While it is a commonplace confession among Christians that Christ died for our sins, it is doubtful if the profundity of this matter is fully understood by many of those who make this confession. Perhaps this is because of the usual confusion between our ďsinsĒ and our ďsinĒ. Countless people have the misunderstanding that we are saved from what we did or do; rather than from what we are.
It is very likely that you have heard this confession being made flippantly and almost absentmindedly. This is shameful enough but it gets worse. There are those who stand aside and mock or even condemn Christians for upholding the death of Christ as the only source of hope for mankind. This is because of a terrible humanistic delusion that has overtaken the minds of even well-meaning people. A human-centeredness continues to generate the arrogance that we can save ourselves through our own determination and choices.
The reality that necessitated Christís death requires a serious consideration in order to combat this prevailing foolishness. The misguided notion that Christ died but it is up to us to appropriate this to ourselves through our own choices fosters the arrogance that we are self-savers. Of course, no claimant of personal-choice salvation would admit that he or she projects such arrogance. Yet there is the blinding human pride that asks: Are we robots? Are we not humans, created in the image of God?
To begin with, being created in the image of God does not make us into gods. Every created being is unlike God. Hasty Bible studies seldom allow the time for sufficient consideration of the far-reaching implications of this fact. That we are unlike God means far more than mere dissimilarity. It is the root of our sin-nature (ďsinĒ) which is the basis for our need of salvation through Christ by virtue of His deity and sinless-perfection.
Creation exists separately from God and inherently devoid of anything that ensues from or belongs to God. This means that all created beings and things are essentially ďgodlessĒ. Yes, God created them. That is precisely the argument: Creation is infinitely less than and inferior to its Creator.
Created beings or things are not automatically evil because they are less than God and inherently devoid of the divine essence that is exclusively Godís. However, since we are unlike God, we are immediately ungodly by nature. Total depravity derives from this fact. We are totally depraved not because of our actions, choices, or because of Adamís rebellion; every created being is totally depraved because inherent righteousness cannot be found anywhere else but with God. On the other hand, total absence of depravity is found only with God.
Depravity is not measured in degrees either. It is not the misconstrued idea that people became merely tainted because of Adamís first rebellious act. Depravity is an inescapable, inherent, endemic and all consuming nature of all created beings and things. Simply defined, depravity is the privation of the holiness and steadfastness that are exclusively Godís inherent attributes. Satan fell because he was and remains depraved. In the same way, Adam and Eve fell for satanís lies because they were depraved. We fall because we are depraved.
If there is still any confusion, then it must be simply said that we are depraved because we are created and we are not God. There is, of course, the usual argument that all of Godís works are perfect and good with the misconstrued conclusion that man was therefore good initially until the fall. It is indeed correct to say that all of Godís works including the creation of humans are perfect and good. In every case, this is a commendation of Godís work. It is not the confirmation of the inherent character, qualities or attributes of that which is created. In fact, lest we become drawn into thinking that we are gods, God Himself reaffirms the truth that no human being is good Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:9-23; Matthew 19:17. The fall of Adam and Eve was in itself the proof of this fact. Perfect uprightness cannot fall because God who alone is perfect is also infallible. Without being upheld by God according to His will, we must fall because we are not inherently infallible Ė we are depraved.
Just as one human being is every bit as human as the other, each person is every bit as depraved as the other. All are equally depraved and it is total depravity. This is why we need Godís redeeming grace. We need even more grace, as it were, because of our total depravity. We need Godís retaining, restraining, restoring, reassuring, refining and refreshing grace. Otherwise we are doomed. Present riotousness may blind us to this fact. We may even trample upon Godís grace by saying that there is some good in us that warrants grace.
Indeed without Godís grace we would remain in a state of irreconcilable dissonance (enmity) with God - (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 5:10; 8:7&8; Galatians 5:17). Hence it was and remains necessary for us to be reconciled to Him through Christ. Our sin-nature (sin) and sinful acts (sins) need to be atoned for by the blood of Christ. Our innate unrighteousness makes it necessary for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed unto us. We are by nature the children of wrath. Therefore it is necessary for us to be adopted as children of God. The propitiation for our sins (sinful acts), our justification, sanctification, imputed righteousness and life are granted to us in Christ. Otherwise we would remain dead in sin (our sin-nature) and doomed to hell.
This said, there are questions that each of us must privately deal with:
Do we know for certain that Christ died for our sin; or are we the ones mocking those who truly make this confession?
Are we gratefully acknowledging Godís grace; or are we trampling upon it by saying that we deserve it because of our status as humans, or because of our actions and choices?