How Godly Nations Become Sinful Nations

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Why do humans sin by nature or why and how do godly nations finally become sinful nations? Is it in our DNA or just human nature?

God’s Immutability

Societal structures of sin and the fallen nature of humanity reveal the theological essence of the reasons that it exists. The restraining of evil by God in both human agents (Romans 13) and by His Spirit (2 Thess 2:7) is obvious even in those who do not possess the Holy Spirit (Rom 1, 2). Dr. James Spencer from Southern California Seminary wrote, “The freedom of God affirms that God is not bound and can work within the boundaries set by organizational limitations but not constrained by those limitations.” Within the Scriptures are the idea of the immutable hand of God and that He is never frustrated by human will, even on a global scale. A superb example is when the church in Jerusalem was persecuted in order to extinguish it. Rather than destroy the church, the persecution managed to spread the gospel into the outer reaches of the Roman Empire. When the persecutors thought they had doused the flame of the church, they unintentionally and unknowingly threw gasoline on it and helped to create a greater fire and broader coverage of the church which even today still spreads. It is simply not possible that man’s plans can thwart God’s will. At best, they are futile attempts and even play into His preordained purposes (John 3:16).

God’s Sovereignty

When Jesus informed Pilate that he had no power that wasn’t first given to him; ordained by God, the Son of God gave this ruler the immutable fact that anything that is, is only because of God’s sovereignty. Every good and every evil works in conformity with the eternally decreed will of God. When we see human governments carry out evil, it is, in reality, the unseen hand of God moving the affairs of mankind. Regardless of what form of evil that it takes, God will use that evil for good. Martin Luther said that even the Devil is God’s Devil. God was not favorably disposed to the nations which took the nation of Israel into captivity, but time and again, we see this as something good in the sense that it displayed His loving act of discipline for His chosen people. He used this captivity to break the nation’s pride in order that they might humble themselves and consequently bring them to repentance. Clearly God has and will yet again humble the nations or the individual and His use of satanic or human evil never diminishes the effectual work of His hand. This too reveals that He is no respecter of either persons or nations and whatsoever He decrees must come to pass; even if evil is part of the process in which he achieves His good pleasure. He is not the author of this evil but uses it for His purposes and He uses it for a nation’s good as well as our own good (Rom 8:28). Like Joseph’s brother’s wickedness (evil) was God’s intention for good in preserving many nations, including Israel (Gen 50:20).

Human Structures

A poor analogy of the human standard is that the driver is driving the car but God’s sovereignty is the unseen hand that is actually the driving force behind it. The destination is not really in the hands of the driver but in what God has preordained before the car and even the driver existed.

What about the structures of society today that seems to be out of control, even beyond human restraints? Such evil is still allowed. Like the sixty-five million aborted lives since Roe v Wade, the many school shootings, rampant sexual immorality, government corruption, and a national debt crisis that is now out of control. It’s like the world is on the Titanic. They’ve been warned about icebergs but their pride tells them, “Steam on!” All that the lost world is doing is rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. The structures of human society themselves are unable to restrain what now is beyond their control. What control they believe they might have is not in their control at all, but God is still on His throne. The giving over of humanity to their sinfulness is abundantly evident by the callous effect that sin has on the human heart (Gen 6). Sin desensitizes us to evil and eventually, just about anything goes. Just as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, so too is a person’s heart, which by continually sinning, has less and less inhibitions and will sin even more.

Good People

Reinhold Niebuhr, author of Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics, rationalizes like most people do about the positivisms of human nature. Many insist that humanity has a good opinion of itself, despite the objective evidence to the contrary. In my own personal experience from sharing the gospel, most people consider themselves to be good people. Like most that hear and reject the gospel, they see no need for a Savior because they do not see the evil in themselves or think of themselves as being sinners. By considering themselves to be a good person, they become ignorant of their own offense against a Holy God. The Bible teaches that unless the Holy Spirit imparts to the sinner the understanding that they are miserable, wretched sinners who deserve the wrath of God, they cannot possibly come to repentance from the conviction of their sinfulness.

Human Depravity

Good biblical interpretation about the depravity of mankind stands in stark contrast to the unsaved world but must be expositional in its declaration because in it is the power of God. Knowing that God’s Word will not return to Him without effect (Isaiah 55:11), the Holy Spirit must be joined with that Word, and they cannot hear the Word without a witness. This is the only hope for a world which has no moral compass but what seems right to them (Prov 21:2). This world cannot presently be objectively aligned with God’s truth because it has not the Spirit of God and with no Spirit of God, there can be no Teacher to reveal their sinfulness. As a result, the world holds to subjective moralism. Here is where the danger lies for the church. Many churches have been infected with the relativistic values of the society with which it is embedded in, thereby rationalizing doctrine. Here is something that has never changed; it takes a man of God, with the Word of God, and the Spirit of God to birth the children of God. To call out sinners in this world would be like striking a blind man for not being able to see. We cannot expect the world to operate in any other way other than that which it presently does. They have made a god made in their own image and after their own likeness and imagination and are held captive by the god of this world (2 Tim 2:26).

Sins of Omission

The community and my personal responsibility are interconnected in the sense that I can have a positive influence in reducing the community influence of sin. Several years ago, our area wanted to have a casino built but only about one in four Christians voted against it. In fact, some even voted for it due to the fact of promises to help the local school districts and reduce property tax. The latter (property tax reduction) never happened and the school supplies worked out to be about one hundred dollars per child, but what happened was crime went up. Bankruptcy, spousal abuse, divorce, and DUI’s all went up after the casino opened. The casino promised to help the community, but in fact, it has hurt the community. The local body of Christ failed to speak up and was in a sense, a sin of silence; a sin of omission. The fact that the majority of the population supported this made me more hesitant to speak out against the sins and consequences of having a casino built nearby, even though Scripture tells us, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). The new casino was built near small towns and the small town values have been severely compromised. People are finally speaking out against it, but it’s too late now. The casino remains.


Since Christians must swim upstream and fight the tides of the ever changing culture, we must be diligent in trying to restrain evil by legal means (i.e., voting), but knowing that God is ultimately in charge not restricted by human activities, the culture, or mankind’s freewill, His will is still going to be done. Amazing, God can use sinners (like me) to participate in the rescue of the perishing, thereby reconciling sinners to Himself, and not one tiny bit of His divine plan and purpose will be frustrated by human freewill. It is impossible for the human mind to wrap itself around this truth. He is God…we are not. My finite mind will never fully comprehend the Infinite. That does not mean we are not responsible for our choices just because God is sovereign. We will reap what we sow; good for good or bad for bad. It’s just our nature to do bad things (Psalm 51:5); at least until God’s Spirit quickens us (Eph 2:1-5), and even here, God is the ultimate cause for any good we do. That gives Him the glory. And that’s as it should be (Psalm 115:1).

Here is some related reading for you: What is the Sinful Nature? A Bible Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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