Nihilism: Depravity Devouring Depravity

Kitty Genovese: Picture of Innocence
Total Depravity’s Poster Child

Ms. Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked and killed in 1964, by a psychopath named Winston Moseley (New York Times Retro Report). The original story claimed 38 persons heard her screams for help and no one either came to help her or attempted to become involved simply by phoning the police. This became the basis for articles, TV shows and movies about the effect of urban life on persons willingness to help others. This myth persists today. The truth is very different.

The original story was wrong about the supposed 38 witnesses. Several did call the police but the majority of those who heard any screams were unsure of the source and whether there was any danger at all. Yet, there were some who knew of her danger and did nothing at all. What is the lesson one can learn. Two psychologists conducted research purporting to show that she could have survived if there had been fewer witnesses (it’s not like this occurred in front of a large apathetic crowd). But, this is the nonsense that comes from the non-Christian worldview.

The actual message is that all who were not saved, had a personal faith in Jesus Christ being born again according to the Scriptures, were totally depraved as discussed in last week’s post (Insanity: Expecting Good from Depravity). What we are witnessing in our time is not the increase in depravity but the unmasking of the total depravity of the human unsaved condition. Western culture under the influence of the Judeo-Christian morality ethic believed man could be good. In fact, the purpose of all religions, system of works, is to provide the guidance legitimizing a works based system of salvation of its adherents. Thus, all adherents to a particular religion believe they have the answer and everyone else is doomed. Some of these religions ignore unbelievers while others violently seek to eliminate or convert unbelievers depending on the religion’s needs at any particular moment.

The Bible teaches that after Man and Woman sinned all who were born from them, everybody, possessed a sin nature. Thus, all mankind is born dead in sin and can do nothing to alleviate this condition. God provided Himself as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin. All who come to the knowledge of their sinfulness and repent are granted access to His gracious gift of life: they are given a new nature and clothed in His righteousness. Unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Christians, but are not for they repudiate the truth of the Bible and seek to enforce a system of works on everyone. In reality they are no different from any other religious system of works that promise redemption in exchange for power.

This is the problem with work’s based religions, philosophies and even atheism: they lead to nothingness – nihilism. Now, I am not saying the there will be annihilation at death as some teach. Everyone lives forever. Those who have been saved, have had their natures changed, will live with Christ on the new Earth for eternity. The majority who rejected God’s truth will live forever according to their wish, without God in the Lake of Fire being examined for God’s righteousness so they may find release; unfortunately the Cherubim will find nothing though they search for eternity.

The tragedy of Kitty Genovese, Winston Moseley and the witnesses mirrors that from last week’s post, the party Herod threw which resulted in the beheading of John the Baptist. There is no good in anyone who is born! Christ plainly taught that there is only one source of good: God (Lk 18:19). People have varying degrees of expression of their depravity ranging from relatively benign, which mankind calls good, to extremely harmful which is labeled as psychopath and so forth. These artificial labels hide the truth: everyone is depraved and capable of the vilest expressions of sin given the opportunity and pressure of events. The Bible gives an excellent example of this depravity. During a siege of the Israel {Northern Kingdom} two women entered into a pact to kill and eat their children on successive days. The first mother kills her son and they eat; however, on the next day the other woman hid her son. The first woman complains to the king (2Ki 6:26-29). These lost women, under pressure, had their depraved sinful condition unmasked. Rather than seek forgiveness and salvation from God one woman complains to the evil king who promoted the Golden Calf religion over faith in God for help.

James says it best when he correctly identifies that covetousness is the basis of all sin in man and that it leads to violence on many levels (Ja 4:1-4). Sin wants what it cannot have and refuses to submit to what it knows is right (Ro 8:5-8). We see this played out daily in our families, our towns and in the world. Events are not hard to understand nor are they complicated. The complication occurs because sinful totally depraved man wants what he, or she, wants without salvation or admitting guilt. This becomes the source of quarrels, backbiting, gossiping, anger, murders, thefts, etc. The assuaging of guilt gives rise to drunkenness, drugs and empty philosophies that seek to forget, diminish or blame others rather than accepting responsibility and repenting before God. Cain, the first person who sought to be man’s savior actually killed one who God had identified as more righteous than himself rather than repent and submit to God. He went on to become the father of man’s society to try and control sin’s innate violence.

Every Christian grounded in the truth of the Scripture should neither be surprised at the violence in the world nor should he, or she, expect anything different. As man continues to measure his goodness by others worse himself man will continue to degrade into little better than animal behavior (2Co 10:12). The sinner seeks to classify himself as better than he is. The Christian maturing in Christ sees himself as totally depraved in the flesh and condemns himself as the chiefest of sinners (1Ti 1:15). Being the chiefest of sinners has nothing to do with one’s actions but everything to do with the intimate knowledge you possess of your own depravity. You cannot know someone else’s blackness but you experientially know your own sinfulness. Each of us can label ourselves as the chiefest because while there are varying degrees of expression of our total depravity; there is only total depravity. By definition depravity is total, complete and cannot become any more depraved. Once a person grasps that concept, and are saved, they realize that no one is more sinful than they.

Everyday I am surprised there are not more expressions of depravity in the news. This is due to God’s Holy Spirit restraining influence at work according to God’s plan until all He has predestined for salvation have been born and saved (2Th 2:6-12). Though man via theodicy seeks to blame God for evil and his condemnation, the Bible reveals that man refuses the truth of God which results in the expression of his own sin nature via increasingly degrading thoughts and behaviors.

I cannot know the condition of anyone’s heart, I barely know the condition of my own (Je 17:9). When the lost (totally depraved) prey upon the lost (totally depraved) both suffer loss. When murder ensues that person has lost the opportunity to hear the gospel and accept God’s gracious salvation; this saddens me immensely. John the Baptist went to Paradise, for him it was not a loss but a gain. I cannot gainsay the same for Kitty Genovese nor of anyone else and that is the real tragedy for them. Today is the day for salvation for there may not be another day (2Co 6:1-2).

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today's churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master's of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).