His mind is sinful. He cannot think straight. He cannot make proper deductions. He cannot pursue proper arguments. In the gathering of information, in organising it, in reasoning from it, his intellect is sinful. It will function in a way that is anti-God, because `the carnal mind is enmity against God’ (Romans 8:7). Human thought-processes, human presuppositions and assumptions and human logic are all hostile to God. It is completely wrong to imagine that the reasoning faculties remain unimpaired. The distortions of sin, the anti-God bias, has come in even at the level of understanding and intellect. We think crookedly. We think in an ungodly way.
This is equally true of our human emotions. Our feelings are depraved. The wrong things make us happy and the wrong things make us sad. And over and above that, of course, we have all the neuroses: the depression, anxiety and discontent that sin has brought into our human situation. That is why we have so much clinical disorder in the realm of the emotions. It is all rooted in sin. That does not mean that it may not require and yield to clinical treatment. But the disorder itself is rooted in sin.
And there is sin in our affections, too, in the very love that we manifest. This is why eros (the most beautiful and noble thing in the world) is also the most destructive and the most horrific, wreaking more havoc than any other force in the moral universe.
There is sin also in the human will. Our wills are in bondage. `How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing,’ says the Lord in Matthew 23:37.
There is sin even in the conscience. We cannot assume, as we often do, that the conscience, God’s monitor, remains unaffected. Frequently, the light within us is darkness. Many of the fiercest of the church’s persecutors have been men o f stringent conscience. Saul of Tarsus thought he was doing God’s service by trying to strangle the church in its cradle. Throughout history, those who have been most virulent in harassing God’s church have often been men of great principle: men like Marcus Aurelius, an outstandingly upright Roman emperor whose conscience nevertheless impelled him to persecute the church of God. And all of us know from our own experience, as we grow and mature in our Christian lives, that we cannot afford to go by our consciences. Our consciences need to be enlightened.
The Bible confronts us, then, with this terrible fact that we are depraved totally. The Christian has no quarrel with this doctrine. It is one thing in our spiritual lives we can test empirically for ourselves and know it to be only too true. When the Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things and hopelessly wicked, we instantly know that this is absolutely correct.
A Faith to Live By