Total Depravity is contrary to the main teaching of post modern Christianity that we regularly hear preached today. Modern America has shifted away from total depravity and now proclaims that there is a little bit of good in everyone, and that the ultimate reason why someone accepts Christ is because they “got it” and others didn’t. This misunderstanding gives man the ultimate credit for placing their faith in Christ, not God. This blog is not for the purpose of showing through scripture the overwhelming text that point to the complete sinfulness of man, but to instead give reasons why it is important that we, as Christians, proclaim Total Depravity and not the post-modern Christianity that is currently so common. Lastly, this list is not exhaustive, nor is it in any order.
1. The Bible Teaches Total Depravity
As Christians we are not called to decide what we should say and what we should not say. This is doubly true for Pastors. To be a disciple, by definition, means to do what your Master does. As stated above, the Bible (God’s Word) is overwhelmingly blunt about how sinful we are. In some respects, the Bible is a very negative book because page after page is about man's utter brokenness and complete rebellion from God. For example, Paul spent the first three chapters of Romans talking about our depravity before he started speaking of faith in Christ. We should likewise not tickle ears but proclaim truth, and love people enough to tell them how sick they really are. Imagine a doctor not telling you that you have cancer because the conversation would be too awkward.
2. Total Depravity Leads to Assurance of Faith
If people believe that their faith sprouts from their desperately sick heart, then how will they have assurance of that faith? If faith comes from sinful man, then that faith is shifting sand. In fact, I would say that faith produced by man is the faith that James calls dead faith. It is more a shadow than anything. It could exist one moment and be gone the next. Instead, if we proclaim that Jesus is the founder (author) of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) then we can be confident that our faith is a strong and lasting faith, and this faith will not fail in the midst of trials and tribulations.
3. Total Depravity Produces Humility Towards God
One cannot deny that God desires humility. By recognizing our total inability to please God, we place ourselves in a similar posture as Isaiah as he stood before God in Isaiah 6 and cried out “Woe is me.” Total Depravity is a humble understanding of who we are in light of God's righteous standard. I shudder to think of someone pridefully demanding to enter God’s presence because they passed the test and chose God, when in fact it was God who chose them...or didn't. (Ephesians 1:4).
4. Total Depravity Produces Humility Towards Others
“Don’t judge me!” This is a common phrase American’s love to shout in the midst of their sinfulness. The Bible is clear that we are to help take out specks (sin) in people’s eyes. This is how we love them. However, as Jesus said, when we do it we must first humble ourselves and recognize that we are no better. There is no greater humility than to confess that you are a wretched sinner, but for the grace of God. I am convinced that if we taught more frequently on total depravity we would have less quarreling, and more speckless eyes (holiness) in the Church.
5. Total Depravity Improves Gospel Efficiency
I believe we are extremely inefficient within the Church because we wrongly believe that the key to salvation is the persuasion of man. The Church spends way too much time chasing the cultural wind and frequently comes up empty handed. Accepting Total Depravity removes a lot of useless efforts to be culturally relevant. If we believe that man is unable to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), then we would spend less time trying to be relevant so as to persuade man and more time on our knees praying and unashamedly proclaiming the gospel (Romans 1:16). Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.
6.Total Depravity Amplifies God’s Love
Shouldn't it blow us away that God loves totally depraved sinners? (Romans 5:8). If we wrongly believe that God’s love is a response to our love for him, His love is diminished and therefore not as overwhelming. If His love is reactionary then his love is quid pro quo, and God is behaving just like the world. This is exactly what post modern Christianity proclaims when it says that we are the ones who make the first move towards God. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that we love God, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19). Meaning He loved us first. It is this understanding of His radical love that produces love songs with lines like, "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me."
7. Total Depravity Leads to the Praise of His Glorious Grace
Lastly, the ultimate reason for all things is the Glory of God. (Romans 11:36) This is entire purpose of creation. You cannot argue that God’s Glory shines most brightly when we recognize that he is the Alpha and Omega in our salvation. When we accept our total depravity and God’s gracious acts, we are left with only one option, to praise His glorious Grace. (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). If we believe that we are the ultimate reason for our faith, then we wrongly share the spotlight and therefore we take away His praise and give a portion to ourselves. We become the god of our own destiny.