Grace Protestant Reformed Church

Incapable of Any Good; Inclined to All Evil

Date: AM
Text: Jeremiah 17; Lord's Day 3
Psalters: 411, 235, 23, 294
Series: Heidelberg Catechism
  1. The meaning.
    1. “Depravity” (q.7) is our old man of sin, our inner wickedness, corruption within, the innate evil of fallen man.
      1. It refers to whatever is not up to the standard of God’s holiness, according to God’s judgment (not man’s).
      2. Total depravity means that man is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) – not seriously sick.
    2. Biblical proof.
      1. Death was promised upon disobedience (Gen. 2:17) – so now all are spiritually dead (Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3).
      2. The reign of sin is universal: all men are under its power (Rom. 3:9-12; Ps. 130:3; 143:2; Eccl. 7:20).
  2. What is the explanation for this depravity in man?
    1. The Pelagian, semi-Pelagian, and Arminian positions limit the depravity of man.
    2. The Reformed/Biblical view is found in the adjective “total.” It means absolute.
      1. There is no element of goodness whatsoever in fallen man.
      2. At any moment every human is sinning - they are as bad as they could be at that moment.
    3. Depravity does vary in degree and manner.
  3. The significance. Why is it important to maintain and emphasize the truth of total depravity, man’s horrible sinfulness?
    1. This truth affects other truths, especially irresistible grace.
    2. The measure of man’s depravity determines how much man contributes to his salvation.
      1. God must begin (and end) the work of salvation; He must open man’s heart so the sinner can believe (Acts 16:14).
      2. God’s first work is regeneration, the radical change from death to life, being born again from above.
    3. Belief in this truth means we are always ready to confess sin and admit weakness, and that we never have reason to boast.