Until you believe that you have all the resources within your own personhood to ruin your own life, you don’t really believe in total depravity. Until you believe that you are fully capable of blowing up important relationships in your life for bad reasons, you don’t believe in total depravity. Until you believe that someday it may actually seem like a good idea to stop worshiping God all together or to quit being a part of his family, you don’t believe in total depravity. This is what it means to say sin has so corrupted our nature that we are prone to hate our neighbor and hate God.
But, conversely, unless we believe God can intervene in the life of such a one, and give him or her gloriously different thoughts and desires than these, we also don’t really believe that “Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
The bad news is bad, but the good news is greater.
“4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
BTW NOTE: We know our election through personal conviction of sin and personal faith in Christ. These things are the evidence of the eternal counsel of God pressing in on our hearts and lives. These things = you were chosen by God before the foundation of the world.
“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” -Thomas Nagel, The Last Word
“As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational. Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.” -A.N. Wilson, “Religion of hatred”
“The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside.” -C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”
“the theological foundation of prayer is the doctrine of the Covenant.” -Hughes Oliphant Old
Here’s a fascinating quote from Stevenson’s book that bears striking resemblance to something the apostles Paul says in Romans 7:
I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original sin; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine… [Edward Hyde’s] every act and thought centered on self. (quoted in Tim Keller, The Reason for God, pg. 175).
Compare that with this:
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:14-15)
“The Christian dogma of the double nature in man–which asserts that man is distinguished as necessarily imperfect in himself and all his works, yet closely related by a real unity of substance with an eternal perfection within and beyond him–makes the present parlous state of human society seem less hopeless and less irrational.”
as quoted by Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 168
Here’s a really nice quote on the nature of sin from Barbara Brown Taylor:
“Neither the language of medicine nor of law is adequate substitute for the language of [sin.] Contrary to the medical model, we are not entirely at the mercy of our maladies. The choice is to enter into the process of repentance. Contrary to the legal model, the essence of sin is not [primarily] the violation of laws but a wrecked relationship with God, one another, and the whole created order. ‘All sins are attempts to fill voids,’ wrote Simone Weil. Because we cannot stand the God-shaped hole inside us, we try stuffing it full of all sorts of things, but only God may fill [it].”
As quoted in Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 160.