Total Depravity and Total Salvation (Romans Sermon 14 of 120)
April 09, 2000 | Andy Davis
I. Review: Making the Case for the Gospel
Please open your scriptures this morning to Romans Chapter 3. We'll be looking at verses 9-18. Paul is completing his work of laying out before every single person on the face of the earth, their need for grace in Christ. And if I were to lead any searcher, anybody who's thinking about Christianity that's struggling with the issue of whether they are sinful or whether they really need this grace, or lead them anywhere would be at the verses we're going to look at today. It couldn't be clearer. Now last week's verses are among the most complicated and difficult to follow. There is nothing complicated and difficult to follow in these verses. It is plain what God is saying to us in Romans 3:9-18, that every single last one of us is a sinner and need of God's grace. Now as we look at these verses, I'm mindful of the responsibility that I have as a minister of the Gospel to avoid ministerial malpractice. Now we live in a city of medicine, and many of you are even involved in that and you know the danger of malpractice. Malpractice occurs when a physician fails to give the treatment that he or she knows is needed, or through negligence, or through a variety of things that the patient dies or is not healed when they could have been.
And as I think about these passages and this Scripture in particular, I think about the incredible temptation to sugarcoat the truth. Kind of make it palatable, make it comfortable, make it easy to read. But in order to do that, I have to rewrite the verses I'm going to preach on today, because there's nothing comfortable about this doctrine. There's nothing comfortable about total depravity. But I'm mindful of the fact that someday, I'm going to have to present this sermon to Jesus Christ. I'm going to have to give it to Him and say, "Was I faithful to these verses?" And furthermore, I believe that all scripture is useful for our healing, for our transformation, and perhaps none more than this because it tells us the truth. Now imagine if you would, a doctor who was tired, it's the end of the day, it was Friday, maybe looking forward to a long weekend. And he have one more case and he got the report on that case and looked through it and there was no question about it. The report on the woman he was about to see was dire. The report came back and she had cancer, and she was going to need the most extensive chemotherapy, the full treatment. He also knew that this woman tended to be emotional, tended to shriek and scream and get upset at things. He just happened to know this about her, and she was sitting out there in his room waiting for him.
And he said, "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Why do I have to bring this message?" So he goes in there and he says in his heart, he says, "I'm just not going to do it. I'm just not going to do it. I've seen this scene too many times. It's been played too many times. I'm not going to do it." And so he comes in there and she says, "Doctor, tell me. What's the matter with me? Why have I been in such pain? Why am I feeling the way I'm feeling? Why am I lacking energy? What's going on?" And he says, "The problem is you're not getting enough vitamins in your diet. You're basically healthy, but you need some more vitamins in your diet. You need some more variety, some more green vegetables, some more exercise. Give it six months, it's going to take a while, but give it six months and you'll be fine. Come back and see me in six months." What would you think of a doctor like that? Well, I know what a malpractice board would think about a doctor like that. The person didn't tell the truth. Now, let's look at it spiritually. Did Jesus ever do that? Did He ever look at you and say, "You're basically all right. You just need a few life adjustments and then you'll be fine." Did the Apostle Paul do that? I don't think so.
But there is a category of minister that will do that. Jeremiah described it in Jeremiah 6:13-14. This is what he said, "Prophets and priests alike all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people lightly." They dress the wound of my people lightly. That means they put a bandaid on cancer. And putting a bandaid on cancer does nothing. Actually hastens death because then the person doesn't seek the treatment they really need. "They dress the wound of my people lightly. Peace, peace they say when there is no peace." But there is peace, brothers and sisters. There is peace. The peace is available through faith in Jesus Christ, but it's not available unless you believe the message that I'm about to preach, namely that you need it, that you need it. Listen to these words from the apostle Paul, "What should we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all, for we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written, there is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, that all have turned away. They have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit, the poison of vipers is on their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery mark their ways and the way of peace, they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes."
