Understanding man’s true state in sin is the first essential piece of information needed to understand the rest of the Gospel. You cannot appreciate the depths of the grace and mercy of God in Christ until you compare yourself to God’s greatness. Once you realize you have nothing, are nothing, can do nothing right before God because of your wicked heart, at that point after having your eyes opened and ears unplugged by the Holy Spirit, can you see and hear the greatness and sufficiency of Christ. John Calvin said, “Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty,” and also, “True knowledge of ourselves destroys self confidence.” We are not to be confident in ourselves, but confident in God and who He is. One failure in this doctrine will result in a series of cataclysmic doctrinal dominoes that inevitably lead to a squelching of the Gospel itself, which ultimately leads to a squelching and suppression of God’s glory and truth. If we believe we are less than at odds with God in our natural selves, or that sin has not affected every aspect of our lives, including our willing and choosing, we will not understand or appreciate God’s grace, mercy, holiness, perfection, the cross, the atonement, election, and so many other points as we should. We must first realize that before God, we are nothing, we are sinners, worthy of eternal hell-fire. We deserve nothing less than this. What a merciful God to provide salvation for anyone at all!
What The Term “Total Depravity” Is Not Saying:
1) That we are all as bad as we could be, or that we are utterly depraved.
2) This phrase is not a way of trying to intensify the argument that we’re all “SINNERS” by attempting to argue using an emotional appeal. Total Depravity is an extensive argument, meaning sin has affected every area and facet of our lives, spiritually, physically, emotionally, psychologically, in ever way.
I would like to make it known also that we are not morally comparing ourselves to other people in the world. We are not comparing ourselves to society, pedophiles, Hitler, philanthropists, or anyone else; other people are not the metric. The metric we compare ourselves against is the infinite holines and majesty of God alone. As Isaiah said when comparing himself before God’s majesty in Isaiah 6:5, “‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'”
What it is saying:
1) That in our natural selves, being born into sin, we are corrupted in our understanding, thinking, willing, affections, desires, emotions, speech, acting, in every possible way, we are sinners. Nothing in our nature has escaped the grasp of sin. As I like to say, we are “thoroughly depraved”. There is no area of our lives that is outside of the bondage of sin. (It must be noted that it is from this point where we say “faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature,” (John Hendryx) because we’re totally depraved.)
2) I believe scripture will be the most helpful and convincing though (it is God’s inerrant word, our final infallible authority) in what it says concerning the depravity of humanity, because this is how God Himself describes us (which doesn’t He define reality, not man?); pay very close attention to the language the scriptures use to describe all of us; none of us are outside of these descriptions, it all applies to every one of us:
Proverbs 16:2 “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.”
1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
What the LORD says concerning our sin and condition:
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.”
Psalm 143:2 “…no one living is righteous before you.”
Proverbs 20:9 “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?”
Isaiah 53:6a “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…”
Of believer’s in their previous natural condition (like all of men), Ephesians 2:1 says “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” Spiritually dead!
Psalm 39:5b “Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
Psalm 94:11 “the LORD–knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.”
Jeremiah 2:29 “Why do you contend with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the LORD.”
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. The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand.”
Job 15:14-16 “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!”
Proverbs 4:16-17 “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
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.”
Jeremiah 16:12 “…every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.”
Romans 8:7-8 “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. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
And finally, the most convincing climax of the depravity of man in the Old Testament scriptures, done by Paul in Romans 3:10-18:
“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. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
This is God’s holy word, inerrant, speaking of the things concerning the depth of man’s depravity. come to an end of trying to morally please God with your dead works. You will never avail by them. By the power of God, I pray you will be raised to new life and believe in Jesus Christ, the atonement for our sins.