Man's Total Depravity

Man’s Total Depravity

“It is our deep conviction that the vital question most requiring to be raised today is this: Is man a totally and thoroughly depraved creature by nature? Does he now enter the world completely ruined and helpless, spiritually blind and dead in trespasses and sins? According as is our answer to that question, so will be our views on many others. It is upon the basis of this dark background that the whole Bible proceeds. Any attempt to modify or abate, repudiate or tone down the teaching of Scripture thereon is fatal. Put the question in another form: Is man now in such a condition that he cannot be saved without the special and direct intervention of the Triune God on his behalf? In other words, is there any hope for him apart from his personal election by the Father, his particular redemption by the Son, and the supernatural operations of the Spirit within him? Or, putting it in still another way: If man be a totally depraved being, can he possibly take the first step in the matter of his return unto God?

The Scriptural answer to that question makes evident the utter futility of the schemes of social reformers for ‘the moral elevation of the masses,’ the plans of politicians for the peace of the nations, and the ideologies of dreamers to usher in a ‘golden age’ for this world. It is both pathetic and tragic to see many of our greatest men putting their faith in such chimeras. Divisions and discords, hatred and bloodshed, cannot be banished while human nature is what it is.  But during the past century the steady trend of a deteriorating Christendom has been to underrate the evil of sin and overrate the moral capabilities of men. Instead of proclaiming the heinousness of sin, there has been a dwelling more upon its inconveniences, and the abasing portrayal of the lost condition of man as set forth in Holy Writ has been obscured, if not obliterated, by flattering disquisitions upon human advancement. If the popular religion of ‘the churches’—including nine-tenths of what is termed ‘Evangelical Christianity’—be tested at this point, it will be found that it clashes directly with man’s fallen, mined, and spiritually dead condition.

There is therefore a crying need today for sin to be viewed in the light of God’s Law and Gospel, so that its exceeding sinfulness may be demonstrated, and the dark depths of human depravity exposed by the teaching of Holy Writ—that we may learn what is connoted by those fearful words, ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’  The grand object of the Bible is to make God known unto us, to portray man as he appears in the eyes of his Maker, and to show the relation of one to the other. It is therefore the business of His servants not only to declare the Divine character and perfections, but also to delineate the original condition and apostasy of man, as well as the Divine remedy for his ruin. Until we really behold the hole of the pit in which by nature we lie, we can never properly appreciate Christ’s so-great salvation. In man’s fallen condition we have the awful disease for which Divine redemption is the only cure, and our estimation and valuation of the provisions of Divine grace will necessarily be modified in proportion to how well we understand the depth and degree of our sin.”

A. W. Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952)