Total Depravity 14
Along with the Old Testament, the subject of radical depravity is conspicuous within the four gospels of the New Testament. The doctrine is even more critical to understand when we realize that Jesus Christ is the One teaching it. In fact, He uses the most direct of terms in evaluating sinful man’s condition.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus introduced the doctrine of total depravity in the Sermon on the Mount by teaching that man is spiritually bankrupt. “And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:2-3 ESV). The poor in spirit are those who are beggar poor spiritually and morally at heart. Their only hope is to beg for God’s mercy and grace to avoid judgment and damnation.
Jesus also taught that man is corrupt.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:21-28 ESV)
The Lord continued His diagnostic examination of man’s core being by saying man is:
- Deceived. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV).
- Spiritually sick. “But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12 ESV).
- Depraved. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”(Matthew 12:33-37 ESV).