How the Doctrine of Man’s Total Depravity Delivers Us from Religion
Religion is man’s vain attempt to work his way into right relationship with God. The atheist denies God’s existence. The agnostic acknowledges some higher power. The spiritualist denies that God is offended. The religionist acknowledges the estranged relationship between God and man.
Religion believes in man’s willingness and his ability to approach God. If the religious man humbles himself and strives to be pleasing to God, then God must accept the religious man, for the sole reason of that man’s earnestness, in trying to keep the rules of his religion. The basic problem for the religionist is the vast array of religions to choose from, in order to get close to God.
Religions have created innumerable rites and rituals, imagining that God is pleased with the obedience method of religion. Of course, man has his favorite religion, and he denies the validity of other man-made religions. Even so, there are exceptions, in the form of syncretism, such as the Ba’hai religion, which draws from multiple religious traditions. The religionist asks, “What does Rome have to do with Mecca, let alone, Haifa?”
When Islam was invented by Mohammed, in the early seventh century A.D., it drew heavily from both Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed spent much time as an Arab trader in Jerusalem. He, of course, adapted and invented, as he saw fit. Muslims have continued to metamorphose their religion, often based on their holy book, the Qu’ran. The result is various sects, most of whom are hostile toward one another.
One error committed by every religion, and its accompanying theosophy, is the right understanding of the state of humanity. Only the Bible puts man in his proper place: total depravity. Many Christians join the world religions, by suppressing the truth of man’s dire status before God, his Maker.
Only the doctrine of total depravity has the truth that sets men free from religion. The truth is that man is much further separated from God than any religion, including Christian cults, would confess.
The fall of humanity, resulting from Adam’s revolt against God (Gen 3), has destroyed the image of God, with which God made Adam and Eve (Gen 1-2). Religion denies this ruination, claiming man was set back, only hindered to some degree. The Bible is clear that man is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). His fallen nature is ruled by sin (Rom 5:21). Every inclination of his heart is only evil all the time (Gen 6:5). Man is not good, in any way, before God (Rom 3:10–12).
Man subjected himself to his new, dark lord, Lucifer. This demon chief stole Adam’s dominion over the earth, and he enslaved man to do all his unholy will, which is sin and iniquity (Rom 6:6). Religion claims to hate evil and the evil one, but every religion is inspired by the devil, who is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). Religions present many ways to God, all of which lead to hell and the lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15).
When a person comes to the biblical assessment: humanity being children of the devil (1 Jn 3:10), and by nature, children of wrath (Eph 2:3), then she can make the inquiry, “If I am spiritually dead to God, although religion deceives me, by claiming I am only sick, then who can raise the dead?” The religionist is blind to this reality (2 Cor 4:4), that spiritual resurrection (regeneration by the Holy Spirit) is essential.
Reason says, “The lower your view of man, the clearer you will see your need, for someone else to save you, apart from religion.” Eventually entertaining the Bible’s low view of man, that being the image bearer of Satan, the human soul is confronted with the Bible’s exclusive Savior (Acts 4:12; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:4–6). God’s irresistible grace provides that view of Jesus Christ, the one and only Savior of elect sinners. It is the Holy Spirit compelling men, “Sir, we would see Jesus (Jn 12:21).”
If God grants you the gift of God, the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13; Acts 2:38; 10:38, 45; Heb 6:4), who grants you faith to believe the Bible (Rom 10:17; 1 Cor 12:9; Phil 1:29), then you will embrace God’s low view of man in His just judgment (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). You will also celebrate God’s mercy and love (Rom 9:15–16; 1 Jn 4:19), in revealing Himself, as Savior of His totally depraved people (1 Pet 3:18), redeemed by Christ and given a new life in the Spirit (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), by the Spirit, who sanctifies God’s chosen people with the truth (Jn 17:17; Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2).
The truth of man’s total depravity (Gen 6:5; Is 64:6; Jer 17:9; Jn 3:19; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12, 23; 8:7), and the utter failure of religion, is captured for us, by Jesus, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).” Christ Jesus is the Savior, and religion can do nothing because man is dead in his total depravity. Got salvation? Then, give thanks to God (1 Thess 5:17–18), for He alone can, and does, save His people from their total depravity.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 5, 2022