There is a tremendous need in this age to recapture understanding about moral agency and moral law. There has been a tendency to relegate sin to the area of physical law, as though it’s a thing that causes one’s behavior instead of a word that describes improper moral choice. It is important to understand the difference between depravity, temptation and sin. In this section, we will consider basic information about depravity.
Depravity is a condition creating a tendency to move in the direction of moral evil, a state in which it is easier to disobey God, giving into selfish preferences. Such depravity is associated with the body and mind, increasing the strength of physical appetites, urges, passions and propensities. This is what the Biblical term “flesh” (unfortunately translated “sinful nature” in the NIV Bible) refers to. The increased urges of the physical appetites and the decreased fortitude to move in the direction moral virtue is an influence toward but does not cause moral evil. It is possible to be born with physical depravity and with moral faculties, but it is not possible to be born in a state of sin as sin is a word describing the wrong response to depravity and improper use of moral faculties. Consequently, guilt is not based on or caused by inherited, physical depravity. It is important to realize that physical depravity, this tendency toward sin and selfishness, has no moral character because it is an involuntary condition or state. Yielding to this influence / tendency produces sin. Paul states, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro.6:16)
In the upcoming post we will consider an illustration that deals with distinctions related to such concepts.