The doctrine of man's total
depravity and inability is a most repulsive doctrine to the
natural man. People in our day don't want to hear that they
are sinners by birth and by choice. They don't want to hear
of the awful effects of the fall of Adam and the
consequences of sin. They don't want to hear that they are
"dead in trespasses and sins", "without hope", "without
God", "without strength", and unable to save themselves.
They do not want to hear that Christ is their only hope and
the only way of salvation and acceptance with God. They
would rather hear preachers who will raise their level of
comfort and self esteem. The total depravity of man is a
fact presented in the Scriptures. The Psalmist wrote;
"Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth;
and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at
his best state is altogether vanity." (Psalm 39:5)
The word vanity means something worthless, trivial or less
than nothing which aptly describes every lost man who
possesses no goodness, righteousness or holiness to offer
unto God. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 7:20,29 wrote; "For
there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and
sinneth not... Lo, this only have I found, that God hath
made man upright: but they have sought out many inventions."
Man is a fallen and corrupt creature that is estranged from
God and in love with sin and self. He is unable to please
God and unwilling to come to Christ if left to himself. He
is helpless apart from the supernatural and divine
intervention of God in the new birth. This is the Bible
truth about man
J.C. Philpot stated:
"As no heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue can
adequately express, the state of wretchedness and ruin into
which sin has cast guilty, miserable man. In separating him
from God, it severed him from the only source of all
happiness and holiness. It has ruined him body and soul: the
one it has filled with sickness and disease; in the other it
has defaced and destroyed the image of God in which it was
created. It has made him love sin and hate God."
In order to understand man's
depravity we must not just examine the symptoms of it, but
go to the source and root of his depravity. It is an
undeniable fact that our world is infected by the disease of
sin. Murder, warfare, covetousness, robbery and rape are
common occurrences in our sin sick world. The world is not
becoming a better place, as the evolutionists and humanists
claim. II Timothy 3:13 states: "But evil men and
seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being
Sin's origin can be traced back to
Satan. He was one of the angels which God had created and
named Lucifer, son of the morning. His fall from heaven is
recorded in Isaiah 14:12-17. Satan's desire was to exalt
himself above God and usurp his authority. He wanted to
dethrone God and act as sovereign over the creation. Satan's
desire then was the same as it is now, he wants people to
worship him rather than God. When Satan led his rebellion he
left out one major detail, God's throne cannot be usurped by
men or devils. He is the Creator, and all of His creation
must submit to His purposes. God cast Satan down from heaven
along with one-third of the angels. The thing that got Satan
kicked out of heaven was his prideful self-will. There are
only two created beings in all of God's creation who really
had a free will, Satan and Adam. Both willingly chose to
rebel against God. So much for the mythical power of free
In tracing sin's origin among
mankind we must go back to the fairest spot on earth, the
Garden of Eden. After creating the heavens and the earth,
the grass and the trees, the moon and the stars, and the
animal kingdom in five days, the crowning act of God's
creation was to create man on the sixth day. Upon completion
of Creation Genesis 1:31 records: "And God saw
everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
God created Adam in his own image
and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27), and gave him dominion over all
the animal kingdom. Adam was created a moral, rational, and
upright individual. He was without sin and enjoyed
fellowship with his Creator. God then placed Adam in the
fairest spot in all of Creation, the Garden of Eden and gave
him the responsibility to dress and keep the garden. God
even created Eve as a helpmeet and companion for Adam.
Mankind's original parents were in the most desirable and
blissful state that could be imagined. They were dwelling in
a world not marred or corrupted by sin.
God laid down the law to Adam and
Eve in Genesis 2:16-17 which states: "And the LORD
God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden
thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." God was
gracious enough to warn our first parents of the
consequences of transgressing His holy law. They would be
separated from the fellowship and goodness of God. They
would be cut off from their source of happiness and joy if
they willfully disobeyed the command of God.
The fall of man is recorded in very
plain and simple language in the third chapter of Genesis.
Satan, having been cast out of heaven for rebellion, set out
to deceive and corrupt Adam and Eve. He came to Eve as an
"angel of light", appearing to be something he was not. He
was beautiful to look upon and preached a slick-sounding
message. The first sentence he spoke to Eve was;
"Yea, hath God said...", in which he questioned the
authority of God. He then proceeded to lie and give a false
promise to Eve by telling her that God had deceived her.
