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Posts Tagged ‘Universal Depravity’

A twofold knowledge of God, viz., before the fall and after it

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015A twofold knowledge of God, viz., before the fall and after it. The former here considered. Particular rules or precautions to be observed in this discussion. What we are taught by a body formed out of the dust, and tenanted by a spirit.

1. We have now to speak of the creation of man, not only because of all the works of God it is the noblest, and most admirable specimen of his justice, wisdom, and goodness, but, as we observed at the outset, we cannot clearly and properly know God unless the knowledge of ourselves be added. This knowledge is twofold, — relating, first, to the condition in which we were at first created; and, secondly to our condition such as it began to be immediately after Adam’s fall. For it would little avail us to know how we were created if we remained ignorant of the corruption and degradation of our nature in consequence of the fall. At present, however, we confine ourselves to a consideration of our nature in its original integrity. And, certainly, before we descend to the miserable condition into which man has fallen, it is of importance to consider what he was at first. For there is need of caution, lest we attend only to the natural ills of man, and thereby seem to ascribe them to the Author of nature; impiety deeming it a sufficient defense if it can pretend that everything vicious in it proceeded in some sense from God, and not hesitating, when accused, to plead against God, and throw the blame of its guilt upon Him. Those who would be thought to speak more reverently of the Deity catch at an excuse for their depravity from nature, not considering that they also, though more obscurely, bring a charge against God, on whom the dishonor would fall if anything vicious were proved to exist in nature. Seeing, therefore, that the flesh is continually on the alert for subterfuges, by which it imagines it can remove the blame of its own wickedness from itself to some other quarter, we must diligently guard against this depraved procedure, and accordingly treat of the calamity of the human race in such a way as may cut off every evasion, and vindicate the justice of God against all who would impugn it. We shall afterwards see, in its own place, (Book 2 chap. 1: sec. 3,) how far mankind now are from the purity originally conferred on Adam. And, first, it is to be observed, that when he was formed out of the dust of the ground a curb was laid on his pride — nothing being more absurd than that those should glory in their excellence who not only dwell in tabernacles of clay, but are themselves in part dust and ashes. But God having not only deigned to animate a vessel of clay, but to make it the habitation of an immortal spirit, Adam might well glory in the great liberality of his Maker.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 15-Henry Beveridge Translation

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 8-The Punishment of Sin-Number 3

CHAPTER 8-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 3

We are hearing much about the complacency of the American public concerning the outcome of this war. But there is a complacency far more prevalent and in the face of infinitely greater danger. There is a complacent attitude towards HELL that is so alarming as to be shocking and heart-breaking. And it is our firm conviction that this complacency is the result of failure to preach the truth on the solemn and momentous subject of eternal punishment. Those denominations that deny eternal punishment have literally sown the country down with their pernicious proaganda. They have put their “no hell” doctrine in nearly every home in the land, while we Baptists and other evangelicals have hardly raised our voice in giving the truth on the subject.

We have our theme songs for certain occasions; why not have our theme texts for the present distress? And let them be after the order of Mt 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Gehenna). Too much of our preaching is for entertainment rather than for information. We are trying to have conversions without conviction. We are calling the self-righteous into the church when we ought to be calling sinners to repentance. We are breaking alabaster boxes and filling our sermons with the odor of spikenard when we ought to be telling the truth about human depravity. We are tying pink ribbons of perfection about the necks of our people when we ought to be waving the red flag of warning. We have let our prejudice for heaven hide the terrible realities of hell.

A STUDY OF WORDS

Those who oppose the truth of eternal punishment make a show of wisdom and confuse the average person by their use of Hebrew and Greek words. We make no claim to scholarship, and anybody who can even use Young’s Analytical Concordance can follow us in this study of words.

QEBER AND SHEOL

QEBER is the Old Testament word for grave and is always used in connection with the body. It is translated grave or its equivalent in every place. It is never used in connection with the soul.

