Calvary Road Baptist Church



This evening we spend time dealing with an issue that is not usually treated frequently in most churches, at least not the way in which we will deal with the matter tonight. Key to bringing sinners to a real knowledge of Jesus Christ is recognizing that sinners are depraved, for it is only when one has some grasp of the real problem he faces that a sinner has any hope of catching a glimpse of the greatness of God and the glory of the Savior to save sinners. My plan will be to make you somewhat comfortable with the terminology before bringing you some examples of depravity that will drive the truth about sinners home in your thinking.

The paperback book I hold in my hand is the Pocket Dictionary Of Theological Terms. I find it very useful. Let me read what it says about depravity:


depravity, total depravity. Depravity refers both to the damaged relationship between God and humans and to the corruption of human nature such that there is within every human an ongoing tendency toward sin. Total depravity refers to the extent and comprehensiveness of the effects of sin on all humans such that all are unable to do anything to obtain salvation. Total depravity, therefore, does not mean that humans are thoroughly sinful but rather that they are totally incapable of saving themselves. The term suggests as well that the effects of the Fall extend to every dimension of human existence, so that we dare not trust any ability (such as reason) that we remain capable of exercising in our fallen state.[1]


I now refer to this volume of systematic theology that has been very popular among independent Baptists over the years, written by Henry C. Thiessen. He writes,


1. The Meaning of Depravity. By depravity we mean man’s want of original righteousness and of holy affections toward God, and also the corruption of his moral nature and his bias toward evil. Its existence is witnessed to by both Scripture and human experience. The teaching of Scripture that all men must be born again shows the universality of its existence.


2. The Extent of Depravity. The Scriptures speak of human nature as wholly depraved. However, the doctrine of “total depravity” has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, and it is important that we should get its correct meaning.


From the negative standpoint, it does not mean that every sinner is devoid of all qualities pleasing to men; that he commits, or is prone to every form of sin; that he is as bitterly opposed to God as it is possible for him to be. The ruins of the great cathedrals in Europe left by World War II still bear traces of their original beautiful architecture. Similarly traces of man’s original condition are occasionally seen. Jesus recognized the existence of pleasing qualities in some individuals (Mark 10:21); He said that the scribes and Pharisees did some things God demanded (Matt. 23:23); Paul asserts that some Gentiles “do by nature the things of the law” (Rom. 2:14); God told Abraham that the iniquity of the Amorites would grow worse (Gen. 15:16); and Paul says that “evil men and imposters shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13).


From the positive standpoint, it does mean that every sinner is totally destitute of that love to God which is the fundamental requirement of the law (Deut. 6:4, 5; Matt. 22:35-38); that he is supremely given to a preference of himself to God (2 Tim. 3:4); that he has an aversion to God which on occasion becomes active enmity to Him (Rom. 8:7); that his every faculty is disordered and corrupted (Eph. 4:18); that he has no thought, feeling, or deed of which God can fully approve (Rom. 7:18); and that he has entered upon a line of constant progress in depravity, from which he can in no wise turn away in his own strength (Rom. 7:18). Smith says: “Depravity, or the sinful condition, of man infects the whole man: intellect, feeling, heart, and will; and . . . in each unrenewed person some lower affection is supreme.” Op. cit., p. 277.


Depravity has produced a total spiritual inability in the sinner in the sense that he cannot by his own volition change his character and life so as to make them conformable to the law of God, nor change his fundamental preference of self and sin to supreme love for God, yet he has a certain amount of freedom left. He can, for instance, choose not to sin against the Holy Spirit, decide to commit the lesser sin rather than the greater, resist certain forms of temptation altogether, do certain outwardly good acts, though with improper and unspiritual motives, and even seek God from entirely selfish motives. Strong says: “The sinner can do one very important thing, viz.: give attention to divine truth.” Op. cit., p. 640. Freedom of choice within the limits we have mentioned is not incompatible with complete bondage of the will in spiritual things. According to Hodge, inability consists, not in the loss of any faculty of the soul, nor in the loss of free agency, for the sinner still determines his own acts, nor in mere disinclination to what is good, but in want of spiritual discernment, and hence of proper affections. Inability belongs only to the things of the Spirit. In other words “man since the fall cannot change his own heart; he cannot regenerate his soul; he cannot repent with godly sorrow, or exercise that faith which is unto salvation.” Op. cit., II, 260-264. But the grace and Spirit of God are ready to enable him to repent and believe unto salvation.[2]


You may have noticed that Thiessen referred to Charles Hodge. Therefore, let me read a portion from the second volume of that famous Princeton theologian’s three-volume theology:


