On The Depravity Of Man

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” The great works of Christians down through the centuries are filled with the same testimony: man is the slave of sin, utterly undone outside of Christ. Even those whose theology did not measure up to the biblical standard could not help, in their prayers, to confess what they knew to be true: the fallen sons of Adam are dead in sin, incapable of even the first move toward God. Even more, they are filled with the effect of depravity and alienation from God: enmity and hatred toward His holy standards. This was a common element of Spurgeon’s preaching:

Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any merit in us. If this day the Holy Spirit shall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness, you shall bring these hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, “I see no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such grace as this – nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men.” For, look ye here. By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men, or any merit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, “Come forth and live,” it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore, know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God; and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love, for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature.

The “flip-side” of divine freedom is the fact that man, the great image-bearer of God, is a fallen creature, a slave to sin, spiritually dead, incapable of doing what is pleasing to God. Just as the great freedom of the Potter offends rebellious pots, so too does the Bible’s teaching on the inabilities of man due to sin. The fallen sons and daughters of Adam are most adept at finding ways to promote creaturely freedom at the cost of God’s freedom, while at the same time promoting the servitude of God to the whims and will of man. It would be humorous if it were not so serious: the pots gathering together and assuring each other that the Potter either doesn’t exist, or, at worst, will sit idly by while they take control and “run the show” themselves. Yet this is the impact of sin upon the thinking of man. Man suppresses the truth of his createdness and invariably attempts to find a means to “control” God. One wisely put it this way:

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself….So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power-the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.

Truly recognizing one’s spiritual state is a gift of grace. Outside of God opening the eyes of the heart man thinks himself wonderfully pure, or at least acceptable in God’s sight. That is why the unregenerate person cannot understand the urgency of the gospel message: until they see the depth of their sin and the holiness of God, they find no reason to seek remedy for their condition.

Man’s religions consistently promote the myth of man’s autonomy: his absolute freedom to act outside of any eternal decree of God. “Man is the master of his destiny” seems to be the watchword of the religions of men, and even of many in Christendom today. How many times have you heard a preacher say, “In the matter of election, God has cast his vote for you, Satan has cast his against you, and now the final vote is up to you”? Such an assertion not only makes man’s choice equal with God’s, but it likewise places the final decision for what takes place in time squarely in the hands of man, not of God.
The Potter’s Freedom, pp. 75-77. – James White

Daily Roundup

8 Rules for Growing in Godliness – Our growth in godliness is a grace from God, derived from our union with Jesus, and is a work of the Holy Spirit, and yet we are active throughout in both killing sin and living unto righteousness.

Elements of Productive Bible Study – Is studying the Bible hard?  Do you not really know how to start studying the Bible?  John MacArthur gives some tips on how to start.

Understanding the Times:  An Interview with Carl Trueman – From the current issue of Table Talk Magazine.

2 Timothy 3:16, 17 and the Case for Sola Scriptura – A transcript of a debate by Dr. James White that took place 19 years ago on the sufficiency of Scripture.

People Prospering Under Ol’ Fashioned Preaching – No pastorate will be successful in the absence of biblical preaching​The faithful preaching of a humble, prayerful pastor is one of God’s greatest means for building up His people.

Quote:

The knowledge that we all have the same creator and maker admonishes us not to harbor contempt for God’s work, whether in ourselves or in another, by asking “Why did he make it like this?” Thus we read in Isaiah, “Woe to anyone who, like an earthen potsherd, argues with its maker. Shall the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’” And in Proverbs, “Whoever disregards the needy insults their maker.” And so this faith, wherein we believe that we have been created by God, brings about these three things in our hearts: First, that with all our hearts we depend in all things upon God our creator. Second, that each of us be contented with our circumstances–indeed, that we embrace them with thanksgiving, given that God our creator has placed us in them. Third, that none of us view our neighbor’s circumstances with contempt, however vile and miserable they be, lest we thereby cast aspersions upon our common creator. – Wolfgang Musculus

Daily Roundup

No Compromise Radio on Why the Elephant Room is Compromised – Mike Abendroth, Phil Johnson, Carl Truman and James White talk about the Elephant in the Room.

Suffering is Better Than Sin – David Murray comments on Thomas Manton’s sermon Moses’ choice of Christ’s reproach instead of the pleasures of Egypt.

Don’t Settle for Mediocre Preaching – An article geared towards Pastors, yet laity should also step up and hold Pastors accountable (I know that won’t be popular with the Pastors).

Atheism 101 – We live in an atheistic or secular society, one that worships at the altar of scientific positivism/secular humanism and this society is becoming more militant.

Pastor, Don’t Abandon the Flock – An exhortation for Pastors to shepherd their flock.

Coexist? – Every seen that bumper sticker?  Here is another that I like better.  Might have to get me one!

Quote:

Christ, as it were, spent himself for us. Though we were enemies, yet he so loved us that from love to us he had a heart not only to look at our things, but to spend his own things for us, to forego his own ease and comfort, and outward honor, and to become poor for us. “For even Christ pleased not himself; but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom. 15:3). And not only so, but to spend himself for us, to spend his blood, to offer up himself a sacrifice to the justice of God for our sakes. – Jonathan Edwards

Daily Roundup

The Journey of Sheep – An interesting insight into how we people are more like sheep than we like to think.

God’s Amazing Grace – Charles Quarles looks at the theology behind John Newton’s hymn.

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself – Just like there is a shelf life on fruit once it is picked from the vine, so it is with us if we don’t stay on The Vine.

The Forgotten Trinity – Dr. James White in a 1 hour teaching series on the Trinity.

An Introduction to the Gospel – A Covenant Theology Primer – Great page from Monergism on Covenant Theology, just in case you don’t know what it is or just want to know more about it.  Also, some good links at the bottom of the page for further study.

1 Corinthians 6 and the Lordship Debate – Good article defining what the debate is and what is at stake.  Even though this debate has been around for 20+ years, it is still relevant.

Quote:

I held my heart back from positively accepting anything, since I was afraid of another fall, and in this condition of suspense I was being all the more killed. – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Daily Roundup

20 Principles to Live Faithfully in a Complex World – Principle #9 is especially relevant in today’s day and age.

8 Symptoms of False Doctrine – J. C. Ryle Speaks today.

2 Sermons by James White – Here is two sermons that Dr. White preached at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

Sanctification:  So Why the Long Word – Why do we use the word and what does it mean?  John Piper explains.

Nature and Scripture – This is for the seriously theologically minded.  It is an essay from Cornelius Van Til describing the relationship of general and special revelation.

Daily Roundup

First They Came For. . .Then They Came For… – We evangelicals are currently going through the process of demonization, the fact that evangelicals as a group are the most charitable people on earth, or that they have created the freest and most tolerant societies is being conveniently forgotten, and the myth of the ignorant, ranting, gay basher is being spread far and wide.

Embracing a Pastoral Approach – Kevin DeYoung talks about what it means to be Pastoral.

Justified By His Grace – Alistair Begg talks about being justified.

Dr. James White Interacts with Jerry Vine’s View of John 3:16 – A video of Dr. James White talking about John 3:16.