There are many things that are being taught in the religious world today. Some of these things are true; however, sad to say, many of these doctrines are false. One doctrine about which the majority of the religious world is in error is the state of the natural man. The general belief concerning the natural man is that man is born innocent and remains in this innocent state until a certain age or until some point in his life. Nevertheless, the Scriptures teach just the opposite. In fact, the Word of God states that man, each and every human being without exception, is a sinner from the time of conception. Also, in addition to this, man is in this condition to such an extent that he is unable to do anything to remove himself from this depraved condition. This doctrine is called “total depravity.“
What is Man’s Depravity?
Before we study of this teaching, we need to define the subject a little more. Basically, the doctrine of total depravity is, as stated above, that each and every human being without exception comes into being as a sinner and that he cannot do anything to remove himself from this sinful condition. Not only are all sinners, but they are in such a state of sin that every faculty of their body is affected by this sinful state. We might state this also in another way. Total depravity is, all the ways, thought, and actions of an individual are contrary to the ways, thoughts, and actions of God. Man does not desire to do what God would have him to do, neither can he by his own self do anything that is pleasing to God. This condition came upon all men through the sin of Adam. The only way that man can do what God would have him to do is to have the Spirit of God in him. An individual that is totally depraved loves to do his own ways, for his own self and does not love the ways of God, neither God, nor God’s people, only himself. For proof of this, we need to go back to the beginning and see how man was created and fell from his original position.
Man’s Dreadful Fall
In Genesis 1:27, we find that all mankind was created in the image of God in the first man Adam. Therefore, Adam, being in a righteous state and in communion with God, (because everything that God made was “very good”) was placed in a goodly place in
the Garden. Adam was given the blessings of happiness and responsibility in the Garden of Eden, as well as a home and fellowship with his Creator. As long as Adam did not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would live forever in the state of blessedness in which God had put him.
But in the day that he did eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would be separated from this state of blessedness and would die. We find that Adam did eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and as soon as he had eaten of it, he knew that he was a sinful man. When God would come near, he would run and hide because he knew that he could not stand in the presence of God. Why? He had violated God’s law and he was ashamed of himself in the sight of God.
Even though Adam had tried to cover himself with fig leaves, he still had to admit to God that he was naked. Due to what Adam
had done, he was dying a physical death which ran its course within 930 years. Also Adam was separated from walking with God
and being before Him without blame. He had violated a commandment of God, He had missed the mark, He had sinned, He had
been disobedient to God.
We also know that we were disobedient to God because we were in Adam. Paul said that God had “made of one blood all nations
of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). In Romans 5:12, he stated, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” However, in the Greek, which is the original language of the New Testament, “have” is not there.
The translation should be “for that all sinned.” The meaning is that every individual that is a descendant of Adam actively sinned in Adam. And for that reason, death has passed upon everyone. You might ask the question, “Could it be that the reason we die is because we commit a sin after we are born?” Romans 4:14 states, “Where no law is, there is no transgression.” From the time of Adam until Moses, people died; nevertheless, there was not any law that condemned them as far as sins committed after they were born. This confirms the statement found in Romans 5:18, “by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” We also know that it is not due to actual sins committed after birth that infants die at birth. If they were pure and perfect, they would not die. Job 14:4 states that it is impossible for sinful parents to bring into the world a sinless being. The Psalmist also described the state that a child is in when he is born when he said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
Psalm 58:3-5 says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear: which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.”
This passage is describing the state of the wicked, and the Scriptures tell us that everyone was by nature in that condition at one time. Ephesians 2:1-3 says that we “were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation (manner of life) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Again the Scriptures describe the completeness of this depravity of each individual in Romans 3:11-19, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is note that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the
law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Galatians 3:10 teaches, “Cursed is
every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” By this we must conclude that each and everyone is sinful. In fact, man, by nature, is so sinful that he cannot by himself please God.
Romans 8:7, affirm that “the carnal mind (i.e. a mind of the flesh) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The writer of Proverbs states in 21:2, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Do all these things mean that if a man is dead in sin he will live such an openly wicked life that his wickedness will be manifested to all? Not exactly. The man with a wicked heart has a heart that loves only self. Everything that he does is only for the betterment of self. He does not do anything because he loves God, and he does not desire to serve God because of His justness. The Scriptures state that even “the plowing of the wicked is sin” (Proverbs 21:4). What? Just plowing in a field is sin? Yes. Because the only reason that he is plowing is to get something for himself and not to the honor and glory of God nor to “dress and keep the earth” as he was told to do in Genesis. God’s Word further states, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15:8). Yes, even though man with a wicked heart may do something that is good in the eyes of man, as far as the Lord is concerned, it is putrid in His sight and “is an abomination.” Why? The wicked only do good for what they can get out of it. Man may try to serve God only for the blessings, but it will profit him nothing. In order to serve God, man must do it with a godly heart. When this is the case, man will be serving God not to get the blessings, but because he knows that God is due all the service and honor because of His righteousness. Anytime we serve God just for the blessings or to keep from being punished, we are serving Him from a selfish and fleshly heart. If we serve Him because we love Him, His ways, His people and because we know that He is due the praise, we are serving Him from a spiritual heart.
God demands that the sinner be punished for his sins. The Word of God states that sin must be judged. The book of Hebrews states that vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will recompense and judge His people (Hebrew 10:30).
We sin against God in thought, word, or deed. In addition to this, our sin in Adam in the Garden must be paid for. Unless the payment is made, we shall suffer forever due to the condemnation of sin. If we are to go free that debt must be paid by us or someone else. But how can we pay for our sins when we are in a dead condition? We neither have the desire nor the ability to do anything that is pleasing in God’s sight. If “the plowing of the wicked” is sin, and we are “children of wrath even as others,” then how is it that we can satisfy God? Even the Psalmist writes in 14:2-3, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Therefore, how can man ever have any hope? He is not only a sinner by action, but also by nature. His entire nature is to lust after the things that are opposite to God. Nevertheless, God demands justice and justice must be carried out. Either we must meet the demands or someone else must meet them.
There is no way of escaping God’s punishment; it must be met for justice to be maintained. But how can we? We can not! It is hopeless for us to try. God’s justice demands payment for all sins both past and present. Therefore, the only thing that we can see for man is doom and nothing else.