This universal depravity of men is no slight evil. The whole human race, by their apostasy from God, are totally depraved. By total depravity, is not meant that all men are equally wicked; nor that any man is as thoroughly corrupt as it is possible for a man to be; nor that men are destitute of all moral virtues. The Scriptures recognize the fact, which experience abundantly confirms, that men, to a greater or less degree, are honest in dealings, kind in their feelings, and beneficent in their conduct. Even the heathen, the Apostle teaches us, do by nature the things of the law. They are more or less under the dominion of conscience, which approves or disapproves their moral conduct. All this is perfectly consistent with the Scriptural doctrine of total depravity, which includes the entire absence of holiness; the want of due apprehensions of the divine perfections, and of our relation to God as our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Governor, and Redeemer. There is common to all men a total alienation of the soul from God so that no unrenewed man either understands or seeks after God; no such man ever makes God his portion, or God’s glory the end of his being. The apostasy from God is total or complete. All men worship and serve the creature rather than, and more than the Creator. They are all therefore declared in Scripture to be spiritually dead. They are destitute of any principle of spiritual life. The dreadful extent and depth of this corruption of our nature are proved, -

1. By its fruits; by the fearful prevalence of the sins of the flesh, of sins of violence, of the sins of the heart, as pride envy, and malice; of the sins of the tongue, as slander and deceit; of the sins of irreligion, of ingratitude, profanity, and blasphemy; which have marked the whole history of our race, and which still distinguish the state of the whole world.

2. By the consideration that the claims of God on our supreme reverence, love, and obedience, which are habitually and universally; disregarded by unrenewed men, are infinitely great. That is, they are so great that they cannot be imagined to be greater. These claims are not only ignored in times of excitement and passion, but habitually and constantly. Men live without God. They are, says the Apostle, Atheists. This alienation from God is so great and so universal, that the Scriptures say that men are the enemies of God; that the carnal mind, i. e., that state of mind which belongs to all men in their natural state, is enmity against God. This is proved not only by neglect and disobedience, but also by direct rebellion against his authority, when in his providence he takes away our idols; or when his law, with its inexorable demands and its fearful penalty, is sent home upon the conscience, and God is seen to be a consuming fire.

3. A third proof of the dreadful evil of this hereditary corruption is seen in the universal rejection of Christ by those whom He came to save. He is in himself the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; uniting in his own person all the perfections of the Godhead, and all the excellences of humanity. His mission was one of love, of a love utterly incomprehensible, unmerited, immutable, and infinite. Through love He not only humbled himself to be born of a woman, and to be made under the law, but to live a life of poverty, sorrow, and persecution; to endure inconceivably great sufferings for our sakes, and finally to bear our sins in his own body on the tree. He has rendered it possible for God to be just and yet justify the ungodly. He therefore offers blessings of infinite value, without money and without price, to all who will accept them. He has secured, and offers to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; to make us kings and priests unto God, and to exalt us to an unending state of inconceivable glory and blessedness. Notwithstanding all this; notwithstanding the divine excellence of his person, the greatness of his love, the depth of his sufferings, and the value of the blessings which He has provided, and without which we must perish eternally, men universally, when left to themselves, reject Him. He came to his own and his own received Him not. The world hated, and still hates Him; will not recognize Him as their God and Saviour; will not accept of his offers; will neither love nor serve Him. The conduct of men towards Christ is the clearest proof of the apostasy of our race, and of the depth of the depravity into which they are sunk; and, so far as the hearers of the gospel are concerned, is the great ground of their condemnation. All other grounds seem merged into this, for our Lord says, that men are condemned because they do not believe in the only begotten Son of God. And the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of the Apostle, says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema maranatha;” a sentence which will be ratified in the day of judgment by every rational creature, fallen and unfallen, in the universe.

4. Another proof of the point under consideration is found in the incorrigible nature of original sin. It is, so far as we are concerned, an incurable malady.[3]


I will stop there. The point that I sought to make by reading from those three publications, the one being a very basic tool, the second one being a very popular theology among conservative Baptists, and the third being a classic work among those of the Reformed persuasion, is that they are essentially in complete agreement about depravity and what is meant by the term total depravity. If you are lost you face a problem of incredible proportions that you possess no capacity to deal with yourself.

People are not as bad as they can be, but they are as bad off as they can possibly be without Christ. Further, sinners are most profoundly affected with respect to their grasp of spiritual reality, the absence of any meaningful relationship with God, and their utter helplessness to remedy their lost condition. In other words, my unsaved friend, you are the last person in the world you should be listening to or depending upon when it comes to seeking a solution to your sin problem.

