Living With What We Have
It is a common refrain that I have heard to saddle all of humanity with the base and sinful desires that God has told us to avoid, as if they are an indelible part of our existence. This is a clam is that “human nature” is always just as bad as the sins that are committed the most frequently. Because it is common, therefore, it is referred to as natural.
Part of this is based in the modern naturalism movement that says we are all just evolved animals and are motivated by various instincts and impulses with no real moral compass. Another influence is the Calvinist doctrine that pervades much of the religious world that claims that all humans are born with an innate “sin nature” that is part of the curse of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden.
In either case, it is not only an ignorance of the fact that all humans are not mere animals, and we bear the “image of God” in us (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; James 3:9-10), but it is a patent refusal to heed the expectations God has communicated in His word (Deuteronomy 6:25; I John 3:23). We must call sin what it always is, and that is a violation of God’s will, and a failure to live as He has designed us to live.
One particular shade of this slander that is is common comes in the form of making discontentedness and thanklessness natural. “People always want what they can’t have.” With this aphorism, we not only undermine the life that God has called people to live, we often blame God for our failure. Even the sin in the garden was not really the fault of the first people, because God forbade eating from the tree, and was thus responsible for their disobedience. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It was God who provided “every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food” and told the man, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely” with only one exception. (Genesis 2:9-16) It was not until the influence of the serpent did either of the people consider disobedience. (Genesis 3:1-13) Therefore, it was the deceit of Satan that caused sin, not human nature.
The repeated direction of scripture is to avoid coveting (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; 7:25; Joshua 6:18; 7:21; Micah 2:2; Mark 7:22; Acts 20:33; Romans 7:7-8; 13:9; I Corinthians 5:10-11; 6:10; Ephesians 5:5), envying (Proverbs 3:31; 23:17; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21, 26; I Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3; I Peter 2:1), and being greedy (Numbers 11:4, 34; Psalm 10:3; Proverbs 11:6; Luke 12:15; Ephesians 4:19; 5:3; Colossians 3:5; II Peter 2:3, 14) so that we do not violate God’s command, and will.
Let us instead be thankful for what God has given us in contentedness (Philippians 4:11; I Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5), including a life that is above what “people always” do. This is not only possible, but it is better for us, and provides a graceful way of living. God knows what is best for His people, and His commands help us to attain what we all truly need.