Posted by Matt Postiff July 24, 2017 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology  Bible Texts 

I believe that people are totally depraved, meaning that sin has thoroughly affected every aspect of every person's being--mind, soul, spirit, heart, will, inclinations, etc. This doesn't mean that every person does every bad thing they can--but they could. As a corollary to this, man is unable to save himself. This is why salvation must be of the Lord. In this way, Jonah's helplessness is a perfect picture of our own predicament (Jonah 2:9). Salvation cannot originate in man.

Total depravity implies total inability. Man is helpless and therefore salvation requires God to step in and do some drastic things in order to illuminate, regenerate, forgive, cleanse, justify, and therefore save a person. Note that total depravity is not precisely the same thing as total inability, but they are tightly inter-related.

But why do I--and why should you--believe this? Simply stated, the plain meaning of several Scriptures demand this understanding. Study the following verses:

Ephesians 2:1 says that apart from salvation, every person is dead in sin. The same is taught in Ephesians 2:5. Theologically, spiritual death implies inability to do spiritual good.

Colossians 2:13 teaches that we were dead in our transgressions and the uncircumcision of our flesh. Again, death implies inability to do good spiritual things--like repenting or believing.

Romans 8:7 is clear that the mind controlled by the flesh is at enmity with God and does not submit to God's law.

The same verse goes on to say that the fleshly mind cannot submit--it is unable to submit--to God's law. This is one of the clearest statements of inability.

John 6:44 says that no one is able to come to Jesus unless the Father pulls/drags/draws him.

John 8:47 says that those who are "of God" hear what God says. The reason that someone does not hear is that they do not belong to God (see also John 10:26 and 1 John 4:6).

John 6:65 teaches that no one is able to come to Jesus unless the Father has allowed him to come.

In John 8:43, Jesus rhetorically asks why the unbeliever does not understand what He is saying. He immediately gives the answer: "because you are unable to listen to my word."

1 Corinthians 2:14 is very clear that the natural (unsaved) man does not receive or welcome the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him. Even worse, he is unable to know them, because those things are discerned by means of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 12:25 says that we cannot add a single hour to our life by worry. If we cannot do a small thing like add to our lifespan, Jesus asks, why should we worry about anything else? By extension, if we are unable to do that small thing, how can we think we are able to save ourselves, or even start the process of salvation, which is far harder than extending the span of our physical lives?

Luke 13:24 says that many will try to enter the narrow gate, but will not be strong enough to do so--they will not be able.

It bears emphasizing that the word unable that is used in several verses above (Luke 12:26, John 6:44, 6:65, 8:43; Romans 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14) refers to the fact that the person does not possess the capability to do something.

So, because the unsaved sinner is unable to save himself, where does the ability to be saved come from? It does not come from man, or nature, or anywhere in creation. It can only come from one source--God. So, if you are unsaved, simply cry out to God to save you. That's all you can do. In fact, without God opening your eyes to your need, you won't even get that far.

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