Your affections are so misplaced, your values are so distorted, your faculties are so twisted, your logic with respect to spiritual things is so convoluted, that you are entirely at the mercy of God. Thankfully for you, God happens to be merciful, and His mercies endure forever, in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.

What say I make mention of a few examples of depravity as your condition relates to the gospel ministry’s commission of seeking your conversion to Jesus Christ? Here are just a few:




This would be the youngster who does not want to meet a missionary, or the guy who does everything he can to avoid going to church. Many guys hate going to church because they think Christianity is sissified and effeminate, which I am willing to admit is precisely the case in most churches. However, such is not the case in our church. The men in our church are manly. They are not sissies. Neither are they effeminate. Guys who do not want to come to our church are not afraid of becoming sissified, they are afraid of becoming Christians.

This is a clear example of depraved thinking. Consider what happens when you become a Christian. Your sins are forgiven, you are reconciled to God, you are given a new nature, you are guaranteed a place in heaven, and you become a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. Oh, there may be persecution or trials in this life, but what is that compared to an eternity in the lake of fire? What is that to the rich man crying out, “I am tormented in this flame,” Luke 16.24? Weigh the pros and cons between being or not being a Christian and you will see that depravity really distorts a man’s thinking.




May I acknowledge that sinners are offended? I have no intentions of denying that sinners are offended in a variety of ways, by preachers and church members, by sermons they hear and comments or attitudes that are displayed by both members and those visiting our church. I am sorry that it happens, but be sure that it most certainly does happen. And it will never stop happening.

The question the depraved individual rarely asks himself is so what? What does being offended have to do with anything? Do you stop eating just because you once ate disagreeable food? Do you refuse to have anything to do with money because someone once passed you a counterfeit bill? Excuse me, but staying away from church because someone offended you is ridiculous. Staying away from church because a sermon was offensive is even more outlandish. It is like refusing to go to the hospital when you are really sick because are all those sick and injured people there.

However, we do go to hospitals, don’t we? Sure we do. Why so? It is at the hospital that you can find the high tech equipment needed to diagnose your problem. It is at the hospital that you find the highly trained medical personnel who can treat you, from doctors to nurses to technicians. In like manner, churches are so full of sinners because churches are where sinners are treated for what ails them. Sins are soul damning and Christ is soul saving. Church is where the gospel is preached and ministry is conducted to deliver sinners from their sins so they will pass from death to life through faith in Christ.

Here is another consideration: Some fellow stays away from church because he has been offended, but he gives no thought to how offensive it is to God for him to stay away from church, for him to reject God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and for him to damn the souls of those around him (including his own children) for being so petty as to stay away from his soul’s remedy because his feelings were hurt?

Finally, what comparison is there between you being offended by someone and you being benefited by Jesus Christ? Will you quit your high paying job because you don’t like the security guard at the main entrance to the plant where you work? Will you endanger your soul by staying away from a gospel preaching church because of some real or imagined offense by someone who, like you, is a sinner? Okay, so sinners offend people, but what wrong has Jesus done to you? However, that’s depravity for you.




There are actually people who have a certain kind of fear of God resulting in them not wanting to consider God, not wanting to think about God, not wanting to have anything to do with God, and certainly to stay away from anything and everything having any connection with God. So, how is that kind of thinking a reflection of depravity?

Let me explain: Hebrews 10.31 informs us that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Therefore, there are legitimate fears associated with God. However, running away from God and giving no thought to Him is no solution, because He is someone with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4.13: “. . . all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Run away from God all you want, but you cannot hide from Him. You will face Him someday.

Therefore, since “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9.27, and that future judgment will be inescapable, the right thing to do is to tend to your soul’s needs now, by coming to Christ, rather than by playing the ostrich and burying your head in the sand until it is too late. After all, Jesus did promise that “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6.37. So, it is not as though Jesus Christ would ever reject anyone who comes to Him. After all, the LORD is good, and every good gift comes from Him.[4] However, it is just like depravity to impugn God’s goodness.




To be sure, depraved sinners do not so much think in terms of Jesus being insufficient to save them from their sins, though that is what their doubts sometimes boil down to. This would oftentimes be the fellow who has experienced a number of false hopes. He thought he was saved, but wasn’t. Then, he thought he was saved again, but wasn’t. However many times this person has experienced false hopes, thinking he was saved and then discovering that he wasn’t, he concludes that Jesus is not sufficient to save him. Either Christianity is entirely false, or Christianity just isn’t for him.

