What You Need to Know about Depravity

Ephesians 2:1-6   |   Sunday, April 22, 2007   |   Code: 2007-04-22-PJ

 By Phil Johnson

      I participate in a few forums on the Internet where biblical and theological issues are discussed. My favorite forums are not the ones where pastors and professional theologians discuss theoretical and philosophical issues, but the ones where serious lay-people talk about the theological issues that concern them in real life. I've been active on the Internet for nearly seven years, and one thing I have noticed is that certain issues keep coming up again and again. Participating in these forums has given me a pretty good grasp of which doctrines confuse or intrigue the most people. And in my teaching, I like to deal with as many of these issues as possible.

     One thing I have noticed is that the doctrines that pertain to human sin are some of the hardest doctrines for people to understand and embrace—particularly the doctrines of original sin and universal depravity. Of all the doctrines taught in Scripture, the one doctrine that comes under attack more than any other is the Bible's teaching that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that we inherited a sinful nature from Adam, and that it means we are helpless to redeem ourselves from the condemnation of God. These ideas run counter to every other religion man has ever devised.

     People want to believe that they are basically good, that they can be good enough to please God, and that if they just set their hearts and minds to do good, they can redeem themselves from their own sin.

     People don't want to believe that Adam's sin put the whole human race in a spiritually hopeless state. They don't want to admit that they are sinful to the very core of their beings. They don't want to admit that their most basic desires, and even the private imaginations of their hearts are utterly and hopelessly sinful, and they are powerless to change themselves. By any standard, these are hard truths.

     And yet every bit of evidence we examine confirms all these things. Scripture clearly teaches that there is none that doeth good, there is none that seeketh after God, no not one. Human experience confirms this. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that the doctrine of original sin is the easiest of all the doctrines of Scripture to prove. Evidence of it is all around us. No one in all our acquaintance is sin-free. Proof that the whole human race is fallen is everywhere, in the daily newspapers, on the evening news, and clearly evident in every life we encounter, right? Most of all, if we're honest with ourselves, the most persuasive proof that the human race is hopelessly depraved is inside our own hearts. And Chesterton said if we don't believe this doctrine, which we have abundant empirical evidence to support, how can we possibly believe the truths of the Bible we're required to accept by faith?

     The Bible's teaching on original sin and human depravity is vital to orthodox Christianity. Every movement in Christianity that has rejected these truths has gone badly astray. A couple of years ago, when we studied the major heretics, we saw that the fundamental error of the Pelagians lay in Pelagius's rejection of the doctrine of original sin. The liberalism of the Socinians grew out of the same error. And those today who reject original sin or total depravity are the liberals and several of the cults. This is a vital doctrine, and those who reject it place themselves in eternal peril and make shipwreck of the faith.

     One significant fact that should strike you as you study Scripture is that the most godly men on the pages of Scripture all had a deep sense of their own sinfulness. David was a man after God's own heart, yet in Psalm 52:5 he confessed that he was sinful from the moment of his conception. Isaiah was perhaps the greatest prophet in all the Old Testament, and yet in Isaiah 6:5, he wrote, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." The apostle Paul, the figure who towers over the early church, representing perhaps the ultimate example of godly scholarship, wrote in Romans 7:18: "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." In verse 24 he wrote, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Again and again in Scripture, we see that the people who are the prime examples of godliness had the keenest perception of their own sinfulness.

     This is true throughout Church history, too. Augustine, perhaps the greatest post-Apostolic defender of the doctrines of God's grace, spent years in frustration, coming to grips with the reality of his own sin. Martin Luther, whose teaching launched the reformation, was so obsessed with his own sin that before his conversion he used to spend hours in the confessional booth, confessing long laundry lists of things that made him feel guilty. Charles Spurgeon spent several years of his childhood secretly wrestling with the terrifying realization that sin had so infected his heart that he was worthy of nothing but divine wrath.