Satan boldly said; "Ye shall not surely die: For God
doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes
shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and
evil." Eve should have fled the very appearance of
evil. The devil had deceived and seduced her as the
scriptures testify in I Timothy 2:14: "And Adam was
not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the
transgression." Eve died spiritually when lust
conceived and brought forth sin. Rather than heed the
warning of God she was snared by the wiles of the devil and
taken captive by him.
Eve was deceived, but Adam
deliberately and willfully chose to disobey the command of
God. The only man who actually had the ability to exercise a
morally free-will plunged the entire human race into sin and
condemnation by transgressing the holy law of God. The very
essence of Adam's sin was his competition with God for
sovereignty and authority.
C.D. Cole comments:
"The only possible sense in which man became like God was
in spirit and aim-- not in reality. Adam and Eve asserted
their independence of God. They would make their own laws
and do as they pleased. They rebelled against His will for
their lives. They rejected His expressed will as to what
they could have. They would determine (know for themselves)
what is good and evil--what is right and wrong. They would
no longer be tied to God's Word about what they could do.
They would be a law unto themselves and do as they pleased.
They would do that which was right in their own eyes. Thus,
they entered into competition with God for sovereignty. In
spirit and aim they made themselves God. They would make
their own will supreme."
The day that Adam ate of the fruit
he did not die physically but spiritually. His physical
death 930 years later came as a result of his spiritual
death when he fell and transgressed against God. Immediately
Adam and Eve were separated from God. They perceived they
were naked and became ashamed. They tried to hide themselves
from the presence of God and attempted to cover their sin by
sewing fig leaves together. They no longer enjoyed communion
with their Creator. They had declared their independence by
revolution and the God who had been their friend now was
their enemy. They forsook God, his law, and His Word and
thus were driven from the Garden of delights.
Proverbs 13:13-15 declares:
"Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that
feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. The law of the
wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of
death. Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of
transgressors is hard." Because of Adam's sin all
his descendants are born as transgressors and enemies of God
who are condemned by the law which leads us to our next
point of consideration; the federal headship of Adam.
A representative is one who
represents and acts on the behalf of others. When Adam
sinned in the Garden of Eden he was acting on the behalf of
the entire human race, he was our representative, our
federal head. In our democratic system of government sinful
people elect other depraved people to represent them by
popular vote. God who is holy and just elected to create a
perfect and sinless man to represent the human race in the
Garden of Eden. Adam was the best representative that man
could have ever hoped for, but he failed miserably in the
Garden and as a result of his sin, all men are born with his
nature to sin. Adam is the natural father of the human race,
so his corrupt and sinful nature is inherited by all men.
Adam's sin was justly charged to all
men born after him. Romans 5:12 states: "Wherefore,
as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Verse 17 states: "For if by one man's
offense death reigned by one..." Verse 18 declares:
"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came
upon all men to condemnation..." Verse 19 states;
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made
sinners..." Adam's sin has been imputed to all his
descendants. From these verses we see that every man has
been declared by God to be spiritually dead, with a sinful
nature, judged and condemned in Adam.
A.A. Hodge wrote:
"The guilt of Adam's public sin, is by a judicial act of
God immediately charged to the account of each and every one
of his descendants from the moment he begins to exist, and
antecedently to any act of his own. Hence all men come into
existence deprived of all those influences of the Holy
Spirit upon which their moral and spiritual life
depends...and with an antecedent prevailing tendency in the
natures to sin; which tendency in them is itself of the
nature of sin, and worthy of punishment. Human nature since
the fall retains its constitutional faculties of reason,
conscience, and free agency, and hence man continues to be a
responsible moral agent. Yet he is spiritually dead, and
totally averse to and incapable of the discharge of any of
these duties which spring out of his relation to God, and
entirely unable to change his own evil dispositions or
innate moral tendencies, or to dispose himself to such a
change, or to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in effecting
such a change."
Man's total depravity is inherent
which means that every man inherits the sinful nature of
their parents. Psalms 51:5 declares: "Behold, I was
shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Psalms 58:3 says: "The wicked are estranged from the
womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking
lies." Job 14:4 states: "Who can bring a
clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Unless you
understand this truth there are several questions that
cannot be answered. If infants are born without a sinful
nature, why do they die? The answer of course is found in
Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death..."
If sin is not imputed but taught by example, why do
children naturally sin without someone teaching them too?
Children sin because they are born with a nature to sin. Men
are not sinners because they sin, they sin because they are
sinners from the time of birth. Who taught Cain to murder
Abel? Who taught Lamech to take more than one wife? Why do
people who are blind and deaf sin? They can't see or hear
others sinful conduct. The answer is that all men are born
sinners with a nature that opposes God and His law! Until
this doctrinal foundation is properly understood you cannot
comprehend the doctrines of grace.
