Friday, September 11, 2015

Total depravity in a baby

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I remember very shortly after being saved I was witnessing to a friend. She was the kind of person who was 'rational', 'logical' and 'mathematical.' Since Paul witnessed to Gentiles by starting with the creation, I did too. Sadly, she dismissed Genesis' creation account because obviously, the light being created as Genesis 1:3 could not have come before the sun's creation, as Genesis 1:14. Obviously. Therefore the creation account must be wrong.

So I skipped ahead and told her about Eve's and Adam's sin in the garden. I shared that after the sin had occurred, their very biology was now polluted and cursed, and all subsequent children, such as murderous Cain, were totally depraved since birth. Therefore we do not do right and are excluded from God's heaven- unless we repent and ask Jesus to forgive.

That didn't get a logical reaction. It got an emotional one. She heatedly rejected the notion that children and babies are totally depraved. She fervently argued against the concept that babies and children naturally do wrong. Even associating the word sin with baby caused a visceral reaction in her.
EPrata photo

That was 11 years ago and I never forgot.

First some definitions. Total depravity does not mean that everyone, including children, are as bad as they can be all the time. There's your Hitlers and there's your Mother Teresas. Both are in hell now BTW.

Total depravity is about the original sin and how it affects us today. It speaks to the extent of our sin, our sin nature, and our complete inability to do anything for God that will be pleasing to Him. Some people such as John MacArthur prefer the term "absolute inability" rather than total depravity.  John MacArthur said of the concept,
"...we are so hopelessly and thoroughly wicked that not one of us could ever truly love God unless God Himself enabled us to do so. That is the doctrine of total depravity in a nutshell. It means that we are totally unable to save ourselves." 
Charles Spurgeon said of total depravity,
By original sin we mean the evil quality which characterizes man's natural disposition and will. We call this sin of nature original, because each fallen man is born with it, and because it is the source or origin in each man of his actual transgressions. By calling it total, we do not mean that men are from their youth as bad as they can be. Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, "deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). Nor do we mean that they have no social virtues toward their fellowmen in which they are sincere. ... What our Confession says is, "That they have wholly lost ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation."
In 1985 John Piper said of total depravity,
Total Depravity Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior
Now, surely babies aren't totally depraved? They're so cute and such a blank slate and not even able to comprehend what sin is. Right?

Wrong.

There is a cottage industry of Americas Funniest Videos (AFV) that show the "cute" things babies, toddlers, and kids do. The audience laughs and titters and applauds, and goes "awww." But it's not funny. These clips from AFV have been wow-ing and charming and entertaining audiences for 25 years. Yes, AFV is 25 years old. But when I see clips like this, it only makes me sad, because they are a 25 year chronicle of our sin nature.

This clip won. It is in the top pantheon of best loved clips.

Why waste a good tantrum when no one is around to see it?


This toddler is absolutely totally aware of what he is doing. He knows how to present screams and anguish to maximum effect, and knows when it's useless to continue. He is manipulating the adults. He is lying.

Not so innocent, eh?

But some may protest, how about babies. Little, little babies, they surely don't know right from wrong. They don't lie, manipulate, or do things in secret?! How could you think they are totally depraved and have a heart full of sin.

Here, 18-month-old twins play, scream, and jump with each other during nap time. The mom heard the noise and turned on the baby monitor so she could talk to them.


The second the twins hear the mom's voice, they drop. They know they are supposed to be sleeping and weren't. They knew they were disobeying the higher authority.

Total depravity is in us, it is our very nature. It goes from corner to corner in all areas of our mind, heart, strength,and soul. There is no "flawed thinking." There is no untainted corner of our mind whereupon one day we will suddenly become spiritual and be able to retreat to that pure corner and "choose Jesus." We are fallen creatures completely unable to do right in God's eyes. We need Him.

Thank God He knows this. God sent His Son to live the life we cannot, due to our complete inability to be righteous. Born of woman and from the Father in heaven, He lived the sinless life we could not. He was hated, spit on, mocked, stripped, beaten and hung from a tree. He endured God's wrath for sin. He took it- our punishment. Then He died.

Pleased with His Son's life, and His death, and God's wrath exhausted upon the Son, He raised Jesus to life and ascended Him to heaven. Now, anyone who cannot and never will do right in God's eyes, but who are at enmity with Him and are His enemy, can come through the Door, who is Jesus. He is the Door to life, and if confessing and repenting to Jesus, He will forgive and they may enter heaven through Him.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Our sin nature is so total, even babies show it. But if we have the faith of a child and repent, He will grant everlasting life. He sends the Spirit to dwell in us and give us His power to resist sin. He grows us in Christ's likeness.

At the resurrection of the saints He will blessedly remove us from the presence of sin. Imagine a world where every conversation will be holy. Where every emotion will be perfect. Where there are no hidden agendas, no secret sins, no hypocrisy. Where we worship Jesus perfectly. Where our motives are pure and no one is manipulated, lied to, or pressured. No depravity, and total ability.

