What is the Meaning of Life
Humanity’s Evil Nature 2
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 117 Humanity’s Evil Nature 2 by Ernest O’Neill
We are discussing the phenomenon known as the old selfish nature. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s that part of you that pops its ugly head up when you determine to be complimentary to someone, and you’re just in the middle of a nice compliment to them and there crosses your mind the thought that they are the most critical people that you have ever met.
Or, the thought crosses your mind, “Look at the dress she’s wearing,” and in the middle of the compliment there is something that comes up from the depth of your nature that expresses the exact opposite of what your lips are saying. That’s what we mean by that old selfish nature. Of course, that’s a mild expression of it compared with some of the hideous things it produces in your home, because there are moments when you lose your temper and you cannot believe it is you.
You cannot believe it’s you losing your temper. It is so hideous; it is so violent. It is so absolutely insensitive to the loved ones you care most about that you think to yourself, “I’m becoming insane. This is like another person inside me.” That is what it seems to most of us. There seems to have developed in most human beings a nature within our nature. A nature that is evil, and old, and selfish, and cruel and is something we don’t like at all.
Yet, as the years go by, it takes over more and more control in our lives, so that we often come into the same situation as Dr. Jekyll in Stevenson’s novel. We find it more and more difficult to be ourselves. This old, evil nature within us seems to have taken such control of us. What we shared, of course, yesterday is that that’s because it is part of the race itself. It is part of the human race.
It is not just that you have behaved in a selfish way for a number of years. It is not just that for several years of your life you have lived as if there was no Creator and no God and therefore, lived with no trust in Him at all, and therefore had to depend utterly on what you could grab by the power and energy of your own hands and the cleverness of your own mind.
It’s not just that you have lived that way and have, in fact, twisted and perverted your own personality. It is that the whole race has been living like that for generations. For generations we as a human race have said, “There is no God. There is nobody to take care of us, so we better make what we can out of this earth, whatever it costs us, and whatever it costs anybody else among the other five billion that are here.”
It’s that we have been saying that for generations. For generations, we human beings have been saying, “We’re five billion people. I’m one. I feel I’m unique but nobody else seems to see I’m unique, so I have to make them see that I’m unique. I have no longer a belief in my Creator. I have no longer any sense that He thinks I’m unique and that that’s the only approval, or the only acknowledgment that I really need.”
“I have no belief in that, so I have to establish my own self esteem and my own self worth from the approval of other people. I have to force these other five billion to look at me and notice me. That’s why I want to be an outstanding singer. That’s why I want to be a rock star. That’s why I want to be successful, famous and wealthy, so that other people will give me a sense of self esteem which I know I need to have.”
It’s because for generations we’ve been living like that. It’s that nature, that old nature, that old self, that old sinful nature, because that’s what it is. It’s not just sin. Sin is not just drinking, or alcohol or
homosexuality or those things. Those certainly are sinful acts and thoughts. But sin itself is not a matter of morality or immorality, of crime or not of crime. Sin is living independent of God.
It’s living as if there is no God. It’s just practical atheism. It’s living as if you are dependent on yourself alone to establish whatever security and significance and happiness you can in this world by using the things, and the people and the circumstances in this world just as you please. That’s what sin is.
That old nature that is full of that sin, full of that independence, has been bred into our race for generations. This is why it is so difficult for us to control. It is like a wild animal inside of us. That’s why you have such trouble keeping your temper. That’s why you have such trouble avoiding critical thoughts. Have you ever tried to avoid critical thoughts? It’s very difficult, because that old racial nature is part of you and has been bred into you and has been passed on to you by your parents and by your grandparents and by your great grandparents.
It has a spiritual force and power about it that is almost demonic. You must admit you’ve thought that at times. You’ve thought when you’ve lost your temper, you’ve thought, “I could kill. This isn’t me. I don’t normally feel like this. This is like something demonic inside me.” And so it is with most of us. When we see this thing working inside us, we feel this is something that is beyond our control. And it is.
It is beyond the control of an ordinary human being. That’s why the power of positive thinking books don’t work. That’s why all the psychological books only serve to ameliorate the situation. They only are a means of tampering and tinkering with something that needs more radical treatment than any human being can give it. What is that treatment?
Well, our Creator is not dumb. He is a very wise, intelligent being. He is infinitely wise. He has a mind that is better than the greatest mainframe computer that Cray, Honeywell or Control Data ever have or ever will produce. His mind is greater at foreseeing contingent possibilities than any computer, or any set of computers or national economist ever will be.
He was able to look into our natures and see that if He had given us free wills, which He had to do so that we would be able to come to love Him because nobody can love unless they have a free will, He saw into our natures and saw that these free wills were free to do what they wanted. We were utterly and absolutely free to depend on Him for the things that we needed, for the sense of value that we needed, for the sense of happiness we needed.
Or we were free to depend on the world of things, the world of circumstances, the world of people for those instead. He saw that we were free to do that and that once we began to do that, we would begin to pervert our very nature so that it would become bred into our natures. We would align ourselves with the powerful spirit forces in the universe that have rebelled against Him already.
He knew that. He knew we would develop natures that would be incorrigible, that would be untamable, that would be unchangeable. When He saw that He knew He had to make some provision for us. Otherwise, we would not be free to exercise our free wills, because this nature would so dominate us we could not do what we wanted. You know that’s what most of us cry out. Most of us say, “I don’t do the good I want to do, but the very evil I hate, that’s the very thing I do.”
Our Maker saw that that would be the situation. So He arranged a mighty act in the depths of eternity. Eternity is timelessness, you know. Eternity is not everlasting time. Eternity is timelessness. Actually, reality is timelessness. You probably realize that. Time is just a human invention to make life possible here
on this earth. But eternity is actually timelessness.
And in the depths of timelessness, our Maker did a mighty work that changed that evil nature of ours and made provision for us to be delivered from it. In other words, in the first second, if you can talk about the Creator in terms of time, He conceived of our creation. In the second second, He conceived of our rebellion against Him and our using our free will to produce a perverted nature. And in the third second, He conceived of a way to change that nature and to make it possible for us to be delivered from it, if we so chose.
That was what the Creator did for us in the timelessness of eternity, even before the world was created. What was that thing that He did? Well, let’s talk about it in greater detail tomorrow.