     Again and again we see that those who have embraced these truths of original sin and human depravity have been used by God in tremendous ways, while those who have resisted or rejected these truths have made shipwreck of the faith.

     So this is a very crucial issue. And since I know that so many struggle with it, what I want to do today is examine it biblically, and try to help you unravel the toughest questions about original sin and its impact on our souls.


     Let me start by saying that Scripture is very clear and consistent in its teaching that everyone is born into a state of spiritual death, and from a human perspective, their situation is utterly hopeless.

     Look at Ephesians 2:1-3.  What Paul said was universally true of the Ephesian believers is equally true of every one of us: He told them: "[You] were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 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." The "others" he speaks of is everyone. He is describing the state of every person who comes into this world. This is a description of fallen human nature.

     The apostle is teaching that every unregenerate person is spiritually dead, walking in accord with Satan, by nature a child of wrath.  No one escapes from this verdict; it is the inevitable expression of our fallen, sinful human nature.

     Someone might be tempted to ask, like the disciples did in Matthew 19:25: "Who then can be saved?"

     What was Jesus' answer?  "With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  Jesus was affirming that only God's grace can accomplish the salvation of a sinner.

     When Adam fell, it was as if he had committed moral and spiritual suicide.  He forfeited his moral freedom.  He placed himself in a bondage to evil from which he was helpless to extricate himself.  He was helpless to undo the damage he had done.  He was fallen—and he couldn't get up.

     You probably remember that television ad where an old lady lies crumpled at the foot of the stairs, while she shrieks into a transmitter that she wears around her neck: "I've fallen and I can't get up!"  That was such an obnoxious commercial that it soon became the punch line for every joke.

     But there's some good theology in that line: "I've fallen, and I can't get up." And spiritually, this is no joke.  We are fallen and we can't get up.  We are helpless to help ourselves.  Our only hope is the grace of God.  And that is as true of you and me in our natural state (apart from the grace of God) as it is of the vilest, most wretched derelict who was ever in bondage to Satan.

     What we are really talking about here is the doctrine known as "total depravity." Now someone will accuse me of simply regurgitating Calvinist doctrine. But this doctrine was not invented by Calvin and his followers. It is a biblical doctrine. It was standard orthodox Christian theology for more than a thousand years before the Reformation.

     I will say this, however: When you understand the doctrine of depravity, you will see the truth at the heart of Calvinism's emphasis. This is why we stress divine grace rather human free will as the prime factor in our salvation. And I won't apologize for being emphatic about this: Scripture clearly teaches that God is utterly sovereign, and sinners are totally powerless to save themselves.  Once you grasp those truths the way Scripture presents them, you will have embraced the very heart of what is commonly labeled Calvinism. This dual emphasis on human depravity and the necessity of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners is the basis of all truth that can legitimately be called "evangelical."  I yield no ground to those who want God's sovereignty or the sinner's inability to be watered down.  To do so is to corrupt the gospel itself.

     So let's look at this doctrine of total depravity.  This morning I want to try to answer four of the hardest questions about the doctrine of depravity with clear, biblical answers:

1.  In what sense is depravity total?

2.  How can we be held responsible for our own inability?

3.  How did we inherit Adam's sinfulness?

4.  Is there an antidote for human depravity?



In What Sense Is Depravity Total?

     Look again at Ephesians 2.  Verse 1 says sinners are dead in trespasses and sins—spiritually dead.  They walk in worldliness and disobedience (v. 2).  They live in the lusts of their flesh, "indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [are] by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (v. 3).  They are "separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (v. 12).

     That describes the state of every unbeliever as alienation from God and bondage to evil.  In Romans 6, Paul calls it slavery to sin.  He furthermore says in Romans 6:20 that people who are slaves of sin are utterly devoid of true righteousness.  Those in this state of sin and unbelief are God's enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10).  They are "alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds" (Col. 1:21).  That is what it means to be totally depraved.  That is what it means to be spiritually dead.

