Are Men Born Sinners?

by Alfred T. Overstreet  

Appendix C

The Rational Moral Nature of Man

That man is responsible and accountable for his deeds is so obvious that to try to prove it would be something like a teacher of first graders trying to prove to them that the sun exists. The class might well interrupt: "But teacher, we know that the sun exists. See, there it is in the sky."

When God gave the law on Mount Sinai, he did not try to prove first to his people that they were responsible and accountable moral agents. They already knew this because of the testimony of their rational nature. They were as conscious of their responsibility and accountability as they were that the sun existed. The law of God was already written in their hearts before God gave them the law written upon tables of stone. They already knew right from wrong before God said, "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not." They already had a conscience and knew themselves to be accountable for their deeds before God warned them of judgment for disobedience. They did not need proof of their accountability, for this they had by the constant testimony of their rational moral nature. No one needs the Bible in order to know right from wrong. Murder, adultery, lying, and stealing are not wrong just because the Bible says they are wrong. They are wrong by nature. They are wrong because they violate the demands of the rational moral nature with which God created us.

The law that God has given us is not arbitrary or imposed; it is declaratory. God has declared to us the same law that is revealed in our nature, the same law that is written in our hearts, a law that harmonizes with our nature, necessities, and relations as moral beings. Had God given us a law that contradicted our nature--had he commanded us to be selfish, to work evil to our neighbor, to lie, steal, and hate our fellow man--we would all know by the testimony of our rational, moral nature that such a law was wrong and unjust. It is only because the law of God does agree with the law written in our hearts that we can and do judge it to be a just and righteous law.

This agreement between the rational moral nature of man and the teachings of the Bible gives compelling testimony to the truth of the Bible. Men do not need to have proved to them that the Bible is divinely inspired anymore than they need someone to prove that the sun exists. Their own moral nature is in such agreement with the holy teachings of the Bible, that it is a battle for wicked men to resist and smother the convictions they have when they hear the preaching of God's Word.


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