What is Total Depravity and its Remedy

Posted: January 12, 2012 by rickyroldan in Apologetics, Exegesis, Topical
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First let me state that I will be using the Westminster Confession of Faith(a Reformed Confession) to summarize the doctrines that we are going to investigate.

WCF 9:2,3

II. Man, in his state of innocence, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself to it.

The position a person takes concerning the way in which God saves man will be, to a large extent, due to the view one takes in reference to sin and its effect on man’s nature hence the reason why we will begin with Total Depravity for it entails the status or condition of man’s will after the fall.

When you hear us Calvinist/Reformed speak of being totally depraved what we mean by this is that man’s nature is corrupt, perverse, and sinful throught his whole being. What we DON’T MEAN by it is that man is as corrupt and perverse as he could possibly be, this is not what we mean by “total”. The word “total” for us then means that the WHOLE of man’s being is affected by sin this corruption of sin extends to EVERY part of man body and soul. Sin has defiled the totality of man’s faculties, his mind and his WILL.

There is a point that I find is neglected in these discussions concerning this subject. Please refer to the WCF paragraph 2 that I included above. Notice what it says. Humanity was not originally made in this corrupt condition. God made Adam and Eve upright with TRUE FREE WILL. The early church father St. Augustine described this free condition as “posse peccare and posse non peccare” which in latin means that Adam had the ability to sin and the ability NOT TO SIN this was freedom in its essence. He had no natural desire to choose evil.

BUT! In the fall Adam lost the ability NOT TO SIN for himself and for his offsprings, us (this is the doctrine of Original Sin) and plunged us into spiritual ruin and death. Also destroying the ability to choose spiritual good over evil. As a result of this cosmic tragedy man will is no longer free as Adam and Eve’s will was free before the fall, instead man’s will is in bondage to his sinful nature the will now becoming a slave to sin and dead to righteousness.

Now we are all born in sin, inhereting this depravity the unregenerate (spiritually dead) person is totally unable to do anything spiritually good therefore being unable to choose God in and of himself or to do anything contributing to his or her salvation. The Scriptures teach that man in this fallen state are enemies of God by “nature” blind and deaf to spiritual truth, dead in trespasses and sin, children of satan enslaved and under his control, their hearts are corrupt and evil. Man if left in this dead state are unable of themselves to believe the Gospel, repent, and come to Christ. Man has no power to change their own nature or to ressurect themselves and follow Christ.

Man must be made alive being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit given a NEW heart in order to follow Christ.

We still have a will and the ability to choose but the problem is that we will NEVER choose any spiritual good (we’re dead spiritually) but will ALWAYS choose spiritual evil (because we are its slave and love being one).

Heart/Mind (Deceitful and Wicked)

•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

Mans Will a slave not free

•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.

It would also be best to read these passages in their context….

Natural man in his dead state cannot comprehend the gospel or come to saving knowledge of God on his own will.

•1 Corinthians 2:14 – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

•2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – our gospel is veiled… to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

•1 Corinthians 1:18,21-24 – For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles

•Deuteronomy 29:2-4 – And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”

•Matthew 11:27 – “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

•Romans 8:7-9 – 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. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Dead man cannot can come to God or choose salvation

•John 3:27 – John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”

•John 14:16-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”

•John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

•John 6:44,65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

•Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

•Romans 11:35-36 – “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things.

•1 Corinthians 1:30 – And because of him you are in Christ Jesus

•Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
It is God who must resurrect the dead man

•Colossians 2:13 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses

•Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

And my Favorite:

•Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ahhhhhh what amazing and sweet Grace!!

This in essence is Total Depravity

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Comments
  1. bartosik says:

    just curious if that spiritual good is only related to salvation or if you expand it to cover any possible good that someone could do? Aka a mothers love- if rooted in a non-christian it is wicked, evil, sinful but love coming from a spirit filled christian mother it is pleasing to God….just curious. hit me back.

  2. rickyroldan says:

    Thank you for the question.

    The Scriptures teach that any good work not done in faith is as “dirty rags” unto the Lord.

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