Total Depravity 8

The unconverted heart of man cannot understand the things of God. As Dr. Steven J. Lawson explains, “The Lord must give fallen man a spiritual heart to know God, spiritual eyes to see the truth, and spiritual ears to hear the truth – or there can be no salvation” (Foundations of Grace 94).

The Old Testament Historical books also teach the Doctrine of Total Depravity. From Joshua to Esther, God clearly displays man’s radical fallen condition.

Joshua does not specifically document the doctrine of Total Depravity but does refer to man’s hardened heart in Joshua 11:16-20. Referring to the Canaanites, Joshua records:

So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negev and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. For it was the LORD's doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:16-20 ESV)

The Book of Judges features the recurring cycle of Israel’s sin once they settled in the Promised Land. The judges were civil and military leaders in Israel during a period of its history characterized by chaos and apostasy.

As each generation gave way to the next it was said, “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10 ESV).

Israel’s lack of knowledge of God concurrently revealed its fallen nature and disposition to sin.

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreth. (Judges 2:11-13 ESV)

Israel lived in a constant state of rebellion against God. Their perspective towards life and living parallels today’s post-modern society. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 ESV).

Samuel was the last of Israel’s judges and the author the first of two books that display his name. As Steven Lawson explains, “As the last of the judges, Samuel lived and wrote during the time when Israel was at a spiritual ebb. The priesthood was perverse (I Samuel 2:12-25), the Ark of the Covenant was dislocated (I Samuel 4:3-7:2), idolatry was prevalent (I Samuel 7:3-4), and many in the nation were fraudulent. At this difficult time, God called Samuel to minister to His people” (Foundations of Grace 110).

Samuel indicates that the depravity of sin reached even into religious homes. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12 ESV). Unconverted individuals, like Samuel when he was young, were spiritually ignorant. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7 ESV). Samuel illustrates, prior to his conversion, the status of all who remain unconverted; they do not understand the things of God; neither can they understand God (I Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4).