SHEOL is the Old Testament word for the unseen state, and is the place of departed spirits. It never means the grave; although in the King James Version it is wrongly translated grave 31 times. In the Revised Version it is brought into the English text without being translated.

Man has both body and soul and in death QEBER is the word used of the disposition of his body and SHEOL speaks of the disposition of his soul . There is conclusive evidence that the two words are not interchangeable. QEBER, the grave, refers to locality; SHEOL, the state of disembodied souls, is a condition.

QEBER occurs in the plural 27 times; SHEOL never occurs in the plural. The burial of one hundred bodies in a cemetery would mean one hundred graves, but the entrance of one hundred souls into SHEOL would not mean one hundred SHEOLS, but the one state of disembodiment.

QEBER is referred to as the exclusive QEBER, or grave, of an individual. For example, “my grave (qeber)” in #Ge 50:5; “grave” (qeber) of Abner #2Sa 3:32; “their graves” (#Jer 8:1). etc.

SHEOL is never spoken of as the exclusive SHEOL of any person. The one condition of dis-embodiment is common to all who have died.

SHEOL is associated with pain and sorrow. “The sorrows of hell (sheol) compassed me about,” (#1Sa 22:6). “The pains of hell (sheol) got hold upon me,” (#Ps 116:3).

QEBER is never associated with suffering, for the body in the grave is unconscious, and cannot feel pain or experience sorrow. SHEOL is always connected with the soul, never with the body. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol).” (#Ps 16:10). QEBER is never connected with the soul, but always with the body.

HADES AND MNEMEION

These are New Testament Greek words and are identical with the Old Testament Hebrew words SHEOL and QEBER. Hades, like SHEOL, means the unseen state of the disembodied soul; MNEMEION, like QEBER, means the grave. All that has been said about QEBER may also be said about MNEMEION, for both are connected with the body and mean the grave. And to prove that SHEOL and hades are identical it is sufficient to compare an Old Testament Scripture with the New Testament quotation:

“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” (#Ps 16:10).

“Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (#Ac 2:27).

The reference in the above verses is to our Lord. His soul was in SHEOL or HADES between His death and resurrection. His body was in the grave, but it did not see corruption. This condition of body in death was peculiar to Christ. Of David it is said that he “fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he whom God raised again, saw no corruption” (#Ac 13:36,37). “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (#Ac 2:27-31).

THE SEPTUAGINT

This is the name of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament made by the Jews of Alexandria, about 280 B.C., under order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt. In this Greek translation, out of the 65 times in which the word SHEOL occurs, the seventy render it Hades 61 times. Not once do they translate it grave (MNEMEION).

GEHENNA

This is a new word introduced by our Lord. Gehenna is translated hell nine times and hell-fire three times. It belongs almost exclusively to the vocabulary of our Saviour, being found only one time: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (#Jas 3:6), when not employed by Him. Gehenna is the place of eternal punishment, and the only word rightly translated hell. It is not the grave, the place for dead bodies; nor is it hades, the place of departed souls. It is the place for both soul and body of the wicked after their ressurrection and judgment. Hades is temporary, as also is physical death. “And death (thanatos) and hell (hades) were cast into the lake of fire” (#Re 20:14). Gehenna (hell is eternal). “…two hands to go into hell (gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched” (#Mr 9:43).

Gehenna is the Grecianized form of Ge-hinnom (valley of Hinnom), which became a place of the heathen worship, not far from Jerusalem. Ahaz and Manasseh were promoters of foreign religions and set up the horrible worship of Moloch, the god of the Ammonites, in this Valley of Hinnom. Moloch was represented by a hideous ox- headed human figure made of iron and hollow. A fire was built in this image and when it was red hot a living child would be cast into its arms and thus sacrificed to this heathen god. The good king Josiah put a stop to this idol worship “And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech” (#2Ki 23:10). This valley later on became the city dump for Jerusalem and the garbage of the city was kept continually burning. And because the fires never went out, our Lord employed it as the symbol of the lake of fire, the place of eternal punishment. While a fit emblem of hell, it must be carefully noted that our Lord in speaking of Gehenna never referred to the city dump of Jerusalem except as an emblem to designate that place of eternal torment for the wicked. He was not saying that all the lost will be thrown into the valley of Hinnom. The city dump of Jerusalem is not the place of eternal punishment, but only an emblem or figure of it.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 7-The Punishment of Sin-Number 2

