In part one we established that man is:
A. A fallen creature
B. A bondservant to the Devil
C. A sinner not only in action but in nature. Man sins because he is a sinner, not a sinner because he sins.
We ended Part 1 with the question, Does man naturally have the desire to turn from his sin in sorrowful repentance and exercise the kind of faith that saves the soul from God’s Holy wrath?
It’s a good question, deserving of a scriptural answer. But first, let’s take a look at man’s ability to attain God’s righteousness through the keeping of the law.
Man is Unable to Fulfill the Righteousness of the Law
The Apostle Paul understood from the scriptures that no man is able to keep all God’s commandments. He is not able because of the sin nature that dominates him. Transgression of the law at any point made a person guilty on all counts. (James 2:10)
In Romans 3 V. 19-20 Paul states:
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
V.19 states that the laws of God were given for the express purpose of showing us the utter futility of self justification. At the same time it also makes the entire world guilty before God Almighty. V.20 emphatically states we can never be justified by the law. It is given to reveal the sin that dominates every aspect of our lives. From our thinking to our actions, the law condemns us as guilty.
Paul had a complete understanding of the relationship between the old and new covenants. He realized that the new covenant established in Christ’s blood is the fulfillment, not the replacement, of the old covenant. God never intended for the old covenant to be based on a works-righteousness foundation. It was to prepare his people for the coming Savior. The law reveals to man his innate sinfulness and unworthiness to inherit God’s promises. The law was intended to produce humility and repentance in light of its lofty goals of sinless perfection. The law was never intended to justify man; only to expose his innate wickedness.
Man’s plight appears pretty hopeless. He is by nature a sinner. He is unable to keep the whole law and is condemned justly to eternal punishment for breaking those laws.
Man’s hope lay entirely outside of himself and God’s righteous laws.
Man is Unwilling to Turn from his Sin
Now that we have proven beyond doubt that man does not have the ability to fulfill God’s righteous requirements, let’s explore the scriptures further to answer the question of man’s willingness to admit his failure, forsaking his sin and turning to God for reconciliation.
Unfortunately, in Romans Paul gives a grim appraisal of man in his natural state:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Romans 3:10-12
Note that under the curse of sin man does not understand or receive the things of God. Paul restates this important truth in 1 Cor 2:14;
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural (carnal) man does not receive or understand anything that the Spirit of God has to offer because he is spiritually destitute; devoid of any ability to fellowship with God at all. The natural man has no ears to hear or eyes that can perceive. He is deaf, dumb and blind concerning all spiritual matters. Man is a spiritual stillborn from the moment he is conceived. (Psalm 51:5) He never has a chance on his own of gaining back the life that Adam lost so long ago.
The text from Romans continues to reveal that man does not seek after God. In his natural state man does not desire reconciliation with his Creator because he would have to confess his corrupt ways.
Pride is the enemy of man’s soul. It is the evil spawn of the sin nature. A proud heart is the chief obstacle to reconciliation with God. Pride is man’s resolve that his way is more profitable than God’s ways. However, verse 12 states that we have become unprofitable. In other words, apart from the grace of God, man is worthless. This is a hard teaching, but nonetheless true. Jesus said:
for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
What is Jesus saying here? Is He implying that man cannot accomplish any task apart from his empowerment? This could not be the meaning because unregenerate man has built empires, nations, corporations and made great technological advances without faith in Jesus. What Jesus was saying here is that apart from union with Him, man could do nothing profitable for the Kingdom of God and for His glory. All other activities are done in vain. This world and its desires will soon pass away. None of man’s accomplishments will endure for eternity.
Man is an enemy of God. He despises the richness of his common grace to the whole world, having no desire within himself to be reconciled unto his Creator. Man in his stubborn rebellion takes the resources God has blessed him with and consumes them upon his own carnal lusts, never giving thanks to the Lord for any good things he enjoys. Romans 8:7 states:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
All people are carnal (sinfully)minded from birth. There are no exceptions to the rule. Carnally minded people will not humble themselves and submit to the laws of God. He has no natural desire to abide by them. Sin is his pleasure and he spends his days in pursuit of it. His rebellion to God’s authority has made him an enemy of God .While sin flourishes in his heart, he cannot be reconciled to Him.
This natural enmity can only be resolved when the stain of sin is dissolved. Man is unable to cleanse himself from sin because it has penetrated down to the very core of his soul. This radical corruption has blighted the image of God he was created in. Sin has under its insidious control man’s mind, will and affections. Uncleanness erupts from within man’s heart defiling his whole person. Mt 15:11-20.
No part of man’s constitution has any inclination to desire God and His goodness over the lusts of his own flesh. His natural enmity prevents him from seeking forgiveness. Man is an utterly ruined creature in his state of bondage. Jesus reiterated this truth in John 5:40
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
Jesus knew people’s hearts; that they were hardened against God. He states the reason for this in v. 42 of the same passage:
But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
The love of God does not abide in man naturally. Consequently, he will not come unto Jesus that he might have eternal life.
Man does not will to come to Jesus in his own wisdom and strength. His love of sin is so great that he is more willing to indulge sin than gain eternal life. God, then must take it upon Himself to remove the natural enmity between Him and man. Through Christ Jesus, His Son, this has been accomplished. (Ephesians 2:15-16.)
We have established that man is not righteous enough within himself to garner God’s favor. He is a sinner by nature; sold into sin, living in bondage to his own evil desires and is the spiritual offspring of the devil. He is condemned to an eternity of fiery indignation in hell because he has broken the commandments of God. He must accept the wages of sin, which is death. Man’s natural hostility against God manifested in sinful acts has estranged him from his Creator.
Man is unable to fulfill the righteousness of the law. Man is unwilling to come unto Jesus in repentance and faith. This paints a depressing picture of humanity as a whole. Even the great apostle Paul struggled with his sinfulness. Paul understood the radical corruption of man’s heart by testifying of his own. In Romans Ch 7 Paul speaks of the power of sin warring against the laws of God that are written on his heart. He says the righteous things he should do he does not do and the sinful things he should not do, he does. He sums up his experiences with:
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:22-25A
As a new creation in Christ, Paul delighted in God’s laws but his flesh warred against his desire for spiritual matters. The law of sin is still at work in our members even after coming to Christ. However, the difference being that Paul can honestly proclaim from his heart, ‘O wretched man that I am.’ This is proof of the humility God has wrought in him, showing his utter helplessness apart from the mercy of God. No hardened sinner would ever remark of his wicked condition for he thinks too highly of himself to ever be contrite.
Paul concludes his dialogue with: I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is His saving grace alone through faith alone by the blood of Christ alone that saves man from his pitiful condition. In no way whatsoever does man merit God’s mercy in salvation. Man has no goodness inherent within his nature to produce righteousness. He lacks even the faith to trust upon Christ. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace apart from any work on our part. God shares his glory with no one.
Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Praise and thanks be to God for his grace, which has come upon his beloved elect to reconcile us to Himself. Since man is naturally unwilling to reconcile and make peace with God, The Lord took it upon himself to resolve the conflict by providing a means for the forgiveness of sins, through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ. He has adopted us into his family and made us heirs of all He has.
Next I plan to post a companion article that gives the practical application of the radical corruption doctrine. I will then resume the TULIP discussion on how God planned for reconciliation with man in our discussion on Unconditional Election.