Tag Archives: total depravity

Man’s Utter Inability to Rescue Himself

By Thomas Boston
The following article has been extracted from Boston’s classic work Human Nature In Its Fourfold State (Chapter 3, pp. 183-197).


We have now had a view of the total corruption of man’s nature, and that load of wrath which lies on him, that gulf of misery into which he is plunged in his natural state. But there is one part of his misery that deserves particular consideration; namely, his utter inability to recover himself, the knowledge of which is necessary for the due humiliation of a sinner. What I design here, is only to propose a few things, whereby to convince the unregenerate man of this his inability, that he may see an absolute need of Christ and of the power of His grace.

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The Gospel is Shocking

A few notes and inspirations from my Professor, Dr. Darian Lockett

To my brothers and sisters who are in Christ, I pray you hear God’s voice through my words and may the Holy Spirit guide you:

You know what is actually quite shocking? The gospel. The gospel isn’t just something we get through as a stage in our walk; not simply “we know it, now we can focus on bigger and greater things” or “I heard it and I believe”

But rather, the gospel is something that we live in everyday.

We are broken and we need Jesus.

Why is it shocking? Because the deeper the message of the gospel seeps into you, the more you begin to realize just how much you fall short of the glory of God; we are so broken.

The deeper we go with Jesus, the more we need Jesus.

We actually discover that we are more broken than we thought we were.

The gospel reveals more on how bad we are.

Even our efforts are seen as filthy rags before God, what can we do?

The gospel is shocking.

How can we stop ourselves from just giving up?

Even though we feel like we are too far away from God, even as we go deeper and deeper – realizing we are more broken than yesterday, there is only one answer.

We need the cross more.

In 1 John, the mistake the readers make was the self-deception, they believed they “have no sin” (1 John 1:8) But we do have sin, we are still messed up. Yes, we are transformed by His spirit now but our perfection is yet to come.

Repeatedly in our lives we are to repent and believe, repent and believe…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We are striving for holiness with God’s help but who is the perfect Christian?

Who is the perfect other than Jesus? Surely no-one or yourself came to mind but yet our expectations of others resemble near perfection.

We all make mistakes, we all still sin. Even in our transformed self now, even under Christ, we are still broken. We are crippled creatures, crippled till we meet Jesus. But yet, we expect that we’ll be healed completely in our lifetime.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6)

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:30)

Amen, that he has began a good work in us. Amen, that he has transformed us now and continually working in us. Final amen, that He will also complete His work in the future.

Brothers and Sisters, I hope you don’t mistake this as an endorsement for wallowing in our brokenness. I by no means want to encourage the notion of “we are broken and still sinning even in Christ”.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17)

We are a new creation and our old self has died with Christ on the cross. We should live with this identity by all means but to remember that the work in us is still a continuation. “…continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12b)

Claiming we are not broken is self-deception. Claiming that we are perfect now is self-deception. We should be more thoughtful on this subject.

(What scares me, just as much as it should scare you, is the idea of self-deception. There could be things in our lives that we are unaware of and actively still sinning. Nothing but the word and the Holy Spirit can convict us. Something to think about.)

To keep it real, we have to understand what it means to be real. We are messed up and we are broken, but we are continually transformed now. We don’t live perfect lives, even if we try – it becomes rags. We screw up and we make mistakes. But thank God for the cross, for which we increasingly need daily.

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Cor 9:16