In my last post I explained my intention to blog through my studies on the Doctrines of Grace. It’s been a few days and I thought I’d share a few thoughts, ideas, quotes, etc from my studies thus far on Total Depravity. These are very random and some items might be overlapping.
1. Genesis 3. This is where it all starts. It is impossible to understand total depravity without understanding first what really happened in Genesis 3. If you do not understand what happened here and what the consequences were for human nature and all of humanity going forward, you cannot fully comprehend the biblical doctrine of total depravity. Adam sinned. Adam died. We all die in Adam.
2. This is not so much related to total depravity but we see in Genesis, as clear as day, God’s divine order of male headship. There is no getting around this. Eve takes the fruit but God comes looking for Adam. Problem in the marriage? Problem in the church? He’s coming for the man. This makes me want to help my husband any way that I can and it compels me to pray for my brothers.
3. Apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, man is not well nor is he sick; he is dead. How we view human nature, as a consequence of the fall, has everything to do with how we view our salvation. Prior to my salvation, I didn’t just need a little gospel medicine. I was dead in my transgressions and only God could make me alive.
4. Lorraine Boettner says this on the Bondage of the Will: “Man is a free agent but he cannot originate the love of God in his heart. His will is free in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself. As the “bird” with a broken wing is “free” to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able. How can he repent of his sin when he loves it? How can he come to God when he hates him? How can he come to God when he hates Him? This is the inability of the will under which man labors.”
5. I have a heightened appreciation for rules and laws. It is the grace of God that restrains man. The breaking of the law, or the casting off of restraint, is lawlessness which is ultimately anti-Christ. Parental discipline, and government for example are designed to restrain and that is a good thing.
6. That the Fall extended to every part of our nature means does not mean that man is incapable of doing anything good. It means that everything the unregenerate man does is motivated by selfishness — even the best things! Man is capable of what some theologians call “civic goodness” but ultimately, according to Leonard Coppes, “Everything that unregenerate man does or thinks is undergirded by rebellious inclinations against God or motivations that are sinful.”
7. Gordon Clark has this to say on man’s spiritual inability: “…Adam’s ability to will what is good was lost by the fall. From that time on man could not choose to will “any spiritual good accompanying salvation.’ True, a man might will to be honest, to support his family, to discharge most of his obligations as a citizen. In colloquial language these things are called good. But they are not spiritual goods, and they have nothing to do with salvation. Furthermore, a man cannot will to be saved. He cannot convert himself, nor even make preparation for the conversion. The simple reason is that he is dead in sin.”
8. I feel like these two verses have particularly stuck: “And without faith it is impossible to please him,” (Hebrews 11:6a) and “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6).
9. I’ve been meditating on this devotional published in the Valley of Vision. Read it and you will see — even repentance is a gift!
My every sense, member, faculty, affection, is a snare to me, I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me, or despise those below. I covet honour and riches of the mighty, and am proud and unmerciful to the rags of others; If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust, or see deformity, it stirs up loathing and disdain; How soon do slanders, vain jests, and wanton speeches creep into my heart!
Am I comely? what fuel for pride! Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining! Am I gifted? I lust after applause! Am I learned? how despise what I have not! Am I in authority? how prone to abuse my trust, make my will my law, exclude others’ enjoyments, serve my own interests and policy! Am I inferior? how much I grudge others’ pre-eminence! Am I rich? how exalted I become!
Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself. I bewail that my apprehensions are dull, my thoughts mean, my affections stupid, my expressions low, my life unbeseeming; Yes what canst thou expect of dust but levity, of corruption but defilement? Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, but let me not forget my heavenly title, or the grace that can deal with every sin.
10. George Whitfield said, “But before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all your duties all your righteousness as the prophet elegantly expresses it put them all together, are so far from recommending you to God, are so far from being any motive and inducement to God to have mercy on your poor soul, that he will see them to be filthy rags, a menstruous cloth that God hates them, and cannot away with them, if you bring them to him in order to recommend you to his favor.” You can read more here.
That’s all I got for now!
Have a beautiful day in the Lord!
The longer I study Reformed theology and live the Christian life, the more important this aspect becomes. Without understanding this aspect of human nature, due to the fall, it’s hard to grasp the awesomeness and beauty of salvation.
I totally agree, Louis! It’s only when we understand The Fall that we can understand salvation by the grace of God alone. Salvation is all of God, repentance is all of God, faith is all of God! Love you brother!
I am praying that all goes well with your upcoming teaching.
Thank you so much for your prayers, Elba. They truly mean a great deal to me! Blessings to you and Mike.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on TD. I heard a brother say that if we get this point, the remaining 4 fall into place,
That is what I am hearing and reading too. Our understanding of salvation completely hinges on how we understand human nature.
Love and blessings to you, Persis!
These are great thoughts and sources. I think you have a very good point on understanding Genesis 3. And number two is SO true too!