Here is the depravity. He has never been saved, so there has been no experience with this guy of Jesus not being sufficient to save. How does it reflect badly on Jesus when a sinner never actually comes to Him for salvation? How does it show Jesus to have failed when a sinner, either by self-deception or because of satanic delusion, never actually comes to Christ?

Besides, how much of the mind of God does that lost person actually possess? None. Therefore, how dare he presume to know the inner thoughts of God and how those false hopes might prove to be useful to God as a way of showing that lost man the different ways a sinner should not try to come to Christ? Do not look at something as a liability that God might intend to use in your life as an asset useful in future ministry should you ever truly come to Christ.

Hebrews 7.25 declares that Jesus “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” Jesus said He would save any sinner who actually comes to Him, and that He would cast out no one who comes to Him.[5] Besides, is He not “The mighty God”?[6] Therefore, what kind of nonsense dares to conclude that Jesus will not save anyone who comes to Him, or that He cannot save anyone who will come to Him?




This is guy who thinks that he will come to Christ when he is good and ready, or when he is finished with what he is presently involved with, or when he is presently done with who he is involved with, or when he has had the fun he is looking forward to having. Yes, there are people who are so deluded that they think that though they need to be saved, they feel it is their right and within their own power to decide when that will be.

How much sense does that make? I used to be a lifeguard at a large vacation resort when I was a young fellow, so I tend to think of salvation in terms of rescuing a drowning victim. May I tell you that I have never seen a victim decide when and where he would get his life saved from drowning? It is not up to drowning victim at all. It is completely up to the lifeguard, so he had better hope to God it is convenient for the lifeguard, whether it is convenient for the drowning swimmer or not.

To save a sinner from his sins is to rescue him from great danger, danger that threatens the safety and eternal security of his undying soul. Therefore, it is not up to the sinner to reckon that he will have plenty of time later to tend to spiritual things and arrange for his soul to be saved. God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.”[7] Thus, each sinner has a window of opportunity in which to respond to the gospel command to turn to Christ, and I know of no way to determine how long that window of opportunity will remain open. This is why I think the Apostle Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 6.2, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”




Tomorrow, tomorrow.

I love ya, tomorrow.

You’re only a day away.


What optimism we have in the United States. We have all been raised to believe that everything turns out all right, because that is the way things are supposed to turn out. You don’t need to turn to Christ right now, because things will eventually turn out all right somehow.

Is that really true, just because most Americans believe it is so? Consider Ephesians 2.12, and factor that into your thinking about everything turning out all right. Paul wrote, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” According to the Apostle Paul, the only people who have any basis for optimism are those who have been converted to Christ, and no one else.

On what other basis can things turn out right? Doesn’t everyone die in the end? Don’t all who die without Christ end up in Hell? Don’t those who give themselves over to sinning in this life find great cause to regret their sins? So, where are the grounds for optimism? My friends, I am convinced it is a con game, and people are led to think everything will work out all right, when the facts prove otherwise. Without Jesus Christ as your Savior, things will not turn out all right, but will turn out all wrong. To think otherwise is the result of depravity.




Ever hear some guy mumble that God isn’t ever going to save him? I am persuaded that such a person is intentionally deceiving himself so he can justify going off the deep end and plunging himself into ever more wicked sins. He just wants to absolve himself of any responsibility for doing terrible things because his life isn’t going the way he wants it to go. Therefore, he is pouting.

Of course, this fellow must completely ignore Second Peter 3.9 to do it, but ignoring scripture instead of obeying the gospel is really what this guy does best: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

So, why does this fellow not take God at His Word, not rely upon the clear declarations of God’s motives and God’s desires in the Bible, and not own up that whatever difficulties and trials that he experiences somehow fit into the good God’s plans to bring him to the Savior? The answer is that he is depraved, totally depraved.




This is the person who ascribes to Jesus Christ evil motives and a shriveled heart. This fellow ignores the suffering and dying of Jesus on the cross of Calvary for our sins. He refuses to learn from the Savior’s dealings with the woman at the well (who had been married five times and was living with a man she was not married to), or the woman caught committing adultery, or the lepers, or the tax collector named Zacchaeus, or the fact that He had chosen to be one of His apostles a man named Matthew, who had been a tax collector.