God sees all men through two
representatives, Adam and Jesus Christ. Adam represents all
men, his sin is charged and imputed to every man. Jesus
Christ represents only the elect, those who the Father chose
before the world began and his righteousness is imputed to
them by faith. All men inherit Adam's nature by birth. Only
the elect inherit the nature of Jesus Christ in the new
birth. All men in Adam are described as; "...by
nature the children of wrath..." and under the just
condemnation of God. Only the elect who come to a saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ are "accepted in the
beloved" (Eph 1:6), and "complete in Him"
(Col. 2:10). Who represents you dear reader? The
question is of paramount importance for the scripture saith:
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all
be made alive." (I Cor. 15:22)
A simple definition of total
depravity is that every man is completely ruined and
spiritually corrupt. The depravity of man is universal,
meaning that it extends to every natural man without
exception as Romans 3:23 states: "For all have
sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Depravity is total in the sense that every faculty of the
natural man has been tainted and corrupted by sin as Isaiah
1:5-6 declares: "Why should ye be stricken any more?
Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and
the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto
the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and
bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed,
neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
It is important to distinguish
between total and absolute depravity. Every man is
spiritually dead and sinful, but that does not mean that
every man is as sinful as he could be. All men are sinners
with wicked hearts, but not all men are as wicked as Adolf
Hitler or Charles Manson. There are degrees of depravity.
All men are not the same in the degree or amount of sin they
commit. Duane Spencer explains:
" It does not mean absolute depravity. This term means
that one expresses the evil of his sin nature as much as
possible at all times. Total depravity, does not mean that
man is incapable of human good. We all know that the most
wicked of mankind have some human good about them, just as
the finest among mankind have some human bad about them. We
have all read stories of gangsters, liquor barons,
prostitutes, and pimps, along with dope peddlers and the
like, who have done deeds of human good. When man measures
himself by man he is always able to find some good in
himself or in others."
However, when man is measured by the
holy standard of Jesus Christ, he is weighed in the balance
and found altogether wanting of any merit or goodness in the
sight of God. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 declares: "But we are all
as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as
filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our
iniquities, like the wind have taken us away
When you examine the effects of the
disease of sin in light of the Scriptures you will find out
that man's entire makeup is depraved. The infection of sin
runs through all his faculties and renders him helpless and
without strength apart from a divine work of sovereign
grace. Consider the diagnoses the Bible gives concerning
His heart is bad. The first mention
of heart in the Bible is in Genesis 6:5 which states:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in
the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his
heart was only evil continually." The heart of man
is generally considered to be the seat of his affections,
his likes and dislikes. Because every man has a
"heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked" he
loves sin and self and hates God. If the reader thinks this
assessment is too harsh, consider what Jesus said to
Nicodemus in John 3:19-20: "And this is the
condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men
loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were
evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light,
neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be
Man's mind is bad. He cannot
understand or comprehend spiritual things. He is described
as being in darkness and ignorance concerning the things of
God. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a man is
born again " he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Romans 8:7 declares: "Because the carnal mind is
enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be." I Corinthians 2:14 states:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither
can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Man's eyesight is bad. He cannot see
himself as God sees him and as the Bible describes him. The
natural man thinks he is all right as Proverbs 21:2 states:
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but
the Lord pondereth the hearts." II Corinthians
4:3-4 describes the natural man's true condition:
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them
which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of
Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
Man's hearing is bad as a result of
sin. Jesus told the Pharisees the reason why they had a
hearing problem in John chapter eight: "Why do ye
not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my
word ... He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore
hear them not, because ye are not of God."
Perhaps Paul, the apostle, gives the
most comprehensive diagnoses of man's depravity in Romans
3:10-18 which states: "As it is written, There is
none righteous, no, not one: There is none that
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They
are all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they
have used deceit; 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
ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no
fear of God before their eyes."
The natural man can be likened to a
leper in the Old Testament who was considered ceremonially
unclean because of the loathsome disease which ran through
his body. The leper was an outcast. He was an abomination to
look upon because his sores were open and gave a foul odor.
Just as the leper was an unclean outcast, so are lost
sinners without Jesus Christ who are infected with the
disease of sin. Every lost man is corrupt in the sight of a
Holy God. In the Old Testament the only thing the leper
could do was go to the high priest who could only diagnose
the disease. He had no power to heal.
This is a picture of the law showing
man what he is in the sight of God, a corrupt sinner. In the
New Covenant Jesus Christ has the power to heal the unclean
and make them whiter than snow through faith in His blood.
