Calvinism 101: Session 4
Total Depravity: What does sin do to us?
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18
I sighed after such freedom, but was bound not by an iron imposed by anyone else but by the iron of my own choice. The enemy had a grip on my will and so made a chain for me to hold me a prisoner. The consequence of a distorted will is passion. By servitude to passion, habit is formed, and habit to which there is no resistance becomes necessity. By these links, as it were, connected one to another (hence my term chain), a harsh bondage held me under restraint…The burden of the world weighed me down with a sweet drowsiness such as commonly occurs during sleep. The thoughts with which I meditated about you were like the efforts of those who would like to get up but are overcome by the deep sleep and sink back again…During all those years of rebellion, where was my free will? – Augustine, Confessions, Book 8-9
Sin is Universal in Mankind
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Rom 3:23
- None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Rom 3:10-12 (citing Ps 14:1-3, 53:1-3).
- Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. – Rom 5:12
- Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. – Rom 14:23
- [Adam and Eve] being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. – WCF 6.3
- We believe that Man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary sin fell from that holy and happy state. In consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice... – QBC Statement of Faith, Article IV “Of the Fall of Man”
Sin is Pervasive in Our Faculties
- Sin affects our passions/desires
…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind… - Eph 2:3
…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. - Eph 4:22
- Sin affects our thoughts
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Gen 6:5, cf. Gen 8:21
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. – Rom 1:21 (cf. Rom 1:28)
- Sin affects our bodies
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. – Rom 8:23 (cf. Rom 1:24; 8:10)
- Sin affects our wills
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. – Rom 7:14-15
- Sin affects what we love
…in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. – 2 Thess 2:12
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light. – John 3:19-20
- By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body. – WCF 6.2
- …Rather…they brought upon themselves blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in their minds; perversity, defiance, and hardness in their hearts and wills; and finally impurity in all their emotions.
Sin is Incapacitating in its Effects
- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. – Eph 2:1 (cf. Matt 8:22)
- No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. – John 6:44
- 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. – Rom 8:7
- The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Cor 2:14
- And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. – 2 Cor 4:3-4
- Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin. Without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform. – Article 3.3 of Canons of Dort
- … Being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, all are now naturally inclined to sin… - QBC Statement of Faith, Article IV “Of the Fall of Man”
- From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. – WCF 6.4
o “If I were to choose one statement in the entire confession that crystallizes the distinctive characteristics of historic Reformation theology, it would be this one. Here lies the essence of the historic debates between Reformed theology and other theologies concerning the degree to which we human beings have fallen from our original righteousness. That is, it states the scope and extent of original sin.” – R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess, Vol. 1, p. 186
Sin is Worthy of Condemnation by God
- For the wages of sin is death. – Rom 6:23
- The soul who sins shall die. – Ez 18:4, 20
- But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? – Rom 3:5-6
- … and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse. – QBC Statement of Faith, Article IV “Of the Fall of Man”
The Good News: The New Birth
- That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6
I was held back by mere trifles…They plucked at my garment of flesh and whispered, “Are you going to dismiss us? From this moment we shall never be with you again, for ever and ever.” …And while I stood trembling at the barrier, on the other side I could see the chaste beauty of Lady Continence in all her serene, unsullied joy, as she modestly beckoned me to cross over and to hesitate no more. She stretched out loving hands to welcome and embrace me…During all those years of rebellion, where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? …How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! …You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure. – Augustine, Confessions, Book 8-9
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
- John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
- Charles Wesley, And Can it Be
How does the doctrine of Total Depravity affect the Christian life?
1. It promotes humility and gratitude to God
2. It makes us more patient with the lost
3. It makes us more dependent on prayer
4. It keeps us from manipulative tactics