Total Depravity… really?

I was reading a blog post and the following statement was made: “the scripture reveals very clearly, that left to himself, man will always choose against Christ, because of his hostile disposition to God. Man is dead spiritually, and needs his heart of stone to be removed and a heart of flesh put in before he has any interest in seeking the God of the Bible (Rom. 3:11; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14).

I took the liberty of looking at the passages cited supporting the position that “man in dead spiritually and needs his heart to be removed and a heart of flesh put in before he has any interest in seeking the God of the Bible.” Here is my take on these passages listed.

With respect to Romans 3, Paul closes out chapter 2 by saying that true circumcision is not physical but rather a condition of the heart. As he begins chapter 3, he asks a question… “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” They were given the “oracles of God” or the Word of God and even perhaps the birth of the Savior as well could be read into Paul’s statement. Paul then asks, “What about those who do not believe; shall their unbelief make the faith of God “without effect?” Sounds to me like there may have been a Calvinist in the first century after all! God forbid! No. Remember, these are the Jews that Paul is speaking of, who are examples of God’s elect in the Old Testament. Some did not believe. Paul goes on.

“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?(I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”? — as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.” Here is the focus of Paul’s statement here: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”

This last phrase is paramount in setting the stage for his quoting Psalm 14 and 53, which are identical chapters. “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

These verses say NOTHING about man’s utter depravity and nothing about his inability to “seek the god of the Bible.” He simply quotes Psalm 14 and 53 to reinforce his point that “Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” Notice what Paul says in verse 19, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Paul is picking back up on what he was saying before quoting the 2 Psalms.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Here is the meat of Paul’s discussion. Man’s sinfulness is a fact. So is God’s righteousness that is revealed not by the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ to who? To those who believe! It may be correct in asserting that man cannot or will not seek God but this has nothing to do with men responding to a God who is seeking them. This is what Paul appears to be saying in this chapter. “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

There is NOTHING in this passage of scripture that even hints of man’s utter depravity as Calvinism contends. In his sin, he is a lawbreaker. That is all this passage says in this area. What about Romans Chapter 8?

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Since it is the Holy Spirit that makes a difference in the way men think and act, there is no problem with Paul saying that the mind without the Holy Spirit is enmity (or hostile) with God. It is not subject to the law of God. Why is this true? Because no one is subject to the law of God for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” There is no problem with this statement. The only way to please God in the first place is to have or “be having” the mind of Christ.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Now if it were God and God alone who regenerates sinful men to give them this life that Paul is speaking of, there would be no need for Paul to make the statement, “. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” That would be a given. It is not a given. Every man is responsible to respond to the revelation that God has given of Himself in reconciling lost men unto Him. That is what Paul is saying in this passage.

What about I Corinthians 2? Paul writes, “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’.” This is a wonderful statement that Paul makes here.

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Notice the value of revelation. Make no mistake about it; God reveals Himself to men and He expects a response from those He reveals Himself to. Paul continues, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Paul does not expect the “natural man to receive the things of the Spirit of God”, which he is sharing, because they are foolishness to him.” This statement is a concluding statement to I Corinthians 1, where Paul wrote, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Who can know the mind of Christ except the one who has the mind of Christ.” It is true that men cannot know God apart from His revelation of Himself. That is why Paul preached in the first place. (2 Corinthians 5;18-19) Man is not going to understand the things of God without the aid of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that he is depraved and dead and unable to respond to God’s efforts to reconcile Himself to the world. God is indeed able to reach out to those He seeks to reconcile Himself to. Man’s response is another matter. Make no mistake about it; God most certainly can get his atttention at any time.

Grateful to be in His Grip,



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by dtbrents on September 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Bible Study Ariticles.


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