CHAPTER 7-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 2

“The wages of sin is death,” God said to Adam, concerning the forbidden fruit, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Ge 2:17). This threatened penalty of death was not pronounced upon Adam as a private individual merely, but as a public and representative person. It was a race penalty. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (#Ro 5:12). The first sin was a race sin and the penalty thereof must have been a race penalty. The whole human race was in Adam, the first man, both seminally and legally, and his act was considered as their act; not personally but representatively. Every man by nature is guilty with Adam’s guilt, just as every believer is righteous with Christ’s righteousness. Believers are not righteous personally, that is, by their own obedience; they are righteous representatively by the obedience of Christ, their Surety.

The death threatened against, and passed unto, all men was not a corporeal death merely. Physical death is a mere incident and is not universal. There have been two notable exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), and there will be many alive, who will not die physically, when the Lord returns. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (#1Co 15:51,52). Furthermore, physical death did not occur until some 930 years after the sin was committed; whereas God said, “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Gen 2:17).

The death which passed unto all men was the loss of divine favor and exposedness to divine wrath. It was not the death of man considered as a physical being but as a moral and accountable being. Moral death was the result of a break with God. Man broke with God when he tried to seize the reins of government and do as he pleased. Sin separates from God and brings His condemnation. Physical death is the result of the separation of the body and spirit “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (#Jas 2:26). Moral death is the result of separation of man as a moral being from God. The sinner, although alive physically, is alienated from the life of God “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (#Eph 4:18); “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (#Col 1:21).

LIFE AND DEATH

The words life and death are antonyms, and it is axiomatic that a man cannot be both dead and alive in the same sense at the same time. But one may be dead in one sense and alive in another sense at the same time. This is obvious from the saying of our Lord: “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (#Mt 8:22). He meant for those dead morally to bury the physical dead.

Life and death are not synonyms of existence and non-existence, but rather of condition of existence. Death never means non-existence or the cessation of being. In the moral sense life is a condition of existence, and death is the opposite condition of existence. To have life as a moral being is to exist under the favor of God and to be free from the wrath to come. To be dead as a moral being is to exist without His favor and to be exposed to His wrath. This will become more apparent as we continue these discussions.

THE SECOND DEATH

The second death is punishment in the lake of fire. And this will be for both soul and body of the lost. Physical death is not everlasting, for “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (#Ac 24:15). Death (dead bodies) and hades (lost souls) are to be cast into the lake of fire. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (#Re 20:14). And this is the second death. We will not here and now give proof that the second death is eternal. This will come out in a later article (D.V.). However, it does not seem reasonable that the fire will burn them up in the sense of putting them out of conscious existence. If this were true the only difference between the martyred saints and the wicked would be in time and place of suffering. The martyrs (many of them) were burned to death, and if their tormentors are only to be burned up and put out of existence, then their salvation was not the previous thing they supposed it to be. A brother who believes in conditional immortality wrote me that he knew of no Scripture that taught that the wicked would suffer in hell longer than five minutes. Cheap salvation! Sweet morsel to the wicked! If that were true.

