Ellen White on "Depravity and Sin"
In Heavenly Places, pp. 195,
196 (originally from letter 26d, 1887): "Bad habits are more easily
formed than good habits, and the bad habits are given up with more
difficulty. The natural depravity of the heart accounts for this
well-known fact-that it takes far less labor to demoralize the youth, to
corrupt their ideas of moral and religious character, than to engraft
upon their character the enduring, pure, and uncorrupted habits of
righteousness and truth.... In our present fallen state all that is
needed is to give up the mind and character to its natural
"The moral dangers to which all, both old and
young, are exposed are daily increasing. Moral derangement, which we
call depravity, finds ample room to work, and an influence is exerted by
men, women, and youth professing to be Christians that is low, sensual,
Selected Messages, book 1, p.
310: "No man inherits holiness as a birthright."
Education, p. 15:
"Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and wellnigh
obliterated. Man's physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity
was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed."
Education, pp. 28, 29: "Sin not only
shuts us away from God, but destroys in the human soul both the desire
and the capacity for knowing Him. All this work of evil it is Christ's
mission to undo. The faculties of the soul, paralyzed by sin, the
darkened mind, the perverted will, He has power to invigorate and to restore....
"Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a
perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. But
against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power.
The result of the eating of the tree of
knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man's
experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which,
unaided, he cannot resist.... He can find help in but one power. That
power is Christ."
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 645: "God
will be better glorified if we confess the secret, inbred corruption of
the heart to Jesus alone."
The Desire of Ages, p. 161: "Because
of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by
evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine
The Desire of Ages, p. 172: "The
fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become
pure.... The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of
the old, but a transformation of nature."
Steps to Christ, p. 62: "It
was possible for Adam, before the Fall, to form a righteous character by
obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin
our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we
are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no
righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of
God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us."
Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1128 (letter 8, 1895
[this is the
famous Baker letter]): "The first Adam was created a pure, sinless
being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He
could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin his
posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience."
Signs of the Times, Nov. 15,
1883: "Christ brought His divinity to
earth, veiled by humanity, in order to rescue man from his lost
Human nature is vile, and man's character must be
changed before it can harmonize with the pure and holy in God's immortal
kingdom. This transformation is the new birth."
Review and Herald, May 27,
1884: "There was no sin in Him that Satan
could triumph over, no weakness or defect that he could use to His
advantage. But we are sinful by nature, and we have a work to do to
cleanse the soul-temple of every defilement."
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 61: "The
sin of our first parents brought guilt and sorrow upon the world, and
had it not been for the goodness and mercy of God, would have plunged
the race into hopeless despair.... They [Adam and Eve] were told that
their nature had become depraved by sin; they had lessened their
strength to resist evil and had opened the way for Satan to gain more
ready access to them. In their innocence they had yielded to temptation;
and now, in a state of conscious guilt, they would have less power to
maintain their integrity."
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 306: "It
is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of
parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the parents' guilt,
except as they participate in their sins. It is usually the case,
however, that children walk in the steps of their parents."
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 371:
in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they [the children of Israel at
the Exodus] had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the
exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in
themselves, to render obedience to God's law, and their need of a
Historical Sketches, pp. 138, 139: "There
is a great work to be done for many of us. Our minds and characters must
become as the mind and character of Christ. Selfishness is inwrought in
our very being. It has come to us as an inheritance, and has been
cherished by many as a
precious treasure. No special work for God can be accomplished until
self and selfishness are overcome. To many everything connected with
themselves is of great importance. Self is a center, around which
everything seems to revolve."
Selected Messages, book 1, p. 344:
"The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent
confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly
sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they
are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value
with God.... Unless the Intercessor, who is at God's right hand,
presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to
God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the
cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the
censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly
"Oh, that all may see that everything in
obedience, in penitence, in praise and thanksgiving, must be placed upon
the glowing fire of the righteousness of Christ."
Faith and Works, pp. 23, 24
(taken from manuscript 36, 1890): "There must be nothing less given
than duty prescribes, and there cannot be one jot more given than they
have first received; and all must be laid upon the fire of Christ's
righteousness to cleanse it from its earthly odor before it rises in a
cloud of fragrant incense to the great Jehovah and is accepted as a
"If you would gather together everything that is
good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject
to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul
or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason....
"And any works that man can render to God will
be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only
because they are laid upon Christ's righteousness."
In Heavenly Places, p. 146:
"As a result of Adam's disobedience every human being is a transgressor of the law, sold under
In Heavenly Places, p. 163
(compare Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and
Students, p. 544): "In order to
understand the matter aright, we must remember that our hearts are
naturally depraved, and we are unable of ourselves to pursue a right
course. It is only by the grace of God, combined with the most earnest
effort on our part, that we can gain the victory."
That I May Know Him, p. 136:
"We should remember that our own ways are not faultless. We make
mistakes again and again.... No one is perfect but Jesus."
Child Guidance, p. 475 (taken
from letter 68, 1899, and also cited in The
Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6,
p. 1074): "The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has
separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the
broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him
nothing but guilt and the sentence of death."
Letter 10, 1888 (cf. E. G.
White Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 208):
"One of the deplorable effects of the original apostasy was the
loss of man's power to govern his own heart. When there is a separation
from the Source of your strength, when you are lifted up in pride, you
cannot but transgress the law of your moral constitution."
Manuscript 60, 1905 (cf. E. G.
White Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 210):
"We are not to seek to extenuate the consequences of the original
apostasy. It is not possible to overstate the degree of alienation from
truth and righteousness entered into by those whose souls revolt from
Review and Herald, Dec. 17,
1872: "Man could not atone for man. His
sinful, fallen condition would constitute him an imperfect offering, an
atoning sacrifice of less value than Adam before his fall. God made man
perfect and upright, and after his transgression there could be no
sacrifice acceptable to God for him, unless the offering made
should in value be superior to man as he was in his state of perfection
Signs of the Times, May
19, 1890: "Adam sinned, and the children of Adam share his guilt
and its consequences; but Jesus bore the guilt of Adam, and all the
children of Adam that will flee to Christ, the second Adam, may escape
the penalty of transgression."
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 20: "There
are hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil that must be
Review and Herald, Apr. 16,
1901: "Through the medium of influence, taking advantage of the
action of mind on mind, he prevailed on Adam to sin. Thus at its very
source human nature was corrupted. And ever since then sin has continued
its hateful work, reaching mind to mind. Every sin committed awakens the
echoes of the original sin."
Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1083
(letter 191, 1899): "In what consisted the strength of the assault
made upon Adam, which caused his fall? It was not indwelling sin; for
God made Adam after His own character, pure and upright. There were no
corrupt principles in the first Adam, no corrupt propensities or
tendencies to evil. Adam was as faultless as the angels before God's
throne. These things are inexplainable."