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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Death’

Men do not know Christ’s worth, for if they did they would come unto him

September 4, 2017 1 comment

Men do not know his worth, for if they did they would come unto him. Why did not sailors go to America before Columbus went; Because they did not believe there was an America. Columbus had faith, therefore he went. He who hath faith in Christ goes to him; but you don’t know Jesus; many of you never saw his beauteous face; you never saw how applicable his blood is to a sinner, how great is his atonement; and how all-sufficient are his merits; therefore, “ye will not come unto him.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

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Men by nature are legally dead

I. First, then, our text implies THAT MEN BY NATURE ARE DEAD. NO being needs to go after life if he has life in himself. The text speaks very strongly when it says, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” though it saith it not in words, yet it doth in effect affirm that men need a life more than they have themselves. My hearers, we are all dead unless we have been begotten unto a lively hope. First, we are all of us, by nature, legally dead:-”In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death,” said God to Adam; and though Adam did not die in that moment naturally, he died legally; that is to say death was recorded against him. As soon as, at the Old Bailey, the judge puts on the black cap and pronounces the sentence, the man is reckoned to be dead at law. Though perhaps a month may intervene before he is brought on the scaffold to endure the sentence of the law, yet the law looks upon him as a dead man. It is impossible for him to transact anything. He cannot inherit, he cannot bequeath; he is nothing-he is a dead man. The country considers him not as being alive in it at all. There is an election-he is not asked for his vote because he is considered as dead. He is shut up in his condemned cell, and he is dead. Ah! and ye ungodly sinners who have never had life in Christ, ye are alive this morning, by reprieve, but do ye know that ye are legally dead; that God considers you as such, that in the day when your father Adam touched the fruit, and when you yourselves did sin, God, the Eternal Judge, put on the black cap and condemned you? You talk mightily of your own standing, and goodness, and morality:-where is it? Scripture saith, ye are “condemned already.” Ye are not to wait to be condemned at the judgment-day-that will be the execution of the sentence:- “ye are condemned already.” In the moment ye sinned; your names were all written in the black book of justice; every one was then sentenced by God to death, unless he found a substitute, in the person of Christ, for his sins. What would you think if you were to go into the Old Bailey, and see the condemned culprit sitting in his cell, laughing and merry? You would say, “The man is a fool, for he is condemned, and is to be executed, yet how merry he is.” Ah! and how foolish is the worldly man, who, while sentence is recorded against him, lives in merriment and mirth! Do you think the sentence of God is of no effect? Thinkest thou that thy sin which is written with an iron pen on the rocks for ever hath no horrors in it? God hath said thou art condemned already. If thou wouldst but feel this, it would mingle bitters in thy sweet cups of joy; thy dances would be stopped, thy laughter quenched in sighing, if thou wouldst recollect that thou art condemned already. We ought all to weep, if we lay this to our souls: that by nature we have no life in God’s sight; we are actually positively condemned, death is recorded against us, and we are considered in ourselves now, in God’s sight, as much dead as if we were actually cast into hell; we are condemned here by sin, we do not yet suffer the penalty of it, but it is written against us, and we are legally dead, nor can we find life unless we find legal life in the person of Christ, of which more by-and-bye.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

Chapter 23-The Effects of the Sin of Adam

The Effects of the Sin of Adam

THE immediate effects of Adam’s sin, as indicated in the narrative in Genesis, were (1) shame, or fear of God’s presence, and (2) making excuse for his sin and casting the blame upon the woman and his maker. Gen. 3:7-13.

The immediate curse uttered against the woman was (1) danger to her and her seed from the serpent and his seed, (2) multiplied pain and sorrow in childbirth, and (3) a condition of subservience to her husband. Gen. 3:15-16.

That against the man was (1) that thorns and thistles should hinder the cultivation of the ground, (2) that by hard labour in the sweat of his face should he eat his bread, and (3) a positive declaration of the return of the man to the dust whence he had been taken. Gen. 3:17-19.

The evils thus threatened have not been confined to Adam and Eve, but have fallen also upon all their posterity. Whatever may be the connection between Adam and that posterity, it is generally admitted that the latter share with him all these evils.

In seeking then into the effects of Adam’s sin we shall find them in connection with the evil condition of his posterity, as well as of himself.

The curses uttered in the garden are not to be taken as exhaustive of the curse threatened. They are such only as were immediately suggested by the peculiar attendant circumstances of Adam’s sin, and are to be regarded merely as examples of its evil effects. Still even they have not been confined to Adam, but have come equally upon the race at large.

All the evil effects of Adam’s sin are comprised under the one word “death.” This was the threatened penalty. But what is meant by it?

