I know, my title is the opposite of the meme bouncing around the internet. As you can see, it says just the opposite and appeals to our emotions by showing two boys of different tribes hugging each other. Here, look at the photo.
It truly is a sweet photo. But the message it bears is false when compared to what the Bible tells us about human nature. In fact, the message of the meme is rooted in the belief that we are born “innocent” and then somehow have to learn to be evil. This view is known as semi-Pelagianism, meaning that we are born as empty slates and that we end up being whatever it is that we learn. Full-fledge Pelagianism is the belief that original sin does not taint us and that we are born good, without a sin nature.
Anyone with children knows this to be false. We have to teach our children not to hit, not to be selfish, not to throw things at their siblings, not to wish them away, not to tell on them, not to push them down, not to take their toys, not to do all manner of mean things to people. Yes, our children can be truly wonderful at times, and we delight when we see the compassion they have for other children. It is truly refreshing. But these instances are rare, compared with the mass of instruction we have to give them to not grow up and be little monsters.
Our children are not born innocent. They are sinful creatures who inherit the sinful nature from their parents. We see this truth being born out in the psalm David wrote after his incident with Bathsheba: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5). Being guided by the Spirit, he shows us that the problem we have as humans is that we have inherited our sin nature from our parents, who inherited their sin from their parents, so on and so on. This is confirmed in the New Testament by Paul: Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12). And Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation… (Romans 5:18).
Notice in Paul’s words that through the one offense of Adam, all have God’s condemnation resting upon them? He is not saying that we are born, then we sin, then we incur God’s condemnation, but it’s there before we sin at all. We are conceived in condemnation and we are not rescued from that condemnation until we believe in Jesus Christ, which leads to our sinful nature, and sins, being imputed to Christ on the cross, and His righteousness being imputed to us. That is the point of Paul’s letter to the Romans. However, in the midst of what He is saying, He is confirming David’s writings, showing our sin nature is passed from one generation to another. We are all conceived in sin, all are under God’s condemnation, all in need of God’s grace.
There are no clean slates coming out of the womb. Each child, even though they are incapable of living out their sin nature, is born fallen and in need of grace. This is one of the reasons why I’m so opposed to abortion. Even the child not born is conceived as a sinner, and needs the gospel. Because of our emotions, we tend to think that God somehow forgives those who die in the grisly death of abortion, but Scripture does not support such a view and God has every right to deal with each child just as He has every right to deal with us as He sees fit. Can the Spirit move in the unborn and bring them the saving knowledge of Christ? He did so in the case of John the Baptist, but God is under no requirements to do so in every child in the womb. In fact, we see just the opposite. Just as it was grace in the case of John the Baptist, so too, is it grace for all others. Grace, by definition, is not something we deserve, earn, or have a right to. We deserve, earn and have a right to eternal damnation because of the condemnation we inherited from our parents. Grace is grace because through it, He rescues some for redemption.
The point is, we are not born with an innate ability to love and do good. Scripture, and history, shows the exact opposite to be true. We need to reject the notion that our children are innocent, when Scripture declares it to be otherwise. So we pray to our Father in heaven that the LORD will redeem our children and save them. They need God’s grace just as much as we do.
Another issue that many will try to counter this idea using Psalm 139, specifically verses 13-14: For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Some have tried to claim that this shows we do not have a sin nature, for how can something that is fearfully and wonderfully made be sinful at all? On the surface, it seems as though David is contradicting himself, but he is not. Psalm 51 is dealing with his sinful nature, and ours. Psalm 139 is dealing with the reality that we are all made by the hand of God in the womb’s of our mothers. One is dealing with who we are ontologically, the other with how it is that we came into being. While we are fearfully and wonderfully made, God has not removed our sin nature from us. This is not how He has chosen to save us from our sin nature. This would be salvation by conception. Scripture, and history, do not support such a view.
We must be saved by One who was fearfully and wonderfully made without a sin nature. That is Jesus Christ, whom it is that Psalm 139 ultimately points to. Only Christ was made in the womb without sin, for He is God’s method of bringing about salvation for His people.
Is it wonderful when we see children of different tribes playing together and loving one another? Absolutely. But let us not make the mistake of imputing a righteousness to them that they do not have. They need Christ, just as we do.