The Biblical Doctrine of Total Depravity, i.e. the lost sinful state of mankind without God

18 09 2007

Dateline: Colby Kansas

It seems that an understanding of the seriousness of our sin and the condemnation it deserves before a Holy God is necessary before we can understand the loving grace that God has bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation. As always, an understanding of these issues is of critical importance to people in Colby Kansas, both for those who already have a saving faith in Jesus Christ and for those who have not yet believed.

Sin is an evil and serious reality – the world is not a morally neutral relativistic place in the eyes of God Almighty, the righteous and just Judge of heaven and earth!

Mike Ratliff writes a blog titled “Possessing the Treasure” which I have followed and benefited from for a good while now. Mike is beginning a series of posts focused on addressing the doctrine of Total Depravity, or as he refers to it, “Total Inability”. The first in this planned series of posts can be found here:

Another online source, lists a storehouse full of useful references on Total Depravity which can be found via a search of the site.

From this site, a reference from the teaching of John Piper on total depravity is helpful to me:

Piper explains and expands upon four (4) major points in this article regarding the sinful state of man apart from God, i.e. mankind’s total depravity:

“Man’s depravity is total in at least four senses.

(1) Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.

(2) In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.

(3) Man’s inability to submit to God and do good is total.

(4) Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

In summary, total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective.”

The Bible speaks directly to the issue of mankind’s fallen sinfulness, i.e., our “total depravity”.

Romans 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (NASB)

Romans 7:21-25: “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (NASB)

Indeed, thanks be to God the Father for providing us with salvation through Jesus Christ. In Him, according to His word the bible, we people who are so inclined by our natural born sinful natures to be in sinful rebellion against God, can find freedom from the bonds of sin in our lives.

God is holy, good and mighty, and He is able to save those who call upon Him in times of need. Let us do so – because we all are surely in need of help in our struggle with the sin that so easily entangles us.

In Christ Jesus,

A churchlayman




5 responses

19 09 2007

Greetings from Manhattan, KS

I came here from “Possessing the Treasure” after seeing your “Colby” link. I look forward to reading you in the future.

Are there any reformed churches in Colby?

3 01 2008
John Calvin

I enjoyed your blog and give a hearty amen to the stands on the issues confronting the church today.
As a prospective student at Kansas State University it astonished me at the dearth of good churches in Manhattan. My question is, are there any churches with reformed doctrine that hold to at least four preferably five points of Calvinism in the area?

3 01 2008


Indeed it is an honor to hear from “John Calvin” himself. But then the original John Calvin is no doubt glorying in the Lord at this time, and no doubt has much better things to do than correspond with this blog!

Seriously though, your question is a good one regarding the existance of Calvinistic Churches in the Manhattan area. I recommend contacting some Reformed denominational groups headquarters or websites to find out what might be available. I think you may find some churches that will hold to four point Calvinist positions, but will shy away from the 5th (limited atonement). There are some John MacArthur-style pastors and churches in the Kansas City area. I would have a hard time thinking that there would not be some sort of conservative reformed church body in the Manhattan area, but you will need to dig to find it.

That said, K-State is a great school, and there are established Christian groups on campus, i.e., Navigators, Campus Crusade, likely others. Even though you are likely taking your doctrinal positions more deeply and seriously than the other students in these groups, with some healthy discretion and wisdom, you can still find Christian fellowship in and around the K-State student body and community. And I think God is faithful, and will provide for you in terms of fellowship. There are a few of us Calvinist types around you now – God sort of arranges all that!

Good fortune in your search for a college to attend and especially for your search for a good church and Christ-centered fellowship. God is good – He certainly can and will supply your needs.


8 01 2008
John Calvin

Thank you churchlayman for the thoughtful answer assisting me in my search for a church with the sole purpose of honoring God and furthering His gospel. I am sure that I will land where He has planned since before time began, for He alone is sovereign. May God continue to bless your ministry in western Kansas and may it show much fruit for His name’s sake. May you continue to contend mightily for the Faith and finish the race set before you by His grace and leaning in the everlasting arms.
In Christ,

2 07 2008

I realize that I’m joining this conversation six months late, but…

You said:
“There are some John MacArthur-style pastors and churches in the Kansas City area. I would have a hard time thinking that there would not be some sort of conservative reformed church body in the Manhattan area, but you will need to dig to find it.”

Could you tell me the Kansas City churches that you were referring to? We are searching for a church. Thank you in advance!

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