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What is human nature?

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The human nature is that assortment of characteristics that constitute and define humanity. Human nature makes us inherently human and distinct from all other creatures. Human nature includes the capacity to create, reason, love, and experience a wide range of emotions. Such a capacity is found in no other form of life.

The Bible provides much information on human nature. First, humans were created in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27). Human nature is a unique creation that in some ways reflects the Creator.

Soon after creation, human nature experienced a fall. A primary result of sin is that human nature has been corrupted. Every part of man—his mind, will, emotions, and body—is affected (Romans 3:9-18). Our nature is now bent toward sin, so that man's unregenerate heart is "deceitful … and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). Sinful human nature is referred to as "the flesh" in some translations of the Bible (Romans 8:3, KJV; 2 Peter 2:18, ESV).

In The African Queen, Charlie, a drunken boat captain, attributes his penchant for gin to human nature. "A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it's only human nature," he says. Rose, an Anglican missionary, responds, "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above." Charlie knows, experientially, that "human nature" is inherently weak. The unbending Rose refuses to accept natural weakness as an excuse for sin.

The problem is that, by ourselves, we cannot overcome sin or "rise above" human nature. Without Christ, we are victims of the weakness of the flesh. The apostle Paul described his natural state as "unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" (Romans 7:14 NIV).

We desperately need a Savior, and that's why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and through His death and resurrection "condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). Those who trust in Christ become a new creation: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The "new creation" includes a brand-new nature "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).

Even after we are born again, the human struggle with sin continues (Romans 7). All of us, including Christians, share the same basic nature (James 5:17). The difference is that the believer in Christ is no longer controlled by sin. Believers do not need to be "conformed to this world"; rather, they can be "transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Living a holy life before the Lord is an ongoing, deliberate process (Philippians 2:12).

Human nature will ultimately be changed at the end of time when God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). In eternity with God, believers will be set free from the curse. There will be no more pain or sorrow, and all will be made perfect. It is God's purpose that His children "share in his glory" (Romans 8:17 NIV).

Related Truth:

What does it mean that humanity is created in the image of God?

The sin nature - What is it?

Do we have a body, soul, and spirit? Are we made of two parts or three? Dichotomy or trichotomy?

Is the human soul mortal or immortal?

Why did God create humanity?

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