In the Westminister Confession (Chapter 9, Section 3) it states, "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.”
In other words because of the Fall, every man born into the world is born into a state of sin. Because of this we have lost all ability of our will to do any spiritual good. This means that because our hearts are so corrupt, we will NEVER desire, for the correct reasons, to do that which is spiritually good. Nor will we ever desire to take hold of Christ or venture out in faith. It is because of this inability and corruption that "no man will come to the Father unless drawn" (John 6:44). Without Jesus we are altogether opposed to the good. We are dead in our sin. We cannot convert ourselves, nor even put ourselves in the place for such a thing to happen.
John Piper builds upon this by showing four ways in which man's depravity is total:
- Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.
- In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.
- Man's inability to submit to God and do good is total.
- Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.
Everyone of these I agree with, doctrinally speaking. However, I am left to ask myself whether or not I REALLY believe what this says. What are the implications of such statements?
- Whenever I preach the gospel (whether in personal evangelism or corporately) the only hope that my hearer(s) have of responding to the gospel is the sovereign work of God in regeneration. Therefore, I ought to spend much time in prayer. I do not.
- No matter how catchy, exegetical, expository, or true my sermons are they will never convert a person unless the Father draws them. Therefore, I ought to faithfully proclaim the word of God and leave the results to God. I should never be discouraged but only driven to more prayer. I get discouraged.
- There will be no "glad submission" nor a treasuring Christ without the Spirit's work. I should never be suprised when our students do not treasure Christ as they ought. Yet, I am astonished.
- The only hope that we have of not being cast in hell is the work of Christ and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, no outreach program, no purpose statement, no mission project, no books given to the community, nothing but God will bring about conversion. I might get this one. But, again, my soft knees reveal that I do not.
- Unregenerate men will not do good. Therefore, it should not come as a suprise that our politicians are passing laws to allow abortion. The school shootings should not suprise us, nor should we think they will change through policies. It does not matter if Mike Huckabee, Barak Obama, or even the Apostle Paul is the President of the United States. Unless the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of people there will still be abortions (though maybe illegal), there will still be school shootings, there will still be immorality in our land. No political strategy or political leader can save us from the tyranny of our own hearts. I think I actually get this one. So maybe I am actually 1/40th a Calvinist in practice.
- It is natural for people to be jerks. Therefore, I should not be offended (at least as deeply) when people are doing what they do by nature. Yet, I find myself not liking people. I ought to instead pity them and pray for them.
- This depravity is so deep and each act of rebellion is deserving of hell. That means that every moment that a sinner stands outside the blood of Christ he is heaping sin upon sin to his account. He is adding to the wrath of God that will be meted out upon himself. Therefore, this ought to move me to love people and passionately share the gospel. Knowing that it is only through the Word and the Spirit working through this Word that men will be converted. Yet, I watch television and play Madden on PS2. Do I really believe in hell? Do I really believe that the totally depraved will be cast there unless God rich in mercy saves them?
- Every act of rebellion is an offense to God. We know that those of the Reformed persuasion are constantly talking about the glory of God. Every act of rebellion is a trampling of that glory. Ought a Calvinist be passionate about stamping out every act of rebellion? Ought we not preach as a dying man to dying men?
So, until I pray, plead, and proclaim like a Calvinist I should not dare call myself one. Dear God, make me in action what I profess to be in doctrine!