Human Nature–No Good (Psalm 53:2-3)

Psalm 53:2-3 – God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Throughout the world, there is fundamental disagreement among people as to the basic goodness or lack of goodness natural to man. Some people argue that people are basically good, but are corrupted by the world around them. Others argue that man has a basically evil nature. Psychologists tend to blame the immorality of man on his environment, his childhood, or his physiology. But this psalm, which is also cited by Paul in Romans 3, makes it plain that the nature of man is corrupt from the very beginning.

The Bible says that God looks down on humanity as if to test to see if there is any good in humanity. What he finds is pretty disappointing. It is not that few people seek god; it is that absolutely no people seek God. By our nature, we are corrupt, and so much so that we will never seek God by ourselves. This means that there are no true seekers of God. While lost people may appear to be seeking God, we can be sure of this: if they seek God, they do so because God has done something in their hearts, because no one seeks God on his own. No lost person, according to verse 3, does good—not even one.

What does all this teach us? It most certainly teaches us of man’s utter inability to save himself. No human being does good or seeks God on his own. Thus, no human being could ever come to God on his own, because to come to God requires that we seek him and do good by believing in him. Also, even when things look good in the lives of the lost, they are not. Lost people do not do things for the glory of God. They do not do things based on the truth of God. Thus, nothing that a lost person does is actually and truly good. This is one of the reasons that we can not trust worldly philosophers, teachers of false religions, or psychologists to define for us how people should live or be made whole. They simply do not know, and they simply can not do what is most important—they can not glorify God.

It is wise for us to recognize the inability of the lost to glorify God, because it will help us to turn in the right direction to get to know God and his will. God’s word is how we get to know God. The rest of the world, even when they offer us things that are apparently true, can not lead us to God. While they may stumble across a fact or two and even do things according to basic moral principles, the lost can never lead us in the most important direction, because, as the psalm says, “there is none who does good, not even one.”

Lord, while I find it a bit discouraging to recognize the sinfulness of humanity, it is also very freeing. I need not seek truth from the lost. The lost do not know you, the one who said, “I am the truth.” Jesus, I believe that you not only know truth, you are truth. I trust in you for all that is good. I need you and your word to teach me what is right. I need you to lead me to what is good.

I also acknowledge, Lord, that I have never done anything good without it being to your credit and glory. Since I know that I never sought you on my own as your word clearly says, my salvation is a gift from you. Any positive response I ever made to you was from your gracious working in my heart first. Thank you, Lord, for saving me. Thank you for taking me, one who had become totally corrupt, and making me into your child. Please lead me, now, into your will. Help me to do your work, for only you can accomplish good in me even now. I will work, but that work will only be done in your power and through your motivation. I depend on you, but I will not excuse myself from the work I am called to do. Please help me to work for the honor of your holy name.