Man in His Natural State Cannot and will Not Obey the Gospel
L.R. Shelton

In Romans 8:7 we find these words,

"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. "

At heart the natural man hates God and hates the Gospel. He hates the way of grace. He will not have it. He wants to substitute his own opinion. Now, why is that so? Because man in his natural state cannot and will not deny himself. Christ said in Matt. 16:24, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. "

Then this same truth is set forth in Luke 9:23, when Christ said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (daily), and follow me." The word "cross" here stands for death, and it means the death, the withering, the blasting of the sinner's flesh life before he can ever come to Christ. There is no such thing as an old sinner, reeking in his sin, walking down the aisle, giving the preacher his hand and calling it salvation, because his old flesh life has got to be withered by the power of the Holy Spirit before he ever will deny himself and become identified with a crucified, buried, and risen Lord Jesus.

 Now, why won't a sinner deny himself? It is because men are"lovers of their own selves. " This truth is set forth in II Tim. 3:2 in these words, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves. " He is talking here about professed church members, and that is true of the average church member today, because he has never known Holy Spirit conviction and the withering power of the Holy Spirit in his heart and life (Isa.40:1-8). Jehovah God says in Ezek. 36:26, that He has to give a sinner a new heart, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will 1 put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. "

God requires a tenderness of heart, because there can be no impressions made upon the old heart; it is corrupt and vile and wicked and incurable, according to Jer. 17:9. So Jehovah says in Ezek. 36:26, "A new heart also will I give you, " which means a new nature, a nature like unto our Lord, a tender heart, a heart that bears the imprint of the image of the Son of God. But God never gives a sinner a new heart until He first blasts and withers and slays and wounds unto death the old heart, the old nature, or the old man.

Now, why does God have to do that? Because pride fills a man's heart. In Job 33:17 God says He has to hide pride from man, and in I Tim. 3:6 He tells us that pride fills a man's heart. Pride lifts the individual up; pride exalts the individual in his own eyes, and it is the withering power of the Holy Spirit, according to I Pet. 1:23-25, that brings the sinner down, withers all the sinner ever was, or ever thought himself to be, or he ever hoped to be within himself, and puts to death all the glory of the flesh, and makes the sinner deny himself.

Did you know man in his natural state is given to aspiring, and has such a high opinion of himself, that he will not deny himself--and man has nothing in the world to glory about? Yes, man is lifted up in his pride. He is proud of what he thinks he is; he is proud of what he thinks he knows; he is proud of his learning, and therefore will not deny himself.

The chief motive of the Gospel is to beat down all the glorying in ourselves, until our wills are broken, until we lie in the dust of repentance at the feet of Christ. As Paul said in I Cor. 1:27-29,

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, bath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: THAT NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE. "

When God gets through with a sinner, in preparing the heart of that sinner for salvation, all glorying in the flesh is gone. That sinner is abased; that sinner is beaten to the ground. That sinner denies himself. That sinner has come to the place where he says, "No," to the world, "No," to all the inclinations of the flesh. He is despised and rejected of men. I know unsaved religionists say that is a hard way, that is too hard. All right, if it is, you will just have to go on to Hell. God doesn't have to save you. Brother, you are going to give up your sin before you get to Christ. You are going to deny yourself before you get to Christ.

God is still God whether you ever get saved or not. Salvation is by grace, and grace alone. You are going to say, "No," to self, and "Yes," to God. You will sit in self judgment against yourself.

Man in his natural state is so inconsistent. He minds the things of the flesh, for Rom. 8:5 says, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh. " Every sinner in the world lives the life after the world regardless of the clothes he wears, whether religious or non-religious. Every individual in Christ will live the consistent life in Christ. He lives one life in the world, but when he is saved, he lives another life in Christ. I know the stirring of conscience, the terrors of Hell, and the fears of death may move a man to try to do better, but they do not last. It is like the morning dew--as soon as the sun comes up, it is gone. Stony ground may bring up the blade of corn, but produces no fruit, for it soon withers.

Only where God works in the soul will the work last forever. Phil. 1:6 says, "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Christ said, "I go to prepare a place for you "--for those who have forsaken all and followed Christ. In Luke 14:33 we find these words, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Salvation is the greatest thing in all this life, and it is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is an inward work that makes a new creature out of an old sinner.

It is not only in the world today that evangelism is needed. It is needed in the church.

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