     Spiritual death is a total inability to love God, a total inability to obey Him, and a total inability to please Him.  Paul says in Romans 8:6-8, "For the mind set on the flesh is death . . . .  [This, then, is the state of spiritual death:]  The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

     Now, lots of non-Christians will deny that they are hostile toward God.  But they are self-deceived.  In fact, many who invoke the name of Christ and claim to love God actually do not love the God of the Bible.  They love a god who exists only in their imagination—a tolerant, unholy, passive, feeble, weakling god.  That is not the God of Scripture.  The God of the Bible is too holy for the sinner's tastes.  He is too wrathful against sinners.  His standards are too high.  His laws are not to their liking.  So though they profess to love God, they do not love the one true God who has revealed Himself in Scripture.  They are not able to love Him.

     That inability to love God is the essence of total depravity.  It leaves us unable to fulfill the first and great commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mk. 12:30). So everything the sinner ever does is permeated with sin, because he's living life in violation of the First and Great Commandment.

     "Total depravity" does not mean that unbelievers are as bad as they could be.  It does not mean that every sinner will live out his or her depravity the fullest.  It doesn't mean all non-Christians are like brute beasts or people like Jeffrey Dahmer.  It does not mean that unbelievers are incapable of acts of kindness or goodwill to fellow humans.  In fact, Jesus Himself stated that unbelievers do good to people in return for good that is done to them (Lk. 6:33).  The human race was created in the image of God.  Though sin has spoiled that image, even non-Christians are capable of rising to great heights of human goodness, honesty, decency, and excellence.  "Total" depravity does not mean that every unredeemed woman must be a wrinkled, slobbering hag, or that every unbelieving man is a twisted, degenerate psychopath.  It does mean that unbelievers, those who are in the flesh, cannot please God.

     The word total in "total depravity" refers to the extent of our sinfulness, not the degree to which we manifest it.  It means that evil has contaminated every aspect of our being—our wills, our intellect, our emotions, our conscience, our personality, and our desires.  Let's put it in biblical terminology: sin has corrupted the human heart, Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"  If the heart is corrupt, the whole person is defiled.

     Our depravity is a heart corruption.  In other words, it goes to the very core of who we are.  We are infected by sin in every part of our souls.  We are profane, sinful, thoroughly debased before God, no matter how good we appear in human terms.

     This is as true of someone like Mahatma Ghandi as it is of someone like Adolph Hitler.  The relative goodness of the world's best people is never enough to please God, whose only standard is absolute perfection.  The best of sinners do not come close to His holy criteria.  Let me illustrate.

     Suppose we lined up all the men in Grace Life and demanded that they swim to Singapore.  We drive them down to Malibu, line them up at Point Dume, and send them off.  Some of them would drown before they even reached Catalina.  I would undoubtedly be the first to go under, about a hundred yards offshore.  Others, the really athletic ones, might make it as far as Catalina, though that's unlikely.  But one thing is certain; no one would make it to Singapore.  All of them would be dead long before the goal was met.  No one would even get as far as Hawaii, less than halfway.

     Now, would those who died before swimming five miles be any worse off than those who died forty miles offshore?  No, all would be equally dead.  The goal was just as hopeless for the trained, expert swimmer as it was for the fat guy who did his training by sitting in front of a computer all day.

     That is how it is with sin.  All sinners stand condemned before God.  Even the best of Adam's offspring are thoroughly sinful at heart.  They are in exactly the same hopeless state as the lowest degenerate—maybe even in a worse state, because it is harder for them to acknowledge their sin.  So they compound their sin with self-righteousness.

     People are prepared to be called sinners in their sin, but they do not want to be labeled sinners in their religion.  But this is crucial: Human religion does not contradict depravity; it only proves it.  Human religion substitutes other gods in the rightful place of the true God.  That is the very essence of God-hating.  It is false worship—nothing but an attempt to depose God.  It is the worst kind of depravity.

