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Lesson 9
Nobody Can Save Himself

In our last lesson we saw some of the changes that came about as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. The joy and peace of the first people on earth were destroyed. Adam and Eve immediately felt shame and guilt. They became afraid of God. They knew that they had done wrong and they were separated from God.

From Parent to Child

The children that were born to them after the fail inherited the fallen nature of their parents. Cain, the first-born, committed the world's first murder when he killed his brother.

As you know, like things produce like: a tiger would only give birth to tigers; it can never produce a horse! Therefore, since we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, we have also received their fallen nature. This applies to every single one of us, as the Bible explains:

"Sin came into the world through one man
and his sin brought death with it.
As a result, death has spread to the whole human race
because everyone has sinned."
(Romans 5:12.)

Regard less of the differences in race or nation or caste to which we belong, regardless of our education or wealth, we all share one thing in common -- a sinful nature. We all try to live for ourselves. We do not live for God or our fellow man.

How Can Adam's Sin Affect Us?

To some people, especially those of us who come from a Hindu or Buddhist background, this teaching may appear very strange and hard to accept. They could easily ask: "How can one man's disobedience thousands of years ago affect me when I live in the last half of the twentieth century?"

It is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist teaching that "Karma" applies strictly in a personal and individual way. Each person pays for his own actions. Each person reaps only what he himself sows!

The doctrine of "Karma" further teaches that if a person watches his actions carefully, if he takes great care to sow only good seed, he will reap only good "Karma" or good results. His life will grow better and better. How do we answer this teaching?

Does "Karma" Really Affect Only Oneself?

Let us honestly look at the doctrine of "Karma". We need to face the fact that our actions are not always personal in their effects. They often involve other people as well.

If a man commits a murder, it is true that he must bear the effects of his evil deed. But his actions affect others also -- the murdered person and his family also suffer. If a man is a drunkard, he suffers because of his evil "Karma," but his wife and children suffer also.

It is certainly true that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9). No one would ever deny that. But the fact is that the law of "Karma" does not prove that we do not have a sinful nature. On the other hand, it is because we all have a sinful nature that we all produce evil "Karma".

Does the Teaching of the Law of "Karma" Produce Good Results?

The law of "Karma" clearly teaches that if a person does only good deeds, he would always enjoy good results, both in this life and in future lives. His life will constantly improve.

If this teaching were correct, we would expect that a country like India would be full of saints only, since the law of "Karma" has been taught in India for over 2000 years. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. The people of India are no different from those in any other country. This fact proves the truth of the teaching of the Bible that all humans have sinful, fallen natures.

Can I Save Myself?

Because we are all born with a sinful nature, we find ourselves helpless when it comes to living a holy, pure life. If you search your own life and your own heart, you will find how true this is! We may try to be good and pure for an hour or two, but sooner or later something happens and we are thrown off balance. Have you not had the experience mentioned in the Bible:

"I don 't do the good I want to do
instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do."
(Romans 7:19.)

It is impossible for us, by ourselves, to escape from this mudhole of sin into which we have fallen. Our hearts are corrupted; our wills are weak; of ourselves, we are powerless to change.

Education, culture, good friends, the exercise of the will, all may help to some extent, but can never change us on the inside. They may bring an outward correctness of conduct, but cannot change the heart. As the Bible says:

"Who can understand the human heart?
There is nothing else so deceitful;
it is too sick to be healed."
(Jeremiah. 17:9)

God reveals to us in the Bible that this is how our hearts appear to him in his holiness and purity. He does not only see our outward appearance, but also looks into our hearts and souls! (Genesis 8:21; 1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 17:3; Luke 16:15.)

No Man Can Change Himself

One thing should be very clear by now, and that is that no human being can change himself inside. All our plans, our hopes and our best efforts are in the end spoiled by our own sinful nature. We may attempt great things, we may even make some amazing scientific advances and discoveries, but we cannot change the quality of human nature. Because of the inner corruptness of our hearts, and the selfishness of our nature, we all need help from outside ourselves.

What Do You Say?

You may think that we are painting a rather gloomy picture of mankind and its possibilities. We invite you to think carefully about what we said. Think about the people you know, and the people of your own country. Remember what has been happening all over the world in the past ten years. Think about your own attempts to better yourself. You will have to agree that the Biblical description of man is true.

We have tried to explain to you the teachings of the Bible about the need of every human being, so that you may understand why the Bible message is good news. When a man realizes that he is separated and "lost," he is ready for our next lesson. In that lesson you will begin to study the good news of God's love and his plan to help every man and woman in need.

Test Yourself No 9

Answer the following questions. and then compare your answers with the answers you find by clicking on this button: [answers]

1. How would you answer a person who denies the sinfulness of human nature  on the basis of the law of "Karma"?

2. Where in the Bible (what book, chapter and verse) do we read:

2.1 How all men became sinful?

2.2 That we do not always do what we wish to do?

2.3 What the human heart is like?