In fact, Jesus healed a leper in Mark 1:40-42 by a mere
touch of His hand. Dear reader, if you have been convinced
of your depravity and sin in the sight of God, your only
hope is to flee to Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to
say: "I will; be thou clean."
The natural man is entirely void of
any spiritual life. Because of sin he is totally
incapacitated concerning spiritual things. He is wholly
unable and unfit to produce any spiritual affections or
desires toward God. Apart from a miraculous intervention by
the Holy Spirit in the new birth, the natural man is
completely helpless. He cannot come to Christ in and of
himself because he has no power or desire to come. Such
statements in today's religious world would be regarded as
repulsive and heretical. Most preachers are proclaiming man
as his own savior through his decision making process.
However, the truth of the matter lies in the Lord's
declaration in John 15:5:11 ... for without me ye can do
nothing." Until a person understands this truth they can
never subscribe to the theology of Jonah who said:
"Salvation is of the Lord." From beginning to end
God alone must be credited with an individuals salvation.
When Adam fell in the garden he
didn't just impair his relationship with God; he totally
ruined it. The day that he sinned he was spiritually
executed and separated from God. That is the state that all
of Adam's offspring are born into-a state of spiritual
death. I Corinthians 15:22 states: "As in Adam all die..."
Ephesians 2:1 declares: "And you hath he quickened
who were dead in trespasses and sins." Every lost
man is a dead man spiritually, according to the Scriptures.
The illustration of a dead man picturing the natural man is
a striking one in several ways. Dead men can't move, talk,
confess, or repent. They are lifeless corpses that can't
even participate in their own funerals. They can't
appreciate the beauty of the flowers that were sent, or the
eulogy that the preacher gave. They can't see and they can't
hear. This is precisely the spiritual condition of every
lost man unless God intervenes in sovereign grace. He is
buried under the weight of his own sins and in bondage to a
nature that opposes God. It would be foolish to suppose that
a dead who is buried could somehow stir himself up, push
open his casket, and dig through six feet of dirt, freeing
himself from the bondage of the grave. Who would deny that
such a scenario is entirely impossible? It is just as
impossible for a spiritually dead man to stir himself up,
rise above the bondage of his nature and call upon Christ
This truth is illustrated
beautifully in two passages of Scripture. The first is in
Luke chapter 10 in the parable of the Good Samaritan. A
certain man had fallen among thieves who had stripped him of
his raiment, wounded him, and left him half dead. This is a
picture of the fall of Adam. He was stripped of his original
righteousness and left half dead. He was alive physically
but dead spiritually. The man in the parable made no move
whatsoever. The priest and the Levite passed by but neither
could help him, showing that the law and religion have no
power to save. The only hope that the man had was in the
fact that the Good Samaritan came to where he was, had
compassion on him, healed him and took complete care of his
life and welfare. His life was saved entirely by the work of
the Good Samaritan, not by his own efforts. The same is true
with lost sinners. Salvation rests entirely upon the
finished work of Jesus Christ. The second illustration of
this truth is in John chapter 11 after Lazarus had died. He
had already been in the grave for four days and was
stinking. There was a huge stone rolled over his tomb.
Lazarus had absolutely no power to roll away the stone and
come out of the grave. It was Jesus who came to where
Lazarus was, calling him out of the tomb in a voice of great
power. Lazarus was completely passive. It was the power of
God alone that raised him from the dead. So it is true of
dead sinners. It takes the power of God in the effectual
call to roll away the stone of depravity when God
"calls us out of darkness, into his marvelous light."
Another way to prove the total
inability of the natural man is to understand what the
Scriptures teach concerning the fleshly nature of man. The
lost man's fleshly nature is incapable of producing anything
remotely spiritual or acceptable to God. John 3:6 says:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh..."
John 6:63 states: "It is the spirit that quickeneth,
the flesh profiteth nothing..." Romans 7:18
declares: "For I know that in me (that is in my
flesh) dwelleth no good thing..." Romans 8:8
states: "So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God." From these Scriptures we learn that
the only nature a person is born with is a fleshly nature
that cannot please God.
It is foolish to suppose that a lost
man who is described as being dead in trespasses and in
sins, alienated from the life of God, and unable to please
God could rise above his corrupt nature and choose Christ!
Job 14:4 asks: "Who can bring a clean thing
(a desire to trust Christ) out of an unclean
(man's fleshly nature)? not one."
