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Written by David Montgomery   

Of Total Depravity


Two of my sweet nephews, Kris Shafer and Daniel Montgomery, have asked me to write a series of articles covering the basic points of fundamental doctrine. Kris said to make it sort of a “Primitive Baptist Doctrine for Dummies.” Well, he went to the right dummy because I’m the biggest one of all.

What does Total Depravity mean? It means you’re a lousy, stinking, no-good, bush-whacking sinner. It means you will do bad stuff and you like to do bad stuff. Doing bad stuff is one of your best things. You lie, cheat on your taxes, get all torqued-off at people, spread bad rumors, get angry at stupid things and take things that are not yours. It means that you are rude, vain, and selfish. It also means that you are capable of doing the worst things you can imagine…committing murder, adultery, and doing violent harm to others. This is all IN YOU and the odds that you will commit these horrible acts are extremely favorable. Have I made you mad yet? I did? Wow, you must be totally depraved!

If you ever want to view total depravity at work then have kids. Take that sweet little baby and eventually, he will turn into a heathen barbarian right before your eyes. They may coo and smile in their first few months but just wait, I say. I used to look at these kids throwing tantrums in the grocery store and would click my tongue and say, “my kids would never act like that.” Yes sir, I was the best parent in the world, and then I had children. I quickly learned that you don’t have to teach kids to be bad. Oh no! They are born with that knowledge. I once heard a mother sweetly say of her little darling, “He’s not bad, he just forgets to be good.” Oh, wake up lady! Your kid is a total brat. In fact, my kids are total brats. I am a total brat. We're all total brats. We all have to learn right from wrong. It’s not that we *forget* to do good…we just flat out want to be bad. THAT is Total Depravity.

You see, we’re talking about sin. To sin means to miss the bull’s-eye. It means to do break the law, to be immoral. The Bible tells us that sin always leads to death. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” That expression is written twice in the Bible so it must be really important and it must be really true. In James 1:15 we read, “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Now, how many people do you think are sinners? Well, the Apostle Paul said that “All have sinned.” In fact, he uses this expression twice in the book of Romans so it must be really important and it must be really true.

OK, so if sin always leads to death and ALL have sinned then EVERYBODY must be depraved and EVERYBODY must be dead. But, everybody is not dead because I see them walking around and acting all lively so how are they dead? I am alive, I think and breathe, so how am I dead? Well, the death under consideration is really more than a death of the physical body. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1 that we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” Death is the absence of life and the complete separation from life. To put it simply, the essential teaching of the doctrine of total depravity is this: Human beings have no spiritual life—sin has killed them. We are all dead spiritually and will eventually die physically.

The great philosopher, Curly Howard said, “But I don’t want to be dead, there’s no future in it!” Well, amen Brother Curly, I don’t want to be dead either. If physical life is cool then spiritual life must be totally awesome. What I need to do is to move away from a dead and depraved state over to an alive and non-depraved state. How can I do this if I'm dead?

The answer to this question is one thing that separates Primitive Baptists from most other denominations.

Next: The Answer to the Question

Thank you,
David Montgomery

Nobody likes to hear sermons on Total Depravity, especially those who are totally depraved.
Last Updated ( Friday, 03 April 2009 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.