Trying to convey the need for repentance to non-believers is nearly impossible because most do not yet see a need for salvation. How can a man or woman understand the need to repent or the need for salvation unless they first understand the condition of the human heart? What does the Bible say about the human heart?
Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
My heart is a fountain of wickedness. I am selfish, fragile, fickle; self-focused, self-centered, self-seeking, self-absorbed, self obsessed. Without the Spirit of Christ living inside me, there is a destructive force at work–the human heart.
Before I knew Christ, all the “good” things I did were designed to make me self-righteous–the motive was wrong–the only righteous motive is to glorify God, the Lover of our souls. Do you understand what I mean by this? Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Some years ago, boxing champion Hector “Macho” Comacho was being interviewed on TV. He was bragging about his wild past—a father at age fifteen, drugs, and loose living. The sportscaster said to him, “But don’t you believe that as a sports hero, you have an obligation to be a model for our youth?” Comacho shot back, “Look, I did my dirt, but I ain’t no Hitler.” Comacho’s response is the typical human response to the biblical doctrine of total depravity. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, said something like, “I’m not perfect, but I’m a good person?”
We are precious souls with evil, wicked hearts being molded, shaped, cajoled, prodded, and sifted by a broken, fallen world. It is for this reason that we must be poor in spirit–we must see the utter bankruptcy of our spiritual existence; we must see our desperate need for God to clothe us with love, righteousness, and power from on high.
Our experience here is designed to glorify God–we are here to discover who He is and who we are in relation to Him, that we may become like Him–that we may know love, peace, and joy.
“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
– Timothy Keller