MAN'S SINFUL NATURE
The Bible uses several illustrations to depict the man's condition without Christ:
a). THE SINNER IS BORN DEAD IN HIS SIN
Romans 6:23 Makes it very clear: "The wages of sin is DEATH" This means physical death as well as Spiritual death.
Psalm 58:3 "The wicked go astray from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies."
Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Romans 5:12 "For as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death past upon all men, for that all have sinned.
John 5:24 "Verily, verily I say unto you He that hears my words and believes on Him that sent me, shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life."
What does it mean to be dead? Dead means dead. Many people portray the sinner as one who is dying, sick, in trouble, in desperate need of help, but not dead. But the Bible states: "Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin". You "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24 )
A dead man is totally and completely dead: A physically dead man does not desire life, he does not even know that he needs life. The greatest doctor in the world may be standing two feet from him, he will not hear, care, nor have any inclination to call out for the doctor to heal him and save his life. The only hope the dead man has is for a miracle to make him alive. Only then can he cry out for help and assistance.
It is therefore interesting that the Bible uses death as a portrait of the Christ-less sinner. He is spiritually dead (to the things of the Spirit of God, spiritually unaware and spiritually unable to make any spiritually minded decisions.
b). THE SINNER IS SPIRITUALLY BLIND AND DEAF
While the dead corpse lying at the side of the road may have eyes, and ears, most would not hesitate to agree that it would be foolish to assume that he is able to see and hear. He is dead. Physically dead people don't see physical things. The same, according to the Bible may be said of the spiritually dead man. The spiritually dead man, is spiritually blind. He has physical eyes to see with and ears to hear with but they neither hear nor see the things of God
Jesus spoke to many people throughout His earthly ministry. He performed amazing miracles, spoke with great authority (Matthew 7:29) yet still countless numbers turned away and did not believe in Him. To His disciples who'd been inquiring as to why Jesus often spoke to the people in parables He told them : (Matthew 13:11-16 "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to them it is not given, therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing hear not, neither do they understand. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear"
Seventeen times in the New Testament (eight times by Jesus) are the words used "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." In John 8:44 He says; "Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word." Was Jesus referring only to physical ears? His hearers were not physically deaf - they had been listening to him preach and had sometimes interjected. On a physical level they could hear His message. But as Matthew 13:16 highlights, not all were blessed, as were the disciples, with eyes that could see and ears that could hear. (See also Luke 10:23 "Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see'.")
While it is true that many of the passages that speak of spiritual blindness refer to the Jews, in accordance to what was prophesied of them; every unbelieving man, Jew or Gentile is found in the same condition. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God".
How then is a blind unbeliever to receive the sight needed to see the light of the gospel? Exodus 4:11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" It is God who gives man his physical sight and hearing, so it is of the sight in his blinded mind. Luke 24:45 "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures".
c). THE SINNER CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE THINGS OF GOD
The Bible tells us that the natural man in his state of spiritual death, does not understand, nor can He receive the things which are of the God.. 1 Corinthians 2:14 "For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually hidden."
d). THE SINNER DOES NOT DESIRE OR SEEK GOD
Not only does man not understand the things of God, he does not desire them, and does not seek for them. It is a myth that man in his state of sin truly seeks God and is able to come to Him. Romans 3:10&11 declares: "There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God" While it's true that some would appear to seek God in some form or another, they seek Him not to glorify Him, but with selfish motives, seeking Him as a type of "life preserver", or as a "genie-in-a-bottle" during times of trouble.
John 3:20 says: "For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
It is against our natural sin nature to come to God. Look at Adam and Eve: What did they do when they realized they were sinners? They ran from God; they tried to hide. The truth is that the closer we get to God, the more we realize how wretched we are. The holiness of God is offensive to us; it exposes the wickedness that we are pleased to live in. So we, as Adam and Eve did, run and hide from Him. The only way we will ever come to God, is if God intervenes and draws us irresistibly to Himself. John 6:44 "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." 6:65 "..no man can come unto me except it were given unto him of my Father.")
e). THE SINNER IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be" (Romans 8:7&8) This passage tells us that the carnal mind IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD. Not only does man, in his carnal, dead state not desire or seek God : he HATES Him. He will not come, and does not desire to know this one who will shed light on his enjoyed evil. (John 3:20). God must change that man's mind or he will die is his dead state of enmity. Jesus said: "You WILL NOT come to me that you may have life. John 5:40" Only the Holy Spirit can turn someone's will around. "Who "works in us both to will and to do God's good pleasure". (Philippians 2:13)
As stated earlier, the whole issue of "free will" rests upon man's supposed freedom to chose or to reject God at will. However, along with death, blindness, and deafness, another portrait that the Bible paints of the Christ-less sinner is that of bondage. The man without Christ "everyone who sins", according to John 8:34, "is a SLAVE to sin". Again in Romans 7:14 Paul affirms he is "unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" In 2 Timothy 2:26 he speaks of those who are opposed to the gospel and says that he hopes they will escape "the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive at his will (or "to do his will"). In 2 Peter 2:19 we read of false teachers of whom it is said "they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him".
Sinful man is not free! Sin, not Christ is his master. If he is not free but in bondage to sin, all that is in him, including his mind and his will, are also in bondage to sin. The myth of a free will is answered in this: his will is not free but a slave to sin. He is only made free if the Son has made him free. (John 8:36 ).
It is true, as again stated earlier, that man is a moral being, able to make choices, but his choices are governed by whom he is serving. The natural, dead man serves and obeys the desires of the flesh. He might choose to do a "good" deed, yet his motives are not to give God glory, and "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). He is "free" in that he is not being forced to sin, but as a slave of sin, he is free only to sin. (See Romans 6:20) Jesus said to the Pharisees: "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do.." John 8:44. Again, the unregenerated man's will is ruled by sin, therefore will never submit itself to Christ.
If it is as has previously been established, that man is totally dead, unable, unwilling, and undesiring of God; if he is blind and deaf and cannot see nor hear and understand the gospel, if his will and heart are in bondage to sin and he will not seek God nor willingly submit to Him; it remains that if any man is to be saved, his salvation will have to come entirely from God. Left to themselves, every man would be lost. Matthew 19:25,26 "Who then can be saved?...With men it is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:26,27; Luke 18:26,27)
"Salvation is of the Lord" (examining the doctrine of election)