There are two prevalent misconceptions which are seemingly dissimilar, but stem from the same error.
1. God would not willfully destroy whole nations as the Old Testament relates.
2. The world can improve morally, and therefore socially, through correct teaching and “righteous” legislation.
Both concepts emanate from a misunderstanding of the condition of man.
The first reasons that because God is loving, just, and merciful He could not wipe out a nation. It does not accept the truth that all men deserve to be wiped-out and sent to hell for eternity. It does not understand that all men have lived only because of the forbearing mercy of God, and that He can justly withdraw that mercy at any time for His purposes (which in the truth of His wisdom are still loving).
The second believes that there is intrinsic good in man that can be brought out by healthy conditioning and environment, and as a result the world can progress to be a better place. The truth that man is totally bankrupt morally and spiritually, and helpless to change his condition, is not understood. The truth that divine intervention is the only hope of mankind, and that only a few (a remnant) will embrace that Hope by faith while the rest of the world proceeds in rebellion in a downward spiral of sin, death, and destruction is not understood.
Correct understanding of man’s reprobate condition goes to the heart of the Gospel. If there is even a spark of good or worth in a man, then he can potentially save himself; and the work of the cross is undone. The truth of the Gospel, however, is that each and every man already stands helplessly condemned and can be saved only by the merciful gift of the grace of God. Correct understanding of our individual condition leading to repentance is necessary for each of us to receive the gift of salvation from God. Furthermore, so lost are we – so deceitful our hearts – that we cannot even have a correct understanding of our own condition without God’s grace, i.e. by revelation by the Spirit of God.