Sunday, February 12, 2006

Total Depravity, Part 2

Now, welcome to Part 2 of Total Depravity. As promised, we will follow the outline given in the Prologue to the series. To recap, I defined depravity as a depraved (corrupted or degraded) condition of moral perversion in which virtue and moral principles are impaired. Combined with the historical background given, I arrived at this definition for total depravity: the idea that the impairment of man's will is total, so total that the will is not inclined to do good. Now, let us move into the biblical support for this doctrine. Again, thanks to Aaron Shafovaloff for the list of Scriptures he provided in Part 1. That's an amazing list just from the book of Romans alone. Saved me a load of time, he did. Some I'll use, others I won't; but it's a good reference in support. Hey Aaron--send me your blog address so I have the proper link here. If not, that's okay. Biblical Support In the interest of saving space, I'll give a sampling of some pertinent verses. Genesis 6:5 - States quite clearly that "every inclination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil all the time." This is what precipitated the Flood. Every person's desire of the heart is not God, but evil. Jeremiah 13:23 - "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" We are incurably evil. Sin cannot be cured. This is why sinners are punished with Hell. John 6:44 - "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." While this is not explicit in the same way the first two are, it seems clear that no one is willing to go to Jesus of their own volition. Romans 3:10-12 - The "none are righteous" verses. These are among my favorite verses in the entire Bible, and they quite clearly state that none of us enjoy any state of holiness or righteousness before God. We are sinners and that is that. 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." In our natural state (fallen), we cannot understand God. We are so corrupted by sin that we cannot even comprehend our Creator! Implications What are the implications of these verses (and many more like them)? Let us turn to Ephesians 2:1-3 to gather a picture of the natural person:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--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.
What this means is quite simple. First, we are dead as a doorknob. We are walking corpses. Zombies! As such, we are unable to do anything at all. Think about what zombies look like. They are rotting away. What a horrible picture of our condition--because of sin, we are rotting away. Second, we practice evil willingly. We willingly seek brains and don't care what we have to do to get it. We will trample over everyone--including family, friends, and even ourselves--to get what we want. We want brains, and we want it brains...er, now. That pretty accurately describes the human condition--all we care about are our selfish desires. Third, we are enslaved to sin. We are slaves to our selfish desires. We are enslaved to the brains we are so horribly eating. And we can't get enough. We can never get enough. As such we will gorge ourselves constantly until we feel satisfied, which unfortunately is never. A side effect of this enslavement (though it can rightly be a primary symptom) is that we have lost all understanding of morality and spirituality. We are so consumed by our sinful needs that it is all we understand. Anything higher simply confuses us. Fourth, we are the objects of God's wrath. Think about this for a minute. Do you really allow a zombie to live? Not no, not oh no, but OH MY STARS AND GARTERS NO! You kill that sucker dead. And you burn 'im for good measure, just so he doesn't grow any new limbs. That's hell, my friends. God is burning the zombies for all eternity. Those of you who are horror fans know the only way to effectively kill a zombie is to burn it. Fifth, a serious meditation of these above four implications leads us to the inescapable conclusion that we need help if we are ever going to get out of this horrible condition. We need someone to come along with the cure for our sin. But sin is incurable. Therefore we need someone to step in and transform us. That's why Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-14--
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, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Summary So, we are rotting zombies who are willingly enslaved to our need for brains, and as such are slated for destruction. That, in a horror-movie nutshell, is what total depravity is about. Seriously, we are. Sin has turned us into self-seeking automatons, and as such we are unable to do or be any earthly good at all. We need to be transformed if we are to have any hope of escaping our horrible condition. Death will result if someone does not come along and transform us. My View There is really not much I can say here except to wholeheartedly affirm that I am a rotting, evil, worthless zombie in need of transformation. I fully deserve to experience the eternal wrath of God for my sins. Furthermore, my inclination towards sin has infected every part of my being, so that there is nothing I do that does not contain some ulterior selfish motive, no matter how miniscule. The Romans 3 passage is what convinced me early in my walk that absolutely no one can claim to be righteous. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. So, do I believe the doctrine of total depravity? Yes, unashamedly. Well, that wraps up Total Depravity. Feel free to hash it out in the comments, and if you should see any needed revisions, expansions, etc. let me know and I will either edit the post or take them on in the comments section. Join us next time as we look at the second doctrine, Unconditional Election!

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