Totally Depraved or Progressively Better

June 17, 2022
Church family: Have you committed sin with your mind by thinking evil? Have you committed sin with your heart/soul by desiring evil? Have you committed sin with your body by doing evil? So, the answer to all three of those questions for every human that has ever lived is “Yes – Yes – Yes.” You are not alone.

There is no part of us that has escaped the devastation of sin, which is the point of the biblical term, “total depravity.” Every day we are either recipients or distributors of sin. Apart from Jesus Christ, Adam’s sin in the Garden affected every part of every person of every generation. Sin has had a universal effect on everybody and everything (Romans 3:9-20; 8:20-22). Every day we are inclined by our nature to reject God’s rule and serve our own will and desires.

This is the first message of the gospel. God wants us to completely grasp that our greatest problem is that we are guilty before Him as sinners. He does not expect us to just be better, think better, talk better. Instead, He expects us to humble ourselves under the truth that we cannot stand before a holy God while we are completely infected by sin. For the gospel to be the good news of salvation we must humble ourselves under this weighty doctrine of “total depravity” or we will not understand the true meaning of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Without the embrace of our total depravity, we embrace the world's thinking that we are good and capable of a righteousness that would impress God. The world today believes that — given enough time, education, and opportunity — people will become progressively better on their own. They believe that societies will become more humane, that science will give us all the answers, and nations will become more civilized. This is called progressivism.

Progressivism is the man-centered foundation of the modern secular mind and is the antithesis of the biblical doctrine of total depravity. Progressivism seeps into the gospel and the church and is tragically sending people to hell. It causes people to turn away from God and seek salvation in science, activism, or themselves.

H.R. Niebuhr said it best, “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

If we begrudge the truth of our total depravity then we have yet to be convinced and convicted of our own sin. If we cannot admit that we are pervasively a sinner, then we are really not in need of a Savior. These realizations must occur, silencing our hearts and mouths before Him because there is a demand upon us that we cannot answer through works (Romans 3:19-20). The doctrine of total depravity is meant to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we will see our need of a Savior and receive the only answer to our sin – a righteousness that is not our own – Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Total depravity is the harsh doctrine that leads us to the abundance of Christ's righteousness that makes us completely acceptable to God. It is the first part of a gospel that brings light not darkness, hope, not despair, peace, not fear, healing not pain and reconciliation not separation. Total depravity drives us to pursue people with the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ in all its glory because where sin increases grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).
All praise, honor and glory to God for the grace He has shown us in Jesus Christ, who transforms the depraved into His disciples.

See you Sunday as grace abounds, Steve

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