Can water rise above its own level? Can the will reverse the
whole tendency and strain of human nature? Can that which is
under the dominion of sin originate that which is pure and
holy? The answer to all of these questions is no!
The source of spiritual life is not
found in man's flesh or his will, but in the supernatural
power of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. A corrupt nature
can never give birth to a single affection which is truly
spiritual and the Scriptures bear this truth out in several
places. John 1:13 states: "Which were born, not of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God." John 3:6 gives the source of the new
birth: "...and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit." John 6:63 tells us: "It is the
spirit (not the flesh) that quickeneth; the
flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life." The fleshly
nature is referred to as the old man in Ephesians 4:22 and
described as being "corrupt according to the
deceitful lusts." The new birth does not stem from
corruption, rather from the Word and the Spirit. I Peter
1:23 declares: "Being born again, not of corruptible
seed (fleshly nature), but of
incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth
forever." It is interesting to note that man's
spiritual life begins with the new birth. There is no such
thing as a self-birth in the natural realm, neither is there
a self-birth in the spiritual realm. In the new birth a new
nature is created by the direct operation of the Holy
Spirit. Ephesians 4:24: "And that ye put on the new
man, which after God is created in righteousness and true
holiness." The reason why the spiritual nature must
be created by the Spirit is because there was nothing
spiritual in the natural man to enable him to commune and
fellowship with God.
To further prove that man cannot
come to Christ in a saving relationship in and of himself, I
offer the following plain declarations from the Scriptures
themselves: John 3:3,5 declares: "...Except a man be
born again, he CANNOT see the kingdom of God...Except a man
be born of water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT enter into the
kingdom of God." John 3:27 says: "A man CAN
RECEIVE NOTHING, except it be given him from heaven." John
6:44 states: "NO MAN CAN CONE TO ME, except the Father which
hath sent me draw him..." John 8:43-44 says:
"Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye
CANNOT hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and
the lusts of your father ye will do." John 14:17
states: "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world
CANNOT RECEIVE, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth
him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be
in you." Romans 5:6 says: "For when we were
yet WITHOUT STRENGTH, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly." I Corinthians 2:14 states: "But
the natural man RECEIVETH NOT the things of the Spirit of
God: for they are foolishness unto him: NEITHER CAN HE KNOW
THEM, because they are spiritually discerned." (all
The most common objection raised
against man's total inability is that such a doctrine
destroys man's responsibility. It is common for Arminians to
try and pit one doctrinal truth against another in order to
confuse the issue. It must not be assumed that because of
man's moral inability he has no responsibility or
accountability to God. God has commanded all men everywhere
to repent. Every man is bound to prompt and implicit
obedience to the commands of God. Responsibility, however,
does not imply moral ability as the Arminians falsely
assert. For example, a man goes to the bar and drinks
himself drunk to the point of being incapable of driving.
While in this incapacitated condition he gets behind the
wheel of a car, has a wreck, and kills another man. Will he
be able to plead with the judge that he was incapacitated at
the time of the accident and therefore not responsible for
his actions? Of course not. Even though he was incapable of
obeying the laws of the land, he was still accountable and
responsible to obey; and because of his accountability he
receives a just punishment from the judge. The same is true
of every lost sinner who dies without bowing the knee to the
Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith.
The teaching of the natural man's
total inability concerning salvation is not only scriptural,
but it is a doctrine that gives all the glory to God in the
salvation of sinners. It is a doctrine that shows man
exactly what he is, a helpless and corrupt sinner who must
depend entirely upon the God of all grace to save him from
his miserable state. When the elect of all ages are
worshipping the Lamb as eternity rolls, all glory and honor
will be directed to Him who alone is worthy of praise.
"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
(John 5:40) "So then it is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth
mercy." (Romans 9:16)
The truth presented in these two
passages of Scripture is in direct opposition to what most
men are preaching in our day of humanistic theology.
Preachers in our day have made the free will of man into a
god. This supposed free will that man possesses is powerful
enough to overcome and thwart the will and purpose of God.
Many have been led astray by this devilish doctrine
supposing that salvation is a joint effort between man's
free will and God. When the Arminian notion of free will is
taken to its logical conclusion, it makes man his own savior
and denies the necessary and miraculous work of the Holy
Spirit in regeneration. Theirs is a salvation of
self-movement, ours a salvation that rests entirely upon the
Lord from beginning to end.
