By the fall man contracted an unfitness to that which is good. Shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin ( Psalm 51:5), man is a “transgressor from the womb” ( Isaiah 48:8): “they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” ( Psalm 58:3), and “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” ( Genesis 8:21).
He may be civilized, educated, refined, and even religious, but at heart he is “desperately wicked” ( Jeremiah 17:9), and all that he does is vile in the sight of God, for nothing is done from love to Him, and with a view to His glory. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” ( Matthew 7:18).
Until they are born again, all men are “unto every good work reprobate” ( Titus 1:16).
By the fall man contracted an unwillingness to that which is good. All motions of the will in its fallen estate, through defect of a right principle from whence they flow and a right end to which they tend, are only evil and sinful. Leave man to himself, remove from him all the restraints which law and order impose, and he will swiftly degenerate to a lower level than the beasts, as almost any missionary will testify. And is human nature any better in civilized lands? Not a whit. Wash off the artificial veneer and it will be found that “as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” ( Proverbs 27:19).
The world over, it remains solemnly true that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” ( Romans 8:7).
Christ will prefer the same charge in a coming day as when He was here on earth: “Men loved darkness rather than light” ( John 3:19).
Men will not come to Him that they might have “life.”
By the fall man contracted an inability to that which is good. He is not only unfitted and unwilling, but unable to do that which is good. Where is the man that can truthfully say he has measured up to his own ideals? All have to acknowledge there is a strange force within dragging them downward, inclining them to evil, which, notwithstanding their utmost endeavors against it, in some form or other, more or less, conquers them.
Despite the kindly exhortations of friends, the faithful warnings of God’s servants, the solemn examples of suffering and sorrow, disease and death on every side, and the vote of their own conscience, yet they yield. “They that are in the flesh (in their natural condition) cannot please God” ( Romans 8:18).
Thus it is evident that the need is imperative for a radical and revolutionary change to be wrought in fallen man before he can have any fellowship with the thrice holy God. Since the earth must be completely changed, because of the curse now resting on it, before it can ever again bring forth fruit as it did when man was in a state of innocency; so must man, since a general defilement from Adam has seized upon him, be renewed, before he can “bring forth fruit unto God” ( Romans 7:4). He must be grafted upon another stock, united to Christ, partake of the power of His resurrection: without this he may bring forth fruit, but not “unto God.” How can any one turn to God without a principle of spiritual motion? How can he live to God who has no spiritual life? Row can he be fit for the kingdom of God who is of a brutish and diabolical nature? 2. The need for regeneration lies in man’s total depravity. Every member of Adam’s race is a fallen creature, and every part of his complex being has been corrupted by sin. Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” ( Jeremiah 17:9). His mind is blinded by Satan ( 2 Corinthians 4:4) and darkened by sin ( Ephesians 4:18), so that his thoughts are only evil continually ( Genesis 6:5). His affections are prostituted, so that he loves what God hates, and hates what God loves.
His will is enslaved from good ( Romans 6:20) and opposed to God ( Romans 8:7). He is without righteousness ( Romans 3:10), under the curse of the law ( Galatians 3:10) and is the captive of the Devil. His condition is truly deplorable, and his case desperate. He cannot better himself, for he is “without strength” ( Romans 5:6). He cannot work out his salvation, for there dwelleth no good thing in him ( Romans 7:18).
He needs, then, to be born of God, “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” ( Galatians 6:15).
Man is a fallen creature. It is not that a few leaves have faded, but that the entire tree has become rotten, root and branch. There is in every one that which is radically wrong. The word “radical” comes from a Latin one which means “the root,” so that when we say a man is radically wrong, we mean that there is in him, in the very foundation and fiber of his being, that which is intrinsically corrupt and essentially evil. Sins are merely the fruit, there must of necessity be a root from which they spring. It follows, then, as an inevitable consequence that man needs the aid of a Higher Power to effect a radical change in him. There is only One who can effect that change: God created man, and God alone can re-create him. Hence the imperative demand, “Ye must be born again” ( John 3:7). Man is spiritually dead and naught but all-mighty power can make him alive. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” ( Romans 5:12).
In the day that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died spiritually, and a person who is spiritually dead cannot beget a child who possesses spiritual life. Therefore, all by natural descent enter this world “alienated from the life of God” ( Ephesians 4:18), “dead in trespasses and sins” ( Ephesians 2:1). This is no mere figure of speech, but a solemn fact.
Every child is born entirely destitute of a single spark of spiritual life, and therefore if ever it is to enter the kingdom of God, which is the realm of spiritual life ( Romans 14:17), it must be born into it.
The more clearly we are enabled to discern the imperative need of regeneration and the various reasons why it is absolutely essential in order to a fallen creature being fitted for the presence of the thrice holy God, the less difficulty are we likely to encounter when we endeavor to arrive at an understanding of the nature of regeneration, what it is which takes place within a person when the Holy Spirit renews him. For this reason particularly, and also because such a cloud of error has been cast upon this vital truth, we feel that a further consideration of this particular aspect of our subject is needed.
We invite you and your family to join us for worship at Grace Missionary Baptist Church located at the Glowmarw Bridge. Sunday School 11 a.m. Worship Noon Evening Service 7 p.m. Bible Study Wednesday 7 p.m.