But the most astonishing news of all is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save such sinners and to “display his unlimited patience” in people like Paul, or perhaps in you or me, “as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:15-16).
In quite a few places the Bible talks about the sinfulness of mankind. Scripture does not gloss over evil or minimize sin. It describes it and explains it in the clearest terms. Not only is the human heart deceitful above all things, it is also dead in sin apart from God’s renewing grace (Jer. 17:9; Eph. 2:1). Out of the human heart come all sorts of evil: sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, etc. (Mk. 7:21). Scripture teaches that people by nature are totally depraved. Or, like the Westminster Confession says, people are “wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body” (6.2). I appreciate Chad Van Dixhoorn’s comments on this biblical truth:
What God said about mankind in Noah’s day can be said of the average man in many ages: “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all of the time” (Gen. 6:5). The unattractive truth is that we are totally depraved, in the sense that we are defiled in “all the faculties and parts of soul and body.” To put it another way, no part of who we are remains untouched by the plague of sin, not least our minds and consciences (Titus 1:15).
It is true that we could be much worse. It is a great mercy that God has allowed no human being to be as bad as they could be. And yet we must not minimize the astonishing effects of the fall. God really does permit seasons, places, and persons of great evil. There are open advocates of evil and chiefs among sinners. The apostle Paul looked back on his own life and considered himself to be one of the latter. But the most astonishing news of all is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save such sinners and to “display his unlimited patience” in people like Paul, or perhaps in you or me, “as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). Chad Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, p. 86.
Shane Lems is a Minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastor of Covenant OPC in Hammond, WI. This article is used with permission.