Man is both a physical and a psychic being, that is, he has both body and soul. As a physical being his body was made of the same substance as that of the beasts of the field. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (#Ge 2:7,19). As a psychic being he became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Heb. lives). This is not said concerning the origin of the soul of the beast. The beast has a soul (this will be proven later), but it did not get its soul like man got his. Man as the acme of creation was made in the image of God, which must mean that he has something which does not belong to the beast of the field. This image of God in man is spirit. God is a Spirit and man must have a spirit to be in His image. In making man a living soul, God communicated to him that which made him in His image. Man, by virtue of his creation, has a body and a soul which gives him kinship with the beasts, but he also has a spirit which relates him to God. F.W. Grant makes a very helpful distinction between the soul and spirit:

“The ‘soul,’ is in Scripture the seat of the passions, emotions, sensibility, as the spirit of the mental and moral judgment. These latter, in any real sense, the beast has not. The spirit it is which is in man, which knows the things of a man “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (#1Co 2:11). But he learns them, gathering the materials of judgment through the soul-the senses; and as the body begins to develop before even the soul, so does the soul before the spirit. Spirit in man depends, thus, really upon the soul; and it is striking that just when absent from the body his real distinction begins to manifest it self. The soul survives, indeed, the stroke of death; but is now called what he never was before, a ‘spirit’ “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit….Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (#Lu 24:37,39); “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (#Ac 23:8,9); “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (#Heb 12:23): “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” (#1Pe 3:19).

Grant tells us that man is called Adam, from Adamah (Heb.), the ground, to remind him of his origin “dust thou art”; and he is called a soul to remind him of his likeness to the beasts; but he is never called a spirit until after he takes his departure from the body. We read of the spirits of just men made perfect, and of spirits in prison.

THE FIRST DEATH

Man as a physical and also a moral being is subject to two kinds of death: namely, physical and moral. There is only one physical death for any man. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (#Heb 9:27). Notice the accuracy of Scripture. It is not “man” the generic, but “men” as individuals. Physical death is not appointed for “man” the whole race, but for men. We have already pointed out exceptions.

Man considered as a moral being may experience two deaths: the first and the second. All who are saved will experience but one death; all who are not saved will experience two deaths. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (#Re 2:11). Nobody has escaped the first death, for that death passed upon all men.

The first death is also clearly defined in the Scriptures. It is to be “dead in law,” or judicial death. It is to be dead in trespasses and sins. It is death in the sense of guilt and depravity. It is the death of condemnation. The antithesis of judicial death is “justification of life.” “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (#Ro 5:18). “He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (#Joh 5:24). Everlasting life is equivalent to justification and is opposed to condemnation. As a moral being the believer is justified by God, and will never be condemned. He has passed out from under the curse of God’s law and exists under the favor of God. Life and death in the judicial sense are generally overlooked by commentators.

The believer is told to “reckon himself as dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ” (#Ro 6:11). This means that the believer is dead to the guilt of sin—no longer exposed to the wrath of God; and that he is alive or justified before God by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Christ. We also have this aspect of life and death in I #Joh 5:12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” And again in #Joh 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The sword of divine justice hangs over the head of the unbeliever; the benedictions of the heavenly Father are pronounced upon the believer in Christ.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 3-Depravity-Total, Universal, Inherent

CHAPTER 3-DEPRAVITY—TOTAL, UNIVERSAL, INHERENT

Depravity is a word that describes the state or disposition of man considered as a moral being. A moral being is one who is accountable to God for his thoughts, speech, and conduct. Depravity means the moral corruption of human nature; it refers to the state of sinfulness natural to the unregenerate.

Depravity is the opposite to what is required by the law of God. The sum of the divine law is love to God and our neighbor. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (#Mt 22:37-39). Paul says that love is the fulfilling of the law. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (#Ro 13:8-10). Depravity must consist then of the lack of love required by God, and the setting up of some other object or objects in the human affections. And all the objects set up in competition with God may be reduced to one, and that is self. Private self-love, to the exclusion of supreme love to God and equal love to men, is the very root of depravity. Self-will, self-admiration and self-righteousness are but different manifestations of depravity.

Depravity is that state of nature that causes man to put self in the place of God, and to seek his own gratification, honor, and interest as the ultimate end of all his actions. Every moral being ought to live and act for the highest good, and the highest good is the glory of God. Depravity is the corruption of nature that leads men to act for self glory. The very essence of sin is selfishness. Take the first and last letters off the word SIN and you have the letter “I”. Take the word self and spell it backwards, adding the letter “H” and you have the word “flesh”. And the Bible often employs the word flesh to denote the corrupt nature of man. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (#Ro 7:18); There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (#Ro 8:1-13); “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (#Php 3:3); “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (#Joh 1:13); “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (#Joh 6:63).

