Total Depravity
By Medford Caudill
 Goshen, Indiana
(This message was originally preached on the Sovereign Grace Message radio broadcast on WTCA in Plymouth Indiana -  June 5, 1977.)

    Did you ever wonder why men are the way they are?  Look at your daily newspaper.  Every day we read of big and small thefts, wars, extortion, murder and various types of unethical and anti-social behavior. Why do some people act that way?  Let’s take a few minutes to see what the Bible says about man’s behavior.
    The Bible has a doctrine called total depravity. Now, don’t let that word doctrine scare you. A lot of people go around saying, “I don’t believe in doctrine.” According to the dictionary the definition of doctrine is, “something taught.”  So if someone says that they don’t believe in doctrine what they are actually saying is that they don’t believe in teaching anything. So, the Bible has this doctrine or teaching called total depravity.
    This means simply that because of the fall of our great grand-daddy Adam back in the Garden of Eden, because he and his wife willfully broke the commandment of the God who had created them, because of their transgression all men that are descended from them (and that includes everyone of the face  of the earth who has ever lived, is living now or will live in the future) again we say that all men have a nature that is that is sinful and will commit every sin imaginable unless restrained by the almighty God.
    Romans 5:12 tells us that; “As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so then death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
    Romans 3:10-12 says; “As it is written there s none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way They are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good no not one.
    The Bible couldn’t be much plainer than that could it?  Clearly man is a sinful creature. Now I can hear someone saying; “I’m just as good as anybody else.” That statement would be true, you are just as good as anyone else. The problem is that we are all in the same boat. Everyone else is a sinner just like we are. It doesn’t do you a bit of good to be as good as everyone else. All that does is make you as good as a sinner. I John 1:8; “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  Verse 10 tells us that: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
    In the book Mabel Clement, J. M. Salee lists four proofs of depravity. He notes;
        1. The flesh is corrupt. It is called sinful flesh (Romans 8:3).
        2. The heart is depraved. “God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).
        3. The mind is depraved. The understanding is darkened.  “There is none that understandeth.” (Romans 3:11).
        4. The conscience is corrupt. “Even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15).
    So we see that the Bible teaches clearly that the flesh is corrupt, the heart is depraved, the mind is depraved and the even the conscience is defiled. We see Scripturally that all man’s faculties are depraved. His whole being is corrupt. He is totally depraved.
    By this teaching we do not mean that all men commit all the sin that they are capable of doing.  Certainly some men are in a measure more moral and upright than others. This, however, is not due to the inherent goodness, but rather to the restraining hand of God and to the restraints put upon them by the society in which they live. Take away those restraints and their sin will become a normal occurrence. We have as an example of this in the legalization of abortion. Once the restraints of the law were taken away, murder of babies became commonplace and is even now advertised in our daily papers. In the future period of time known as the great tribulation God will remove his restraining power and man will become even more sinful than he is today as far as his outward actions are concerned.
    I hear still another objection to this doctrine. Someone states; “I don’t happen to agree with you. I believe that there is a little bit of good in every man.” Well, my friend the question is not what do you believe or what do I believe. The question is what does the Bible teach? Throughout its pages over and over again God’s holy, inspired, infallible Word teaches the depravity of man.  Listen to these different passages. In Ephesians 2:3 the Apostle Paul declares; “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath even as others.Job 15: 14-16 asks;”What is man that he should be clean and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?  Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints: yea the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?”  The great prophet Jeremiah in chapter 17 and verse 9 tells us that; “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?
    Total depravity is indeed a Bible teaching. There is no getting around it unless; of course you want to start leaving certain verses out of your Bible. I am afraid if you took a pair of scissors and started cutting out every verse that pertained to the depravity of man you would wind up with an awfully thin Bible.
    What then, are the consequences of this teaching?  Basically this teaching on man’s total depravity leads us to two conclusions. First is that men are sinful creatures and need salvation from their sins. Then, secondly, that they are incapable of saving themselves. When men understand this teaching rightly, they turn away from trying to obtain the rewards of heaven by their own efforts and through their own merit and understand that if they are to enter into the blessings of the Lord, it must be by another merit, by another goodness, by another righteousness, and not of and in themselves. That other righteousness is in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.
    Whereas we are sinful, He is without sin, whereas we are imperfect He is perfect, whereas we are mortal He is immortal, and whereas we are unrighteous he is righteous. If ever we are to obtain salvation it must be though the shed blood of Jesus Christ, through his sacrifice for his people. It will never be through our own efforts. Man is spiritually dead and a dead man cannot do anything for himself, much less will himself to life.  I can hear someone saying “that is an awfully hard teaching preacher!” All I can reply is that the Bible is full of hard teachings.
    Even the apostle Peter that fisher of men who had walked and talked with the Lord said in the third chapter of  his second epistle; “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation: even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they  that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction.” Now if Peter an apostle says there are things hard to be understood how much harder are those things for us to understand today?  We must simply go by faith and say that surely this is God’s word and if what it says shows me to be a sinful creature than I am a sinful creature. If this word of God says man is born depraved then I will believe it to be so. God said it and that should settle the question.

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