We are not even out of Genesis 4 before the concept of totally depravity is found to be a faulty premise for interpreting the effects which Adam’s sin had on humanity.
After Cain became angry because God had accepted Abel’s offering and had not accepted his offering, God told Cain that sin was knocking at the door and that he should not to allow it to rule over him, least it become his master (see Genesis 4:6-7).
God did not deal with Cain as if he were totally depraved, God instructed Cain to rule over this sin that was knocking at the door.
Now, the Bible tells us exactly why Cain murdered his brother.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous (1 John3:10-11).
Notice that the apostle John says “Cain was of the wicked one and his works were evil.” On the contrary, his brother’s works were righteous.
If Cain had inherited a sin nature which made him totally depraved, Abel would have as well, but this is not the testimony which the scriptures give us concerning Abel.
The Lord Jesus Christ declared that Abel was righteous (Matthew 23:35)and the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that HE WAS RIGHTEOUS, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4).
Abel obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS!
No matter how you stack it, that statement “Abel obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS” completely dismantles the concept of total depravity.
The concept of total depravity is a theology that does not take into account the testimony of scripture concerning the real people who lived for God.
When we read of men like Abraham who had integrity of heart (Genesis 20:5-6) and Joseph who fled from sin when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-12) we see that the concept of total depravity is a very distorted lens through which we should read the scriptures.
Adam’s sin did not give every human being a heart of rebellion against God, nor did it give everyone a heart to desire sin. The Psalmist said “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).
When God sent Samuel to anoint David to be king over Israel, God said to Samuel, “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The scripture testify that David was a man after God’s own heart, and not a man who was corrupted to the core by a sinful nature. David walked with God in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart (2 Kings 3:6) and David’s heart smote him after he sinned against God (2 Samuel 24:10).
Likewise, Josiah who was a descendant of David and the King of Judah, had a tender heart before the Lord and he humbled himself before God when he heard the Word of the Lord (2 Kings 22:19).
It has been my observation that many Christians, including myself in times past, have no clue as to what they mean by “inherited sin nature.”
I have also observed that people have been conditioned to read the word “death” as sin nature. Yet, the letters D.E.A.T.H do not spell sin nature. They spell death.
Death is that which the scriptures teach has affected all men through Adam’s disobedience.
I have also discovered that those who attempt to piece mill together scriptures from the book of Romans so as to to prove “total depravity” or whatever their version of inherited sin they embrace, tend to leave out Romans 4.
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord WILL NOT IMPUTE SIN (Romans 4:1-8).
Adam’s sin brought death (futility, decay, mortality) to humanity. In Adam we are all under the limitation of the flesh without the glory of God. There is not one verse in all of scripture which teaches that Adam’s personal sin was imputed to the rest of us, not one! Every man is accountable for his own sin in the sight of God.
One does not need a sinful nature to sin against God. The angels who left their first estate and sinned didn’t and neither did Adam. The scriptures reveal that iniquity is a mystery, yet many have attempted to make it something they can explain and in doing so they have shut off the testimony of scripture.
We all sin in the weakness of our flesh, but not all have wicked hearts before God. Those in scripture whose sought after God, like Abel, were those who offered sacrifices to God because they knew God was perfect and holy in all his ways and they were not.