It must be stated at the outset that
the writer believes that man's will is directly influenced
by his carnal mind and corrupt heart. The will of man is
bound by his fleshly carnal nature. If man were left to
decide whether or not to trust in the saving work of Christ,
his decision would always be an emphatic rejection of the
Lord Jesus Christ. To put it very plainly, the natural man
will not come to Christ apart from the mysterious and
powerful work of God in the effectual call. John 6:44 sets
forth this truth in striking simplicity: "No man can
come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day." Martin
Luther once said: "If any man doth ascribe any of salvation
even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth
nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ
The will is the faculty of choice,
the immediate cause of all action. Choice necessarily
implies the refusal of one thing and the acceptance of
another. The three faculties of the soul include the mind,
heart and will. The mind and heart of man directly influence
the choices that a man makes. The will is not a separate
entity that acts as its own sovereign. This truth is
illustrated in Genesis 3 when Eve was deceived by Satan.
W.E. Best said:
" Eve's sin verifies the order of the powers of the soul.
She gained knowledge of the forbidden fruit by seeing it.
Her affection went out to the fruit of which she had gained
knowledge. She then exercised her will by taking the fruit."
It is important to understand the
condition of the fallen man's mind and heart to see what
influence they have upon the natural man's decision making
process. Genesis 6:5 states: "And God saw that the
wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
continually." Matthew 15:19 declares: "For
out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."
Romans 8:7-8 states: "Because the carnal mind is
enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be." Ephesians 4:17-18 states:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that
ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity
of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being
alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is
in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
If man's will is in harmony with his
knowledge (mind) and affections (heart) it will always
choose that which is contrary to God and inclined to evil.
To suppose that a man whose heart is desperately wicked and
filled with madness, acting in concert with a mind that is
carnal and darkened by spiritual ignorance; can somehow rise
above his nature and choose that which is holy and righteous
is not only unscriptural, it is illogical.
G. S. Bishop said:
"Man will not because it is not in him to will; he is
stunted, and set in a fallen direction; and man cannot,
because an evil eye affects the heart, and a deceived heart
turns him aside, ever aside, from the mark of the prize of
God's calling ... Man can no more originate a right desire
than he can create a universe."
C.H. Spurgeon once said:
"Man is impotent as to his will. He has no will favorable
to God. We may as well expect the river to cease to run into
the sea, as to expect the natural man to turn from the
current of his sins."
Every lost man is a slave to his
depraved nature and to the will of Satan, the god of this
world. In short, he is in bondage to sin and the devil,
unable to free himself from their captivity.
Man's will is free only within the
boundaries of his nature. It is free in only one sense; it
is free to act according to its sinful nature, but totally
free from holiness. Romans 6:19-20 states: "I speak
after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your
flesh: for as ye have yielded (willfully submitted
to) your members servants to uncleanness and to
iniquity unto iniquity; even so now (now that you
are saved) yield your members servants to
righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants
of sin, ye were FREE FROM RIGHTEOUSNESS" (emphasis
mine). Jesus taught precisely the same truth in John 8:34:
"...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever
committeth sin is the servant of sin." Jeremiah
13:23 states: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or
the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are
accustomed to do evil."
This truth can be illustrated in
A.W. Pink wrote:
"I hold in my hand a book. I release it; what happens? It
falls. In which direction? Downwards; always downwards. Why?
Because, answering the law of gravity, its own weight sinks
it. Suppose I desire that book to occupy a position three
feet higher; then what? I must lift it; a power outside of
that book must raise it. Such is the relationship which
fallen man sustains toward God. Whilst Divine power upholds
him, he is preserved from plunging still deeper into sin;
let that power be withdrawn, and he falls--his own weight of
sin drags him down. God does not push him down, anymore than
I did that book. Let all the Divine restraint be removed,
and every man is capable of becoming, would become, a Cain,
a Pharaoh, a Judas. How then is the sinner to move
heavenwards? By an act of his own will? Not so. A power
outside of himself must grasp hold of him and lift him every
inch of the way. The sinner is free, but free in one
direction only--free to fall, free to sin ... The sinner is
free to do as he pleases, always as he pleases (except as he
is restrained by God), but his pleasure is to sin."
G.S. Bishop gave the following
" A man is free to use his hand. The man is free, but the
hand is not free; the arm and muscles control it. The hand
is the slave of the muscle, and acts as the muscle compels.
In like manner, man is free to use his will, and is
therefore always a free agent; but the will itself is not
free. It is controlled by the affections, which are evil and
earthly and sensual, and these again are controlled by the
understanding and judgment, which call evil good and which
are perverted, blinded, deluded, by the god of this world."
