Monday, September 11, 2023

Heart of Corruption (Ecclesiastes 9:1-6)

"Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil" (Eccl. 9:3).

The biblical doctrine of the depravity of man is integral to Christian orthodoxy. Those who deny the sinfulness of human nature deny the very essence of the Gospel. The offer of salvation hinges on the presupposition that mankind is lost and in need of redemption. If humanity is not “full of evil,” as the Preacher says, what need is there of the restoration and cleansing that is promised in the Gospel?

“Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live” (Eccl. 9:3). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21–23). “There is none who does good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12). The testimony of Scripture concerning the universal depravity of man is unquestionable. Passage after passage supports the statement of the Preacher that the heart of man is evil. Yet, many people refuse to believe this very basic tenet of Christianity.

The doctrine of the total corruption of human nature is essential to the message of Christianity because without it there would be no need of salvation. Without it, you and I do not need the righteousness of Christ to cover us from the coming wrath. Many church leaders have denied the biblical teaching of the depravity of man, thus leading people away from the hope of the Gospel. Pelagius of the fourth century maintained that mankind is not totally corrupt, that he can achieve moral perfection on his own. James Arminius of the 16th century asserted that mankind is not totally fallen, that he needs God’s grace to grow in holiness, but he still has enough virtue to embrace the initial offer of grace on his own. The teaching of both these men have had a major impact on the church of today.

Despite their teaching, however, the Bible maintains that man is totally corrupt. Jesus Christ is the only person to live a sinless life. He died to save sinners, not people of virtue. While we can look around and find someone worse than ourselves, we all fall short of the glory of God. He is our only standard, and that standard is perfection.

Our society predominantly embraces a view that man is inherently good. How does this view influence these various areas: 1) policy concerning the poor; 2) the judicial process; 3) church discipline—how does our current system assign guilt, is it personal responsibility or is the cause placed on some fragment of society?