Volume. XXXV, No. 1
Sunday, 05 July 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Sinful Man

We ought to know God according to the Scriptures and to believe and to trust in Him according to the biblical knowledge of God. In this regard, Paul Washer has often lashed out against the professing believers who seem not to care about the biblical knowledge of God. He said, “Sunday morning is the greatest hour of idolatry in the entire week of America [yes, he is an American], because the great mass at least of people are not worshipping the one true God. They are instead worshipping a god formed out of their own hearts by their own flesh, satanic devices, and worldly intelligence. They have made a god just like themselves – and he looks more like Santa Claus than he does Jehovah. There can be no fear of the Lord among us, because there is no knowledge of the Lord among us.” We need to have reality checks for our souls to know if we believe and obey God according to the knowledge of God.
Interestingly, a clear and better knowledge of ourselves according to the Scriptures also helps us to know God better. In other words, by knowing who we are, we will know God better. Even if we know and believe in the great and awesome God, if we do not know who we are, the glory of God within us becomes lacklustre. We will not be able to see the light by being in darkness. Too often we desire to know God more without affirming who we truly are.
When Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome (it was a long letter), he used the first three chapters just to let them be fully convinced that they were sinners. His charge against the nature of man was laid not only against the Romans but also against the Jews, in fact, the whole world! It was such an important truth they had to know about before they could hear of God’s justifying, sanctifying and glorifying grace for His people. He condemned the whole world as sinful, and this is the message that the whole world must hear. The greatest chasm between God and man (the world) lies in their understanding of the nature of man. God declares that man is a sinner condemned to eternal punishment. Man resists and disagrees with God by insisting that man is either good or neutral at least in terms of morals.
Paul says in Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” 3:9 is a critical declaration about the condition of man, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” He brought all mankind to the court of God to hear that they were under the condemnations of their own sins.
Doctrinally explaining, it is called the “depravity” or “corruption” of man. It explains the fallen state of mankind. This fallenness does not refer to “weakness” or certain degrees of “imperfection,” which has hope to be restored and strengthened. It refers to the “total depravity or corruption” of man. I am not going to expound it as a doctrine as much as I can now. This particular teaching has been misunderstood very much, but I’ll leave that part of my talk for future discussion. I’ll briefly explain what it is, and what we must do about it.
Genesis 6:5 testifies of the “total” depravity of man very graphically. “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.” Another passage I can think of is Ephesians 4:18-19, in which Paul describes the Gentiles as “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: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
Man’s depravity is extended even to every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, only evil continually. It refers to radical and total depravity. So far, I believe that there is no difficulty to understand it. I need to add a caution to your understanding so that you may not misunderstand the doctrine. Total depravity of man does not mean that he is as wicked as he could possibly be. Though Hitler or Stalin were sinful and wicked, they could have been worse than they were. It means that anyone of us can sin more often and more severely than we actually do.  We are sinners, we confess.  However, we are not hitting the bottom of our sinfulness.  We could have been worse.  We are worse than we think.

Then, what is “total depravity?”  It means that we are depraved in the totality of our being.  Every part of our being, will, intellect, emotion, and even body, is affected by sin and evil.  Thus, though we have not committed certain kinds of sins at a certain gravity yet, we have the potential and possibility to commit all such sins and even greater sins than they.  Therefore, we are not to determine what sinners are by quantitating the amount of actually committed sins.  The fact that every faculty of man is affected by sin and evil is a testimony of his sinfulness.  No one is perfect in holiness.  However, we may commit different kinds and amounts of sins.  The amount of sin does not determine whether we are depraved sinners or not.  By saying that no one is perfect, we admit that everyone is sinful.  In terms of depravity, sin is rooted in the core of our beings.  Thus, we are totally depraved.

Why do I talk about the “total depravity of man” so much on this page?  It is because there is no salvation, no forgiveness, and no sanctification without appreciating it clearly first.  The first message Jesus ever proclaimed was to “repent.”  Repentance is a precondition for all such wonderful gifts from God.  Repentance comes with the recognition of our sins, corruption, and depravity.  An increased and clearer understanding of our sinfulness will give us a better understanding of our salvation and sanctification and a better relationship with God. 

When the Spirit of God comes upon us, there is a conviction of our sins.  Jesus says that when the Spirit comes, He will reprove the world of sin.  When the Spirit manifested Himself on the Day of Pentecost, people cried out to know what they should do with their sins.  Peter’s powerful message of repentance penetrated into their hearts and minds, and we know that three thousand souls were added to Christ’s church. 

We cannot treat sin lightly or superficially.  Though I, pastor and preacher, treat each and every one of you lovingly, kindly, passionately, and even extraordinarily, if I do not awaken you to be conscious of your sins and depravity, I am not doing well.  Even if I say angelic words and do angelic works to and for you, if I do not preach against sins and arouse your conscience, I am not doing well, either.  I cannot preach “peace,” where there is no peace.  Otherwise, I am a deceiver.  But, alas, the most distasteful message to the sinful mankind is the message against sins and about condemnations of sin.  However, we ought not to forget what Jesus said about a sinful woman in Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  What are you going to do about your “total depravity?”


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



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