"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," Genesis 6:5.
There are countless stories of people playing with fire, figuratively, and then getting burned, often, to death. Stories of people with crazy wild animals as pets. They love these animals and often raise them from birth, as the only parents that the wild beasts know and yet, one day, the beast turns on them in a tragic and sometimes horrific way.
The Bible teaches from its earliest chapters that man is like a wild animal even to the point of "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." The Bible clearly teaches man's utter depravity yet we always seem to be caught by surprise at how wicked our fellow man can be. We forget that "the heart is deceitful above all things and wicked, who can know it," Jeremiah 17:9. We can get so caught up in a person or people in general and forget that in our heart, we are wicked. How often do we see the neighbor of a horrific murderer interviewed and their standard response about their neighbor is, "He/she was a good neighbor and helped...." Humans can be just like a wild beast who seems tame for even years on end but they turn into a vicious killer in a moments notice.
This is the difficult thing about the doctrine of depravity. 99.9% of people seem to be nice most of the time. Unless we are watching a horrific show like The Housewives of Insanity County or Bridezilla's we don't run into vicious, conniving people on a regular basis let alone a serial killer. Maybe it is best to understand depravity for what it doesn't mean. It does not mean that people are always seeking to rape, pillage and murder everyone they see. We have a view of depravity that is reserved for the worst of the worst. No, we are all depraved from head to toe unless... well, we'll get to that later. Depravity, in its most concise understanding, means that in our fallen nature, we are completely sinful. The Moody Handbook of Theology puts it this way, "A term(depravity) used to refer to the corruption of sin extending to all people and affecting the entire person-his intellect, emotions and will-so that nothing in the person can commend him to God." That hits the nail on the head! What does this mean? Well Rob Bell, it does mean that Gandhi is in Hell. Gandhi was maybe the greatest example of a wonderful do gooder ever. He was nonviolent and loving and fairy dust and flowers showered him wherever he went(so the legend goes). Yet he lacked any goodness in his soul. Nothing he did pleased God. Yes Mr. Bell, Gandhi's good deeds were as filthy rags before the Lord. Gandhi did these things under his own power, his own righteousness, er, his own depravity. Let me ask you a question at this point. Who did Jesus reserve the harshest judgment for? The Pharisees. Why? Did they love the word of God and let it have authority in their lives? No, they did not. They loved the traditions of the elders and often used those to nullify the word of God. Paul, in a similar vein, warned us not to follow the vain philosophies of man. Gandhi had no fear of God and never offered any sign of repentance. Unless he repented of his sins and confessed Christ at his deathbed he went where all those who trust in their own righteousness go: Hell.
From Moses to David to Jeremiah to Jesus to Paul we are taught that we are depraved, unable to please God. Our most righteous deeds done in our flesh are the most repugnant of all things to God because they do nothing to advance His kingdom and everything to advance our kingdom. We become the most miserable, self important and inflated boobs that can be imagined when we do works in our own power. We become like King Nebuchadnezzar and believe ourselves all powerful and wise. God must take us down a notch. No, He must takes us down, turn us upside down and turn us completely around. We are useless to God in our depraved state and He must send His Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and pride and bring us down to the dirt. We must acknowledge our depravity, repent of our evil and confess our sins to Christ. We must believe upon His death on the cross for our sins and trust in His resurrection from the dead and ask Him to Lord over our lives in every detail. Only then can we turn our filthy rags into gold and precious gems that do not decay or rust.
Not only this, but we must understand our the biblical view of depravity informs our lives in every way and relationship. Especially in our own skin where we still continue to sin. But more of this later. We just need to make sure that we are, "as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves" when we are walking about in this world so that we are not devoured by the beasts all around us. God Bless you all and learn, live and love the gospel.