I believe in the doctrine of man’s total depravity because it is taught plainly in the Bible. Let us look at:
THE EXTENT OF THE FALL (Rom 3:9-20)
There are two issues here- extensiveness and the intensiveness ( Rom 3:13-18) ( Rom 3:23) – all are sinners; ( Rom 3:13-18) Paul poetically uses the part of body to show that every part of us is sinful.
Extensiveness: Sin has affected all people. It is universal. It is not limited to few isolated individual or even the majority of the human race. All human race without exception are sinners.
Intensiveness: How deep is our sin, your sin, my sin?
We do not accidentally sin or do evil. Our very inclination is evil. Our heart is wrong and must be changed, we need to be created a new ( Jer 31: 33, E3 11:19, we do not merely commit sin, sinful. Our sin is total or total depravity.
Now let us go back to Romans 3:9-20 and see what the bible says:
1. The fall is universal everyone has been affected by it. Jews and Gentiles are under sin (v9) Paul proves this point by referring to old Testament
“ There is none righteous, no not one,
There is none who understands,
There is none who seek after God
They love all tuned aside
There is none who does good no not one”
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
What we are seeing here is that all men are depraved.
Mwalimu (teacher) Martin K. Bussey commenting on verse (9) says “All men (Jews and Gentiles) are under sins. Sin here is pictured as a terrible master who has all men in his power. All are slaves of sin, and unable to break free from it”
Although we do not want to think ourselves as evil or sinful persons the scriptures teaches that we are all sinful.
2. All our faculties have been affected by the fall. It flows from the heart ( the core of the person). In verse 10-12 we see that the fall has affected our character “ there is no righteous not one” and it has affected our practice none seek after God our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever but none is seeking after Him. To be saved is a grace of God.
Another faculty which is depraved is man’s speech (vv 13-14) whose mouth is full deceit cursing bitterness poisonous. When God look at our walk and inner attitude vv15-18 show that He see them as murderous, destructive and empty, without peace and without godly fear.
3. Our will is corrupt and our understanding is darkened. As the scripture says,
“because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish heart were darkened ( Rom 1:21)
As the scripture says:
“Whose minds the gods of this age has blinded ( 2 Cori 4:4) ( 1Cor 2:14, Eph 17-19 our will is bent towards evil ( Rom 8:7,8. ) It is impossible for us to please God scripture says:
“So then those who are in flesh cannot please God” ( Rom 8:8)
4. Our emotions have gone wrong we desire wrong things ( Rom 1:24-27, 2Tim 3:2-4
Therefore we have become slave to sin. All the above number 1-4 add up to the doctrine of total depravity.
What total depravity does not mean:
(i) it does not mean that unregenerated person is totally insensitive to right and wrong ( Rom 2:15 )
(ii) Does not mean sinful person is as sinful as he could be or very sinful. There are unregenerated person who are very good and genuine altruistic who show kindness. Love, care for the family and many other noble things.
(iii) Does not mean that the sinner engages in very possible form of sin.
It is a matter of the entire person. The seat of sin is not one aspect of a person but entire person. Everything we do and think is twisted and corrupted by sin. It falls short of God’s standard of righteousness or requirement.
Let me repeat here that total depravity means that sin has affected all aspect of our being. For example:
(a) it has polluted corrupted or tainted our mind. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so ( Rom 8:7)
(b) It has corrupted or affected our freedom. “Everyone who is a slave to sin” ( John 8:34)
(c) Sin has affected our desires. “All of us also lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our sinful mature and following its desires and thought ( Eph 2:3)
(d) Sin has affected our heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil, thoughts a adulterous, fornication, murderer ------ ( Mark 7:21-23)
What we are seeing here is that even our very best is still tainted with sin. There is nothing we can do 100%
Applications: total depravity implies total inability to save ourselves.
“Pulling ourselves up, we cannot, we need somebody from external to extricate us”
Therefore let me end by saying this: Man is incapable of saving himself in a whole or part ( Isa 64:6 Rom 3:20. We can only be saved by grace ( Eph 2:8-9)
As I was writing I had these two commentaries with me.
The message of Romans by Martin K. Bussey
Romans simply explained by Stuart Olyot.