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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is Depravity?

Depravity is a term that describes our fallenness and our need for salvation. Depravity is an important word in Christian doctrine. It describes the state of man – of every man, woman, boy and girl.

We are not good. Mankind is a fallen race. The Bible is abundantly clear on that. Romans 3:12 states “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Jesus Himself said the same thing when speaking with the rich young ruler: “No one is good except God alone”. This conflicts with modern psychological theories which believe that man is good or at least morally neutral. But Romans 3:23 is both clear and famous, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

To deny one’s own sinfulness is to remove all hope of salvation, for the person who denies the need for a savior will never turn to the Savior in saving faith. Indeed, conviction of sin – recognizing and feeling one’s own burden of sin – is one of the first steps on the road to salvation.

The Bible uses a form of the word depravity only five times (in the NASB). Three of those occurrences are in the New Testament, and in each case the Greek word is different. The words translated depraved can also be translated to terms or phrases such as: fail the test, rejected, unapproved, worthless, spoiled, corrupted, and destroyed.

The natural (unsaved, unregenerate, depraved) man is incapable of pleasing God. His fallen, sinful nature in no way can perform any meritorious works. Mankind is not only depraved, but he is totally depraved – every area of his life is affected and infected by sin. His physical being and his unseen immaterial spirit are both corrupted by his own choice of sin and by the sin of Adam.

Man’s only hope is to receive the grace of God that leads to salvation. He must be renewed and regenerated; he must receive a new heart (spiritually speaking), a heart of flesh. He must be given spiritual life, because he is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins. He must receive this gift of God only by faith alone in Christ alone.

Christians must constantly be vigilant. False teachers with depraved minds will infiltrate churches (and other ministries). Writing of the wickedness of men in the last days, Paul reminded Timothy (in 2 Tim. 3:1-9) that he needed to be watchful and on guard. Verse 8 speaks of “men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith”.

But this same vigilance must be internal as well as external. The regenerate man, the person who is born again, the true Christian still recognizes the sinfulness of his own soul. He must confess often; his heart should be a heart of repentance. For this depravity that affects the whole world still affects him, to his grief. He says with Paul (Rom. 7:24), “wretched man that I am, who will free me from this body of death?”.

Some day, the Christian will shed his depravity, and what joy he will have on that day! This will occur at death, or at the Rapture of the church for Christians who are alive when that event occurs. In other words, the Christian will completely loose his depravity at his glorification. This fact should be remembered and rejoiced over often.


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