The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Doctrines of Grace- Total Depravity

By: Thomas Clayton Booher

Total Depravity is the biblical teaching that all men are born into this world with a nature that has no desire to please or glorify God, but only a desire to fulfill its own lusts. There is much in scripture that verifies this doctrine (formal teaching).
When David was confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12), he was stricken with grief and sorrow over his heinous acts of adultery and murder. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer in which he confessed his sin to God and sought forgiveness. In his confession, he reveals that his sin goes deeper than the acts he committed; it goes to the core of his nature, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me, Psalm 51:5. David, like all of us, was conceived and born a sinner.
Paul cites the Old Testament to confirm that There is none righteous, no, not one...there is none who seeks after God...there is none who does good, no, not one, Romans 3:10-12. The apostle explains to the Ephesians that we are dead in trespasses and sins and walk in our sinful desires, Eph 2:1-3.
Our condition from birth is a completely corrupt and degenerate state. We are hostile toward God. We are unable to keep his law or please him, Romans 8:8, 9. Spiritual and holy things are foolishness to us, 1 Cor 2:14.
The biblical teaching is that we are sinners not only by acts of sin, but we are sinners by nature, it is the way were conceived and born. It is our pleasure to sin because that is what we are in our hearts. In Matt 5:19, Jesus relates, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. This list is merely a sample. Jesus’s point is that the sin which defiles us comes from within, from our hearts.
This places man in a very helpless state. He can do nothing to change his heart. He has no desire to change. He may want to change the undersirable circumstances he falls into because of his sin, but he does not want to change what he is. He may make changes that are commendable and appear to be a change of heart, but they are only changes that are preferable to an otherwise undesirable situation. He may take classes on anger-management, not because he wants to stop sinning through anger, but because it will help him to get along with others – a necessity he sees if he wants to keep his job, keep his wife, or simply obtain a greater chance of getting his way.
Though the sinner is incapable of doing anything but sin, he may appear to do things that are good. The doctrine of total depravity does not ignore that man has a sense of right and wrong. We know that God has placed that sense within him, Rom 2:15. But the unbeliever has neither the power nor the desire to do what is right as an act of reverence for God and his commands. There is nothing he can do to turn God’s favor toward him, for all his so-called righteous acts are as filthy rags in God’s eyes (Is 64:6).
If there is any help, it must come from without, for his heart generates only sin and enmity toward God. Not only must it come from without, but it must come in a way that he cannot resist it. It must be God who does something, for he can do nothing for himself. He must be born again.

The Doctrines of Grace – Total Depravity, Part 2

Total Depravity is the biblical teaching that man is born a sinner, so corrupt that there is nothing within him capable of seeking or pleasing God. We are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and none of us is born to seek after God. We are at enmity against him. (Rom 3:10-12; 8:8,9; Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 2:14).
The totally depraved man is called the natural man in 1 Cor 2:14. The natural man does not receive anything from the Spirit of God, it is all foolishness to him. Nor has he the power to investigate the things of God because they can only be discerned through the Spirit. Unless there is a change within, the natural man will not seek after God nor understand the things of God. He will continue in his sin.
In Nicodemus’s interview with Jesus (John 3), Jesus tells him that unless a man is born again, that is, born of the Spirit, he cannot see or enter into the kingdom of God, John 3:3, 5. To be in the kingdom of God is to be no longer a part of the wicked world system, but to be freed from it and come under God’s rule and blessing (cf 1 John 2:15-17; 5:4,18,19; John 17:9,15,16). It is a kingdom of righteousness and the sons of the kingdom pursue that righteousness, Matt 6:33. In the end, it will be purged of those who work iniquity, Matt 13:41.
A man enters the kingdom by repenting and believing the gospel. He must come to the place where he understands his sinfulness before God and realize there is no salvation from it except in Christ who, as the Lamb of God, offered himself a sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath against him. He must turn to Christ for salvation from his sins. But how can he do that if he is totally depraved and incapable of understanding his sinfulness and God’s condemnation?
He cannot. Being totally depraved, man is spiritually dead and must be spiritually quickened before he will ever see and believe. That is what the Spirit of God does. He regenerates the sinner by raising him out of spiritual death into spiritual life. The Spirit of God gives the sinner eyes to see and ears to hear (cf Matt 13:15,16). The Spirit of God enlivens the dead sinner, giving him an understanding mind and a willingness to come to Christ. Without regeneration, the sinner will remain dead in his sins and perish.
When we understand that men are totally depraved and incapable of coming to Christ, our method of evangelism is affected. If we believe that there is some inherent capacity in men to repent and believe the gospel, we might resort to gimmicks and sensationalism to get men to respond. A simple nudge is all they need. Much evangelism is like this. It is because of faulty theology.
Since we believe that none but the Spirit of God can open the eyes of the blind or raise the spiritually dead to life, our evangelism focuses strictly on the gospel itself. We confront the sinner with his sin and warn him of God’s judgment. We offer Christ, and no other, as the sacrifice for his sins. We rely not on ourselves but on the Spirit of God alone to open the sinner’s eyes to see the truth of what we say and to move him to repent and believe.

The Doctrines of Grace – Total Depravity, Part 3

As we have seen, the doctrine of total depravity is the biblical teaching that man is conceived and born a sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, and at enmity against God rather than revering Him and seeking his glory. (Ps 14:1-4; 51:5; Rom 3:10-12; 8:8,9; Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 2:14).
As sinners who do not have the desire or the ability to do anything good, and because repentance and faith would surely be counted as one of those good things we cannot do, there must be a change within us. Such a change would create a new disposition toward God and a true understanding of our need of Christ. Hence, we must be renewed before we can savingly believe.
Paul himself was confident that such a change was possible. His confidence shows in his reminder to the Ephesian elders of his work among them, I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying .... of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20:20,21. Paul was sure there would be repentance and faith in his preaching because he had confidence in God’s Spirit to regenerate by changing listener’s hearts inwardly from death to life and thereby enabling them to hear and understand.
The Spirit of God does not bring about this change apart from the hearing of the word of God. Paul’s preaching of the word was used by the Spirit to do a regenerating work in the hearers. Paul shows the connection between hearing and believing in Romans 10:12-14, For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Paul knew that the preached word is the sword of the Spirit, cutting through to the innermost part of man at his heart, cf Heb 4:12.
What are the implications for us who are lights in a dark world? What bearing does the doctrine of total depravity have on our witness?
First, we must know what the gospel message is. Does that not sound obvious? But there are many professing Christians who are unable to give an accurate message or a coherent one. They may press for a decision without confronting the sinner with his sin and the satisfaction of Christ’s death for those who repent and believe. Or, they may muddle their way through and confuse the hearer rather than give a clear explanation of the truth, which the Spirit must have in order to do his regenerating work.
Second, after ensuring our message is clear and accurate, we must rely wholly on the Spirit of God to bring his people to repentance and faith. We must not see it as our job to do the convincing. Our job is to witness with conviction, not produce the conviction. That is the Spirit’s work.
Third, we must take stock and examine ourselves (2 Cor 12:5). The sin nature has not been eradicated from us, and it is always striving to regain the mastery (Rom 6:11,12; Gal 5:17). A witness who does not take heed to himself (1 Tim 4:16) and exercise an ongoing repentance will besmirch the gospel and the name of Christ. His testimony will be worthless.

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