How Sad Our State By Nature Is

One of the shortest letters written to an editor was by G.K. Chesterton:

Dear Sir: In response to your article, ‘What’s wrong with the world,’ – I am. Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton

Were truer words ever spoken?

The depravity of all human beings, though intellectually resisted and even abhorred, is empirically undeniable and what is more, Biblically incontrovertible.

The Biblical teaching is that all human beings are:

  1. Dead in sin:
    1. Ephesians 2:1says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” and again in verse 5, “we were dead in transgressions.”
    2. Colossians 2:13 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature.”
  2. Spiritually impotent:
    1. John 3:3 says, “In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’” and again in verse 5, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’”
    2. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
    3. Romans 8:7 says, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
    4. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
  3. Slave to sin:
    1. Romans 3:9 says, “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”
    2. Romans 6:20-22 says, “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

In light of this, we can only conclude that apart from God’s grace and power we are wholly unable to seek God (Romans 3:10-18), cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), and have no desire to do so (Romans 8:7). Behold the length, breadth, height and depth of our sin!

Why does the Bible point this out?

First, so we will fall out of love with sin for no one will ever come to Christ to be saved from sin until he or she knows from what sins salvation is needed.

Second, to magnify the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s love in sending his Son to make atonement for our sin. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Third, to put us in awe of God’s indescribable mercy and grace. After detailing the depths of our sinfulness in Ephesians 2:1-3 we then come across these astounding words, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

Fourth, to render us deeply thankful. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers, loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

Fifth, to ensure God gets all the glory. We cannot take credit for our salvation for it is wholly God’s work of grace and power in our life. Romans 9:16 says “It does not, therefore depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Sin has such strength that only Omnipotence can break its bond; only the Author of Life can raise the dead. Total inability requires total sovereignty for its overcoming. Cast yourself upon the mercies of God. You are powerless to save yourself but God is All-Powerful to save you and sustain you and lead you into all holiness and godliness.

I close with “How Sad Our State By Nature Is” by Isaac Watts:

1. How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains.

2. But there’s a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds form the sacred Word,
“Ho, ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord.

3. My soul obeys th’ almighty call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe Thy promise, Lord,
Oh,! help my unbelief.

4. To the dear fountain of Thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From crimes of deepest dye.

5. Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King!
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.

6.A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.

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