II. The Universality of Sin: Paul Completes His Case
Paul concludes his case with a couple of questions. What shall we conclude then as we've been through Romans 1 and Romans 2 and now we're in Romans 3, what should we conclude then? What have we found? And then he ask another question. Are we any better? Now, who's the "we" he's talking about here? We Jews, perhaps? Paul's a Jew. Maybe he's thinking about himself as a Jew. We Christians, is he saying that? Are we Christians any better? We apostles? I don't really know, but I know this. We includes Paul. And Paul knows what he's about to say. Don't you hate a self-righteous preacher who's not under his own message? But Paul saw that he was under his own message, "I'm a sinner like I'm about to describe to you. This is me. It's true of me too." I don't really need to decide who the "we" is, because the answer already is no. Regardless of who the "we" is, the answer is no. We are not any better. There's no "we" that's any better. There's no grouping of people whether national, or racial, or linguistic, or religious that's any better. There is no "we" that's any better. If better means not needing the grace of God available through Jesus Christ. There is no "we" like that. We are not any better.
We have already made the charge Paul says, that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. Now, what is this charge that he's making? There's a judicial word that he brings out here. It's a charge as in a court of law. You get the same picture in Matthew 27:37, crucifixion scene, and it says, "Above Jesus' head they placed a written charge against him." And this was the common manner in crucifixion. They would write the charge out and put it over their head so the passers by could see why this man was on the cross. Now, what could they put for Jesus other than this man, this is the King of the Jews? Beause he had done no sin, committed no evil, nor was any deceit found in his mouth. But what charge is Paul putting over our head? "Under sin" he says. It's over us. Every single one of us. We're all alike, all under sin, Jews and gentiles alike. Now what is under sin mean? It gives a sense of bondage, doesn't it? A sense of compulsion. Now, I tell you this, I have never met anyone who didn't mind admitting that they sinned from time to time.
Everybody will say that, quickly followed by such phrases as, "Well, we're all sinful. We're only human," this kind of thing. "We're only human." These are the minimizing statements that we bring in. "Everybody sins. Nobody's perfect," this kind of thing. So everybody will admit that they commit sin, but nobody wants to admit that they're under sin. That's a different matter. It's a matter of slavery, a matter of bondage and compulsion. We will say, "We have free will, and can stop anytime we choose." Stop then. Stop. Stop sinning. Can you do it? Do you have free will in this matter of sin? Any of you who have been living long enough to know that you need to drop your stones when Jesus said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone," was the oldest people that dropped the sin first, you know, you can't stop, because you don't have free will in this matter. Turns out that your will is a slave to your nature. Your will is a slave to who you are. It's lackey that just acts out who you are in your heart and your character.
And this is a kind of offensive message that Jesus preached to the Jews you remember, when Jesus talked about slavery to the Jews, and they said in John 8, "We've never been slaves to anyone," they said, do you remember? And do you remember what Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin, but if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." Who wants to be free indeed here? I want to be free indeed. I want the Son to make me free indeed, truly free from sin. And in order for that to happen, I need to hear this message fully. I need to hear how bad it is or else I will not be free indeed. I'll be lying to myself. I'll be dealing with the problem slightly or lightly. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So if the Son sets you free, you'll be free indeed. So set us free Lord Jesus.
III. Human Character Apart From Grace: Scripture Diagnoses the Sinful Heart
And you know what his instrumentality is? It's scripture. Look at the very next thing that Paul says, "As it is written." You can just underline that in your Bible. As it is written. As you get close to scripture, you start to see yourself properly. You need to get close to the word of God. The further you drift away from the Bible, the more you feel that you're basically a good person. The further you get away from the words of the Scripture, the more that you feel that, "I'm alright. You know what? Yeah, occasionally, I do things, but I'm not that bad." But when you get into the Scripture, it tells you the truth. It's not going to do malpractice, son. It's going to tell you the truth. As it is written. In this way James in Chapter 1 of James likens the law to a mirror. As we look into the perfect law that gives freedom, we see a good reflection of ourselves. It's accurate. It looks like what we really look like. And we need to be told the truth.
There was a Scottish man a little while ago walking through a park in Scotland. He was carrying his Bible in a leather carrying case. And that was the days when those Instamatic cameras and the Polaroid cameras were popular where you can get a picture out immediately, and it turned out that his Bible looked like one of those carrying cases for those cameras and some of the boys came up, they were playing and they said, "Take a picture of us, take a picture." So they stood next to one another like they were posing for a portrait, while all he had with him was a Bible. So being creative, and being like spirit filled man of God, he opened up his Bible to Romans 3:9-18 and said, "I already have your picture, it's right here." And he read Romans 3:9-18, and he used it as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. This is a portrait of us. It's a portrait of you and me. It's not pretty though, is it?
All I can tell you is that this is where you start with the Gospel of God's graces, it's not where you finish. This is the beginning point, and it isn't pretty, it's ugly. Here the Apostle Paul cites five Psalms and one reading from Isaiah. Five Psalms and one reading from Isaiah. Now, all of it put together gives a clear picture of humanity and no one escapes the string of verses. Psalm 14:1-3 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away they've together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one." That's Psalm 14:1-3. Psalm 5:9 testifies this way, "They're throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit."
And then Paul reaches out for Psalm 140:3, "The poison of vipers is on their lips." And then he pulls in Psalm 10:7, "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." And then he reaches for a word from Isaiah 59:7-8, "They're feet are swift to shed blood, ruin in mystery, mark their ways in the way of peace, they do not know." And then to conclude, he pulls in Psalm 36:1, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." So it's the montage of Scriptures that he's putting together here. And he puts together a united portrait of humanity but it also gives us a problem. There's an interpreters problem in here. And maybe you didn't see it, what you have to do is go back and read these verses in context in the old testament. And as you do you begin to notice something that Paul left out and it could get to troubling you.
Let's take Psalm 14 for example. Psalm 14:1 it says, "There is no one righteous, not even one." But then, later on it says in versea 4-5, "Will evil doers never learn? Those who devour my people as men eat bread. God is present in the company of the righteous." And you left that out, Paul. It seems Paul you're just lifting verses out of context and you're neglecting things that don't prove your point. Anybody can do that. Prove texting, put something together the way you want. You're trying to prove Paul that everyone is unrighteous. Well, I disagree. Right here in verse 5 of Psalm 14 that talks about God present in the company of the righteous. And there's all kinds of Psalms and Proverbs like that. There's the righteous and the wicked, the righteous and the wicked, all over the place in the old testament. Job was a righteous man. So what it this, "There is no one righteous, not even one"? There's a problem here. What is the solution? Well first of all, let's understand who we're talking about. Did the apostle Paul not know his Scripture? Did he not know Psalm 14? Of course, he did. Of course he knew that there was the righteous and the wicked. The question then comes where do the righteous come from? How did they get to be righteous?
And he already answered that back in Romans 1:16-17, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, because in the Gospel there's the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. A righteousness that is from faith to faith, just as it is written. The righteous will live by faith." So we could ask Paul, "Well, Paul, you've got a righteous person in your writing here. There's a righteous person who's living by faith." He's aware of the righteous and the wicked. But what he would say is they didn't start that way. They didn't start righteous, they started wicked. Well, he gets to it in Romans four Verse Three. In Romans 4:3 it says, "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." It was a gift. Abraham, this righteous Jew needed a gift of righteousness or he wouldn't be righteous. It was credited to him as a gift. And then even better. These five Psalms, who wrote them? All five Psalms, they all come from the same author, who is it? It's David. David wrote them. Now David, are you righteous? Are you righteous, David? Well, depends what you mean. It depends what you mean. For Psalm 32 says this, "Blessed is the man who's transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him, and in whose spirit is no deceit."
David's talking about a blessedness that comes as a gift. The forgiveness of sins. And it comes to the man and to the woman in whose spirit is no trickery, no deceit. Well, what are you going to deceive yourself about? That you don't need this grace, that you don't need this forgiveness, that you don't need the gift of righteousness. And then at the end of Psalm 32 he says, "Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous. Sing all you who are upright in hearts." See, he's got the righteous right there in Psalm 32. They didn't start that way though, did they? The beginning of the Psalm, they're looking for forgiveness from sin. By the end of the Psalm, they're righteous. Is there a contradiction here? Not at all. Not all. 'Cause there is a righteousness available. It's just not available naturally. You're not going to find it by looking within. The answer isn't there, it comes as a gift. Problem resolved.
Because David said in Psalm 5:7, "But I, by your great mercy will come into your house." Is that precious to you? "But I, by your great mercy will come into your house." There is a righteousness available, and an invitation right into the very presence of God, right into His house, but it's only by His mercy, His great mercy. And who is it that needs great mercy? Great sinners. Sinners like here in verses 9-18. Also notice the centrality of God in all this. When people say, "I'm basically a good person." You know what they mean by that? They tend to look at it this way. "Well, I give money to charity. I help people, I speak kindly to people. I treat people well, I look after my mother. I deal with people well, I speak to my neighbor when I go and get the mail. I'm not one of those people that's gruff and walks away from them. And I'm certainly not like those people you read about in the newspaper that do those awful things. I've never done any of those awful things." Do you notice what's happening in that whole discussion? It's all horizontal. It's all human to human, human to human, human to human. Even if it were all true it's still all horizontal and it isn't all true, by the way. But it's all horizontal, what about God? Where does He fit into that? He's at the beginning and the end here.
Right at the start, it says, "There's no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." That's what it means to be righteous, that's what it means to understand. It means to seek God, to want Him above all things. That's the start of the list. What about the finish? There is no fear of God before their eyes. The real problem with sin is that it ruptures your relationship with God. Its the vertical that's in view here, and then the horizontal. Not to say the horizontal isn't important, but it's the vertical that's in view and that's what sin ruptures beyond repair. If God doesn't fix it, it can't be fixed.
The Doctrine of Total Depravity
We are not basically a good person. We do not love God with all of our heart and our soul, and our mind, and our strength. And that is called in theological language, total depravity. Total depravity. Now it's not a pretty term but it's not a pretty thing. We shouldn't have pretty terms for ugly things. Total depravity describes accurately the natural human heart. Now the word "total" means every person in every area, that's what the word "total" means. "Depravity" means wicked, wickedness, twisted-ness, perversion. Total depravity. Every person in every area. Not in every single action, that's not what I'm saying, but I'm saying there's no bastion in you. There's no part of you that's free from sin. Are your emotions free from sin? Are they pure and pristine? Or do they have a twist to them? How about your mind? Maybe your mind is a citadel of purity and uprightness, is it true? How about your heart, your will? Is there any part of you not touch by sin? Total is its touch.
Depravity of Character
And what about every person? Well verse 10 it says, "No not one." Verse 12 it says "No not one." Does anyone escape? No. Paul includes himself. Remember he say, "We've already made the charge that we alike are all under sin. We are not any better. Everybody's under it." What kind of depravity is he discussing here? Well, depravity of character, depravity of conversation, depravity of conduct. That's pretty total, isn't it? It covers everything. Lets start with the character, depravity of character he says "There is no one righteous. No, not one." What that mean is on Judgement Day, you will not have the very thing that God will ask you for, namely righteousness. You will have none to give. Its not available. You will not find it in yourself. If it doesn't come from another source you will not have it. There's is no one righteous, no, not one. Now realize that God's righteousness is the foundation of his throne. It is the scepter of his kingdom and he will not allow you into heaven without it. And he's saying, "You don't have it, it doesn't belong to you."
Depravity of Mind
And then there's the depravity of mind, depraved minds, it says, "There is no one who understands." Understands what? Understands God. Naturally no one understands God. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, he says, "Since through the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God. God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save him who had believe." What that says is you can't search out God by technological means, by philosophy, by thinking, you won't find Him because you don't understand and you never will unless God gives you the understanding. All our technological knowledge will avail us nothing at all on the great day because we haven't understood God. And that's so tragic isn't it? God sent his son Jesus Christ, and Jesus at the end of his life, he prayed the night before he was crucified and this is what came from his heart. It was a cry and he said in John 17:25, "Righteous Father, the world has not known you." The world doesn't know you God. And to God the son that's a tragedy. All that horizontal stuff is thrown out the window because we don't know God, we don't understand Him, we don't know who He is. Depraved minds.
Depravity of Desire
Depraved desires. It says, "No one who seeks God." What do you seek? It's the thing you want. What do you really want? Write it down. What do you really want in life? Is God on the list? If God's on the list you're already a child of grace. Because no one seeks God naturally. If you want God today you're already been moved on by grace. It's already happening in you. Because naturally you don't want God. You don't want anything to do with God. No one seeks God. Do you understand how important this is, theologically? Do you understand how important this statement is, "No one seeks God naturally." Well I'll show you, Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me, when you look for me with all your heart." But Jeremiah, no one's looking. No one's looking, okay? Isaiah 55:6 what a great chapter, "Seek the Lord while He may be found." But Isaiah, no one is seeking. They're not looking. No one. No, not one.
