Sermon #28 Series: Mark
Title: Total Depravity
Text: Mark 7:14-23
Readings: Office: Paul Windrel Auditorium: Mark Henson
Subject: The Depravity of Man
Date: Sunday Evening - August 24, 1997
Tape # T-98
The title of my message tonight is Total Depravity. Once you have read my text with me, you will understand why I have chosen this title for my message. Our text will be Mark 7:14-23.
All human religion, like the religion of the Pharisees, operates on the assumption that the defilement and corruption of a person’s soul comes from without, from the things we come into contact with in this world. The creed of such religion is “Touch not, taste not, handle not.” But in our text the Lord Jesus shows us that the defilement and corruption of our souls arises from within us. He shows us that our hearts are polluted, defiled, corrupt, and depraved.
Proposition: The doctrine of our text is this: All men by nature, since the sin and fall of our father Adam, are totally depraved at heart.
Divisions: As we go through these verses together, I want to call your attention to three things.
1. The Dullness of Our Minds.
2. The Defilement of Our Nature.
3. The Depravity of Our Hearts.
I. First, we have before us a clear demonstration of THE DULLNESS OF OUR MINDS (vv. 14, 16, 18).
The simple fact is, fallen man has absolutely no spiritual understanding. He is not just slow to understand the things of God. He is incapable of understanding. Our Lord called for the multitudes to “Hearken unto him and understand.” Then he said to his disciples, “Are ye so without understanding also?”
A. The natural man is totally void of spiritual discernment.
The corruption of the human nature is a universal corruption. It affects every man’s heart, his will, his emotions, and his conscience; and it affects his mind as well, his reasoning, his memory, and his understanding. Those who are smart, clever, even brilliant in other things, until they are taught of God, are without understanding in spiritual matters. Worldly men of brilliance often stumble over the simplest things revealed in the gospel. They see no beauty of revelation, spiritual wisdom, or depth of meaning in the clearest statements of gospel truth. To the worldly wise man, those things which hold the believer’s mind in rapturous wonder are foolishness. He listens, if he listens at all, to the preaching of the gospel like a man listening to someone talk in a foreign language, catching a word here and there, but missing the drift of the conversation. He hears but he does not and cannot understand the things of God. The Holy Spirit puts it this way - The world by wisdom knows not God (1 Cor. 1:21).
Bro. Rex Bartley read something to us last Sunday night, before his Scripture reading which illustrates exactly what I am saying. Rex has been studying the life of one of our nation’s most brilliant forefathers, Thomas Jefferson. He was a man, like many of his brilliant peers, very brilliant in all things natural and totally ignorant of all things spiritual. Jefferson was, as were most of our earliest American statesmen, a Deist. (A Deist is one who believes in a God on purely rational grounds, without any revelation or inspired authority. Deists believe that a God created the world and established certain laws of nature, but has nothing else to do with the world he created.) This is what Thomas Jefferson had to say about the God of the Bible…
“I can never join Calvin in addressing ‘his God.’ He was indeed an atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was demonism. If ever a man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his five points is not the God whom you and I acknowledge and adore, the Creator and benevolent Governor of the world, but a demon of malignant spirit.”
It is written, “The natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discernd!”
1. Sovereign election, to the worldling, seems unfair.
2. Divine predestination, to the unbeliever, appears to be fatalism.
3. The Doctrine of the Trinity appears to the brilliant infidel an impossible riddle.
4. The incarnation and virgin birth of Christ, to the worldly mind, appears to be both needless and impossible.
5. Substitutionary redemption and penal satisfaction, to unbelievers, is a barbaric concept.
6. Imputed righteousness, to self-righteous worldlings, is utter nonsense.
7. Salvation by grace alone, to men and women who have no idea what grace is, is foolishness.
B. Even those of us who are born of God and taught of God are sometimes slow to understand the things of God.
I know that Christ’s sheep hear his voice and follow him. I know that all who are born again have the mind of Christ and, being taught of God, discern all things spiritual. However, so long as we live in this world, our discernment and understanding is at best partial and tainted.
Certainly that was the case with these disciples. Looking at it from this distance, our Lord’s teaching here seems so very simple that we think, How could anyone miss that? But the disciples said, What did you mean by that parable? (See verses 17 and 18).
We must daily pray for the teaching of God the Holy Spirit, if we would understand this Book and the things of God. Without the teaching of the Spirit, the most brilliant mind is confused by the simplest of truths. In reading your Bible, hearing the preaching of the gospel, and seeking to know the ways of God, the direct intervention and illumination of the Spirit is vital. We must always approach the things of God with a humble, childlike, teachable spirit, praying with David, “Teach me thy statutes” (Ps. 119:64).
II. Second, our Lord here sets before us THE DEFILEMENT OF OUR NATURE.
Asceticism is not Christianity. Separationism is not spirituality. Moral and spiritual purity does not depend upon or come from washing or not washing our hands, touching things or not touching them, eating things or not eating them. Moral, spiritual purity certainly cannot be obtained by the most diligent practice of religious ritualism and ceremonialism.
Every man, woman, and child in this world carries in his inmost being a cesspool of wickedness. None of us need bad company to corrupt us. We are bad company! We have within us the root and beginning of all moral and spiritual wickedness. The beginning of all evil is within us all. We ought to always bear this in mind, especially when training and educating our children.
· It is not wise, in my opinion, to shelter our children and raise them in isolation from the world.
· When they do wrong, we ought never to blame their companions, or their environment.
· Foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child; and the rod of correction must be used to drive it from him.
· We ought to be diligent in praying for them.
The only hope any of us have, the only hope our children have of being made righteous and of being accepted with God is Christ.
· We must be washed in his blood.
· We must be robed in his righteousness.
· We must be born of his Spirit.
III. Now, in verses 20-23, we are given a clear description of THE DEPRAVITY OF OUR HEARTS.
These words describe us all. Our Lord is not here speaking only of the profligate, the base, and the disreputable, but also of the high, the mighty, and the respectable. These words describe us all, without exception. The seeds of evil may lie hidden within us, covered by the pretense of piety and restrained by society; but they are at the very core of our beings. We are all unclean things! I cannot, and I think should not, now expound the meanings of these various corruptions of the human heart. Let me simply say three things, and I will bring his message to a conclusion.
A. How humble we should be!
B. How thankful we ought to be!
· For Free Grace!
· For Blood Atonement!
· For Imputed Righteousness!
· For Immutable Mercy!
· For Christ!
C. How watchful we ought to be!
· Over Our Thoughts!
· Over Our Tongues!
· Over Our Behavior!
Application: Big Jake - “I need thee, oh, I need thee!”