 

I. Natural death is included. By this is meant the separation of the soul and the body, and the consequent decay of the body.

1. It has been objected that this is not a result of Adam’s sin because the very nature of the body (dust) made it necessary that it should return to dust.

To this it may be replied:

(1.) That it is not certain that there were in man’s body before his sin any elements of decay which would naturally lead to separation from the soul and to corruption.

(2.) But even if we admit that the body is naturally mortal and liable to corruption, it does not follow that had man not sinned, he would have died. God might have continued forever to preserve his powers unimpaired, either by direct preservation or by some remedial means. Some think, not without reason that this would have been done through the tree of life.

(3.) The objection overlooks the fact that, from the nature of God’s foreknowledge and purpose, things in themselves natural are made the punishments of others with which they are associated. In like manner also is it with his blessings. The whole narrative of the fall is full of examples of this principle. Of this kind is the serpent’s curse, “upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” Gen. 3:14; of this also that connected with the natural injuries which men and serpents would inflict on each other, Gen. 3:15; that of the rule of the husband over the wife, Gen. 3:17; and that of the thorns and thistles in the ground and the sweat and the labour for the means of life, Gen. 3:18, 19.

2. A second objection against regarding natural death as part of the penalty is that the threatened penalty was a death which should occur on the very day the fruit should be eaten.

(1.) This might be an objection if it were claimed that the penalty of natural death was the only penalty, or if it could be shown that the death thus threatened was so exclusive as to forbid that natural death should be in any way associated with it.

(2.) It is even doubtful whether the corrupt tendency to death and its beginnings may not be ascribed to the very hour of Adam’s sin. If that sin removed all hope of God’s counteracting the natural mortality, this would be so; whether it was to be counteracted, as Lange quotes Knobel as supposing [Comm. on Genesis, p. 239], “through the tree of life,” or by some other means. It would also be true if; as Lange thinks, the threatened penalty, “death, here corresponding to the biblical conception of death, must be taken primarily to mean moral death, which goes out of the soul or heart, and, through the soul-life, gradually fastens itself upon the physical organism.” Comm. on Gen., p.207. Under such circumstances the moral death would be the eventual cause of the physical death, and to the latter would be assigned the same time of beginning with the former. This might also be done, even if the gradual decay were a mere accompaniment of the moral death without being actually caused by it.

In favour of the idea that natural death is included in the penalty, there is:

1. The probability that while spiritual death does come upon man, the outward event, the name of which is used to express this evil result in the soul, would itself also constitute a part of that which is indicated by its name.

Hence it is that to one who does not carefully study the Scripture statements, the most obvious idea is that the death threatened was chiefly natural death.

2. This probability is rendered certain by the specific curse uttered in the garden after the transgression:

“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Gen. 3:19.

3. It is confirmed by other passages of Scripture. Lange, Gen., p.239, thinks that the teaching of the 90th Psalm is undoubtedly that death belongs solely to the punishment of sin. But whether so, or not, it is unquestionably the teaching of Romans 5:12-14; also of 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 55, 56. [See some valuable remarks on this point in Edwards’ Works, vol. 2, p.373.]

 

II. Spiritual death was also an effect of Adam a sin. Our inquiry into natural death as a penalty leads us to look for some other and higher evil as resulting from sin. It must be something which occurred at the very time of eating, which affected that part of man that was naturally immortal, and which was also connected with that part with which conscious personality is inseparably associated.

1. It must therefore be the death of the soul.

The Scriptures present this in several aspects, showing it in each case not only by statements of what it is, but by contrasting it with the life of the soul. It is presented as (1) Alienation from God. (2) Loss of God’s favour. (3) Loss of acceptance with him.

It is contrasted with life in many passages, as Lev. 18:5; Deut. 8:3; 30:15-19; Ps. 119:17, 77, 116; Matt. 4:4; John 5:24.

That this death has come upon mankind is evident from the fact that the Scriptures speak of man in his fallen state as being “without God in the world,” Eph. 2:12; as “alienated from the life of God,” Eph. 4:18. It says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom. 3:23. Also that “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth,” Ps. 11:5. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men,” Rom. 1:18. It is not only said that “he that believeth not hath been judged already,” but that “the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:18, 36.

It is also evident from the work of Christ, which was to reconcile man to God, and to propitiate his good will. Hence Christ speaks of himself as giving living water. We are said to live in Christ.

