In the previous article, I mentioned the doctrines of grace acronised as TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace And Perseverance of the Saints) and further explained with a quote that “Reformed Christians believe that all five of the doctrines of grace are derived directly from the Scripture and that the acronym TULIP accurately describes the Bible’s teaching on soteriology—the doctrine of salvation”¹.
I did an unusual thing by first explaining the last petal in the TULIP; P (Perseverance of the Saints). Today, I will do an explanation of the first ‘petal’ T, which is Total Depravity.
You may have heard a charge of bigotry against Christianity for declaring Jesus is the only way to heaven. People have pressed further to say there are good people living charitable, philanthropic lives and based on that, they can make it to heaven. The sad reality however is that, there are no good people on earth. The Bible condemns all as sinners. In Romans 3:9-10, Paul says “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one”. Further on in v.23, he says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. John also puts it this way: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (John 1:8). Anyone who says they are without sin is living in self-deception. That’s the point of John 1:8.
The origin of our sin is explained by the Bible as springing forth from Adam’s disobedience of God’s command: “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(Genesis 2:17). Adam disobeyed, he ate and the sentence for disobedience; physical and spiritual death was pronounced. In Adam’s fall, all humankind fell and were declared sinners: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
All I have said so far is what Total Depravity is. We are all sinners: “As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all of Adam’s descendants are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5). Calvinists are quick to point out that this does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be. Rather, this doctrine says that, as a result of man’s fall in Adam, all people are radically depraved from the inside and that their depravity affects every area of their lives”. ²
G.K. Chesterton, quoted in an online article on Original Sin said “Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved,” (Orthodoxy, chap. 2) ³. You see, what he means here is that the sinfulness of humankind is not difficult to prove. The empirical evidence is all around us. Just look into your heart and life. Sin stares you in the face doesn’t it? On this grounds, no one stands the chance of acquittal from God on their merit. The only means God has provided is through Jesus Christ who offered Himself as a sin sacrifice to appease God’s wrath towards humankind. Come to Him in faith or you will perish in your sins:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. (John 8:24).