"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1
The doctrine of total depravity is another of those things which are most surely believed among us. This doctrine teaches the total inability of man, not born of the Spirit, to do anything good or acceptable in the sight of God. While the humanistic view of man will present every man with a little good in him, a biblical examination will give us a report quite the opposite.
PAUL'S AUTOPSY OF MAN
In Romans, chapter three, Paul performs an autopsy on the natural man and gives us his report. He begins by saying, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." No matter what kind of math we use, that is a big zero. Then Paul begins to examine man from head to foot: "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. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used 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 have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes"-Romans 3:10-18. Paul does not give us a pretty picture of man left to himself. Nevertheless, by nature, that is what man is: sinful and depraved.
By nature, man can not know or understand the things of God, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he now them, because they are spiritually discerned"- 1 Cor. 2:14. By nature, man can not hear the gospel, "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God"-John 8:7. By nature, man can not believe, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you"-John 10:26. By nature, man can not please God, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God"-Rom 8:8. So, what are we saying? We are saying that man is depraved. God must first come into the heart and change his nature. Then man can know; understand; hear; and believe. All of these are evidences of regeneration, not requirements.
THE WEAK LINK IN THE CHAIN
I have heard the gospel presented as a rope that is thrown down into the pit where fallen man is found. If fallen man will grab hold of the rope, the man at the top will pull him out of the pit. This sound pretty good at first. After all, we don’t want anyone to remain at the bottom of the pit. And it is a noble thing to be at the top, drawing men out of perdition. But there are several flaws in this picture. There is a weak link and that is that you have depravity on both ends of the rope. My question is simply this, "How did that first man get at the top of the pit?"
The second problem with this picture is that man must be willing and wanting to get out of the pit. By nature, man loves the pit and the things in the pit. Until God changes the heart, man will never grab hold of the rope. He sees nothing wrong. He sees no danger. In the pit of depravity we will find, "Fornication, idolatry, adultery, theft, covetousness, and extortion"(1 Cor. 6:9,10), among many other notable lifestyles. Until the heart is changed the rope is offensive.
The weak link in this chain of events is man, "For what the law could not do, in that is was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh"-Rom. 8:3. The flesh is weak, depraved, unable to keep the law. But thanks be to God who sent His own Son to keep the law for the objects of His grace. He bore their sins upon His cross. He paid for their sins with His own precious blood. He did what depraved man could not do. That is why we say that the doctrine of total depravity is one of the many doctrines of God's grace. Has your nature changed? Do you hate your sin? Is there a desire to do better and please the Lord? If so you may say with Paul, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"- Rom. 7:24.25.
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00.
By His mercy and grace,
Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor