Our Natural Depravity

We received the following question: "Is a regenerated person still depraved?

Your question reminds me of two errors that often arise within the church: on the one hand, the error of perfectionism, and on the other hand, the error of antinomism.

The perfectionist argues that we are new creatures in Christ; old things are passed away, and, along with these old things, also our depravity. He appeals to such passages of scripture as I John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The perfectionist will also refer to saints like Job, of whom it is written that he was a man, "perfect and upright, and one who feared God and eschewed evil.” The Pentecostals seem to lean in that direction when they speak of being baptized by the Holy Spirit, enabling them to live sinless lives. These perfectionists stress, of course, an outward perfection of "touch not, taste not, and handle not."

On the other hand, there are the antinomians who stress that we are by nature depraved sinners who cannot keep God's law. They remind you that Christ has fulfilled the law for us. In Him is all our righteousness, so that we can add nothing to that nor detract from it. Nor must we try with our good works to add to the righteousness of Christ. Some will, therefore, object to admonitions in the preaching, since we cannot fulfill them anyway. In extreme cases the antinomian will condone sin with the attitude, "Let us, then, sin, that grace may abound."

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