Saturday, April 14, 2012

Christianity 101: Human Depravity

Christianity 101: Human Depravity

by Patte Smith on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 3:44pm ·

We live in a culture that has elevated pride to the status of a virtue. Self-esteem, positive feelings..are what our society encourages people to seek. At the same time moral responsibility is being replaced by victimism, which teaches people to blame someone else for their personal failures & iniquities. Frankly, the biblical teachings about human depravity, sin, & guilt are not compatible with any of those ideas.
~ John MacArthur

Fundamental Christian/Biblical Doctrines are basics to the faith, yet many, if not most, Christians are woefully uneducated regarding the foundtional truths of Christianity. Everyone who claims Christ should be familiar with them. Human Depravity is most certainly one of those fundamentals.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the Word of truth.
~ II Timothy 2:15

Here are some excerpts on HUMAN DEPRAVITY for you to study.

The testimony of Scripture is explicit, both as to man's inability to perceive the glory of God, and the total absence from his heart of anything answering to a genuine love. Every Scripture which teaches that his understanding is blinded by sin, that his mind is darkness, that he needs a special illumination of the Spirit of God in order to be able to cognize Divine things, teaches most explicitly that in his natural condition he is destitute of the lowest germ of holiness. 
~ James Henley Thornwell

I will show you the eight particular properties of a man without Christ.

     1. Every man without Jesus Christ is a base man.
     2. He is a bondman.
     3. He is a beggarly man.
     4. He is a blind man.
     5. He is a deformed man.
     6. He is a disconsolate man.
     7. He is a dead man; and
     8. He is a damned man.

Every man who is out of Christ comes from a base origin. He does not have his origin from the Spirit, but from the flesh. He does not proceed from God who is the Father of lights, but from the devil who is the prince of darkness.

He is base because he commits base actions. All the actions and services of a Christ-less man, at best, are but as filthy rags and dead works. A man, in his unconverted state, is the slave and drudge of the devil, a worker of wickedness, still fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, being given over to vile affections.

He is a base man who is without Christ because he aims at base ends in whatever he does, and that two ways.
(1) In this world he aims at base ends in his hearing, reading, praying, and profession of religion. He minds himself and his own ends in all that he does.
(2) All his actions tend to base ends in another world. As the actions of a man in Christ tend to salvation, so the actions of a Christ-less man tend to damnation.
Second, a man without Christ is not only a base man, but a bondman. This Christ tells you in John 8:36, If the Son shall make you free, then are you free indeed, intimating that if you do not have an interest in Christ to free you from the slavery of sin and Satan, you are slaves indeed. This bondage and slavery, likewise, consists in three particulars: 1. they are slaves to sin; 2. to the devil, and 3. to the law.

1. Every Christ-less man is a slave to sin. In John 8:34, Jesus says, Verily I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin, and in 2 Peter 2:19, While they promise them liberty, they themselves are servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought into bondage. Every man, by nature, is a slave to his lusts, a slave to sin..

2. He is not only in bondage and slavery to sin, but to the devil, too. The last two verses of 2 Timothy 2 say, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth, that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

3. He is in bondage to the law, that is, he does nothing in obedience to the law; and this is the great misery of a man without Christ. He is bound to keep the whole law of God...All wicked men are slaves to antichrist, to sin and to the law, and this is the great misery of an unregenerate man.

You are..but a beggarly man, too, without Jesus Christ; for all the treasures of grace and mercy are hid and locked up in Christ.. Colossians 2:13, In Him are hid all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge. If you are out of Christ, you have nothing.

A man without Christ is that he is a blind man. Wicked men, during their unregeneracy, are called "darkness." Ephesians 5:8, You were sometime darkness, but now are you light in the Lord, walk as children of the light. So light is come into the world, and yet men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

Jesus Christ is to the soul that which the sun is to the earth. Take away the sun from the earth and it is nothing but a dungeon of darkness. So take away Christ from the soul and it is nothing but a dungeon of the devil. Though there is a Christ in the world, if the heart is shut and Jesus Christ is not in you, you are in a state of darkness and blindness.

Every man without Christ is a deformed man..
A man without Christ is like a body full of sores and blotches. He is like a dark house without light and a body without a head, and such a man must be a deformed man.

A Christ-less man is that he is a disconsolate man. Christ is the only spring of comfort and the fountain of all joy and consolation. Take away Christ from the soul and it is as if you took the sun away from the firmament...There is nothing in the world that sweetens the comforts and gives us joy in the possession of the things of this world more than having an interest in Jesus Christ...Though you have abundance of the things of this life, though you have more than enough, yet if you do not have an interest in Christ, you have nothing.

