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The Sinfulness of Man

Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
–Romans 5:12

Have you ever wondered, “What’s the big deal about Adam and Eve’s sin? It was just one mistake.” In Romans 5:12, Paul explained what that one act of disobedience means to us today: “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” At the moment of their disobedience, sin spread like a virus through the entire human race, and with that sin came death–spiritual separation from God. Every hour of every day we prove that we have inherited the sin virus, don’t we? You might say, “Well, I’m not that bad.” Here is the problem with that conclusion: you and I aren’t qualified to diagnose our spiritual condition. Not long ago, I had a biopsy on a polyp. I could have dismissed it and said, “It’s just a small polyp. No big deal.” But that diagnosis would be meaningless because I’m not a doctor and therefore not qualified to know the true state of my health.

Unfortunately, God has performed a biopsy of the human condition, and the results are not good. God says we have a malignancy on our soul that leads to eternal death. If you want to know how God really looks at you, just read what He has written on your “chart”: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” Theologians call this diagnosis of the human condition the “total depravity of man.” We wince at that because it hurts our pride to say we’re totally depraved. We look around and say, “There are non-Christians that do good things. How can we say that man is totally depraved?” Understand this: the total depravity of man doesn’t deal with the depth of our sin, but the breadth of our sin. When we say man is totally depraved, we’re not saying we are as bad as we could be. Total depravity means that sin has spread to every part of our life. Every part of our life has been infected and polluted by sin. Our sin has pulled us away from God.

We have a hard time understanding the great distance between sinful people and holy God when we use the wrong standard by which to judge ourselves. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to people we think are worse than we are. We say, “Compared to Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, I’m a pretty good guy.” But that’s the wrong standard. When God evaluates us, He doesn’t compare us to other people; He compares us to Himself. And by that standard, we are totally depraved. Think of it this way: the difference between the North Pole and South Pole is considerable, but that difference is negligible compared to the distance between the North Pole and the farthest star in the universe. So it is in our relationship with God. We think there is a great difference between human beings. But the difference between people is negligible compared to the distance between us and God.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Avoiding The Way Of Cain” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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