Total Depravity

Farmville Enterprise January 10, 2018

A few days before Christmas The Babylon Bee, a website of Christian satire, posted an article entitled “Santa Claus Converts to Calvinism, Moves Everybody to Naughty List.” It jokingly said that Santa had a “transformative moment reading R.C. Sproul’s What Is Reformed Theology” and asked, “How can I put anyone on the nice list, when every human being is totally depraved from birth?” You might be familiar with T.U.L.I.P. or the five points of Calvinism and that the “T” stands for “total depravity.” This is the idea that every area of a person’s life has been affected by sin. This is not to say that we are each as bad as we possibly could be, but that sin touches all parts of our lives. R.C. Sproul writes that “the doctrine of total depravity reflects the Reformed viewpoint of original sin.” “Virtually every church historically that has a creed or a confession has agreed that something very serious happened to the human race as a result of the first sin—that first sin resulted in original sin. That is, as a result of the sin of Adam and Even, the entire human race fell, and our nature as human beings since the fall has been influenced by the power of evil.” Sproul goes on to posit that “The idea is that we are not sinners because we sin, but that we sin because we are sinners.”  Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” In Romans 7:15-21 the apostle Paul expresses his frustration with our fallen natures this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Paul also writes, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1; 3-5)

The reason so many of us make New Year’s resolutions is that we all have areas in our lives where we fall short. We spend too much, eat too much, say too much, look out for our own interests too much or generally seek personal pleasure too much. It is wise to assess our shortcomings and endeavor to improve in these areas, understanding that we do not do it in our own strength or to earn God’s favor, but to live like Jesus.



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