     Remember, it was the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned with the harshest invective He ever uttered.  Why?  After all, they believed the Scriptures were literally true.  They tried to obey the law rigidly.  They weren't like the Sadducees, religious liberals who denied the supernatural.  They were the theological fundamentalists of their day.

     But they refused to recognize the bankruptcy of their own hearts.  They trusted in themselves that they were righteous and went about trying to establish their own righteousness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:3).  Remember what they told the man born blind in John 9:34?  "You were born entirely in sins"—as if they weren't.

     In other words, they rejected the doctrine of total depravity, and it led to their utter condemnation.  Jesus said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mk. 2:17).  "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10).

     They thought all their good works made them righteous.  But religion and good works do not cancel out depravity.  Depravity corrupts even the highest forms of religion and good works.  George Whitefield said that God could damn us for the very best prayer we ever put up. John Bunyan agreed. He said he thought the best prayer he ever prayed still had enough sin in it to damn the whole world. Isaiah wrote, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isa. 64:6, KJV).

     Unredeemed sinners are therefore incapable of doing anything to please God.  They cannot love the God who reveals Himself in Scripture.  They cannot obey His law from the heart, with pure motives.  They cannot even grasp the essentials of spiritual truth.  First Corinthians 2:14 says, "A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."  Unbelievers are therefore incapable of faith.  And "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" (Heb. 11:1).

     The key word in all of that is inability.  We are unable to respond to God.  Listen to what John MacArthur wrote in one of his books: "Unregenerate sinners have no life by which they can respond to spiritual stimuli.  No amount of love, beseeching, or spiritual truth can summon a response.   People apart from God are the ungrateful dead, spiritual zombies, death-walkers, unable even to understand the gravity of their situation.  They are lifeless. They may go through the motions of life, but they do not possess it.  They are dead even while they live (1 Tim. 5:6). They dwell in utter darkness—the eternal night of the living dead."

     That brings us to our second question:


How Can We Be Held Responsible for Our Own Inability?

     The Westminster confession states the doctrine of total depravity in these terms: "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto" (Chap. IX, sect. iii).

     Every element of that statement is crucial.  Note exactly what kind of inability is described here.  It is not an inability to do good things.  It is an inability for "any spiritual good accompanying salvation."  In other words, sinners have no ability to do spiritual good that merits salvation from sin.  They are completely antagonistic to real righteousness.  They are hopelessly in thrall to sin.  They cannot save themselves or even make themselves fit for God's salvation.  They have no appetite for spiritual truth, no ability to understand it.  Therefore, they cannot possibly believe the truth or appropriate salvation for themselves by any means.

     In John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father."  Their desires were corrupt, and it was a corruption that emanated from the nucleus of their very nature.  Jesus said they were like the devil.  He went on to say, "[The Devil] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."  The implication is, You are in the same boat.  It is your nature to be evil.  There is no way you could do otherwise.  There is no way you can make yourself other than what you are.  "Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots?  Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil" (Jer. 13:23).

     At this point, some of you must be asking, "If this is so—if we are sinful by nature, totally unable to be any other way—how can a just God hold us responsible for that?  It wouldn't be fair to command a paraplegic to run a marathon and then punish him because he was unable, would it?

     But our inability isn't the inability of a paraplegic; it is an inability of the will.  Our inability does not arise from a lack of physical, rational, or cognitive faculties.  It arises from a wrong moral inclination.

     All our faculties—our minds, emotions, and wills—work just fine.  That is, we can think and act and choose freely according to whatever our own desires and motives are.  But that is precisely the problem: our desires and motives are the very thing sin has corrupted. Our desires are defective.  So the will itself is therefore bent against righteousness. Our corruption is therefore a willful depravity. It is a moral defect, not the kind of inability that keeps a paraplegic from running a race.