A man out of Christ is that he is a dead man. You know that common place in I John 5:12, He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. Hence we read in Ephesians 2:1 that unregenerate men are dead in trespasses and sins, and the reason is that Christ is a believer's life. Colossians 3:3, Our life is hid with Christ in God. Take away Christ from a man and you take away his life, and take away life from a man and he is a dead lump of flesh. Unregenerate men are termed...dead in their sins... He is spiritually dead...He does not feel the weight and burden of all his sins...So, being spiritually dead, you can lay claim to nothing, neither to grace, nor mercy, heaven, or happiness by Jesus Christ.

A dead man is still rotting and returning to the dust from whence he came; and so a man who is spiritually dead falls from iniquity to iniquity, and from one sin to another, until at last he drops down into hell fire.

A Christ-less man is that he is a damned man. If he lives and dies without Christ, he is a damned man. So says John 3:18, 'He that believeth not, he is condemned already.'..You who are without Christ must be without heaven, and consequently without happiness and salvation, and therefore you must be damned.
So that you see in these eight particular properties, in what a sad and miserable condition every Christ-less man is in, and oh! that what has now been declared concerning the wretchedness of a Christ-less man might provoke every soul among you to a holy eagerness and earnestness of spirit, above all your gettings to labor to get Jesus Christ.
~ Christopher Love

Are human beings basically good or basically evil?

The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Despite this verdict on human shortcomings, the idea persists in our humanistically dominated culture that... people are inherently good.

Next to Adolf Hitler the ordinary run-of-the-mill sinner looks like a saint. But if we lift our gaze to the ultimate standard of goodness - the holy character of God - we realize that what appears to be a basic goodness on an earthly level is corrupt to the core..

The Bible teaches the total depravity of the human race. Total depravity means radical corruption... Total depravity means that I and everyone else are depraved or corrupt in the totality of our being. There is no part of us that is left untouched by sin. Our minds, our wills, and our bodies are affected by evil. We speak sinful words, do sinful deeds, have impure thoughts. Our very bodies suffer from the ravages of sin.
Perhaps "radical corruption" is a better term to describe our fallen condition than "total depravity." ..."Radical" comes from the Latin word for "root" or "core." Our problem with sin is that it is rooted in the core of our being. It permeates our hearts. It is because sin is at our core and not merely at the exterior of our lives that the Bible says: "There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one." Romans 3:10-12

It is because of this condition that the verdict of Scripture is heard: we are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1); we are "sold under sin" (Romans 7:14); we are in "captivity to the law of sin" (Romans 7:23); and "by nature children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). Only by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit may we be brought out of this state of spiritual death. It is God who makes us alive as we become His craftsmanship (Ephesians 2:1-10).


1. Humanism sees sin at the edge or periphery of human life. It considers
human beings to be basically good.

2. Biblical Christianity teaches that sin permeates the core of our life.

3. Total depravity is not utter depravity. We are not as wicked as we
possibly could be.

4. Radical corruption points to the core sinfulness of our hearts.

Biblical passages for reflection:
Jeremiah 17:9
Romans 8:1-11
Ephesians 2:1-3
Ephesians 4:17-19
1 John 1:8-10

~ RC Sproul

  • Psalm 143:2 - one living is righteous before you.
  • Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • 2 Chronicles 6:36 - "there is no one who does not sin"
  • Isaiah 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way 
  • Micah 7:2-4 - The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
  • Romans 3:9-12 - What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (c.f. Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3)
  • 1 John 1:8,10 - If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.
  • Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19 - And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."
c.f. 1 Kings 8:46; 116:11, 130:3, 143:2; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Jeremiah 2:29; Micah 7:2-4, Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; James 3:2; etc., etc.

