Harmatology - The Study of Sin (Part 4: Total Depravity)
Date Sent: Nov 06, 2012
Adam's sin has had dire consequences upon the human race. What is often referred to as 'original sin' refers to [in proper theological constructs] the inherited corruption that Adam's posterity has received post fall. Given that phrase, 'original sin', it'd be easy to think that term refers to the original sin of Adam himself, when, in actuality, it refers to the consequences of Adam's sin. All of Adam's posterity [i.e. every human being apart from Jesus] has been born with a radically corrupted sin nature.
As it is written,
"I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps 51:5)
Psalm 51 is a well-known psalm of David's repentance. From the beginning of the psalm he articulates his sinfulness. He says, "Have mercy upon me, O God" (vs.1a), "blot out my transgressions" (vs.1c), "wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (vs.2), I acknowledge my transgressions" (vs.3a), "my sin is always before me" (vs.3b), "against You... I have sinned, and done this evil in Your sight" (vs.4a). Therefore, when David comes to verse five (quoted above), he does so after lamenting the overwhelming nature of his sinfulness. This is important because if someone were to isolate verse five and try to understand it on its own, they might say, 'David is not talking about a sin nature in verse five, he is simply recalling the fact that his mother conceived him in an illicit sexual relationship". If you put verse five on its own, you can understand that interpretation; however, when you see verse five in light of the four verses that precede it, it's clear David is overwhelmed with his own sinfulness, the likes of which has roots that trace back to his birth and conception.
This corruption has inevitable results.
As Psalm 58:3 says, "The wicked go astray from the womb, they err from their birth, speaking lies". This verse highlights, and illustrates, the natural tendency for fallen man to sin. We are, in our flesh, "by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:3) and slaves of sin (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:16). In other words, we are prone to rebel against the God who created us, and, as a consequence of our treason, we are under His just wrath.
Now, the term 'Total Depravity' can be misleading. It does not mean that every human being is as depraved as he or she can be; rather, it means all of our faculties have been corrupted; including: our hearts, our minds, and our bodies; the entirety of our person.
The heart of fallen man is identified as "deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9a), “beyond cure" (Jer 17:9b), "darkened" (Rom 1:21), and the place from which comes "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly" (Mk 7:21-22).
The carnal mind is at "enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be" (Rom 8:7). Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, "the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Concerning our bodies, the Apostle Paul put it plainly, "nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh" (Rom 7:18). The sinful nature [to quote Galatians 5:17] "desires what is contrary to the Spirit", and thus, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:8)
[There’s still much more to be said concerning the doctrine of Total Depravity. Lord willing, in our next Daily Teaching we’ll seek to dig the Biblical foundation deeper still, and lay the groundwork for the implications of it.]