British journalist and Christian Malcolm Muggeridge has stated (paraphrased) that the doctrine of the total depravity of man is the most empirically demonstrable doctrine in the bible, yet it is the one most universally denied. The basic idea is that when we look around, we see the sinfulness of mankind played out on every stage. In every newspaper, every news website, every television news program, we see the evidence of the sinfulness of mankind on display. Yet this doctrine is often denied, because we don’t like to think of ourselves as ‘bad people.’ Some of these people would say that we are born ‘basically good.’ Others would see us as being ‘good, with the choice to do good or evil.’ These people note, rightly enough, that we don’t do everything bad that we could do. Even some of the most evil people have some good qualities.
The reason for this is found in the first chapters of the bible, that we were created in the image of God. Specifically, we were created in the moral image of God, meaning that we have the ability to think, reason, create and make moral choices. Because we are created in the image of God, we do not act as bad as we could. But the doctrine of total depravity does not mean that we act as sinfully as we could.* The doctrine of total depravity means that we are completely incapable of coming to God on our own merits, our own strength or abilities. This meas that if we do come to Christ, it is the result of His work in us, not our own ability. As Jonah says, “salvation is from the Lord.”
So take a few minutes, read through the doctrinal section on the creation and fall of man, study the passages and enjoy the day, knowing that you are in Christ because of His doing.
* This is only a relative assessment, however. We are often not in the best position to fairly evaluate even our own motives, thoughts, actions and responses. For example, Sometimes what seem on the surface to be altruistic actions are sometimes driven by sinful impulses for recognition. We also only evaluate our actions and the actions of others by what we can see on the outside. From God’s perspective, however, things look different. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that while man judges on the outward appearance, God sees the heart. Further, Paul writes in Romans 14:23, that whatever is not from faith is sin.
Condition and Fall of Man
We believe that Man was created in the image and likeness of God, in innocence and without sin. But, in Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man’s salvation is thereby wholly of God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 1:26; 3:1-24; Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3).