In part one, we defined and discussed the doctrine of total depravity through a combination of systematic and biblical theology. To sum up part one of this series, total depravity is a doctrine of sin, that describes the effects of original sin. In other words, it describes the state that man is in post-Fall. That state, or condition, is two-fold containing pervasive fallenness because we are born in sin as well as spiritual inability because we are dead in sin. In this state, we rightly and totally deserve eternal punishment from God.
While this theologically makes sense and is sound, if it is not biblical, we must throw it out. My desire in this post is to provide a list of all of the passages that I used to write part one on total depravity. I do not presume to provide an exhaustive list as there are certainly some passages I have overlooked or not considered. However, this list should give you a place to begin. Prayerfully consider and study these passages. Feel the desperation. Feel the emptiness. Feel the hopelessness. I pray your heart would be pierced with the Word as you taste and see the bitter ugliness that is our sin as we prepare to take in the sweet sight of God’s glorious sovereign grace.
Total Depravity in the Old Testament
Job 14:4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.”
Job 15:14 “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?”
Psalm 14:3 “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Psalm 53:1, 3 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good…They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Proverbs 20:9 “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?'”
- Answer: No one (Rom. 3:23).
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”
Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.”
- This question implies a negative answer. What is natural to the Ethiopian (skin) and the leopard (spots) cannot be self-changed. Neither can someone who is inherently evil (every natural man) do good.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 24:7 “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
- By nature our hearts are deceitful. The only way for us to be God’s people and for him to be our God in covenant relationship is for God himself to give us a new heart.
Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
Total Depravity in the New Testament
Matthew 7:18 “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
Matthew 13:38 “The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one”
- Note the contrast between the regenerate “good seed” and the unregenerate “weeds.” Sons of God vs. sons of Satan. There is tremendous depravity in being called a child of Satan. Such is the curse of the Fall.
John 3:3, 5-6 “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’. . . Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'”
- In this passage, Jesus’ word here contrasting flesh born of flesh with kingdom requirements implies a radical human inadequacy & inability in spiritual matters.
John 3:27 “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”
John 5:42 “But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.”
- Jesus addresses those who refuse to come to him that they may have life (v. 40) with an indignation of their state outside of grace. The love of God is not in them naturally.
John 6:44, 65 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. . . .And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'”
- Note the clear and desperate spiritual inability.
John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.'”
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”
- This verse shows us once again that by nature we are children of Satan. But this verse also shows that our depravity is not in opposition to our will, but rather in compliance with it.
John 14:17 “even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
- The carnal world cannot receive the Spirit.
John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Acts 13:10 “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?”
- Paul condemns Elymas the magician who was an unregenerate trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith (v. 8).
Romans 3:9 “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.”
- Be sure to check out the rest of this section in Romans 3:9-20
Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
- The unregenerate, unconverted man is an enemy of God.
Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…” [see also Romans 6:16-23]
Romans 7:18 “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Rom 8:7-8 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Romans 14:23 “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 12:3 “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Ephesians 4:17-19 “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”
Colossians 1:21 “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…”
Titus 1:15-16 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
James 3:8 “…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”
1 John 3:8 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Revelation 14:3 “…and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”