What Does the Bible Teach About our Sinfulness?

Weekly Devotional- August 21, 2017

Whether you want to call it brokenness, radical corruptness, fallenness, or total depravity, the Bible affirms our total sinfulness. We may want to avoid the above labels, but we must embrace what the Bible clearly communicates. To shy away from Scripture’s teaching on our sinfulness is to ignore clear biblical truth.

Please note that this is not exhaustive, just a summary. Also, my goal is not to try to align with any certain belief system, but to help us understand the Bible’s teaching on the topic of how sin affects us.

How Does the Bible teach this?

1- Our Condition

Romans 3 is a key passage on this reality. What does Romans 3 tell us?

  • There is none who understands
  • There is none righteous
  • There is none who seeks after God
  • There is none good
  • There is no one who fears God
  • All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory
  • In addition, our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

To better understand the above reality we must understand that sin resulted in death (Genesis 2:16-17). As a result of Adam’s sin, we have all inherited a sin nature. Romans 5:12 states that “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Jesus said in John 3:5-7 that because of our spiritual deadness, one must be “born again” in order to receive eternal life. Our condition, apart from Christ, is one of death.

Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13 drives home this same concept by stating very clearly that, “we are dead in our sins.” We are not spiritually sick. We are not on spiritual life support. We do not need spiritual assistance. We are spiritually dead, unable to remedy our deadness. We are unable to give ourselves life.

In Psalm 51:5 David stresses the totality of our sinfulness by stating, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is not just something we do, it is who we are – to the core.

2- Our Inability

The Bible clearly speaks of inability. Jeremiah uses a perfect analogy in Jeremiah 13:23. “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Do you see what he is saying? You can’t change yourself. You are unable.

John 6:44 states that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. It doesn’t say that he won’t come, but that he can’t come. Verse 65 of the same chapter reiterates that same truth. “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

In Romans 3:11 Paul says that there is none who seek after God. Why? Because they are unable to, in and of themselves.

To further understand our inability, we must understand that we are slaves to sin and to Satan. This also is something about which the Bible is clear. Peter in 2 Peter 2:19 says that “they themselves are slaves of corruption.” John 8:34 states that, “Whoever practices sin is a slave to sin.” John 8:44 states that we “are of our father, the Devil and will do his desires.” 1 John 5:19 shows us that the whole earth lies under the power of the evil one. In Titus 3:3 Paul is describing life before Christ. He states that we were “slaves to passions.”

This clearly speaks to our inability.

3- The Extent of our Sinfulness

Our Mind– In Romans 1:28 Paul says that “since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Paul continues this idea in I Corinthians 2:14 by saying that “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Did you catch what Paul said? The natural person – the unconverted person – is unable to understand the things of God. Why? The natural mind is debased, completely affected by sin.

Romans 3:11 states that there is “none who understands.” Ephesians 4:18 says that our understanding is darkened. In Titus 1:15 Paul says that the mind of the unbelieving is defiled. In 2 Timothy 3:7 Paul describes unbelievers who are “always learning but unable to arrive at the knowledge of truth.” Romans 1:28 says that sinners do not retain God in their knowledge. Paul, in Romans 8:5 states that, “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.”

The overall idea of all of these verses is that our minds have been completely affected by sin.

Our Heart Our hearts are the center of our emotions, affections, and desires. Jeremiah states that our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful. Our emotional center is completely affected by sin. Our desires, our affections, and our inclinations are all driven by our sinfulness.

In John 3:19 Jesus said that people love the darkness rather than light. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:3 states that “the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live.”

God looked on the hearts of man in Genesis 6:5 and concluded that, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 8:21 says that, “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

Our hearts is not just affected by sin; it is sinful – completely sinful.

Our Will John 8:44 states, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” Since sin has affected your will, the desire of your will is to live in obedience to the devil.

This is also seen in John 1:12-13. John says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Did you see it? Those who are saved are saved not as a result of their will, but of God’s will. Why? Because our will has been completely affected by sin.

Romans 8:7 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Apart from God you cannot ‘will’ your mind to submit to God.

Closing Thoughts- No Reason to Boast

If we could come to understand Truth on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could come to love God on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could set ourselves free from the slavery to sin on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could change our affections on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could reshape our wills on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could make ourselves alive, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could change the affections of our heart on our own, we would have something about which to boast.

If our human emotions, affections, and desires led us to God, we would have something about which to boast.

If we could make the first move toward God, we would have something about which to boast.

The truth is that all aspects of who we are have been so affected by sin that we are unable to do anything to remedy our deadness. Our sinful minds, sinful hearts, and sinful wills cause us to run from God, not to him.

Those who reject the idea of their total sinfulness, do so as a result of their total sinfulness. Our only hope is God’s saving grace.