     Our depravity so inclines our will to love sin that God's righteousness becomes morally repugnant to us.  We are left unable to love Him, unable to choose obedience to His law.  It is a moral defect, and therefore we are morally culpable.

     Is the human will free?  People always ask this.  What about free will?  Our will is free to choose according to our desires, but it is not free to determine those desires. The will is therefore free in one sense, but it is not sovereign over our moral nature. We cannot by an act of will change our character for the better. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jer. 13:23). The sinner has exactly that much ability to turn his own heart to do good.

     In other words, our depravity corrupts our heart and perverts all our appetites.  It so inclines our nature that we love sin.  Evil desires therefore govern the choices we make.  Since we make those choices freely and with great delight, we are guilty for them.

     So our inability is no excuse for our sinfulness.  It is precisely the opposite.  It is the very reason we are condemned.  Sin flows from the very core of our souls.  The heart of who we are is evil.  We are "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3).  That is why we do evil things.  Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man" (Mk. 7:21-23).

     Follow this carefully: We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.  We were born sinful, and all our acts of sin proceed from that. We are born sinners, and therefore we sin.

     That brings us to a third question:


How Did We Inherit Adam's Sinfulness?

     How did we get in this state?  Scripture lays the blame at Adam's feet.  Roman's 5:12 says, "Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."  Sin entered the world through Adam, then passed to all men.  Adam's sin brought spiritual death—total depravity—upon the entire race.  First Corinthians 15:22 says, "In Adam all die."

     Remember, we are sinners before we ever commit one overt act of sin.  We are born with the taint of sin.  In fact, it is appropriate to say, as David did, that we are sinful from the moment of our conception (Ps. 51:5).  Theologians refer to this as "original sin."

     The question is, how does Adam's guilt get passed on to you and me?  This question gets very complex, and there are several different theological opinions that have been proposed to explain it.  If you want to delve into the question deeply, I recommend John Murray's book, The Imputation of Adam's Sin.

     But it is not necessary for us this morning to go into great detail on the how sin was transmitted to us from Adam.  We don't have to delve deeply into the mysteries that surround this question.  It is sufficient for our purposes simply to declare what God's Word has to say on the matter: "By the transgression of the one the many died" (Rom. 5:15).  "The judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation" (v. 16).  "By the transgression of the one, death reigned" (v. 17).  "Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men" (v. 18).  "Through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners" (v. 19).

     Five verses in a row all state in different ways that Adam's sin corrupted the entire race.  Adam, as the representative head of the human race, plunged us all into sin.  Yet we cannot stand aside and point the finger of blame at him in an attempt to excuse ourselves.  We inherit his guilt as well as his sinfulness.  We are as blameworthy as Adam.  The question of how his guilt was passed on to us is not as important as the reality that it happened.  No fact in all of philosophy or religion is attested to with so much empirical evidence.  All Adam's offspring—with one significant, divine Exception—all Adam's offspring have been sinners.  We are born morally corrupt.

     I do want to call your attention to a couple of corollaries to this doctrine.  First, it suggests Adam was a historical person.  Those who want to treat the early chapters of Genesis as symbolism or myth destroy the doctrine of original sin.  If Adam was not a historical individual, none of this makes sense.  There's no reasonable explanation for how our race became sinful, unless the account of the fall in Genesis 3 is literally true.  So the sinfulness of all humanity bears witness to the truth of Scripture's account of the fall.

     Second, those who deny that human nature is sinful are guilty of willful ignorance.  The universality of human sinfulness is irrefutable.  It is self-evident.  Everyone we know is sinful.  There's no evidence whatsoever for the myth that people are basically and fundamentally good.

     Original sin is not a minor blemish on the human soul.  It corrupts every aspect of our character.  Listen to these words from Romans 3, where Paul summarized the doctrine of universal depravity.  These verses come after two chapters of argument showing that pagans, moral Gentiles, and even religious Jews are all hopeless sinners.  In Romans 3:91-5, Paul sums up and makes the point so that no one can miss it:

We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin [he had been proving that charge for two chapters]; as it is written, [and here he quotes a series of Old Testament verses] "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one."  "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; "Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known."  "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

That's exactly where we began, right?  Unbelievers are incapable of loving, fearing, trusting, or obeying God.  They may fool themselves into thinking otherwise, but that only proves the wicked deceitfulness of their sin-sick hearts.

