Total Depravity

“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature.” –Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Some call it “Radical Depravity”. Others describe it as “Moral Inability.” In short, Total Depravity refers to the effect of the fall in the garden. It describes how sin has corrupted the whole Man -heart, mind, will, and body. This is why it’s described as total. Within every human being is the ability to commit any sin, every sin, and all sin.

“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds” (Isaiah 1:5-6).

Total Depravity does not mean that we are all violent criminals or serial killers. Yes, sin has corrupted the whole person, and anyone of us could become a serial killer if left to ourselves. However, in grace, God’s restrains us. He keeps us from the sin we are capable of. This intervention of God is called Restraining Grace.

The consequences of our total depravity are fatal…

The effect of sin on our heart…

Since our heart is polluted by sin our love and emotions are no longer God-centered but sin-centered. Our heart is callous and cold to the things of God. This means that we are incapable of truly loving God as He truly is. We may be able to love a god of our own making, but the Holy and Just God, as revealed in the Bible, we are incapable of loving. The only reason why some of us love Him is because He first loved us (1 Jn.4:19).

The effect of sin on our mind…

Since our mind is polluted by sin, we are incapable of knowing and understanding God personally. We may know about God -for everyone can see Him in creation -but beyond general revelation, we are blind. We may even be able to assert certain facts of God’s character and work, but being positively and permanently affected by them in our thinking, we are not. The only reason why some of us understand the mysteries of Christ and the gospel unto salvation, is because we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor.2:14-16).

The effect of sin on our will…

The human will is like your decision-making factory. What you desire to do, and consequently, what you choose to do is your will. Just look at your pattern of choices and you will soon discover it. When Adam rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit, Sin became the owner of his will. It was a hostile takeover. And like Adam, Sin now manages our every desire and decision. We have to sin and we want to sin. We may be able to know certain truths of God, we may even know that we are supposed to love Him, but because our will is polluted by sin, we cannot. It’s like trying to get a man or woman to become attracted to an individual that they are clearly not attracted to. No matter what you do, they will not be physically attracted to them in any way that would stir affections for a long term relationship. So it is with the sinner and God!

We have free-will and we are free to choose what we want. Sadly, there is nothing inside a dead sinner that would want Christ. If left to ourselves, we would have stayed to ourselves; we would have never turned to Christ. But there came a day when God awakened us to His Son. We chose Christ because God first chose us (Jn.15:16). We love Him because He first loved us. And we now desire Him because He gave us a new heart capable of such desires (Eze.11:19-20; Heb.8:10).

Salvation doesn’t ultimately rest on the decision of a man; Salvation ultimately rests on the decision of God to seek and save the lost.

-by Jonathan Michael Dean