MiniZine: Totally Depraved (PDF Download)

  • 9 November 2009

The less we know God, the less we truly know ourselves.

It is hardly a surprise, then, that as our culture has drifted further and further from God, the idea of ‘sin’ has also largely disappeared. People today ‘make mistakes’ or ‘do something stupid’ or ‘have a brain explosion’, but they don’t ‘sin’.

As Christians, we can’t help being affected by this cultural drift. We don’t like talking about sin. It sounds so negative and life-denying. We would rather concentrate on the positive aspects of the Christian message. But as the great Puritan John Owen said, Christians who don’t understand the sin that still dwells within them are foolish and self-deceived.


  •  The very practical doctrine of total depravity, by David Starling
  • Be killing sin or it will be killing you, by Tony Payne
  • Throw off everything that hinders, by John Chapman
  • Discussion Guide


The old joke says that preaching about sin is difficult because what else can you say except that you’re against it?

Well, there’s quite a bit you can say, as it turns out. You can talk about what sin really is, the devious ways it deceives us, why we ignore it and rationalize it, how our society has lost any sense of it, how we deal with its ongoing reality in our lives, why it’s necessary to preach about it, and more besides.

These are the topics we are focusing on in this sin-full MiniZine. In David Starling’s lead article, we look at the very important but much misunderstood topic of ‘total depravity’. What does Reformed theology mean when it says humans are ‘totally depraved’, and what practical difference does this knowledge make to our lives?

In the second article, there’s a review of one of the most profound (and demanding) books on sin ever written: John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation. Owen presents a challenge to the modern Christian, not only because of his old-fashioned style, but because of his very biblical challenge to take indwelling sin in our lives seriously. It’s a message we need to hear afresh.

Finally, John Chapman writes about how even good and right things can get in the way of our battle against sin. Our lives are often so stuffed full of good things that we miss out on the best thing.

We pray and trust that the result of all this thinking about sin will be a new and clearer understanding of it, and a firmer resolve to be against it!

— Tony Payne

What is a MiniZine?

It's not a booklet, or a leaflet, or a tract. It's not a full-sized magazine either. It's somewhere in the middle: a short collection of articles, in an economical, easy-to-read format, with a discussion guide included.

The aim is simple: to provide high-quality Bible-based input to help Christians encourage each other.

MiniZines are ideal for giving away, for starting personal conversations, and for small group discussion.