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The biblical account of creation reveals human beings were made in the image and likeness of God and originally displayed no evil thoughts or actions. They lived in harmony with their Creator and with each other.
God created Adam and Eve with the ability to love, reason and express complex emotions. He also created them with the power to choose between good and evil.
The instinct for self-preservation, need for food and shelter, and desire to please the senses aren't evil, but how we choose to fulfil those desires can be good or evil.
The more we focus on our selfish desires, the less we are able to recognize, or understand, our own faults and experience concern for the welfare of others.
In our supposedly enlightened society we've relegated Satan, the Devil, to the status of myth, but he is a real being. The Bible reveals he is a created angel who rebelled against God and became His—and mankind's—adversary. Once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately began to experience life on Satan's level, which is the opposite of what God intended.
The Apostle John writes about three human motivations—"the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). John sees the evil in human beings as rooted in the motivations of self-preservation, fulfilment of the five senses and this need to feel superior to others. This is just another way of stating Eve's motivations as recorded in Genesis.
We find another revealing passage in chapter 2 of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, where he describes Satan as "the prince of the power of the air" (verse 2) — recognizing Satan's ability to "broadcast" attitudes of anger, hatred, greed and lust, which are the negative, destructive aspects of his nature.
People can undergo behavioural modification, but changing their essential nature requires an added spiritual dimension. The central message of Jesus Christ is that wayward human beings can have their sins forgiven and their nature changed.
The Apostle Paul describes this in Ephesians 2:1-2: "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience..."
Human beings are the only physical creatures still unfinished. Other life, such as dogs and birds, are already complete creations that can only adapt to a new environment in a limited way. Human beings, however, search for meaning to their existence and can and do grow emotionally, mentally and socially.
One of the most incredible concepts revealed in the Bible is that salvation is creation. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God’s forgiveness opens the door for human beings to have a relationship with their Creator and begin the spiritual growth process to become what God intended us to be.
Paul writes about the uniqueness of the human spirit, with its capacity for conscious thought and emotions, in I Corinthians 2:1: "For what man knows the things of a man except [by] the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except [by] the Spirit of God."
When we repent and sincerely want to change, God takes a "piece" of Himself, His Spirit, and places that in our minds to change how we think. This occurs through the process of baptism and the laying on of hands. Paul explained baptism represents putting to death the old man and being raised to a new life, to become like Christ through the help of God's Spirit (Romans chapters 6 and 8). The New Testament is filled with instructions about how a Spirit-led Christian then becomes a "new man" (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10).
The Good News magazine