The Depravity of Man

Is the debate of the depravity of man between Armenians, Calvinists, or Pelagians? Essentially, the depravity of man is a gospel debate. How is a person saved? The depravity of man echoes the words of scripture, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

This weekend we continue our journey through Romans. As we do, we will examine chapter 1:24-32. This passage reminds us of our depravity and God’s grace and righteousness. In a nutshell, the depravity of man speaks of the moral corruption and sinfulness of every person and our absolute inability to do anything to save ourselves. There are times it helps to consider what depravity is not. The depravity of Man does not mean…

  • Man is as sinful as sinfully possible.
  • Man is totally insensitive in matters of conscience and unable to judge right from wrong.
  • Man, as a sinner, is experiencing every possible sin.
  • Man can’t do good things.
  • Man can’t be kind, friendly, and giving.

At its heart, total depravity means the sinfulness and corruption of the fall have extended to every aspect of human life. Because of such sinfulness and corruption, we can do nothing to merit God’s saving grace. Scripture teaches of the total depravity of man. Depravity is universal and total (Romans 3:9-18). Our minds are corrupt (Romans 1:28, Ephesians 4:18), our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and even our conscience needs cleansing (Hebrews 9:14). By nature, we were dead in our sins, disobedient, and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). It’s been said, “we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.” That is the key to depravity.

The work of salvation is a complete work of the triune God.[1] We come to God in faith alone. In our sinfulness, our guilty sentence is justified; we deserve God’s wrath and can do nothing to save ourselves. However, in God’s grace, He poured His wrath upon Jesus. God deems all righteous who place their faith in the finished work of Jesus. God is rich in mercy, He has a great love for us, He is filled with grace and kindness (Ephesians 2:4-9). In our depravity, we are unable and unwilling to add anything. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Praise be to God, who saves graciously, completely, and eternally.     

[1]You can read about the three-fold work of the Triune God in salvation in Ephesians chapter 1.  

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