“This may come as a surprise to you, but temptation has more to do with belief than it does behavior.”
“This is why when Jesus was asked in John 6:28, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” he answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he sent.” Jesus was making the indisputable point that unbelief is the force that gives birth to all of our bad behavior and every moral failure. It is the root. While the disciples located godliness in something they must do, Jesus pointed them back to himself–the One who came to do for them what they could never do for themselves. “Believe in me.””
“Believing that “it is finished”, that everything we need in Christ is already ours and therefore we need nothing more, is the hardest thing (so much harder than modifying our behavior) because we are all seasoned “do-it-yourselfers.” Self-salvation engineers (that’s all of us) find it much easier to make a moral “to-do” and “not-to-do” list and try to live by it, then they do trusting, believing, and resting wholly in the work and provision of Another. “To be convinced in our hearts”, said Luther, “that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing” because “the sin underneath all sins is the lie that we cannot trust the love and grace of Jesus and that we must take matters into our own hands.””
Total Depravity is a theological term that teaches that no part of us remains untouched by sins staining effects. Though we are not as bad as we possibly could be, no part of us is free from the effects of sin (our emotions, our minds, our hearts, our desires, our motives, our bodies, our intentions) even from birth. This does not mean that we are utterly depraved; utter depravity is when every area is as depraved as possible. We are not as bad as we could be, but no part of us is clean. Total Depravity does not teach that man is incapable of doing anything good in some ways (even as fallen people we are still image bearers), but we are unable to do anything good in relation to God. Wayne Grudem summarizes this well: “Scripture is not denying that unbelievers can do good in human society in some senses. But it is denying that they can do any spiritual good or be good in terms of a relationship with God. Apart from the work of Christ in our lives, we are like all other unbelievers who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18).” Grudem, Wayne (1999). Bible Doctrine (pages 215-216). Zondervan.
God told Adam that rebellion, as evidenced by eating the fruit that God prohibited, would result in death (Genesis 2:17); every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5); the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9); we are sinful before we are born (Psalm 51:5); no one is righteous, seeks God or does good (Romans 3:10-12); sin & death entered through Adam & affects all men (Romans 5:12-14); nothing good dwells in our flesh; we lack the ability to do anything good on our own (Romans 7:18); apart from Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3); apart from Christ, we are darkened in understanding, alienated from God due to hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18-19).
“Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow.” Kindle location 78
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). Habits are like stones rolling down hill–the further they roll, the faster and more ungovernable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak when it is a sapling–a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full grown tree. A child can wade over the Thames River at its fountain-head–the largest ship in the world can float in it when it gets near the sea. So it is with habits: the older the stronger–the longer they have held possession, the harder they will be to cast out. They grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength. Custom is the nurse of sin. Every fresh act of sin lessens fear and remorse, hardens our hearts, blunts the edge of our conscience, and increases our evil inclination.” Kindle location 134
“Habits of good or evil are daily strengthening in your hearts. Every day you are either getting nearer to God, or further off. Every year that you continue unrepentant, the wall of division between you and heaven becomes higher and thicker, and the gulf to be crossed deeper and broader.” Kindle location 143
“We value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God’s competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.” Read What is Christian Hedonism?