When Paul describes men under a variety of wicked characters, the first link in the chain is: “lovers of their own selves” (#2Ti 3:2). This exclusive love of self is the fountain of depravity from which all- evil thoughts and actions flow; it is the womb from which all sinful expedients are born; it is the incubator in which all evil inventions are hatched.

Depravity is total, reaching to all the facilities of the soul; it is universal; taking in all men by nature; and it is inherent, by which we mean that it is the result of original sin, transmitted by natural generation or physical birth.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY

Total depravity means that man is depraved or corrupted in all the faculties of his being. It is not a question of degree but of extent. It does not mean that any man is as bad as he may become, or that he is as wicked as the devil. However, the potential evil is about the same in every man. The Bible says “there is no difference for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” If we have not sinned as much as others, it is due to restraining grace and not to anything good in our nature. When Jesus Christ said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. He was not describing any particular heart but the heart of every man. John Bradford, a martyr, once watched the officers leading a criminal to the place of execution, and remarked, “there goes John Bradford but for the grace of God.” The act of transgression is only a small part of sin. Eight ninths of an iceberg is below the surface of the sea. And potentially there is far more sin in everyone of us than every appears on the surface in actual transgression.

There are degrees in depravity. All men are not the same in the degree or amount of sin. Drop a grain of arsenic into a glass of water, and the water is totally affected. Every drop of the water is poisoned. Put in another grain of arsenic and the poison is not extended, but it is intensified. It is not poisoned in more of its parts, but each part to a greater degree. So man, a child of wrath by nature “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (#Eph 2:3), may become more depraved.

The natural man is not depraved in spots, but the whole of his being is depraved. The “carnal mind is enmity against God” (#Ro 8:7); “and the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (#Jer 17:9); “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (#Mt 15:19); the will is in bondage to sin “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (#Joh 6:44), “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (#Joh 5:40); “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (#Php 2:13). The human will is no better than the mind and the heart that controls it. Men choose what they do because of the state of their minds and hearts.

Total depravity means that man, as the result of original sin, is morally or spiritually dead. And dead as an adjective does not admit of comparison. There are no degrees of death, but there are degrees in death. Here is a physical corpse. The man has been dead one day. He is totally dead—dead in all the physical parts. Here is another corpse. The man has been dead one week. He is no more dead than the other man, but the corpse is in worse condition. Now the Bible presents the natural man under the figure of a moral or spiritual corpse. Here is a young girl of sixteen summers, beautiful, vivacious, and outwardly charming. She knows nothing of the life of the brothel. But that girl, if an unbeliever in Christ, is morally or spiritually dead. She is lacking in love to God and to her neighbor. Her depraved nature is manifested in pride of apparel, pride of beauty, disobedient to parents, lack of interest in the word of God, and rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is another moral corpse. She is a woman of the brothel; her virtue is gone, and she is abandoned to a life of sin and shame. She drinks, and swears, and smokes, and lies, and steals, and breaks up homes. She is no more dead than the girl of sweet sixteen, but she is in a worse condition in moral death.

Moral death does not mean that man does not exist as a moral being. Death never means extinction of being, but a state or condition of being. The unregenerate man performs actions, but they are wicked. Theft, and murder, and lying are all acts of moral being, but they are wicked acts.

UNIVERSAL DEPRAVITY

Universal depravity means that all men are depraved. Every man, apart from inwrought grace, is lacking in that which the law of God requires. He does not love God, neither does he love his neighbor as he loves himself. It is only the born again ones who love God: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (#1Jo 4:7); who understand the things of God “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (#1Co 2:14); “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (#Joh 3:3); “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (#2Co 4:4); who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (#1Jo 5:1); or who practice righteousness “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (#1Jo 2:29).