It's very important. But what are they seeking? They're seeking something else. It isn't God that they're seeking. Philippians 3:19 says, "Their God is their stomach and their glory is in their shame." What does it mean that, "Your God is your stomach"? It means your earthly appetites, you're seeking something here on Earth. That's what you're seeking, something Earth bound, or you're seeking an idol. Some false construction of your own imagination, that's what you're seeking. But it isn't God. Depraved desire is also depraved response to God. When God confronts you through his prophet through His word, when God confronts you, you turn away. Verse 12: "All have turned away." All have turned away. The word is usually used of an army which comes and is confronted with a greater army and turns in terror and runs from the field. It means, to avoid at all cost, like you would if you were walking along and saw a viper on the road, you would turn and avoid it at all cost. That's what the word means in the Greek. And what it means, if we do that with God, when we're confronted with God, we avoid at all costs. We don't want to hear. We don't want to know. We avoid God at all cost. That's our natural habitat. And because of that, we have depraved value. They have together become worthless. Worthless.
Now, misery loves company. They do it together. They do it all together and together they become worthless. What is worthless mean? That kinda hurts a little bit. I've always thought of myself as worth a lot. Well, I know that we're worth a lot. We're created in an image of God. God sent His son to die on the cross for us. The precious blood of Christ is what redeemed us. But this verse still says worthless. We need to understand what that means. There's a picture in Jeremiah's ministry. God commanded Jeremiah, "Go buy a brand new linen belt, a clean white linen belt. And I want you to take that belt and use it to hold your tunic in, use it for awhile." And then, after he'd used it for awhile, he commanded him to take off the linen belt and go down by the river and dig a hole near the river in the mud and put the linen belt down there and cover it up and leave it there for awhile.
Now, when I was getting ready to preach, I prepared my sermons in advance so that I can do these kinds of things. I was thinking of doing it with a necktie and wearing the necktie today. What would it look like, a necktie dug in the ground and filled in with dirt for four or five weeks? Well, that's about what the linen belt look like when Jeremiah was commanded to dig it up. And this is what God says about that linen belt. These wicked people who refused to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other Gods to serve, and worship them will be like this belt, completely useless. What are you going to use a belt like that for? Falling apart, rotten and muddy. That's what I think of when I think of this word worthless. Now remember we don't stay there but this is where we start.
Depravity of Deeds
God created us for a purpose and everyday we turn away from that purpose. Depraved action is also. Verse 12: "There is no one who does good, not even one." Now wait a minute, Paul. I do good things all the time. I do them all the time. You reach in your pocket and you bring out your bobbles with your muddy hands and you say, "See. Look, here's all my good things. Hold on to them for judgement day and produce them then. Use them for your sin to explain yourself to God." Will he accept them? Will they be valuable and precious to him on that day? There is no one who does good. No, not one." It's a shocking assessment to people who help old ladies across the street and give to UNICEF and other things. It's a shocking assessment. There's no one who does good, not even one.
There was a time in Jesus' ministry when someone came up to him and said, "Good teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" That's the double good question. Good teacher and good thing. Okay. "Good teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus picked up on the word "good". He said, "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Or, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." Did you hear what Jesus just said? "No one is good but God alone." Well, no one is good but God alone and me. I'm basically a good person. No, Jesus didn't say that. He said, "No one is good but God alone." Jesus said, "I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." "It's not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick. I'm the physician of the soul. If you need a physician, come to me. But if you're healthy, don't bother, don't come. You don't need me." No one is good but God alone. Depraved actions come from a depraved heart. "Make a tree good," said Jesus, "And its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. For a tree is known by its fruit." Depraved character.
Depravity of Speech
In verse 12-14, he talks about depraved conversation. "Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues, they keep on deceiving." There's a continual deceiving here. "The poison of vipers is under their lips and their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." Do you see the death in this verse? Death, death, death. Graves, deceit, poison, cursing, death when you open your mouth and speak. Now what does it mean when it says, their throat is an open grave. Well, what would it be like in Palestine if you buried Lazarus and came back four days later but you never did close up the tomb. Just been open the whole time. What a stench would come. "Their throat is an open grave." says Paul. What comes out of there, it isn't good. And deceit and poison is under their lips is the literal translation. The poison of viper is under the lips. What this is talking about is that secret damage that the lips do, gossip, slander, character assassination, the secret things. And then the picture is of a vile serpent. Can you tame a serpent?
