- From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, 1 do proceed all actual transgressions. 2
- Matt. 7:17-18; 12:33-35; Luke 6:43-45; John 3:3, 5; 6:37, 39-40, 44-45, 65; Rom. 3:10-12; 5:6; 7:18; 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 2:14
- Matt. 7:17-20; 12:33-35; 15:18-20; James 1:14-15
!--cke_bookmark_368S--!--cke_bookmark_368E--Here follows the classic Reformed doctrine of Total Depravity from the TULIP. I, and many others think it is better termed TOTAL INABILITY. Total Depravity gives the idea that we are as bad as we could be, which is obviously not true and not the historical sense given by the phrase. Rather, what is communicated by the phrase is that the total, i.e., whole person, is depraved and sinful. There is not an inch in us where sin does not dwell and have its reign in us. On the other hand, TOTAL INABILITY better expresses the point of the doctrine, in saying that we are totally unable to do anything that is pleasing to God. Let's define Total Depravity.
Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.
This is a pretty good definition of what Calvinists believe about the state of the unregenerate man, now let us see what the Bible says. Here is more on Total Depravity.
Man's Intentions Are Evil
Gen. 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
Even from the beginning of our lives, our motives are evil. This, the Lord God, said after the Flood, after cleansing the earth from wickedness. The Flood did not change human nature, but it demonstrated God's hatred and abhorrence of sin and what has become of His good creation. The same was said before the Flood (Gen. 6:5). Here it is said that our intentions – our motives, goals, purposes, ends, aims are evil from our youth. From the very beginning of our lives we are evil and what we do is evil. John Gill notes the following in Genesis 8:21 –
for the imagination of man's heart [is] evil from his youth; his nature is depraved, his heart is corrupt, the thoughts of it evil, yea, the imagination of it, and of them, is sinful, and that originally, even from his birth; from the time he is shook out ...