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Did you have to teach your kids to disobey? Um, not hardly. In fact, they taught you! There were times when my daughters’ disobedience was hilarious.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

(Photo by Photodune)

Years ago when one of my girls was only three, she snuck in the kitchen, climbed on the cabinet, found some candy, went to her room, closed the door, and hid under her bed to eat the sweets. How did she figure out how to do this?

My other daughter was not even two years old yet when she asked for a drink from a bottle. When I gave her a cup instead, she hurled it across the room and screamed, “NNOOO!!!!!” Just precious.

Like you, I never taught my children to disobey. It is in their nature. It’s in my nature too, by the way. And it’s in yours.

But that’s okay. Here’s why.


Born to Be Wild

The great theologians of the 70s sang what could be the anthem of every toddler. I’m referring to Steppenwolf’s song, “Born to Be Wild.”

I never taught my girls to crawl under the bed with candy or to hurl a meal they didn’t want. (But just don’t try serving me green bean casserole.) My girls disobeyed because it is their nature. They brought it with them from the womb.

Candy corn

(Photo by Juushika Redgrave. Candy corn in a jar. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In a world that makes bestsellers out of books like I’m OK, You’re OK, the truth is a tough sell. After all, who would buy a book called, I’m Totally Depraved, You’re Totally Depraved?

Actually, the bestselling book of all time begins with that very theme.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not Okay

God created humanity in His image, but sin has marred that image. Corruption has extended to every part of our nature. It’s not hard to see, if we’re honest. This is why:

  • You don’t have to teach your kids to disobey.
  • I have to wear corrective lenses.
  • We get wrinkled and eventually die.
  • We have thoughts we hate—as well as actions.

The image of God is so marred, in fact, the Apostle Paul could accurately say of the whole human race:

There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. —Romans 3:10-11

Even Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). So we see, in relationship to God, there is nothing in people that can commend them before a righteous God.

This is called the doctrine of total depravity. But wait.

Candy jar

(Photo by Adam Wood, originally posted to Flickr as a little better. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

What Total Depravity Means (and What it Doesn’t)

The concept of total depravity didn’t begin with Calvinism, but with Scripture.

Total depravity doesn’t mean we are as bad as we could be. It means we are as bad off as we could be. In other words:

  • We have nothing in and of ourselves that can commend us to—or earn favor before—a holy God.
  • In spite of all the good we do, we can never change the fact that we are sinners who have sinned.
  • It’s part of our fallen nature. Kids prove this. So do adults.

By the way, this is a great apologetic that the Bible is true. After all, who would invent a religion that said you had no chance apart from the grace of God? All other religions try to earn their way to God. Only Christianity confesses that we can’t earn our way.

The Best Bad News You’ll Ever Hear

Only after hearing the bad news of total depravity can we best appreciate the good news of the grace of God—His unmerited favor. God sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross to pay the penalty we deserved for our sins. Anyone who believes is forgiven. It’s that simple (John 3:16).

  • Everyone has the need, for we are all sinners (Rom. 3:10-11).
  • Everyone who believes in Christ has the need for forgiveness met (Rom. 1:16).

We’ve all taken our candy under the bed. We still do, in fact. We don’t outgrow our sinful nature (we’re just better at hiding it). And once you trust Christ for salvation and begin to grow in your knowledge of Him, you begin to realize you were twice the sinner you thought you were!

But a funny thing happens. Instead of the growing awareness of your sin depressing you, it actually encourages you to be more grateful. Why?

You realize that God’s grace was far more gracious than you ever imagined.

Tell me what you think: Got any good stories about your kids? To leave a comment, just click here.

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