A Further Explanation of the Total Depravity of Man
John Lanchina Seidu
The doctrine of human depravity raises questions about manís original condition. Was man created in innocence that he could not differentiate between right or wrong which led him to sin? What made him corrupted if he was not corrupted in his original state? And most importantly, is his situation able to be restored? These questions truly meet the vitals of practical godliness, in which many have searched to find absolute satisfying answers. In this paper I will be dealing with manís inability and unwillingness to do what is right before God.
The Bible affirms that man was upright and able to please God in his abilities. Genesis 5.1,2 teaches that God gave man (male and female) His moral likeness. This means that man was created in a perfect state because God is perfect. He lived under the authority of Godís righteousness. Man was conformed in all his actions to the law which theologians termed as actual righteousness. However, man lost this righteousness and willingness to be in it when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God prohibited (Gen 3:1-9).
Adams disobedience is the basic cause of manís fall which resulted in his depravity (Grudem, 492). Before the depravity, man was willing and able to please God, but now he is not. Man is unwilling and unable to please God because sin has taking captive of his whole being. Note that man is a composition of body and soul, and sin has invaded all this composition of man as a unit being (Isaiah 1:5-6). In addition to Isaiahís words, Paul adds that man is futile in his mind, which made all his understanding about God blank.
Man has desired in giving his heart to the desires and practices of impurity, and he is selfish and unwilling to depart from that (Eph.4:17-19; Titus 1:15). The heart of man is the controlling factor of his actions and desires. Jeremiah describes it as the wicked thing of all things that man is capable of doing (Jer.17:9). A depraved personís heart is capable of committing all worst sins to the maximum of his ability without fear. This makes him endless of living a sinful life, and therefore will never stop the violation of Godís moral law.
Total depravity has therefore declared man incapable of exercising any good. All good works by the unbeliever are done just for his selfish desires, and they do not reach Godís heartbecause there is no righteousness in them, and all his so called good are done in sin ( Isaiah 64:6-7). He has no one requiring him of good works. It would be better if he had thrown whatever substance away than claiming he offered it for good.
The depravity of man keeps the unsaved in progressive sin and he has no hope of turning his situation for the better on his own. He is unable to make any right response to the goodness of God. He does not know Godís truth and cannot live a spirit filled life. All that he knows and wishes to live in is sin (Romans 1:18-19). These violations with addition to his sin inherited from Adam makes him dead to sin, and he is separated from God (Rom 1: 21-32). Paul again in (Romans 8:5), speak to mean that Depravity has affected the unsaved personís mind and body, and this keeps him wanting only the things of the flesh. The unsaved personís life is therefore directed to a life without God and that is spiritual death (Rom. 8:6).
Man in his depravity does not want to receive the things of God, making him a slave to sin (Rom.8:15). Depravity also affected the will of the unsaved. This makes man always wanting to serve sin and consumes him completely incapable of moving toward God and His righteousness. Paul, in Romans 5:12, explains that depravity came to the human society through one man. Paul differentiates this from our daily iniquities to show that human has no righteousness in him because of his inherited unrighteousness from Adam.
The sin inherited from Adam has made us unable and unwilling to do any good and please God. This is the sin that made God to curse man, and moved man out from the presence of God. It is the cause and cost of separation between man and God. Man cannot outdo this sin by any conviction before God. The sin is pleasing to him that he doesnít even think of getting back to God. The sin of Adam therefore affected the whole nature of man: his intellect, emotions and desires, goals and motives, and our entire physical human being (Roman 7:18; Titus 1:15). The sin of Adam has made us so corrupt that we lost all the good that was in us, and cannot reach God. There is therefore no means that can make a corrupt unbeliever pure before God. All that is within him is dead in sin (Rom.7:8). We are slaves to it, and cannot escape it (Rom. 8:10).
God made Adam with the ability to make decisions on his own, and it was not Godís intention that Adam should disobey Him. This is the simple choice man made which through him all humanity suffers loss and misery. Thus the fall of man came as a result of his own choice of disobedience.
We can easily tell that there is something wrong with the world. This does not require any labored argument to demonstrate how this can be possible looking at mankindís activities and the nature of the world today. Generations and historical eras will point to this fact that manís brutal fall is evident and factual. It is not even debatable about the wrong of man, because he himself can tell you that something has seriously gone wrong. The world itself has no problem, but the people that live in it are those that determine the state of the world; thus the people have waywardly gone astray, and as a result make the world suffer the effects of manís sin. This show how wrong the world is because its inhabitants by character have got nothing to write home about.
Looking at human nature as at now, men like Pink and Grudem sees manís nature as depraved, wretched, and subject to nothing but death. Philosophy cannot account for this. None can deny the fact that man for ages have lived in such an un-delightful environment, taking a look at our prisons, hospitals, and cemeteries. But how it became to be so, human wisdom cannot tell us, but only God through His Word (Grudem, 497). Plato, in the second book of his Republic, says that men by their nature are law breakers, evil, and cannot be brought to good.
The natural man does not have the zeal to do Godís will, and he cannot please God in his condition; this is why Paul posed the question in Romans 7:24 to say that ďwho will deliver the natural him from the body of deathĒ (McDonald,92). Here Paul admitted that man is totally unable to deliver himself from the bondage of sin. He cannot have a thought that will make him see his wrong and turn from it. Even if he is able to realize his sinful activities, yet is not willing to get out of it. In 2 Corithians 2:14, Paul made it clear that ďA natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,Ē referring to every descendant of Adam without regeneration work in him. Paul here had to explain to the Corinthian believerís about the things of God, because they were foolish to them. This tells how lost man is such that he does not even know within himself the things that his creator demands from him.
Macarthur in his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans explained that ďthe unsaved person is a spiritual corps and consequently unable, in himself, to respond to the things of GodĒ (Macathur, 417). This means an unsaved person is just a slave to sin and he delights to live in it. No matter how much the unsaved may claim to honor, worship, and love God, is still Godís enemy. This why Romans 5:10; 8:7-8 says that we all are enemies of God. Every unsaved person is hostile toward God. He cannot live godly and righteous life because he has no godly and righteous nature or resources. He therefore cannot have genuine love for God and cannot please Him.
Thus Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7 ďI had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covetĒ (Boston, 41). This means that our desire to do evil is as a result of the abundance of sin in us, and this was inconsistent to the nature of Adam when he was created.
In conclusion the inability and unwillingness of man to please God demands Godís own mercy and Grace to redeem man from his depravity because he cannot contribute anything to his own salvation. All he can do is just to receive everlasting life as a free gift from God. Jesus Christís death is Godís provision to solve manís inability and unwillingness to please God (Rom. 8:1-3; Rev. 5:9). How then does this God-given solution look like?
John Seidu is a fourth year student at CABC