where did they learn sin from? If people were born innocent, we would expect a percentage would remain good and sinless; but we know that this is not the case, we see sin everywhere, and in all people.


The reality is that we sin because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin, rather, we sin because we are born sinners. We have inherited a corrupted condition of sinfulness that can be traced back to Adam and Eve, our original parents who fell in sin. Since the Fall, every human being has been born with a sinful and corrupt nature. David, who was loved by the Lord, lamented, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” Psalm 51:5 ESV. There are many instances where the scriptures mention the wickedness of the human heart, including Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 6:5 and Matthew 15:18-19.


The phrase “Original sin” is not used to describe the very first or original sin committed by Adam and Eve. Original sin refers to the result of the first sin - the fallen condition of the human race. All people are born with a sinful nature or “original sin”. This is not the nature that we were originally created in, but Adam, as our representative, plunged the human race into sin and corruption. Humans are sinful because of their solidarity with Adam.


 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—” Romans 5:12 ESV. 

For more information on Adam as our representative see:


Are we hopeless then? Plunged into a sinful nature with no hope for communion with our Holy God? Certainly not! For God sent His own Son into the world to be a new and perfect representative for humanity. Jesus Christ came to the world fully God, and fully man. With His suffering and dying on the cross, Jesus endured the full wrath and punishment for our sins. With the demands of God’s divine justice met, and Christ’s righteousness given to us by faith, we are offered complete salvation. Our salvation is completed by Christ. None of our own works or good deeds will save us, or “make up” for our sins. We must have faith in Jesus Christ, - and our faith will be counted to us as righteousness. By faith, we will not only be saved from the punishment of our sins after this life, but also be fully re-united with our Holy God in the next.


“O loving wisdom of our God!

When all was sin and shame,

a second Adam to the fight

and to the rescue came.”

John Henry Newman


For more information see:


Further Study:

John Calvin - Institutes of The Christian Religion Book II

RC Sproul - Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

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