Friday, June 26, 2009

6/26- Total Depravity

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/26- Total Depravity (Picture adam and eve Rubens)

“This is the evil that happens in everything under the sun: the same destiny overtakes all: the hearts of people, moreover are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.: (Romans 3:23)
“All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa. 53:6)

Calvin: If we do not perceive our wretchedness and poverty, we shall never know how desirable is that remedy which Christ has brought to us, or approach him with due ardor of affection. As soon as we know that we are ruined, then, aware of our wretchedness, we eagerly run to avail ourselves of the remedy, which otherwise would be held by us in no estimation. In order, therefore, that Christ may be appreciated by us, let every one consider and examine himself, so as to acknowledge that he is ruined till he is redeemed by Christ. (Commentary on Isaiah 53:6)

The idea of total depravity is the first of the five points of Calvinism. Basically it means there is nothing we can do to save ourselves because sin has polluted us and our actions. Luther used to say we sin in our best deeds and our worst deeds.
Total depravity plays itself out in different ways:
1) None of us escapes- The most powerful, most educated and intelligent, the best of us still sins. Also the least powerful, poorest, uneducated and unintelligent among us sins as well. The Mark Sanfords, Bill Clintons, and the homeless person on the street all are capable of evil. We cannot condemn someone too loudly, for we fall under the same condemnation. Only God has the ultimate right to judge.
2) No action of ours is totally pure. The poison of sin effects even the best things we do. No one has absolutely pure motives, though we often deceive ourselves into thinking so. Yet, we should not despair (as Reinhold Neibuhr said so eloquently) of doing the best we can with what we have by God’s grace. The fact that our actions are not totally pure, does not mean that our actions cannot still glorify God.
3) It is not that we are good and some outside force makes us sin. No outside force is needed. We sin on the inside before we can even sin on the outside. Outside forces do influence us to sin, but there is an innate nature in us that draws us to wrongness. We are not born naturally good. We are born crying- demanding that the world meet our needs.
4) No one country, area, culture is totally good. All sin corporately and individually. Churches sin. We should not be surprised when evil raises its ugly head. In the end we all stand in need of God’s grace and human loyalties can only be temporary (not eternal) and therefore proximate not ultimate. The only God we can have is God Himself. One of the best action is to say, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner” (Or “us sinners”).
5) Our sinfulness allows us to see how great the grace and mercy of God is.

Prayer: Lord, take away our love of sinning. Forgive us, heal us, and make us new.

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