In Noah’s day it is said that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (#Ge 6:5). Of David’s day it was written: “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (#Ps 14:3). And Paul quotes this verse from David and applies it to the people of his day “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (#Ro 3:10). The only men free from corruption of nature since the first Adam sinned and fell was the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and his birth was not according to the law of natural generation. To deny the virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth is to make him a sinner. And who wants to trust a sinner as Saviour?

INHERENT DEPRAVITY

Depravity of nature is transmitted to all men by natural generation. Like begets like; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and the carnal or fleshly mind hates God.

The early appearance of sin in the child is proof that depravity of nature is inherited. The very first act that discovers reason in the child has sin in it. Watch the child when reason begins to dawn, and it will express itself by doing harm to others, or by lying, or by pride of apparel, or by natural inclination to revenge. Have not all parents quieted the baby by beating that which had hurt or offended it? The small child at the very dawn of reason manifests a spirit of revenge towards others and a dislike for God.

In Andrew Fuller’s diary, under date of January 8, 1785, are these lines: “Much affected today in hearing my little girl say, ‘How soon sabbath day comes again!’ Felt grieved to see the native aversion of the carnal heart to God so early discovering itself.”

Inherent depravity is seen in the fact that the child will sin without being taught to sin. “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (#Pr 29:15). Only leave the child to act naturally and freely, and it will shame its mother. But we must be taught to do the things that are not natural. Take a person who has never been taught to swim and throw him into deep water he will drown. But take a horse or some other beast and plunge it into the stream and it will swim because nature hath taught him. Man sins naturally, but he has to be taught to do good.

Inherent depravity is directly taught in many Scriptures. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (#Ps 51:5). David is not casting reflection upon his mother’s virtue; he is confessing to a sinful nature received in birth. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies” (#Ps 58:3). In #Eph 2:3, we read that we “were by nature the children of wrath.” In “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (#Ro 9:8), we are told that the children of the flesh are not the children of God-and if not the children of God, they are the children of wrath, children of disobedience; yea, children of the devil.

The Scriptures which teach the necessity of the new birth prove that depravity is total, universal, and inherent. Regeneration is not of parts but of Persons, the whole psychic being is born again. And every man needs the new birth, for except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. If depravity were not hereditary, the new birth would not be necessary; training and education would bring one into the kingdom of God. If there were a spark of goodness it could be fanned into a flame, and a birth from above would not be essential to salvation.

ILLUSTRATION

The following supposed incident will illustrate the truth of depravity. A ship’s crew mutiny put their officers in chains, and take command of the ship. They sail to a distant port, dispose of the cargo, and divide the money. But while they are on the voyage, they find it necessary, for self-preservation, to establish some kind of laws to govern them in their relation to one another. To these laws they adhere punctually, act with a degree of fairness with one another, and agree to an impartial distribution of their plunder. But before they reach port, one of the crew relents and becomes very unhappy. He insists that they are engaged in a wicked scheme. He urges that they release their officers, implore their forgiveness, and resume their duties under their command. But they plead their justice, honor, and respect for one another. They remind him that they are keeping the laws they had agreed upon, and that there is peace and harmony among them. But he tells them there is no virtue in it; that all their equity while exercised in pursuit of a scheme which violates the great law of justice, is itself, a species of iniquity. He shows them that they are running the ship for their own selfish interests and glory, and not in the interest of the owner. He urges them to repent of their wicked design. He pleads with them to release their officers, and plead for mercy.

The application of this parable is easy. As sailors on the ship of life the human race mutinied in the very beginning, and every one born upon the ship has joined in the rebellion. While there has been a semblance of law and order, and some respect for one another, every man, apart from the grace of God working in him, has lived for self rather than for God, the Creator and Owner of all. The need of every one is to repent of his sin towards God, surrendering to Him and hoping for mercy through the blood of His Son. May both writer and reader abhor themselves for what they were by nature and rejoice in what they are by God’s amazing grace.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1