Why is total depravity so important for Intimacy with Jesus and other people

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and… (Part 1)
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope. (Part 2)

Today I want to exclusively discuss why Part 1 is also essential for intimacy with Jesus and with other people that are significant in our lives. I think both aspects of the Gospel message are important for experiencing intimacy with Christ and among other, significant people in our lives.

Ok so first the definition of complete depravity:

Total depravity I think is most exemplified in Romans. The first few chapters discuss our complete inability to please God on our own. Our only rightness comes by faith in Christ and in what He did for us on the Cross by faith (Romans 1:17). In Romans it says noone is righteouss not even one.

This idea is completely Ground leveling for all of Gods people. It means we can grieve alongside other sinners about our sin and look them in the eye and encourage them to get back in the game of life. We are all sinners and we need to live in understanding and love of people struggling with their sins. Only by grace I am what I am so nobody can look down on me and I cant look down on others because of their or my sin. I am loved through Jesus Christ.

Because of total depravity I can be COMPLETELY honest with others about my human frailities. I do not have to spin or repress the truth about myself in front of others. I can be completely free to discuss these things I struggle with.

We live in a world where our own sin and the sins of others become intertwined. We dont love perfectly as is stated in the two greatest commandments. Once we start getting our hands around things in our own court then the sins of others start affecting us.

This idea of total depravity has been an absolute necessary part of intimacy for me with my wife because we can now have honest, emotional discussions where we are sharing a much deeper level of information than I did when I was trying to always look moral. Because we share our thoughts without looking good in front of each other we have a deeper intimacy than I ever thought possible.

I can contrast this with another couple we know that parallels some of thing that Sue and I have struggled with. For years this couple had a good relationship. They were very close. However, they had a bad habit of looking at sin as an external type of behavior. They were very close as they discussed Rush Limbaugh and the evils of “liberal democrats” and had their political banter and discussions. This couple, in a politically correct way, would always say yes we are sinners too but 90% of the time sin was something out there and not what they had to deal with (read my 90/10 principal below). However, when all of a sudden sin became something inside their own relationship they could not deal with it. All of a sudden 1/2 of this couple continued to see all sin out there again as one struggled with his sin.

This relationship should not have been a difficult recovery — in my opinion — but because of they had inverted the 90/10 rule in my message below to 10/90 they did not have the biblical mindset to get their relationship back on track. Years later they are still married but can NOT get this problem behind them even after several years. Also she could not see her sin that was always in front of her which also ran very deep. As a result of unequally seeing themselves on the same ground they could not stand on the same ground and take steps together the created a deeper intimacy than they had previously.

I still have hopes for this couple and I pray often for them but until they can deeply understand total depravity I dont believe they will be able to look each other in the eye and ….on the same ground …take steps together to regain intimacy in their relationship.

So this couples intimacy was based on performance as opposed to basing it on a deep sharing of human frailties and loving even and grieving alongside each other these human frailties. However, if we actually believe in total depravity then intimacy should be based on deeply sharing our real selves and not some morally built up version of ourselves that is typically being spun to make ourselves look good in front of others. Dont get me wrong morality is something good to pursue and pursuing sanctification is a biblical correct concept, but making it the end product of what it means to be a good Christian is pathological type of behavior that we all have. By sharing our real selves, I contend, that we are pursuing real intimacy in a God who loves us as opposed to presenting a false intimacy based on a moral version of ourselves that may or may not exist.

An intimacy based on moral performance will always be fragile and, I believe, will always eventually lead to distrust as we see through the performance based masks we put on each morning. An intimacy based on sharing our real selves and our frailty as humans is based on God plan for us to always repent and to always live in view of Gods Mercy on the cross.

We need to praise God by finding our rightness in Christ and the Gospel message which says we are sinful and loved simultaneously.

Also scripture says that in weakness we find strength. We share our weaknesses because we can find rest in the strength and love of the Cross and not the behavior or ideologies of men. We find this rest even as we struggle with our own sins.

The worst thing we can say about ourselves that we are basically “ok”…. becuase then we have no reason to have a greater intimacy and to change. We even use basically ok as a method of looking good but not too good. If we understand our absolute need for a savior then we have no need to look good (or kinda good) in front of others. In light of total deparvity we can share our real selves on a deep level without spin.

In my own walk, my pursuit of a deeper intimacy as opposed to a deeper ideology or theology (I believe) has led me to a point where my relationship with Christ and my wife is as good as it has ever been. Thats the story and vision I have for my life that I can share with you.

Lets pray!!!

Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but, through you, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment and offering forgiveness. I turn from my sin and receive you as Savior again today.

In Christ, Amen

My next post will discuss part 2 of the Gospel message


3 thoughts on “Why is total depravity so important for Intimacy with Jesus and other people

  1. theoldadam

    Whenever I start to get a bit upity about my moral stature, I get knocked down pretty hard on Sunday when God’s law gets a hold of me.

    I think the churches that water down the law do their parishoners a great diservice by propping them up with the law instead of using it to kill them off.

    Nice post, Jon!

    – Steve M.

  2. theoldadam


    I think the only way that the law ought be used (in a sermon) is to kill.

    The sinner doesn’t need a list of hoe to’s, but rather he needs his old sinful self to be put to death, once again…by the preaching of what God demands from him.

    Thane that sweet sound of the gospel can go to work and raise that dead man (or woman) to new life.

    Critiqing won’t do.

    Thanks again, Jon!

    – Steve

  3. theoldadam


    I see what you mean, and agree with you about not judging others.

    What I’m talking about is the kind of judgement that comes not from one person to another, but directly from God’s law to the sinner.

    For example, the preacher talks about a pasaage in Luke (14:33) and tells the people in the pews what Jesus expects from us.That we divest of all that we own otherwise we cannot become one of His disciples.

    Th preacher through applicable stories or examoles points put the areas in our lives, and his (the preacher) as well where we are not only going against Jesus’ desires, but where we willfully disregard Jesus authority and prop up our own situations.

    So, after that ‘law’ part of the sermon, everyone, including the pastor or the preacher , has been cut off at the knees. There is now no one left standing. The ‘law’ has done it job. It has exposed us for what we really are.

    Then the preacher proceeds to tell us the ‘good news’. he tells us that it is precisely for sinful people like us that He came to die. He died for sinners…like you and me. We don’t measure up. But He did!
    That’s the gospel. And that’s the law/gospel paradigm that so many preachers do not know or utilize.

    Instead, it is law preaching to make better. St. paul tells us that the law kills. it’s job is not to make us better…but to kill us off, so that the gospel can go to work and raide that dead amn or woman to new life.

    Anyway, that’s what I mean when I say that the law should be used in it’s full force. Thereby we will all be judged (and rightly so…by God), and then raised (mercifully so) by God.

    What do you think, Jon?


    – Steve M.

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