Beheading of John the Baptist
Example of Depravity on many levels
A friend asked me to help him prepare a lesson on human corruption as demonstrated by the guests of Herod’s who did not condemn him for ordering the beheading of John the Baptist and thus became partners in his demonstration of sinful depravity (Mt 14:1-12; Mk 6:14-29).
To understand the actions of these people, and ourselves, we need to understand the doctrine of depravity. Simple defined it means moral corruption (Your Dictionary). It comes the Latin word pravity meaning crookedness.
Modern usage refers to horrendous acts that few people could commit; however, this is not the ancient meaning of this term. Let me illustrate the concept of depravity or moral corruptness. If you have a container of pure white paint and add a smidgen of any other color you do not have pure white paint. It may be whitish, it may pass for white but it is no longer pure white paint. This is moral corruptness. Another example would be a container of black paint. Add white paint and you will have a shade of gray. The more white paint you add the lighter will be the shade of gray; however, no matter how much white paint you add you will never achieve pure white, it will always be some shade of gray. This is moral corruption. God is pure white (holiness). Adam and Eve shared this moral purity until they sinned. No matter what they did they could never achieve moral purity on their own. All born from Adam and Eve share this moral corruption and thus this impurity, this deviation from God’s purity. This is the meaning of depravity.
The doctrine of Total Depravity acknowledged the biblical concept illustrated above. Man is born impure and nothing man can do will eradicate the impurity or restore God’s purity. Any and every thought, word and deed springs from this crookedness, this moral corruption of man (Ro 3:23). The Bible clearly teaches that all persons reject God’s truth of His holiness and their sinfulness. Man tried, and tries, to redefine purity so that he, or she, is defined as pure (Ro 1:18-32). However, though man seeks to define himself as pure he demonstrates that he is no pure; indeed, man becomes more crooked, more impure until he must reject any truth of God. God must die so man can define himself as pure.
Well, this was always God’s plan but not as implemented by man. God indeed presents Himself as the living sacrifice for sin because He alone is pure, without moral corruption, to meet the penalty for sin which is death (Ro 5:12). All sinners are dead, spiritually dead and eventually physically dead (Ep 2:1-3). This means that dead people cannot hear God’s message of salvation (Jo 3:16). The message has gone out into the world but the world of the dead cannot understand the message; it makes no sense to them (1Co 2:14).
This is Total Depravity, being dead. Every single person every born has been spiritually dead and thus totally depraved. This moral corruption taints everything including the so-called “good works” of people. One does not becomes a sinner by what one does; one is a sinner because of the inherent sin nature one already possessed at conception (Ps 51:3-5).
Herod, a non-Jew, was king over Jews. He achieved his power at birth and kept it under the eye of Rome through deceit and strength. However, like every sinner Herod had a conscience plagued with guilt over the expressions of his sinfulness. Positions of power attract those who also want power. Power allows expressions of sinfulness without immediate penalty. When powerful men become weak they are devoured by others who want their power. As Herod did not immediately execute John the Baptist for revealing how he had obtained his current position of power, marrying his brother’s wife; he was demonstrating weakness.
Men and women involved in this incident were no more morally depraved than you or any other person. However, the continued suppression of guilt leads to a “seared conscience”(1Ti 4:1-2), one without the benefit of guilt. The loss of this gift results in a person who commits acts of great harm to others. They are not more depraved than you or I but they no longer care about right and wrong. This more fully expresses moral depravity. The wife uses the daughter to entice the men, and her father, into this plan. The men were more interested in defeating Herod than in caring about the life of one who would turn on them making their sins public; darkness always hates the light. Herod had already shown weakness, if any of them had spoke up for John they would have shown weakness and risk losing their positions or lives.
Christians do not understand the clear teachings of Scripture today. They seek to reinterpret God’s word in light of their modern worldview that states that people are basically good and can get better if they try hard enough. God is really interested in your betterment if you try hard enough to do right. Simply put – This is works and is not acceptable to God. God provided Himself as the sacrifice for sin. You cannot be any sacrifice for sin because you, and I, are morally corrupt in our flesh. Cain, the first man who attempted to be savior only ended up killing a righteous man and developing a kingdom of God rejectors that became the basis for man’s societies.
Bathers at Panama City Unite
to Save a Family from death
I am not puzzled by the evilness in the world today as it has always been there. I am puzzled that there are some who actually do something worthwhile such as in Panama City. But, the Bible shows that man is made in God’s image even if terribly distorted by sin and is capable of some poor imitation of God’s goodness (Ro 5:7). Some people actually sacrifice themselves for others but it avails them nothing in removing their sin. It is like adding more white paint to the black – it’s still tainted.
Christians who believe something other than Total Depravity do not have a clear biblical definition of sin and its complete degradation of man’s nature. This gives rise to universalism, that everyone eventually makes it to Heaven and justifies works that infatuates many churches today. They seek power, prestige and control over more and more people at the expense of God’s truth. People compare themselves with others to prove themselves good, morally acceptable (2Co 10:12). They are not wise. They are revealing their lack of understanding of the Bible and perhaps their own lack of salvation. Christians should not expect the world to be moral since it is condemned by God’s morality. It is insanity to expect good (comes only from God) from the depraved. When we were depraved (before salvation), were we any different? NO! We are little different now because we still have this body of flesh. The difference within us now comes not from us but from the Christ who lives in us. Not only was he the sinless sacrifice, He is the one who sustains us in our walk with Him.
Next week we will look at the tragedy of Total Depravity in the lives of two sinners that electrified a nation in the Kitty Genovese story (1964).