There's a story recently of a boy who saw a baby rattle snake just coming out of an egg and he figured he'd take it home for a pet. Now of course the full grown rattle snake you don't want to mess with. But maybe if you take it home just out of the egg and treat it real nice, feed it well, care for it, it can be a good pet. And so, he did and he cared for it, and took care of it and I don't know what he did. I don't want to know what he did with that snake. But I know this, at one point he came to the cage and it had escaped. By this point, it was much larger, and he looked around for it, and he heard the faint rattling and it was behind the couch and he reached down to get it. What do you think happened when he reached down to get it? Well, it bit him. Oh, I know what it was, it didn't recognize that it was his hand. If it had only known it was the hand of the one who had cared for it all that time. You can't tame a snake. You can't change its basic nature.
James 3:8, "No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison." That's the tongue. Would you like to have a transcript of everything you've said in the last month? Just to sit and read it. Just look at the things you've said. Bring out a highlighter and highlight the things that glorified God and those things that didn't tend toward God's glory. It's hard to tame the tongue, isn't it? So there's that deceit, the poison under the lips. And then, there's cursing and bitterness, which is the open attack, the verbal barrage, open hatred, the full guns blazing. So you've got the secret approach, gossip and slander then you've got the open attack. And knowing we all do this, it's so tragic because that's not what the tongue is for. The tongue is for praising God. And instead, we curse. And therefore, the tongue becomes a major source of our judgment. Jesus says, "I tell you that man will have to give an account on judgment day for every careless word that they have spoken. For by your words, you will be acquitted and by your words, you will be condemned." The tongue. Depravity of conversation,
Depravity of Conduct
Finally, depravity of conduct, verse 15-17. "Their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace, they do not know." Now, feet traveling on a path relates to lifestyle. It's your everyday life, how you carry yourself, your conduct, the journey you travel. What are your feet doing? Christianity, early on, was called the way. Probably after Jesus saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," etcetera. And so, there's a journey marked before. But what journey are you traveling naturally? Where are you heading? And it says here, "The feet are eager and zealous to kill." "Oh now, here I've got you, Paul. I've never killed anybody. I've never killed anybody."
Now I have two answers to that. First of all, why haven't you killed anybody? Is it because you never wanted to? And if you did want to, what stopped you? Well, there's this little thing called the law and police, and electric chairs, prison, those kinds of things. Why is it when all those things are removed in a time of anarchy, murder goes right up? It's because people finally have a chance to do the thing they wanted to do all along. They say, "I'm not like that." Okay, well Jesus dealt with that in the sermon on the mount. What is the root of murder? Anger. And he says that anger itself is enough to condemn someone. Feet are swift to shed blood.
And then it says, "Ruin and misery mark their ways." The word "ruin" means shattering. If you can imagine a beautiful piece of pottery like a Chinese vase. Okay, it's not a vase, it's a vase, very valuable. And you take that and you throw it down on a marble floor. Shattered. That's what this word means. They're ruin and misery, shattering and misery is characteristic of their way. It's a shattered life. Do you see what sin does to a life? What does sin do to a life? It shatters it. Sin is your biggest enemy. It shatters your life. And it says, "Misery marks the way." Ask somebody who's strung out on dope, "Are you happy? Do you enjoy your life?" "No, my life is miserable. It hurts. And I'd give anything to come out of it." Ruin and misery marks their ways. And the way of peace, they do not know. Peace is totally foreign to them.
"The wicked," says Isaiah in Isaiah 57, "are like tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast out mire and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked." They don't know how to have peace with themselves. They don't know how to have peace with their neighbors and they certainly don't know how to have peace with God. And the root of the whole thing, there is no fear of God before their eyes, verse 18. No fear of consequences, no judgment day. They don't think about it. That's a picture of total depravity. Depravity in character, depravity in conversation, depravity in conduct, total. And it's true of everyone. There is no one righteous, no, not one. We're all under the same thing. Paul was under it. He said, "We, all of us alike are all under sin."
