Tag Archives: Total Depravity Of Man

When I'm following my self-imposed schedule, I blog "Reformed" on Sundays - so I'm planning getting through TULIP for the next few weeks, on Sundays.

This all falls or stands together (with the possible exception of Limited Atonement), so I'm going  to start at the beginning.

T - Total Depravity of Man.

“Man, by his fall Into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. IX, sec. III.)

There is a list of Scripture proofs (I'll add them at the bottom) but to explain "total depravity" in my own words is easy.

It's not that we're all equally bad, or that all of us are as bad as we could possibly be.

It's that no matter what part of our own selves we examine, that part is tainted with sin.

It's the knowing my own self well enough, and dropping my own pride far enough to know that there is nothing in me that would seek after God, unless He was the one bringing me into life.


  • I Cor. 2:14: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.
  • Rom. 5:12: Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.
  • II Cor. 1:9: Yea, we ourselves had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.
  • Eph. 2:1-3: And you did He make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom ye also all once lived in the lusts of your flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
  • Eph. 2:12: Ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
  • Jer. 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
  • Rom. 3:10-12: As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one;
  • There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God;
    They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable;
    There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one.
  • Job 14:4: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
  • I Cor. 1:18: For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.
  • Acts 13:41: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; For I work a work in your days, A work which ye shall in no wise believe, if one declare it unto you.
  • Prov. 30:12: There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes,
    And yet are not washed from their filthiness.
  • John 5:21: For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom He will.
  • John 6:53: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have not life in yourselves.
  • John 8:19: They said therefore unto Him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye know neither me, nor my Father; if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also.
  • II Cor. 5:17: if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.
  • John 14:16: (And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever,) even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you.
  • John 3:19: And this is the judgment, that light is come unto the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.



(this post is "recycled" while I update categories)

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 ESV)

This is not a "Federal Headship" post. This verse does not say because one man sinned, we are all guilty of his sin...it says "all sinned"

We are all touched by death; all of us have known somebody who has died. Some of us have had a very close loved one leave this earth. For some of us, we have the comfort of knowing that we will see them again. Others of us do not have that comfort.

It is not "life" that gives us death.

It is SIN that gives us death

"and, you know, we all will probably die with something sooner or later..." (former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders)

Yes...we all will "probably" die. All of us that are walking on this earth right now are mortal...we will die

That is the "T". The Total Depravity that touches all of our lives.

The "T" is important because it makes the problem crystal clear. All have sinned.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in< his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

Without the "T", the need for a Saviour is not so clear. Without the Saviour, the "T" brings hopelessness.

But we do have the "T", we do need a Saviour and we do HAVE a Saviour.

We have hope...

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 ESV)

The "T" makes us understand that we are so steeped in sin that there is nothing we can do to merit our salvation.

The hope is in Christ and in Christ alone. It is by grace, through faith, not of works.

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.(ISA 64: 6-7 ESV)

It is only in our understanding of our need for the Saviour that we are able to reach out for salvation.


I affirm the Trinity - One God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I affirm that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

I affirm that Christ, born of a woman, eternally existant, creator of all things, was crucified, buried and risen from the dead.

I affirm that by grace we are saved, through faith.

By grace, we have faith in the saving power Christ.I am "Reformed".

I am "Calvinistic" in sotierology, but not in ecclesiology.

Reformed theology differs from both Roman Catholic theology and Arminian theology (Wesleyan/Nazarene/most of what most Americans think is "mainstream")

There are two fundamental "nutshells" that are recognized as "Reformed". The first are the "Five Solas" and the second is "TULIP". There is a lot more to "Reformed theology" than these two pieces, but these are the very basics.

The Five Solas

(along with links to other posts I have written):







Total depravity of man

Unconditional election

Limited Atonement

Irresistable grace

Perseverence of the saints

We all have one - a heart that is steeped in rebellion. Reformed theology calls is "the total depravity of man".

We see in in children; for many of them "mine" and "no" are among the first words they use.

We see it in teenagers when they learn that they have wings and start to use them - many times in rebellion instead of freedom.

We see it in adults when we observe the "nine you're fine, ten you're mine" rule of speed limits.

I see it in myself. I sleep with a CPAP and I hate it. Most mornings I wake up with the mask laying next to my pillow and a vague recollection of ripping it off my face in the middle of the night. Why? Because I DON'T LIKE IT!

We see it rebellion against parents, against government, against laws, against doctors, against physical limitations.

And it all stems from a rebellion against God.

John Piper writes: When we speak of man's depravity we mean man's natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.

Total depravity does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be - it means that every part of every person is steeped in original sin. Our minds, our will, our emotions, our body - everything. It is all affected by sin.

Scripture tells us of the nature of man.

The heart is deceitful

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

People are slaves to sin

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

There is nobody who is righteous.

Romans 3: 10-12 "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

We do not accept spiritual things

1 Cor. 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

We are dead in sin

Eph. 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ

and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (v.3)

Why are we all thus?

herefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12)

From "A Defense of Calvinism" by Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good.

The "T" of Tulip...

Total depravity of man.

It is not that each person is as utterly evil as they could be, it is that each person is born with a sin nature that touches every part of their being. With totality, it is impossible for them to reach out to God, unless the Spirit touches them first. Unless they are called, nobody seeks God.

  • Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
  • Romans 3:10-11 - as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
  • Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
  • Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  • (from) Genesis 8:21 - for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth...

Westminster Confession of Faith:

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin,[93] the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually;[94] which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.[95]

I (Ellen) can say that I know that without God speaking to me, I would not run after Him.