What a day that will be. Thank you Jesus, for saving your elect.


9 comments :

  1. Oh that AFV video of tantrum baby happened in our home 37 years ago...Our sweet and beautiful 16 month old daughter decided to test me one lovely brisk winter morning. She threw herself down and wailed. I stepped over her and went to the other end of the house. Suddenly it got quiet and I thought "Oh good, she's done"..only to find her coming up behind me and when I turned around and we made eye contact, she threw herself down and wailed. I stepped over her and went to another part of the house. Well, it got quiet and sure enough there she was right behind me again...we made eye contact and down she went...wailing as those the world was coming to an end. This behavior was repeated several times, until i just stuck her back in her crib telling her why I was putting her there and shut the door. Fast forward 6 years and in that time we had become followers of Christ and in a wonderful Bible Church in Irving TX. We also had a new baby to join our now 6 year old daughter. Our Pastor had a very "different" message one Sunday around Mother's Day. He started out telling us that those "sweet and adorable" little babies we all held in our arms were born with a sin nature of total depravity and we should never be surprised BUT be prepared to observe and correct the sinful behavior in our children. I was pretty shocked at that, but then the memory of that little 16 month old and her manipulative tantrums came to mind. It's a hard concept and one that not many want to embrace, simply because to say a child is born sinless, innocent and good...you cannot blame them for anything bad, or evil or wicked.... it is better to blame everyone/everyone else for their bad behavior. To say we are all born depraved is to have to own up to our own sinful decisions and behavior in life and to ultimately acknowledge that we cannot change that without Christ.

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  2. You are 100% right on. Vast majority "Christians" would be appalled (understatement...more like angry) your comment that Mother Theresa is in hell...but you are right about that too. Good job this posting.

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  3. Amen sis!!! I love this!! One of my prayers and one thing I look forward too is worshiping our king in heaven fully! On earth we get a glimpse of it but nothing compared to being in his presence with out our sinfulness. What a glorious day it shall be!!

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  4. Hi, thanks for your posts which I enjoy reading. I have a comment on this though because hell isnt populated yet from what I understand so I don't believe anyone is there yet. Can you tell me where scripture says that's the case? Thanks.
    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-grace/hell-occupants.html

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    1. Scripture doesn't say hell is unpopulated. The article you linked to is a little confusing on the terminology. I'm going to talk about 4 places: Hell AKA Hades, Paradise, Heaven, and the Abyss.

      Prior to the crucifixion, all the dead went to the same place: Hell, or Hades. It was a place that is referred to as "down", and was split by a great gulf, as the rich man said in Luke 16:26.

      One side of this place is where the unrighteous dead go, as the rich man unfortunately discovered. it's hot and the fire is a torment, as again the rich man said. (All this is in Luke 16).

      The other side of the place is nicknamed Abraham's Bosom, or Paradise. It's where all the righteous dead went (remember, this is prior to the crucifixion). All the OT saints, and people who died during the Incarnation went there. It was a pleasant place of rest and comfort. Between them is a great gulf, fixed, so no person may cross from one side to the other. You can read all this in Luke 16:19-31.

      After the crucifixion, Jesus went to the abyss (which is UNDER, or below Hell/Hades & Paradise) and is where the unholy demons that were rounded up during the pre-flood time (Gen 6, and 2 Peter 2:4) and jailed. This is the same place the demons Jesus met begged not to be sent to and He put them in the pigs instead. (Luke 8:31). He preached His success to these demons in the abyss (1 Peter 3:19). These particular demons are still there. Of course, many more still roam the earth.

      During the Tribulation, "a star" will be given a key to unlock them and allow these most heinous of demons to emerge to torment the earth's inhabitants. (Rev 9:1-2).

      So we have the pre-crucifixion lock-up Abyss where the unholy angels are chained, Hell/Hades where the unrighteous dead are, and Paradise. Now, after Jesus was resurrected, preached to the demons, spent 40 days on earth teaching His apostles, He ascended. Paradise was emptied as He rose, He took all the righteous dead from Paradise with Him to heaven, where they still dwell. (Eph 4:8).

      Now, when someone in the faith dies, they don't go to Abraham's bosom/Paradise any more, as Jesus had told the thief on the cross (Today you will be with me in Paradise) but they go to heaven - because the blood of Jesus & His resurrection made it possible. The unrighteous dead in Hell will be dealt with at a later time, read on.

      However no one in either heaven or hell/Hades has their glorified body yet. At the rapture, the saints will get their glorified body. However the unrighteous dead will all be resurrected after the Millennial Kingdom, judged at the Great White Throne judgment, receive their eternal body, and be cast into the Lake of Fire. Death and Hell will be thrown in there too. The eternal state will begin.

      To sum up: anyone who dies in faith goes immediately to heaven with either their naked soul or with a temporary body (no one is sure how that works) to enjoy rest and peace. Anyone who has rejected Jesus goes to hell immediately upon death, with their naked soul or temporary body, to endure torment and punishment. So RIGHT NOW hell is full of all the people who ever died who are not declared righteous by God. It's just that they dont' yet have their eternal body and they aren't in their final location.