IV. The Staggering Implications Of This Doctrine
Well, what are the implications of this doctrine? Well, they're staggering. Absolutely staggering. First of all, there is no such thing as native righteousness. There's nothing inside you to present on judgment day. It's not there. You will look in vain for it. You must forsake looking because you will not find it. You need a righteousness that comes from another place. You need the righteousness, which God bought through the blood of Jesus Christ. You need to put it on and stand in it on judgment day. You need to stop looking for your own righteousness and realize that if you want it, if you're hungry for it, if you're thirsty for that righteousness, even that's not coming from yourself. The wanting wasn't there either, was it? There is no one who seeks God. So if you want it, if you're yearning for it, if you're hungry for the righteousness, which only God can give, guess what? Grace is already at work in you. No one suddenly decides to follow Jesus. They had years to do that and they never did it.
Jesus said this in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, draws him," and he will come. That also means that every Godward impulse in us, every Godward impulse has come from grace. Any word which is pleasing to God, any action which is pleasing to God, anything at all that comes that is pleasing to God came from his grace. Another implication, "Where then is boasting?" It is out the door. It's gone forever. We don't boast in anything we do. But instead we say with the apostle Paul with joy in our hearts we say, "By the grace of God I am what I am." Can you say that? "By the grace of God I am what I am. By the grace of God I love His word. By the grace of God I love to pray. By the grace of God I want to go to heaven and see him forever and ever. By the grace of God and by the grace of God alone I will be saved. There's no other solution there's no other salvation." Read these verses for yourself. When you're saved, when you're saved by grace and someone else isn't and you're looking over that person, and you're looking at yourself, and you're trying to decide what's the difference.
Was it anything in you that made you different than that other person? Anything at all? Is there any difference? There is no difference. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now I want to do something that's not in this passage. I've been waiting for this moment this entire sermon. I'd like you to take your pen if you would and on the back of my sermon outline I have each of these phrases here. And what I'm going to do to finish up today is I'm going to give you a Bible verse, a Bible verse which reverses each of these statements and shows that each one of them is reverse by the Gospel of Grace in the life of a Christian. Everyone of them.
V. The Great Reversal of the Gospel
So we have total depravity but we also have total salvation from the depravity. The first one says, "There is no one righteous. No, not one." What shall we put under that? Write "Romans 3:21" or you could write "Romans 1:17." Romans 3:21. "But now, a righteousness from God apart from law has been made known. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:21.
Alright, how about this one? "There is no one who understands." Romans 15:21 says, Romans 15:21, "Those who were not told about 'em will see and those who have not heard will understand." You could also write Luke 24:45. "Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the scriptures." Isn't that great?
Alright, how about this one, "There is no one who seeks God." What did Jesus say? Mathew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied." Where does the hunger come from? Where does the thirst come from? God puts it there. For also Hebrews 11:6. Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him." Where does that come? It comes by faith.
Alright, all have turned away. Turning away from God is a mark of rebellion right? Jews and Gentiles alike have turned away from God. Well, here's the Jew verse, 2 Corinthians 3:16, "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord the veil is removed." So there's the Jewish people turning to Jesus Christ. Alright we need a Gentile verse. 1 Thessalonians 1:9, "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." You've got the Jewish verse and the Gentile verse, both have turned to God.
Alright, how about this? "They have together become worthless." That word that stung so much. Alright. Now Revelation 3:4, Revelation 3:4, "They will walk with me dressed in white for they are worthy." They are worthy. Who? People who believe in Jesus.
"There is no one who does good. Not even one?" Ephesians 2:10, "we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus…" to do what? Good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
"Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit, the poison of vipers is on their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." Take them all together and write over it Proverbs 10:11. "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life." Isn't that great? We've got death over here, now the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.
"Their feet are swift to shed blood." Bloody feet. Won't you rather have beautiful feet? Romans 10:15, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news." Those are gospel proclaimers. All of a sudden instead of going to kill you're going to bring eternal life. Shattering in misery mark their ways. The brokenness of sin, what does Jesus say? Luke 4:18, "The Lord has sent me to bind up the broken hearted." Can Jesus do that? Can he take all those broken pieces and put them back together? The Lord has sent me to do it. I can bind up the broken hearted. Luke 4:18.
"The way of peace they do not know." They don't know the way. They don't know the way. John 14:4, "You know the way, to where I'm going." John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." you do know the way and his name is Jesus Christ.
And then finally, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 2 Corinthians 7:1. It says that Christians are perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Do you see the total reversal of our total depravity? All of it available through faith in Jesus Christ. Let's close in prayer.