A theology of total depravity

The biggest myth in our world today is the belief that mankind has some type of redeeming quality in and of themselves. Perpetuated by the belief that original sin only wounded mankind, instead of completely making him depraved, we carry on with the belief that somehow salvation can be obtained by our own innate goodness, works, or some combination of the two.

The reality is that because of sin, we are completely and utterly lost. The Bible describes it in this manner:

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5

“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” Genesis 8:21

“Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34

The fact of the matter is that there is no way you can earn your way into heaven. There is no good behavior pass. There is no clause in the Bible that says, “Oh, but they meant well… let them in anyways.” The reality is that you and I, because of the sin of Adam, have inherited a sin nature that displeases God and works against him. Or better said in Romans 8:7:

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Our only out is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our only way to heaven is to find grace through Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification. For those who believe in Jesus, he is our substitute, our atonement, our way to the Father.

Have you considered the true gospel message in your life? For so many, a simple prayer suffices the requisites of salvation. We think that because one day at an altar we said, “God, forgive me,” that suddenly our pass to heaven was written. That is absolutely, positively false! Consider the tenants of the real gospel message, with 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 5:8 as the backdrop.

1-      I am a sinner. Romans 3:23 states that we have all fallen short of God’s glory. Only Jesus lived a sinless life. The rest of us are in a damned state, whether we want to believe it or not.

2-      My sin has separated me from God (Isaiah 59:2). Do you think that you can get close to God and yet be a sinner? Biblically speaking, that is the craziest assertion one can make! God is holy, we are not. And God does not associate himself with the profane, no matter how great his love is.

3-      We are spiritually dead (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:3). Spiritually dead people have a lot of good philosophies, ideas, and even theologies. Unfortunately, we can rationalize and philosophize all we want, and still not rescue ourselves. Only God, in his miracle working power, can bring the dead to life.

4-      We are destined for damnation (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Our sin nature cannot please God in any way whatsoever, and is directing us straight in hell. People don’t like to talk about hell much, but the truth is that it exists and we are headed straight there. Our sinful nature wants us to believe that we can live however we want and avoid hell, however mislead that is.

5-      The only way to escape judgment is through Jesus Christ and trusting in him through his work on the cross and through his resurrection (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus is the hero. He is our savior. He came to this earth to save me from myself and my eternal destiny. This is why it is SO important we place our faith in Jesus. Without Jesus, we are going to hell. With Jesus, and his regeneration, justification, and sanctification working in our lives, we have heaven.

6-      Last, I cannot earn my salvation, it is given to me through grace (Galatians 2:21). Again, if you think that there is another way to heaven except through Jesus, you are sadly mistaken. Nothing you can do can make you worthy. Only grace can do this work.

There are so many, both inside and outside of church, who have believed a false gospel where one can be saved based on works, their own rational theological liberalities, or their own innate goodness. Matthew 7:21-23 is testament to this.

For those of you who are reading this, I implore you to consider your spiritual walk with Christ. Do you love him? Are you really living in a way that demonstrates knowledge of how lost you were in your sins are how grateful you are to Jesus for your salvation? Or is your spiritual walk based on consumerism and how you should be served because of how great you are?

In essence, do you practice forgiveness in your life? Have you understood how lost you were in your sin and are grateful to Christ for his redeeming work? Are you showing the fruits of the Spirit? Are you living a Christ honoring life? Is the Bible the all sufficient source for guidance and authority in your life? Do you pray and read your Bible daily, giving thanks to God for a relationship with him? Do you seek to glorify Christ in your life? Above all, are you obedient the guidance to the Holy Spirit?

If not, seriously evaluate your relationship with Jesus and ask yourself if you are truly saved. Pray about it. Consider if your lifestyle affirms the Scripture. You might be getting there, you might feel empathy for Jesus, or you might like Christianity, but it is possible to be all those things and not truly be a Christian. True Christianity says I am nothing, know nothing, and I have nothing without Christ. Fake Christianity says that Christ adds to my life—that he came to make something good even better.

Choose your theology wisely…