Does Being Totally Depraved Mean We're Always Sinning No Matter What?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Does being totally depraved mean we're always sinning no matter what?


Romans 14:23 says, "Whatever is not from faith is sin." And so you don't even need total depravity. You just need unbelief in order to say that everything a person does who is not a believer is sin.

Maybe another word on that. Why is that the case?

If you have a son, and you want him to do something, and he does the thing-like unbelievers don't usually kill people, OK? So they're obeying that commandment, "Don't kill," but why are they doing that? Are they doing it for the Father's honor?

Is God being magnified in what they do? Are they saying, "I submit to God. I love God. I love the image of God in humans. And for all those reasons I don't kill people, and thus God gets glory"? No! They're doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with God, because they're not believing in God. And therefore God is being belittled, and therefore they're sinning in obeying him.

So that's the first thing.

When you become a Christian the depravity and the disinclination to do what is right, and to delight in what is holy and pure and good, and to be satisfied in God is not conquered perfectly. Which means that, at least for myself-and I think Paul would say this in Philippians 3:12-"Not that I am already perfect or have already obtained, but I press on to make it my own, because he has made me his own."

I think that's Paul's way of saying, "Romans 7-type experiences abound in my life. I know that I should love God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength. And the all there is 100%. Have I ever done a deed-have I ever done one deed that I could honestly say was motivated by total love for God? Total love? That is, I was not being drawn in the least by a sinful dimension of it?"

I doubt that I have ever preached a sermon like that. I'm sure I haven't! I mean, no doubt about it!

My fallen human nature-redeemed and adopted and loved and forgiven as I am-my fallen human nature that remains and that must be put to death day after day inclines me to like the approval of man. It inclines me to wonder how I came across. It inclines me to be angry at the person who criticizes me.

It inclines me in all these ways, and I'm killing them, saying, "I'm not going to go there! I'm not going to go there!" But that I even have to fight shows that I'm not there yet.

And so, yeah, I think we're always sinning. And we mustn't let it paralyze us. Because it is the cross that is glorified in saying, "Sinner though I am, in his sight I'm perfect."


Copyright 2010 John Piper. Website:

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