     That brings us to the final question we want to consider:


Is There an Antidote for Human Depravity?

     I want you to turn back to the passage where we began at the very outset, Ephesians 2.  Let me read these verses again, starting with verse 1:

You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God . . . 

Stop right there.  I want you to notice those two words: "But God."  Martyn Lloyd-Jones once preached an entire message on those words.  "But God."  Those two little words are the crucial turning point of this entire chapter.  Paul is writing to remind the Ephesians that salvation is entirely God's work.  You won't find a more explicit statement of Calvinistic doctrine than Paul's epistle to the Ephesians.  Paul's main point is to demonstrate that God is entirely sovereign in every step of the process of salvation.

     Beginning in chapter 1, he says God chose us (4), predestined us (5), guaranteed our adoption (5), bestowed on us his grace (6), redeemed us (7), forgave us (7), lavished riches of grace on us (8), made known to us His will (9), obtained an inheritance for us (11), guaranteed that we would glorify Him (11-12), saved us (13), and sealed us with the Spirit (13-14).  In short, He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (3).  All of this was the work of His sovereign grace, performed not because of any good in us, but simply "according to the kind intention of His will" (5, 9) and "according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (11).

     In Ephesians 2, Paul begins with the utter inability of those who are spiritually dead, and works his way to this truth in verse 10: Even the good works of believers were prepared by God beforehand!  There is no way Paul could have emphasized his message any more or stated it more clearly: salvation is entirely God's work.  There is no human work that can be contributed.  That is the whole point of verses 8 and 9: "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, [so] that no one [can] boast" (8-9).

     And right in the middle of this passage about the hopelessness of the human condition, we find these two glorious words, "BUT GOD."

     I once counseled a woman who was desperately trying to reform her life so that she could become a Christian. I told her no amount of effort on her part would ever result in her salvation from sin; no amount of determination on her part could ever free her from her own sinful desires. And then I showed her the truth of Ephesians 2:1, that she was "dead in trespasses and sins." When I showed her that verse, she let out an audible gasp. and you know what? That is a fitting response to the truth of human depravity.  We ought to gasp at the utter, hopeless, futility of our lostness.  It is a frightening and horrifying thought.

     "But God!"—and here we see the only possible cure for human depravity, the grace of a loving God:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

     Perhaps there is someone here who does not know Christ.  Perhaps you are someone who has been coming to GraceLife a long time, knowing you are without Christ.  You know the sinfulness of your own heart.  You have no doubt that your own depravity is total.  You know you are by nature a child of wrath, an enemy of God.  You feel the hopelessness of your lost condition.  You are burdened by the weight of your guilt.

     If that describes you, Christ issued an open call to people just like you.  He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

     Did you know that Christ died for people who were utterly, totally depraved—enemies of God?  Scripture says, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).  "While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son" (v. 10).  No matter how fully your depravity has played itself out, no matter how weary and heavily laden with sin you may feel you are, you are not out of reach of divine grace.

     "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus."

     If you are a Christian, your heart ought to be moved with gladness and gratitude at the mercy and grace of God.

     If you are someone who is burdened with a sense of sin, those verses ought to give you hope and send you fleeing to Christ for salvation.

     But if you can hear these things and not be moved, something is seriously wrong with you spiritually, and you ought to fear for your soul.

     If the Lord has moved your heart to turn to Christ and seek freedom from the bondage of your sin, please seek out one of us in leadership here in GraceLife and talk to us about the state of your soul.  We can give you counsel and prayer and explain to you more from the Word of God what it means to repent and believe in Christ.