Weekly Highlights- August 19, 2017

Here are my articles from the past few days as well as 5 of the best articles I read this week.

From Earlier this Week at JeremyWallace.net

5 of the Best Articles I Read this Week

Anthony Steele   |   How can my church be involved in short-term missions?

“How should my church do short-term missions?” Pastors, missions pastors, or local church missions committees that desire to involve their church in short-term missions opportunities should probably consider this question in deciding how to engage their church in the world missions endeavor. That’s especially true when we desire to do biblical missions. If we as churches and church leaders desire to be “people of the Book,” doing missions biblically should be our ultimate aim.

Justin Trapp   |   How Preachers Throughout The Ages Have Used Technology to Further the Gospel

Pen and paper. The printing press. Radio. TV. The Internet. You know what all of these mediums have in common? Each one has been used to further the spread of the Gospel. Throughout history, messengers of the Gospel have used the tools available to them in an effort to effectively reach the people God has called them to serve.

Dave Russell   |   Mobilizing the Church To Evangelize the College Campus

While the college campus provides an amazing opportunity for evangelism, it can also be challenging to bridge the gap between a local church and the campus.

College campuses often feel like “a city within a city.” They have their own culture, their own schedules, their own (narrow) demographic. When many people are at home brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed, college students may be thinking it’s time to order a pizza and start working on a ten-page research paper. When I started out in campus ministry at age 22, I blended in with the students on campus. Now, at 36, I stand out in a college dorm. For these and many other reasons, there is a gap to bridge.

Nicole Cochran   |   3 Factors That Keep Millennials Coming Back To Church

You’ve probably heard the statistics about Millennials in the church: 59% of those who have attended church in the past have dropped out at some point, and more and more “regular attenders” identify themselves as those who attend every four to six weeks, rather than the old measure of three times a month.

And yet I am a Millennial who, through some personal battles and my fair share of absent Sundays, found a church that I love and call home. So what did my church do right?

Chuck Lawless   |   7 Ways to be More Broken Over Lostness

As Christians, we are called to share the gospel with the world (Matt. 28:18-20). Studies show us, though, that most Christians seldom if ever share their faith with a non-believer. If evangelism is a struggle for you, think about these ways to deepen your burden over non-believers:

5 Ways Established Churches Can Plant Churches

For far too long, leading an established church was completely disconnected from church planting. Those who were a pastor of an established church never gave any thought to the needs and challenges of church planting. On the flip side, church planters gave no thought to the needs and challenges of pastoring an established church. The two were viewed as separate, unrelated, and completely independent of each other. Thankfully, that mentality has started to change — but it still exists.

It is becoming more common to hear of established churches being involved in planting churches. There are several ways this can take place.

1- Financial partnerships

One of the simplest ways an established church can be involved in planting churches is by supporting a new church plant financially. One of the greatest challenges that a church planter usually faces is funding. Many times established churches are in a position to contribute those needed funds. In addition to finances, established churches can offer prayer support, help with service projects, and even send some of their members to help the new church get off the ground. This all helps new churches grow.

2- Merging with a new church

I am always encouraged when I hear of an established church opening their arms and welcoming a new church plant by way of a merger. The reality is that some established churches are struggling. They have the land, the facilities, and the heritage, but lack the people, excitement, vision, and energy. Merging with a new church plant allows them to leverage what they possess to advance the Gospel. At the same time, it can be a huge blessing to the new church plant.

3- Satellite venues that become autonomous

As churches see growth they face the challenge of where to put people. Should they build a new building? Do they go to multiple services? This is a question each church must answer on their own, but many are finding that starting a satellite venue with the goal of that venue becoming autonomous is an intentional way to further their mission and reach more people. In this scenario, the satellite venue is an extension of the church until the church is able to support itself, at which point it is released or commissioned by the original church to operate on its own.

4- Strategically starting a new church

Some healthy established churches have church planting as part of their vision. While they are open to the above options, they are also willing to simply send someone out from their church and support them while they plant a new church. Sometimes multiple churches work together for the purpose of seeing a new church started. Churches who do this are healthy, missional, and have a specific vision for church planting.

5- Supporting a church planting network or training organization

If the above options are not available at a specific time, but yet you still desire your church to contribute to the cause of church planting, you could consider financially supporting a church planting network or training organization. These groups work with God-called church planters to provide networks of support and training. Many times the church planters who come out of these networks have been given the tools they need to start a missional church. While you may not have a church planter to specifically partner with, supporting one of these organizations can go a long way to helping start churches.

One such training organization in my area is The Cypress Project. They do a great job of equipping church planters with the tools they need to advance the Gospel through church planting.

Established churches should be involved in planting other churches. Why? It is a great way to partner together for the sake of the gospel.

What are some other ways established churches can be involved in church planting? Comment below!

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