Total Depravity

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Total Depravity is the doctrine that fallen man is completely touched by sin and that he is completely a sinner. He is not as bad as he could be, but in all areas of his being, body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions, etc., he is touched by sin. In that sense, he is totally depraved. Because man is depraved, nothing good can come out of him (Rom. 3:10-12), and God must account the righteousness of Christ to him. This righteousness is obtainable only through faith in Christ and what He did on the cross.

Total depravity is generally believed by the Calvinist groups and rejected by the Arminian groups.

Verses used in support of total depravity are as following.  Please examined them to see if you think the doctrine is Biblical or not.

  1. It is man who is deceitful (Jer. 17:9), full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), loves darkness (John 3:19), does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), is ungodly (Rom. 5:6), dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1), by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), and a slave of sin (Rom. 6:16-20).
    1. The unbeliever CAN respond to God. His response will be in accordance with Scripture that says that he cannot do good, is a hater of God, is full of evil, etc. Therefore, we conclude that his free will response will be to reject God, according to the limits described by Scripture itself.
    2. How is it possible that an unbeliever who cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), who does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), and who is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:14-20), simply "chooses" God?
  2. It is God who appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48), chooses who is to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4), calls according to His purpose (2 Tim. 1:9), chooses us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14), grants the act of believing (Phil. 1:29), grants repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-26). It is God who causes us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), draws people to Himself (John 6:44, 65), predestines us to salvation (Rom. 8:29-30) and adoption (Eph. 1:5) according to His purpose (Eph. 1:11), makes us born again not by our will but by His will (John 1:12-13), and works faith in the believer (John 6:28-29).
  3. Man Apart from God
    1. Jer. 13:23, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil."
    2. Rom. 5:10, "For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
    3. Rom. 8:7, "because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so."
  4. Total Depravity Verses
    1. Gen. 6:5, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
    2. Gen. 8:21, "And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth."
    3. Ecc. 7:29, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”
    4. Micah 7:4, "The best of them is like a briar, The most upright like a thorn hedge. The day when you post a watchman, Your punishment will come. Then their confusion will occur."
    5. John 3:27, "John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven."
  5. Verses against free will choice of sinners:
    1. John 1:13, "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
    2. Rom. 9:16, "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
      1. "the man" is singular
    3. Rom. 9:18, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.