The Depravity of Man - Page 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The belief that there is no God is commonly founded on the desire to lead a wicked life, or is embraced by those who in effect live such a life, with a desire to sustain themselves in their depravity and to avoid the fear of future retribution. In the ancient world virtually nobody was an atheist, even if he knew his God or gods only through superstition or through a study of the stars.

They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. David noted the sad spiritual state of mankind. The disease of sin has infected the entire human race. “They are all gone aside, there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Whatever good is in any man, or is done by them, it is not of themselves, it is God’s work in them. What good can be expected from those who live without prayer?

The word translated corrupt is the same word used four times in Genesis 6 to describe the world in Noah’s day—a world so vile that God had to drown it under the waters of the Flood. There are men whose works are vile even by human standards. A man who would take children and sexually abuse them, get them hooked on drugs, or pollute their little minds is not fit to live. Jesus said it would be best for that man if a millstone were to be hung around his neck and he to be cast into the depths of the sea. But there are people whose behavior is virtuous by human standards who are nevertheless pronounced corrupt by God and whose “goodness” God repudiates. God’s standards are absolute. He has only two grades: “good” for absolute perfection and “failure” for anything else. That is why he says there is “none who does good,” that we have all “done abominable works.” The terrible catalogue of crimes committed by ungodly people is long. And we all have the potential to commit every one of them because the seeds of this awful crop are by nature latent in all of us, awaiting favorable conditions of germination.

Verse 1 Notes
{1) For the foolish person will speak foolishness, And his heart will work iniquity: To practice ungodliness, To utter error against the Lord, To keep the hungry unsatisfied, And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
{2) Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

The Lord is meticulously concerned about the deeds of men; He is present with us in all that we do and say, and He notes any who act wisely, that is, any man who conducts his life according to divine wisdom. The phrase, the children of men, emphasizes that all human beings are referred to here, and not just Israel, God’s own chosen people. By nature and by practice, man is a sinner. If left to himself, he would never seek after God. It is only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that men become aware of their need for God and his need for salvation. Yet note another important theological point. Our poet tells us that God must find out what people are doing on the earth. This is because God has made men free from His control. People are not puppets. They are not predestined to do either good or evil. The choice they have is theirs. When the Lord (the Lord Jesus Christ) looks down from heaven, His findings are dismal. His is the eye of omnificence, the eye of One who sees everything. Nothing is hidden from Him. All things are “naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” This Eyewitness is infallible in

His perception. He has all the attributes of deity. He is omnificent, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He cannot be mistaken, He cannot lie, He cannot be intimidated. He knows every man, woman, and child. He knows every thought, word, and deed. He knows the time when, the place where, the how of everything that has ever happened. He knows the motive and the manner. He knows the intent, the impact, and the influence of everything we ever thought, or said, or done. There never was an Eyewitness like this.

3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

They have all turned aside. The diagnosis given here belongs to the godless man, for he has repudiated objective righteousness, goodness and truth. This is the first characteristic of such men; everyone has turned aside (gone astray, turned their backs on God) from right living, and become tainted in his nature (Job 15:14-16{2))

Corrupt means “spoiled,” or “soured,” “corrupted” (Job 15:16{1); Rom. 3:12).

None who does good, No, not one means no one among the wicked or, more likely among mankind in general does good. This is the verdict of the Eyewitness of verse 2. And a terrible verdict it is. No wonder the average unregenerate man hates the Bible! But attacking the Bible because it tells the truth is like kicking an X-ray machine because the picture reveals an internal cancer. Man is declared guilty on three counts:

1. Man’s Total Departure. They have all turned aside. The human race is guilty individually and in general. The race as a whole, and man as an individual, have turned away from God and His Word. False religious systems, far from being expressions of man’s desire to know God, are expressions of man’s departure from God. One and all they slander His real character.

2. Man’s Total Defilement. They have together become corrupt. The disease of sin has infected the entire human race. God says we are all tainted, guilty of total departure, of total defilement.

3. Man’s Total Depravity. There is none who does good, No, not one. Years ago, and when my father had been diagnosed with cancer of the lungs, I felt that I had to try once again to witness Jesus to him. We had always been very close, and this was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The sticking point that developed was that my dad didn’t think he was a bad man, and I had to agree with him. Well, he finally accepted Jesus as his Savior. He died soon after, never having attended church, as far as I know, and was never baptized. What got him past the sticking point was the realization that even though he was a good person, his goodness did not meet with God’s standard. That is why Jesus had to die; only He was good enough. It is His imputed righteousness that makes anyone good enough for heaven. I will see my dad one day because Jesus loved him so much that He gave him one more chance.

This is a picture of you and me, friend. I’m not an atheist, and I don’t imagine you are, but we are sinners. We do not do good. The indictment is universal: all people, individually or all together, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven—no one, no, not one. The condition of man is corrupt and the first three verses tell us the depth to which man can go.

Verse 3 Notes
{1) How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!
{2) "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? If God puts no trust in His saints, And the heavens are not pure in His sight, How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!

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