Total depravity

Total depravity – the doctrine that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful as a result of the Fall.  That all men are born evil. This is also known as the dead man theory or we are dead because of our sin and we must be born again or regenerated. That means man can do nothing to bring about his own salvation.

Total Depravity

The doctrine of total depravity is the first point of the five point system used by the Reformed Theology or Calvinism. In this area of study it goes to show that …

  • None Righteous (Romans 3:10)
  • None who understands (Romans 3:11)
  • None who seeks for God (Romans 3:11)
  • None who does good (Romans 3:12)
  • No fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18)

Total Depravity

(Sinner’s condition and application of original sin)

People think of man as being generally good. When in fact man is wicked. Even when man does good, he is still wicked. That is because if he does good, he is not doing good for the glory of God! That brings us to the “Fall”. All mean are also without excuse too!  “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” R.C. Sproul

Through Adam’s fall. Every human born is born sinful. This is the concept of original sin. Because we are born sinful we have total corruption. This total corruption causes us the inability to choose because we are dead in sin and must be born again or regenerated. We too often get the word can and may mixed up. Can is the physical or mental ability to do something while may is expressing the possibility or permission to do something.

How can I save myself? I can’t

Sin blinds us. The old song, Amazing Grace, it says I was once blind but now I see. That is because sin blinds us to our sinful nature. Take Saul for example. He was on the road to Damascus. He was persecuting Christians. That is when Saul had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Saul had a blinding experience. Saul was actually literally blind for while. Later on the scales fell off Saul’s eyes and he was able to see clearly. Like a whole new light! The light of Christ I will say. Shortly after that experience Saul became known as Paul. Paul has given us most of the New Testament books of the Bible.

We are also told we are dead in our sins and must be born again to be saved! Nicodemus asked how can a man enter the mother’s womb again a second time. Jesus goes on to share that you must be born again of water and the Spirit. Remember no one comes to the Father unless they are drawn by the Holy Spirit. With the regeneration comes repentance the turning away from sin. The old is gone and the new is here. New desires that only comes from Christ Himself.

Those against this doctrine don’t believe they deserve God’s Wrath. These people believe they still have some righteousness inside them alone.

Check out the lyrics to Shai Linne Regeneration.

He Says you were dead in your trespasses and in your sins.
You were made alive in Christ.
How can dead people come to life?
It will take a miracle.
You See, This is the gospel.

…. lyrics in between

No the word of the gospel is a word that comes to the rebel heart.
I am a rebel against God.
I might be indifferent to Him, I might be agnostic to Him.
But I am actually rebelling against Him.
He then comes by the Bible I am commanding you to do an about turn, to repent of your sins and believe in me.
And the individual says there is no way that is going to happen!
Its will take a miracle for that to happen.
Yes it will!
That is the miracle of regeneration.

Because we not righteous, we need the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse from all our unrighteousness.  So when God looks at us, all He sees is His Son’s precious blood.  We most also know that none of us seek after God too. We are rebels to God. We are either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground here! No gray area as some will say.

“Total depravity means the entire absence of holiness, not the highest intensity of sin. A total depraved man is not bad as he can be, but he has no holiness, that is, no supreme love of God.”10

This is what PRCA says …

When Calvin and the fathers of Dordt insisted that depravity was total, they knew what words mean. And they knew that “total” means precisely that. They intended that the expression “total depravity” be a description of what Scripture calls “death”. The sinner is dead; spiritually dead. He comes into this world from his mother a spiritual still-born. He is not sick. He is not afflicted with a malady or a disease no matter how fatal. He is dead. And this is the emphatic teaching of Scripture. Always the Scriptures insist that the sinner is dead.

Canon of Dort: THIRD AND FOURTH HEAD: ARTICLE 1. Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy.  But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and an in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

We all most also realize we all deserve punishment from God because of our wicked way. We must know that only God can save us. We cannot save ourselves. Only He can save us! Another part of total depravity is there is no fear of God.

Ligonier makes a good point instead of saying total depravity you can think of it as a radical corruption.

As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected, all humanity is dead in trespasses and sin. Man is unable to save himself or do good.11

Scripture Sources
  1. John 3
  2. Genesis 2:16-17
  3. Genesis 3:6
  4. Genesis 6:5
  5. Jeremiah 13:23
  6. John 6:44
  7. Job 15:14-16
  8. Romans 3:9-18
  9. Romans 8:7-9
  10. Ephesians 2
  11. 1 Corinthians 2:14
  12. Psalm 51:5
  13. Psalm 130:3
  14. Psalm 143:2
  15. Colossians 1:15-16
  16. Colossians 2:13
  17. Proverbs 20:9
  18. Ecclesiastes 7:20
  19. Isaiah 64:6
  20. James 3:8
  21. 1 John 1:8
  1. Calvinism part 2 amazing grace history of (Video)
  2. WikiPedia
  3. Theopida
  4. Got Questions
  5. PRCA
  6. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  7. Ligonier
  8. Writing Explianed
  9. William G. T. Shedd (Dogmatic Theology)
  10. CARM


Total Depravity |  Unconditional ElectionLimited AtonementIrresistible GracePerseverance of the Saints

About the Author

Author: Steve Patterson

A Christian Blogger that enjoys blogging about the Bible, Theology, God, Jesus Christ, Christian Music, Family, Cats, Odd Holidays, sewing and much more. I have been blogging since 2004, however, I have been blogging on Courageous Christian Father since 2012. I enjoy listening to Christian Music. I am married with 1 daughter, 2 step-sons and a step daughter.

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