Before I became a Christian I was a big heavy metal fan of Metallica and one of their songs off of their first albums, was a song titled, “Am I Evil?”
Years later, I am now a Reformed Christian and Calvinist and I thought that this song as bad as the lyrics are morally, does teach a fundamental Christian doctrine; Total Depravity.
So what is the definition of Total Depravity?
I think John Frame has a nice terse definition that we will use: “Although fallen persons are capable of externally good acts (acts that are good for society), they cannot do anything really good, i.e., pleasing to God (Rom. 8:8). God, however, looks on the heart. And from his ultimate standpoint, fallen man has no goodness, in thought, word, or deed. He is therefore incapable of contributing anything to his salvation.” –John Frame
I often hear people say that they believe in the basic goodness of human beings. As nice as that would be to believe, the bible negates this premise from Genesis to Revelation. From the original verse that was quoted(Genesis 6:5) the people teaches in the basic sinfulness of human beings, which is why the flood occurred and why the Bible teaches Total Depravity as the true nature of mankind.
This doctrine is defined holistically in the five points of Calvinism of which, Total Depravity is the first point and it’s a negative one. The good news is that God has remedied this problem through His plan of redemption in sending His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only by this one act of grace that God transforms a total depraved heart into a sanctified one.
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” –Romans 7:25
To conclude the song that I referenced, “Am I Evil?” closes with the same question as its title, Am I Evil? Apart from God’s saving grace in Christ, the answer will always be, “I am man, yes I am.”