The Desperate Condition of the Natural Man
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” John 8:36.
There are a variety of Scriptural images that portray the plight of the natural man, a reference to the person who is born of Adam, born of the flesh, but not yet born of God.
There is the image of death. The natural man is dead in trespasses and sin.
Because the natural man is in a state of spiritual death, he must be made alive. Non-life cannot generate life so if a spiritual dead person is to live again, God must regenerate the individual. Ephesians 2:1-5 teaches that God does exactly that.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved;.
Colossians 2:13-14 also teaches that God must make a person live since no person spiritually dead can be the source of their own new spiritual life. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
There is the image of the ability to seek after God. Many seek after a god of their imagination through religion, but the natural person does not seek after the one true God for the god of this world has blinded his spiritual eyes and darkened his spiritual mind. As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:10-11).
Though all men are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30), they do not repent. Individuals simply smile, mock, or ignore the gospel command and continue to live their self-centered lives. Individuals live life as if God does not exist. His royal commands are meaningless to their deaf ears, their blind eyes, their darkened minds, their spiritually dead souls. God must grant spiritual grace to repent if a person is to obey the gospel command.
The ungodly that oppose God are to be instructed in this truth in a spirit of meekness “if God peradventure will give repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). But notice, God must give repentance as a gift of divine favor and grace.
There is the image of the natural man’s lack of faith. While the just shall live by faith, the unjust, the natural man has a soul which is not upright in him. “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). That is an important realization. God makes a distinction between the unbeliever and the believer. The soul of the unbeliever is not upright in him. In contrast, the just, meaning the saved who are declared righteous in Jesus, live by the faith of Christ. How then does God impart faith?
One way is through the preaching of the gospel. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Another way faith is imparted is through the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Gal. 5:22). Only a saved person can have faith. The unsaved has no faith. That is their spiritual problem.
The conclusion of the matter is that the lost, meaning the natural man, the unbeliever, is in a desperate condition. They are without God and without hope in and of themselves. Their free will compels them to sin more freely. The lusts of their father, the devil, they will do. They can do no other, for the unbeliever, the natural man, is ruled by the law of sin and death.
It is at this moment that the gospel message light shines brightly. The good news is sounded that Christ has come to set men free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Jesus sets a person free from the power and pollution of all sin. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Jesus sets a person free from the reigning authority of sin as a ruling power and principle. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isa. 58:6).
Jesus sets a person free from the demands of the Law for salvation. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28). No one has ever been saved by the works of the Law. The Law brings knowledge of sin, but does not save. “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” (Rom. 3:20).
Jesus sets a person free from the eternal judgement of hell. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Those who are born again by the Spirit of God, those who believe in Jesus shall never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Jesus sets a person from the clutching fingers of Satan. The devil has no legitimate authority over the Lord Jesus Christ or His possessions. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Here is good news indeed. Unfortunately, there are Christians who do not take advantage of their freedom in Christ because the Devil has found a way to keep individuals in spiritual chains of bondage by using a simple technique. It is a technique well known to the world. It is called, “The Big Lie.” Joseph Goebbels was the Nazis propaganda minister. He said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Do Not Believe “THE BIG LIE”
Since Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been telling The Big Lie. He has been telling this lie for a long time, and people believe it. The Big Lie is this: there is pleasure in sin.
Satan is not honest enough to say there is pleasure in sin for a season, and after that will come the judgment of God in the form of guilt, shame, remorse, and death. No, Satan just tells people, there is pleasure in acts of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, incest, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, greed, wrath, strife, seditions, and heresies. Satan tells people they will find pleasure by venting their jealousy, by releasing their anger, in drunkenness, and by reveling in drugs and alcohol.
And people believe The Big Lie. People engage in a frantic search for happiness in the confines of sin, and so refuse to leave their spiritual jail cell to walk in the light with the Lord Jesus who has set them free.
Here then is a message for professing Christians struggling with personal repetitive acts of transgression. You do not understand why you do what you do. You feel like you are two people in one body. There is a good person. Then, there is the person who wants to pursue forbidden pleasure. The bondage is real. The struggle is real. Shame, regrets, and promises to do better are to no avail. The lure of the forbidden fruit is too powerful. Your soul cries out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” “Is there no hope?”
There is hope if you will now use this technique. When the temptation begins to build in your soul, when the pressure to sin is first consciously recognized, tell the Devil, “I will no longer believe The Big Lie.” As the Psalmist talked to himself in Psalm 42:5, so talk to yourself Christian, and announce, “I will not believe The Big Lie. I know by countless acts of experience there is no lasting pleasure in sin. True joy is in the Lord.”
As often as the temptation to do wrong arises, self-talk must be engaged in with this gospel promise, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Go now Christian, and begin to enjoy the freedom you have in Jesus who has set you free. Believe Jesus, not The Big Lie that has enslaved you to a besetting sin for so many years. Talk to God, but talk to yourself as well, and say in the moment of temptation, “I will no longer believe The Big Lie.”