  • Mark 7:21-23 - "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (c.f. Matthew 15:19)
  • Psalm 5:9 - For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
Heart/Mind (Deceitful)
  • Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
  • Titus 1:15-16 - to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:3 - Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
  • Romans 1:28-31 - And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were... foolish
  • Ephesians 4:17-18 - you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
  • Jeremiah 10:7-8,14 - among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish... Every man is stupid and without knowledge
  • Matthew 15:19 - "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." (c.f. Mark 7:21-23)
  • Genesis 6:5 & 8:21 - The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... from his youth.
  • Proverbs 10:20 - the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
  • Proverbs 28:26 - Whoever trusts in his own [heart] is a fool
c.f. Deuteronomy 29:2-4; Psalm 10:4, 36:1-2, 58:4-5, 94:11; Proverbs 10:20; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Matthew 13:14; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:17-18, 23
Will/Choosing (Enslaved)
  • John 8:34 - Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin."
  • 2 Peter 2:19 - They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
  • Titus 3:3 - For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
  • Galatians 4:8-9 - Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
  • Romans 6:6,16,17,19,20 - We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey...? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed... For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
  • Romans 7:14 - For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
  • 2 Timothy 2:25-26 - God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
c.f. Isaiah 42:6-7; Psalm 51:12; John 8:31-32,36; 2 Corinthians 3:17
Affections/Desires (Perverted)
  • Romans 1:24-27 - Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
  • Ephesians 2:3 - we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
  • Proverbs 21:10 - The soul of the wicked desires evil
  • John 3:19 - And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
  • John 8:44 - "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires."
c.f. Genesis 3:16; Psalm 4:2, 52:3-4 140:8; Proverbs 10:23; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; 2 Peter 2:13
et al (Utter Ruin)
  • Titus 1:15-16 - to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
  • Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
  • Isaiah 1:5-6 - The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
Can men change themselves or still do good when they want to?
  • Jeremiah 13:23 - Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
  • 1 Samuel 24:13 - "As the proverb of the ancients says, 'Out of the wicked comes wickedness.'"
  • Matthew 7:18 - "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit." (c.f. Luke 6:43)
  • Matthew 12:34-35 - "How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil."
  • Romans 8:7 - For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
  • Genesis 6:5 & 8:21 - The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... from youth.
  • Titus 1:15-16 - to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
c.f. Job 14:4; Matthew 12:34; John 15:5; Romans 14:23; Philippians 1:11; 1 John 5:18-19
Are men at least born pure? What about the "tabula rasa"?
  • Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  • Genesis 8:21 - the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth."
  • Psalm 58:3 - The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
  • John 3:6 - "That which is born of the flesh is flesh"
c.f. Proverbs 22:15
What is the natural disposition of man toward God?
  • John 3:20 - "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."
  • Romans 8:7-8 - For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God
  • Colossians 1:21 - And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
c.f. Romans 1:28-30; James 4:4
What is man's relationship to God?
  • Psalm 58:3 - The wicked are estranged from the womb;
  • Ephesians 2:12-13 - remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:3 - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
c.f. Isaiah 59:2
Can man then do anything to please God?
  • Proverbs 15:9 - The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord
  • Proverbs 15:8 - The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (c.f. Proverbs 21:27)
  • Proverbs 28:9 - If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
  • Isaiah 64:6 - We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  • Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please [God]
  • Romans 8:7-8 - Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
c.f. Psalm 50:16; Proverbs 21:4; Isaiah 1:10-15; Amos 5:21-24

Are men at least seeking God?
  • Psalm 10:4 - In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  • John 3:20 - "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."
  • Isaiah 65:1 - "I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
  • Isaiah 64:7 - There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
  • Romans 3:10-12 - "no one seeks for God."
c.f. Romans 10:20

Then what becomes of our boasting?
  • Romans 3:27 - It is excluded.
c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:28-29, 4:7; Ephesians 2:9-9

Sin is called the plague of the heart (I Kings 8:38), foolishness bound up in the heart (Prov. 22:15), "the stony heart" (Ezek. 11:19), "the evil treasure" of the heart (Matt. 12:35). It is designated "the poison of asps" (Rom 3:13), "the old man," because it is derived from the first man and is part and parcel of us since the beginning of our own existence, and "the body of sin" (Rom. 6:6), for it is an assortment of evils, the "sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:17). It is labeled "another law in my members" (Rom. 7:23) because of its unvarying nature and power, "the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2), "the carnal mind" which is "enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). It is frequently spoken of as "the flesh" (Gal. 5:17) because conveyed by natural generation, "the old man, which is corrupt" (Eph. 4:22), "the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb. 12:1), man’s "own lust" (James 1:14), which inclines him to evil deeds.

It should be quite plain from our definitions and descriptions of congenital sin that the human constitution is not merely negatively defective, but positively depraved. There are in man’s heart not only the lack of conformity to the divine law but a deformity. Not only is the natural man without any desire for holiness; he is born with a disposition which is now radically opposed to it. Therefore he not only has no love for God, but is full of enmity against Him. Sin is also likened to "leaven" (I Cor. 5:6-7). Sin is not only the absence of beauty, but the presence of horrid ugliness; not simply the unlovely, but the hateful; not only the want of order, but real disorder. As "righteousness" expresses objectively the qualities which constitute what is good, and "holiness" the subjective state which is the root of righteousness, so sin includes not only outward acts of transgression, but the evil and rotten state of the whole inner man which inclines to and animates those external iniquities. Very far from being only an "infirmity," indwelling sin is a loathsome disease.
~ AW Pink

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