2. This spiritual death was not only the death of the soul,–as seen in the various aspects of alienation, loss of God’s favour and of acceptance with him, referred to above,–but it also consisted in a corrupt nature. The Scripture statements as to this corruption show:

(1.) Its universal extent. It is found in every man. “There is no man that sinneth not,” 1 Kings 8:46. “There is none that doeth good,” Ps. 14:1; and this is emphasized in v.3 by adding “no, not one.” See also Rom. 3:10 and the argument of the context. Also Ps. 53:1-3; 130:3; Prov. 20:9; Ecc. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Rom. 3:23; 5:12, 14; Gal. 3:22; 1 John 1:8-10; 5:19.

To the above passages might be added arguments for the universal existence of sin from the declared necessity of regeneration in each man; from the direction to preach the gospel to every creature; and the assertion that there is no salvation for any man except in the name of Christ.

(2.) Its early appearance in man’s life is another proof that corruption is the effect of Adam’s sin. Certain passages of Scripture are supposed to refer to young children as though innocent of guilt. These are such as Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; and Luke 18:15-17, “Of such is the kingdom of God.” Also Matt. 18:3: “Except ye turn and become as little children.” Also 1 Cor. 14:20: “Be not children in mind: howbeit in malice be ye babes, but in mind be men.” [See Gill’s Body of Divinity, I., 474.]

But these passages do not teach freedom from corruption. On the other hand, corruption in early infancy is plainly taught. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies,” Ps. 58:3. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:5. “Foolishness (wickedness) is bound up in the heart of a child,” Prov. 22:15.

(3.) The fact of this corruption. Before the flood it is said: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Gen. 6:5. “Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy,” Ps. 53:3; see also Ecc. 8:11; Matt. 15:19; Rom. 1st chapter at length, as to the heathen, in connection with Paul’s question, Rom. 3:9. Similar descriptions appear in Isa. 59:3-14; in Gal. 5:19-21; Titus 3:3; 2 Pet. 2:13-18.

(4.) This corruption extends to every affection of the heart and mind. Mr. Goodwin, in the Lime Street Lectures, p. 128, says: “The soul is corrupted with all its faculties; the mind with darkness and ignorance, Eph. 5:3; being subject to the sensitive part, and strongly prejudiced against the things of God, 1 Cor. 4:24; the conscience with stupidity and insensibleness, Titus 1:15; the will with stubbornness and rebellion, Rom. 8:7; the affections are become carnal and placed either upon unlawful objects, or upon lawful in an unlawful manner or degree, Col. 3:2; the thoughts and imaginations are full of pride, and vanity, and disorder, Gen. 6:5. And as for the body, that is become a clog, instead of being serviceable to the soul, and all its members and senses instruments of unrighteousness to sin, Rom. 7:19. It is, I say, in general a universal depravation of every part in man since the fall; and more particularly it consists in a privation of all good, in an enmity to God and the things of God, and in a propensity to all evil.” See also Hodge, vol. 2, p. 255, and Gill’s Divinity, vol. 1, p. 474. [Better proof texts than those referred to in the above quotation are Eph. 4:18 and Rom. 1:21 instead of Eph. 5:3; and Rom. 6:12; 7:24 and 8:5-7 instead of 1 Cor. 4:24.]

(5.) This corruption has not been equally developed in all. The doctrine of total depravity does not mean such equal development. The Scriptures recognize degrees of wickedness as well as of hardening of the heart, and even blinding of the minds of some. But they also represent that the lack of this development is due to differing circumstances and restraints by which some men are providentially surrounded.

(6.) This corruption does not destroy accountability or responsibility for present sins.

(a) The Scriptures universally recognize man’s liability to punishment for all the thoughts of his mind, and the desires of his heart or the emotions of his physical nature, as well as for his acts. These are characterized by more or less of heinousness according to their nature and the circumstances under which they are committed. The more intense the corruption, the more guilty is the man regarded.

(b) The conscience of mankind approves these teachings of Scripture. We do not excuse men because of any state of moral corruption. The evidence of this is seen in the immediate difference which is made whenever physical compulsion or physical disease (insanity) leads to an act which otherwise would be regarded as sinful and blameworthy.

(7.) This corruption does not destroy the freedom of the will. This is the ground upon which men are held responsible by God and by human law and conscience. The condition of man is indeed such “that he cannot not sin,” but this is due to his nature, which loves sin and hates holiness, and which prefers self to God. When man sins, he does so of his own choice, freely, without compulsion.

(8.) “The inability which is thus admitted,” says Dr. Hodge, “is asserted only in reference to the things of the spirit.” It is asserted in all the confession above quoted (he has been quoting various Protestant confessions) that man since the fall has not only the liberty of choice or power of self-determination, but also is able to perform moral acts, good as well as evil. He can be kind and just, and fulfil his social duties in a manner to secure the approbation of his fellow-men. It is not meant that the states of mind in which these acts are performed, or the motives by which they are determined, are such as to meet the approbation of an infinitely holy God, but simply that these acts, as to the matter of them, are prescribed by moral law.

