Saturday, Apr. 22
Can an unregenerate man do good? The issue stems from Biblical teaching about the inherited sin nature that we’ve all been born with. To what degree does the sin nature affect our relationship with God? Paul says in Rom. 1:18-32 that the entire human race was corrupted by sin. He uses the words “depraved” and “depravity” in vv. 28-29. This became more of an issue when theologians came up with the term total depravity. Although Paul doesn’t use the word “total” in this passage, he obviously is saying that the entire human race is corrupt. But when theologians added the word “total” to “depravity” to form “total depravity” they weren’t talking about the entire human race. They were talking about the individual sinner. This could mean that unregenerate man can do no good, that every thing he does is bad. The reformers did not take that extreme view. What they meant by total depravity was that every part of man has been corrupted—his body, his conscience, his mind, his emotions, and his will—everything that makes man a man. “Total” does not necessarily mean “complete.” Habitual criminals can still love their wives ad care for their children. Bad people can do good things in order to gain prestige or for financial gain. The real issue is what motivates the action. For the unregenerate, it is never to please God; it is always to serve self. Paul says in Rom. 3:11-12 that there is “no one who seeks God” and “there is no one that does good.” Going back to my original question “Can an unregenerate man do good?”—it’s yes and no. In one sense, he can do good, but it is always motivated by self. The act can be a good act, but not for the right reasons. There is no effort to seek God or serve him. My second question was “To what degree does the sin nature affect our relationship with God?” It renders us incapable of doing anything good. We can do absolutely nothing to please God. The law (God’s moral standard) reveals our sinful condition, but does nothing to change it. The solution has to come from God. You might note that Paul’s next words after his conclusion in Rom. 3:12 are “But now,” which launches Paul into the remedy for sin, the gospel. God did supply a resolution to the sin problem.