If you were to offer a hungry lion a
choice between raw flesh and salad, he would choose the
flesh every time because his nature dictates his choice. The
same is true with the lost sinner, he will always choose to
reject Christ because he is bound by his evil nature, unless
God makes him "willing in the day of his power"
in an act of sovereign grace.
The natural man's will is not only
bound by a nature that opposes God, it acts in concert with
the will of Satan to do evil. Ever since the fall of Adam
the strong man armed (Satan, Matt. 12:28-30) has had
dominion over the natural man. He is controlled and
influenced by the god of this world, the devil. The
Scriptures are very plain in asserting this truth. John
8:43-45 states: "Why do ye not understand my speech?
even because ye cannot hear my word. (Why?)
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your
father YE WILL DO. He was a murderer from the beginning, and
abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a
liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the
truth, ye believe me not." Verse 47 states:
"He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear
them not, because ye are not of God."
II Corinthians 4:4-5 says:
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
IN WHOM the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds
of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious
gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto
Ephesians 2:2-3 declares:
"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."
II Timothy 2:26 says:
"...and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of
the devil, WHO ARE TAKEN CAPTIVE BY HIM AT HIS WILL."
From these Scriptures it is plain that the natural
man is in bondage to do the will of Satan. The will of Satan
never includes repentance of sin, and saving faith in Jesus
Christ. Therefore, the only hope a lost sinner has is for
Jesus Christ to come and spoil Satan's goods, and deliver
him from captivity through His great power!
I have used only a sampling of
verses to prove that man's will is in bondage to his corrupt
nature and is in the captivity of the devil. Man's will is
free only in the sense that he is free to sin and free from
righteousness. Proverbs 21:4 declare: "An high look,
and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin."
If left to himself every lost man will despise the gospel of
free grace and continue in sin and rebellion to God. This
fact is asserted throughout the entire Bible as the
following Scriptures attest:
Judges 2:17-19 states: "And
yet they NOT HEARKEN unto their judges, but they went a
whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them;
they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers
walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they
did not so ... And it came to pass, when the judge was dead,
that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their
fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow
down unto them; THEY CEASED NOT FROM THEIR OWN DOINGS, NOR
FROM THEIR STUBBORN WAY."
Psalms 10:4 declares: "The
wicked, through the pride of his countenance, WILL NOT seek
after God: God is not in all his thoughts ... He hath said
in his heart I SHALL NOT BE MOVED." Psalms 58:3-5
states: "The wicked are estranged from the womb:
they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their
poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the
deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which WILL NOT to the
voice of charmers, charming never so wisely."
Proverbs 1:24-30 says:
"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out
my hand and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all
my counsel, and WOULD NONE OF MY REPROOF: I also will laugh
at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh: When
your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh
as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they
shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that
they hated knowledge, and DID NOT CHOOSE the fear of the
Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my
reproof." Isaiah 65:12 and 66:3 state:
"Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all
bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not
answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before
mine eyes, and DID CHOOSE THAT WHEREIN I DELIGHTED NOT...
Yea, they have CHOSEN THEIR OWN WAYS, and their soul
delighteth in their abominations." Jeremiah 6:16,
7:26, and 8:6 state: "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye,
in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is
the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for
your souls. BUT THEY SAID, WE WILL NOT WALK THEREIN ... Yet
they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but
hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers... I
hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man
repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?
EVERY ONE TURNED TO HIS COURSE AS THE HORSE RUSHETH INTO THE
John 3:19-20 states: "And
this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world,
and MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, because their
deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the
light, NEITHER COMETH TO THE LIGHT, lest his deeds should be
Luke 19:14 says: "But his
citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, WE
WILL NOT HAVE THIS MAN TO REIGN OVER US."
Romans 3:10-12 states: "As
it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There
is none that understandeth, THERE IS NONE THAT SEEKETH AFTER
GOD. They are all gone out of the way, they are together
become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not
Perhaps the reader is wondering why
I have quoted so many passages of Scriptures to prove the
point in question. The Word of God is a sword which is able
to cut down the prevailing opinions and errors promoted by
free-willers. From the Scriptures quoted we can plainly see
that the natural man is self-willed, in a condition where he
loves his sin more than he has a desire to come to Christ.
This condition can only be changed in the new birth when God
creates in us a new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22). James 1:18
states: "Of his own will begat he us with the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his
creatures." Spiritual life depends on the free will
of a holy and sovereign God, not in the corrupt will of
fallen man. Psalms 100:3 rings true in salvation:
"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made
us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep
of his pasture."