“Theologians, as we have seen, designate the class of acts as to which fallen man retains his ability, as ‘justitia civilis,’ ‘things external.’ And the class as to which his inability is asserted is designated as ‘the things of God,’ ‘the things of the Spirit,’ ‘things connected with salvation.’ The difference between these two classes of acts, although it may not be easy to state it in words, is universally recognized. There is an obvious difference between morality and religion; and between those religious affections of reverence and gratitude which all men more or less experience, and true piety. The difference lies in the state of mind, the motives, and the apprehension of the objects of these affections. It is the difference between holiness and mere natural feeling. What the Bible and all the Confessions of the churches of the Reformation assert is, that man, since the fall, cannot change his own heart; he cannot regenerate his soul; he cannot repent with godly sorrow or exercise that faith which is unto salvation. He cannot, in short, put forth any holy exercise, or perform any act in such a way as to merit the approbation of God. Sin cleaves to all he does, and from this dominion of sin he cannot free himself.” [Hodge’s Syst. Theol., vol. 2, pp. 263-4.]

(9.) This total corruption does not involve equality of sinfulness in all men. On the contrary, sin is increased by cherishing sinful thoughts; by indulgence in sinful habits; by throwing off the restraints of society; and is affected by circumstances of birth, education, &c. It is also true that by natural inheritance some are more prone to sin than others.

 

III. Eternal death is also the consequence of Adam’s sin.

1. Without any actual sentence to eternal death, it would follow that the present alienated and corrupted condition of mankind would be forever.

(a) Condemnation can only be removed by proof of innocence; by legal justification; or by voluntary pardon. But the justice of God forbids him to pardon sin without atonement. By the deeds of the law can no man be justified; and, above all, innocence can never be proved. Hence the Scriptures represent all men, not pardoned and justified through Christ, as condemned to everlasting death.

(b) Corruption can only be removed by a cleansing of human nature sufficient to root out all taint of sin and to restore a holy disposition and habits. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the people of Christ. All not thus sanctified by him are left forever corrupt. The Scriptures show such to be man’s condition that he cannot cleanse himself.

Dr. Dagg says: “The Scripture representations of men’s inability are exceedingly strong. They are said to be without strength, captives, in bondage, asleep, dead, &c. The act, by which they are delivered from their natural state, is called regeneration, quickening, or giving life, renewing, resurrection, translation, creation; and it is directly ascribed to the power of God, the power that called light out of darkness, and raised up Christ from the dead.” [Dagg’s Manual of Theology, p. 171.]

The following Scriptures distinctly assert this corruption and inability: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” Jer. 13:23. So also Jno. 1:13; 3:3; Rom. 5:6; 7:5, 21; 8:3; 9:16 and Eph. 2:1 ,5. Such being the condition of man, it is seen to be impossible for him to be delivered by his own acts, even if he had the will to perform them. But for God’s action there would be no deliverance, even if man had the will to deliver himself.

(c) But men have not the will to be released. This is evidenced by the statements of Scripture about their love of sin, and the delight they take therein, as specially leading to the rejection of the gospel. Jno. 3:19-21.

If therefore, the doctrine of eternal death were no more than the natural continuance of the alienation and corruption of men, we see that in the absence of the means to remove these they must continue forever.

2. But this doctrine goes farther and teaches (a) the confirmation of men beyond future escape in this condition of sin and misery, and (b) its aggravation, or at least a farther development of it, which is restrained in this life, and only slightly and in a few instances indicated.

This is taught by showing: (1.) That the day of judgment has been postponed, and that men during the present life are in an intermediate state of probation. (2.) That at the appointed time the wicked shall be judged and their final doom assigned to them. (3.) That that doom shall be as eternal as the bliss of the righteous. The strongest words of the Greek language are used to express the eternity of that condition. (4.) That beyond that period there shall be no change of state nor opportunity of redemption. (5.) That the condition of punishment into which they will enter is that of the devil and his angels, which is an entirely depraved and corrupted state of bitter enmity to God, and to holy beings and things; a state without restraints, in which the soul is wholly given up to sin. The 1st chapter of Romans teaches us what the removal of such restraints will produce. (6.) Some intimation of what that state will be is given in the devil-blinded, self-hardened condition attained even in this life by the worst of men, who, in their wilful, blasphemous and high-handed opposition to God and holiness, show that they are spiritually possessed by the devil.