      Hope this helps.

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    2. Scripture doesn't say hell is unpopulated. The article you linked to is a little confusing on the terminology. I'm going to talk about 4 places: Hell AKA Hades, Paradise, Heaven, and the Abyss.

      Prior to the crucifixion, all the dead went to the same place. It was a place that is referred to as "down", and was split by a great gulf, as the rich man said in Luke 16:26.

      One side of this place is where the unrighteous dead go, as the rich man unfortunately discovered. it's hot and the fire is a torment, as again the rich man said. (All this is in Luke 16).

      The other side of the place is nicknamed Abraham's Bosom, or Paradise. That's where Lazarus went, the story goes. It's where all the righteous dead went (remember, this is prior to the crucifixion). All the OT saints, and people who died during the Incarnation went there. It was a pleasant place of rest and comfort. Between them is a great gulf, fixed, so no person may cross from one side to the other. You can read all this in Luke 16:19-31.

      After the crucifixion, Jesus went to the abyss (which is UNDER, or below Hell/Hades & Paradise) and is where the unholy demons that were rounded up during the pre-flood time (Gen 6, and 2 Peter 2:4) and jailed. This is the same place the demons Jesus met begged not to be sent to and He put them in the pigs instead. (Luke 8:31). He preached His success to these demons in the abyss (1 Peter 3:19). These particular demons are still there. Of course, many more still roam the earth.

      During the Tribulation, "a star" will be given a key to unlock them and allow these most heinous of demons to emerge to torment the earth's inhabitants. (Rev 9:1-2).

      So we have the pre-crucifixion lock-up Abyss where the unholy angels are chained, Hell/Hades where the unrighteous dead are, and Paradise. Now, after Jesus preached to the demons, spent 40 days on earth teaching His apostles, Paradise was emptied. As He rose, he took all the righteous dead with Him to heaven, where they still dwell. (Eph 4:8).

      Now, when someone in the faith dies, they don't go to Abraham's bosom/Paradise any more, as Jesus had told the thief on the cross (Today you will be with me in Paradise) but they go to heaven - because the blood of Jesus & His resurrection made it possible. The unrighteous dead in Hell will be dealt with at a later time, read on.

      However no one in either heaven or hell/Hades has their glorified body yet. At the rapture, the saints will get their glorified body. However the unrighteous dead will all be resurrected after the Millennial Kingdom, judged at the Great White Throne judgment, receive their eternal body, and be cast into the Lake of Fire. Death and Hell will be thrown in there too. The eternal state will begin.

      To sum up: anyone who dies in faith goes immediately to heaven with either their naked soul or with a temporary body (no one is sure how that works) to enjoy rest and peace. Anyone who has rejected Jesus goes to hell immediately upon death, with their naked soul or temporary body, to endure torment and punishment. So RIGHT NOW hell is full of all the people who ever died who are not declared righteous by God. It's just that they dont' yet have their eternal body and they aren't in their final location.

      Hope this helps.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for putting all this down, Elizabeth. I appreciate it. I have spent some time this morning studying it and other writings, too. I have never heard Ephesians 4 v 8 interpreted that way before if I am honest and the meaning hasn't jumped out as an obvious one to me although I understand there are different interpretations of that. As judgment hasn't yet occurred, I lean towards the belief that we "sleep" until that day, at which point we will be judged and given incorruptible bodies to begin our "eternities" in either heaven or hell. If people are in hell already, it would indicate they have already been judged and found guilty. However, I don't claim to know all the answers, and some things may not be revealed 100% to me in this life! Thanks again - it is a very interesting subject. I'm so thankful for the assurance that He has redeemed me and one day I'll be in his presence in heaven for all eternity. I am sure I will see you there :)
      God bless, Karen.

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    4. Hi Kay Cee,

      You "lean toward" the notion of soul sleep. Where in the Bible can you offer a verse to support this? (Hint: None exist)

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  5. "Sadly, she dismissed Genesis' creation account because obviously, the light being created as Genesis 1:3 could not have come before the sun's creation, as Genesis 1:14. Obviously. Therefore the creation account must be wrong."

    I don't understand the hang-up on this. Does the light from the stars come from the sun? How about the light from a flashlight on the dark side of the earth? The "light can't come before the sun" criticism is the most embarrassingly unscientific criticism anyone can make of Genesis 1. Light is radiation. Radiation comes from atoms which are excited to a higher energy state (specifically, their electrons, which can be energized by nuclear radiation from the atom itself or from reception of incoming radiation from another source). Literally, all you need for light is energetic matter, and Gen 1:1 introduces all the matter in the universe as already existing before "let there be light." And last of all, this is ignoring the fact that God could easily have "magically" shined light unidirectionally toward the earth for the first 24-36 hours. In short, anyone using that excuse to reject Genesis is quite frankly uneducated and ignorant of physics.

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