It is necessary at this point to
prove that Arminian Baptists and Protestants who tenaciously
adhere to the doctrinal myth of free will are in complete
agreement with the "Mother of Harlots and abominations of
the earth", the Roman Catholic Church who is the bride of
Satan. The Council of Trent in 1563 gave the following
"If any one shall affirm, that man's free will, moved and
excited by God, does not, by consenting, cooperate with God,
the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose ITSELF
for the attainment of justification; if moreover, anyone
shall say that the human will cannot refuse complying, IF IT
PLEASES, but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let
such an one be accursed. If anyone shall> affirm, that since
the fall of Adam, man's free will is lost, and extinguished;
or that it is a thing titular, yea a man, without a thing,
and fiction introduced by Satan into the church; let such an
one be accursed."
How different is the scriptural
language of two Baptist confessions of faith, the London
(1689) and the Philadelphia (1742), which state:
"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
good, and dead in sin is not able by his own strength to
convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto."
(Incidentally, the Westminister
Confession of Faith is also in agreement on this point).
Most Baptists and Protestants today
agree more with the unscriptural doctrines of Rome, than
with their own faithful forefathers who valiantly waged
spiritual warfare against the "old whore". It is the height
of inconsistency and hypocrisy to falsely profess a Baptist
creed with the mouth, and then actually practice the
heresies of Rome! Revelation 18:4 says: "Come out of
her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and
that ye receive not of her plagues."
The biggest danger that I see in the
popular free-will doctrine is that instead of sinners being
at the mercy of a Sovereign God, God is placed at the mercy
of a sinner's free will. In free will theology God cannot be
immutable and his purposes fixed, because he is dependent
upon the decisions and choices of sinners. It is little
wonder then why people in modern day Christianity do not
take Bible truths seriously, they have been fed the tommyrot
of free-willism and self-salvation for nearly a century.
Preachers are telling sinners that God has done all that he
can do, and now it is up to them to accept Jesus and
complete the salvation process. How different was the
preaching of Jesus Christ when he said: "Except a man be
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)."
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me
draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John
6:44)." We need to get back to the kind of preaching where
sinners see that Christ is their only hope, and that they
are without strength. The kind of preaching where sinners
loathe themselves and their sins by abandoning all their
self-righteous efforts and sue God for peace and mercy
through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
The free will doctrine that is
preached today is nothing more than secular humanism in
religious garb. It is a product of the social gospel which
is based on the supposition that if man's environment is
improved, he will be in a more favorable, savable state. The
problem with this thinking is that the problem is not so
much what is around man, the real problem lies within man.
Free will makes man his own savior and his own god. If every
man possesses a free will that is powerful enough to resist
the will of God in salvation, what would prevent that same
man from choosing to resist the will of God in damnation at
the great white throne of judgment?
If man is corrupt, unwilling, and
unable to come to Christ, in and of himself, how then can he
come and be saved? Only by the sovereign grace of God. He
can come only when the Holy Spirit draws him in power,
slaying the enmity of his will and leading him to repentance
of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What saith the
Scriptures about this mysterious and omnipotent drawing of
the Spirit? Psalm 110:3 says: "Thy people shall be
willing in the day of thy power..." Song of Solomon
1:4 states: " Draw me, and we shall run after
thee..." Philippians 1:6 states: "Being
confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a
good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus
Christ." Philippians 2:13 declares: "For it
is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his
good pleasure." Only when these Scriptures are
understood can we ascribe all of salvation to the Lord from
beginning to end, giving Him all the glory, who alone is
worthy of our praise and adoration. Amen.
Click On the Highlighted Area To Return To Your Reading
A. W., Gleanings from the Scriptures
(Chicago, ILL: Moody Press, 1979) p. 11.
C. D., Definitions of Doctrine, Volume II,
(Bryan Station Baptist Church, Lexington, KY: 1968) p.
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination,
(Phillipsburg, NJ: The Presbyterian and Reformed
Publishing Co., 1932) p. 78.
Tulip: The Five Points of Calvinism,
(Grand Rapids, MI: 1979) p. 24.
Spurgeon, C. H.,
Free Will -- A Slave in the New Park Street
PulpitVolume I (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications,
1981) p. 395.
Best, W. E.,
Free Grace Versus Free Will (Houston,
TX: South Belt Grace Church, 1984) p. 11.
Bishop, G. S.,
The Doctrines of Grace, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1977) p. 147.
Pink, A. W.,
The Sovereignty of God, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1977) p. 168.
Bishop, G. S.,
The Doctrines of Grace, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1977) pp. 146-147.
The Sovereignty of God, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1977) p. 172.