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887

Arminian Errors Pt 3

(ii) TOTAL DEPRAVITY

The Truth of God teaches that man through the Fall is in a state of spiritual death and alienation from God. He is depraved and defiled in his nature. His understanding, will, and affections are under the power and love of sin. ‘Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness’ (Mark 7:21-22). ‘The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no not one’ (Psalm 14:2,3). “The whole human race,” in the words of Dr. Charles Hodge, “by their apostacy from God are totally depraved. By total depravity is not meant that all men are equally wicked, nor that any man is as thoroughly corrupt as it is possible for a man to be—but there is common to all men a total alienation of the soul from God so that no unrenewed man either understands or seeks after God: no such man ever makes God his portion, or God’s glory the chief end of his being. The apostacy from God is total or complete. All men worship and serve the creature rather than, and more than, the Creator. They are all therefore, declared in Scripture to be spiritually dead. They are destitute of any principle of spiritual life.” That is man’s condition as he is before God. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God’ (Romans 8:7,8). ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee: Ye must be born again’ (John 3:6,7). ‘The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Arminians deny the total depravity of man, in that they hold that the will of man is free and has the ability to choose Christ and the salvation that is in Him. Such teaching is false and delusive. The will of man is free only to choose according to his moral nature, and as his nature is under the dominion of sin, man chooses accordingly. “Man by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.” (‘[Westminster] Confession of Faith,’ Chapter 9, Section 3). ‘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’ (1 Cor. 2:14). ‘No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day’ (John 6:44). ‘Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him’ (John 6:65,66). All who are born again are said to be ‘born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13). The “evangelism” of decisionism, coming forward to the front, or standing up to make a decision for Christ, or signing decision cards, is purely Arminian. It is not of God, but of the will of man and can only end in delusion and eternal despair.

This “evangelism” of decisionism is based on another false and erroneous doctrine held and propagated by Arminians, that of a Universal Atonement. “There is in every mind, containing any acquaintance with gospel truth,” said the eminent Dr. John Kennedy of Dingwall, “the idea that an interest in Christ’s death is essential to safety. There is in every unrenewed heart a desire to avoid the necessity of dealing with a personal Saviour, and to attain to hope, through the gospel, without being ‘born again.’ The figment of a universal atonement, has been produced to meet this craving. It is just the gospel perverted to suit the taste of proud carnal man. ‘Christ died for all, and therefore for me; I believe this, and therefore I shall be saved,’ are the short stages of an easy journey to the hope of peace. To believe that Christ died for me, because He died for all, is to ‘believe a lie’; but even if it were true, of what advantage could this faith be to me? His dying for me, because for all, secures nothing for me. And to believe this, is something else than to believe in Christ Himself. It is, in effect, making His death a substitute for Himself. But instead of looking on the death of Christ as it refers to you, look, in the first instance, on its bearing on His own fitness to save, and on the prospects of all who are one with Him. To view it thus, is to see Christ commended instead of superseded by His death. The first thing, I require to be assured of, is Christ’s fitness to save me, a sinner. It is in Him I am called to trust. Ere I can do so, I must be persuaded that He is worthy of my confidence. This I cannot be assured of, unless I know Him as a sacrifice for sin. The merit of His sacrifice I cannot appreciate, but in the light of His personal glory. And I cannot appropriate the benefits secured by it, till I have first taken hold of Himself by faith. What I discover in the light of the cross is, that He can save me in a way that shall be to the glory of God. This is His great recommendation as a Saviour to me. If this were not true regarding Him, I could never confide in Him. And in the light in which I realize the infinite merit of His sacrifice, I know His love to be such as ‘passeth knowledge.’ To connect that love and the death by which it was commended, with those whom the Father gave to Him, does not deprive me of hope. It only assures me of how certain, and therefore how desirable the redemption is, which was purchased by His blood. The Person, in all His power and love, is presented to me; and the authority of God shuts me up to the acceptance of Him, in order to my salvation. It is light, revealing the glorious person, the infinite merit, and the ineffable love of Christ, and a call requiring me to come to Him; and not any supposed reference of His death to me, that encourages me to receive Him that I may be saved.”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

By One Man’s Offense, Death Came into the World

There never was a greater mistake made than attributing death and the downfall of the human race to the woman. She was not the responsible head of the race. The Bible five times over in one chapter, with every positive form of emphasis, shows that the offense that brought condemnation on the earth was not the offense of woman, that it was the offense of the man. By one man’s offense death came into the world. By the trespass of the one man, by the one trespass of the one man.

B. H. Carroll—Man’s Creation, Fall, and Redemption