As well, he refuses to pay attention to the Savior’s rebuke of adults for interfering with children having free access to Him, or to the Savior’s willingness to heal the servant of even a despised Roman. Never mind that He ate with publicans and sinners. And never mind that He stated His mission in very precise terms: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”[8]

Oh, no. The depraved sinner knows so much better what Jesus will and will not do, Who Jesus will and will not save, and why Jesus came than Jesus does. Therefore, despite everything written in the Bible about the Savior’s desire, despite every indication of His desire based upon what He both said and did, the depraved sinner still feels perfectly correct in concluding that Jesus does not want to save him, or is not able to save him, or has no intention to save him through the ups and downs and false hopes and disappointments he has had so far in his life. He knows, he thinks, because he is depraved.




There was a time when he might have been saved, when he might have repented of his sins, when he might have turned to Jesus Christ for forgiveness full and free. However, it is now too late. His window of opportunity has passed. There is no longer any hope of him being saved. He knows.

This depraved thinker completely ignores the possibility that there are secret things with God, that there are mysteries associated with God. He assumes, despite the Bible clearly indicating that lost people do not comprehend spiritual truths at all, that he can tell when God is finished with someone, or at least when God is finished with him. He knows nothing else about God, but he is sure that he knows this much.

What arrogance. What pride. How full of himself this guy is. How in the world can he know what God has revealed to no one else on earth? Who does he think he is to be privy to information that God has shared with no living being? Yet he dares to risk his eternal and undying soul with the ridiculous notion that he knows God is finished with him? How utterly preposterous is such thinking. What an example of the wrong-headedness that results from depravity.




Consider the young man who has no interest in God, though he has been told that God has an interest in him. He knows the Bible makes a number of claims about God, about sin, about Jesus, and about his responsibility as one of God’s creatures. However, he chooses, for whatever lame excuse of a reason, to go his own way. He may tell himself that he has been offended, or that he would not like being a Christian, or he may persuade himself that he cannot have his way with his girlfriend if he is a Christian. Whatever the reason why, he is wrong and he knows it. And then he is almost killed in an automobile accident.

Maybe he is severely injured, and maybe he is not injured at all. Or maybe it is not a car accident at all, but a catastrophic moral failure of some kind. Whatever the case, he is suddenly made to realize that his life is not at all under his control. He sees that he could be ruined at any moment, or die at any moment, or be severely crippled at any moment, or his reputation ruined at any moment. To state the matter another way, something has happened to remind him of his mortality and how fragile life, or the quality of life he desires, really is.

How he responds shows very clearly that he is depraved. You see, it used to be that once in a while some kid in the military who was scared he might die, or who had experienced a very close brush with death, would experience what was called a foxhole conversion. He would either promised God he would be good and would serve Him as danger approached, as the combat experience began, or a very close brush with death would cause him to resolve to live his life differently from now on. Of course, virtually none of the foxhole conversions that took place in past wars, or in past car accidents, or in past drug overdoses, or in past financial catastrophes, led to any change whatsoever.

However, these days not even foxhole conversions take place very often anymore. Not only do most foxhole conversions not turn out to be conversions at all, but fewer and fewer guys anymore even pretend to promise to do good if God spares them. This, of course, shows depravity, because God really did give that sinner a warning. He really did show that kid his mortality and how fragile one’s hold on life really is. It really was God providentially working to remind that person that your life really just a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

What does the depraved sinner typically do after a close call, after a warning shot across his bow from God? Typically, and wrongly, he goes ahead and fulfills his plans for life, only stepping a bit more cautiously from then on. What he should do instead is take stock and completely overhaul everything about his life, from top to bottom. You see, what God’s stated purpose for a sinner is conversion. What Jesus wants for that sinner is for him to turn to Christ and be saved, follow the Lord Jesus Christ in believer baptism, and join with that congregation to faithfully serve God. Instead, what do most sinners do? They flit off somewhere and ignore the warnings and the lessons God would have them learn.


The gospel is good news to the sinner, and God’s plan for you is to obey the gospel. Turn from your sins and flee to Jesus Christ for salvation. Once you are saved from your sins, you are to be baptized. Once you are baptized you are to faithfully serve in this church, where you will be equipped to serve God and join with others here to worship and serve God, with the goal being to give Him great glory in the church.

To not seek the Lord while He may be found, to not come to Christ as fleeing to the city of refuge for safety from the wrath of God raining down in punishment for your sins, is not only wrong. It is unreasonable. However, such is the conduct of the depraved.

[1] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 37.

[2] Henry Clarence Thiesen, Introductory Lectures In Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), pages 267-268.

[3] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume II, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Edition, reprinted from the edition originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), pages 233-235.

[4] Nahum 1.7; James 1.17

[5] Matthew 11.28; John 6.37

[6] Isaiah 9.6

[7] Genesis 6.3

[8] Luke 19.10

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