The Walking Dead: Holistic Depravity
A couple of weeks ago in class, I was teaching on the doctrine of sin. More specifically, I taught on the doctrine of holistic depravity. Man is created in the image of God, and this means we were designed to reflect God’s righteousness, representation, and rule over the earth.
In the Fall (Gen. 3), sin “infected” the image of God. So it’s not merely a “part” of us that’s corrupted. Sin has affected every aspect of our being. Our desires, intellect, emotions, and will are all twisted and turned against God. Thus, we are totally, or, more clearly, holistically corrupted by sin. That’s the reader’s digest version of it.
There one illustration of holistic depravity that stands out. It stands out because it’s so startling and so vivid. In both Ephesians 2:1, and in Col. 2, Paul categorizes these effects of sin as being “dead in sin.” He says sin has taken away our vitality, our spiritual life. But he is also careful to correct the possible misunderstanding that being “dead in sin” means that we are spiritual passive. That may be true in regard to regeneration (we don’t assist or help God is His sovereign work of making us born again), but not in regard to our ethical hostility toward God. Hear his words afresh:
Eph. 2:1-3: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Paul defines spiritual death as following after the ways of Satan! That’s hardly passive! In Rom. 8:7 he states that man or woman without the Spirit (i.e. the spiritually dead) are hostile to God.
So, think about this for a minute. Dead, yet hostile. Have you ever seen the film 28 Days Later (or it’s sequel, 28 Weeks Later)? If you have, you know where I’m going with this. In the film, the “infected” (modern-day zombies) are dead, they die when infected by the “rage” virus. But these zombies are not the average, run-of-the-mill slow walking, arms-outstretched zombies. No, they scream, they’re angry, they chase you! They are not passive, they are hostile.
Let us thank God for His mercy. We’re all infected with the spiritual “rage” virus. We were hostile to God and His law, and to anything and everything that got in the way our goal of being our own God. Of course, this manifests itself differently depending on the temperament, personalities, and upbringing of the individual. But the point is true nonetheless.
But, in the words of the Apostle:
God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:5-7)