Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Mind at War With God

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:7–8 NKJV).

These verses fall like a hammer on any kind of Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, or Arminianism. Each of these positions in its own way teaches that somehow fallen man still has the ability to please God or to choose salvation. These verses show that fallen man cannot please God.

The carnal or fleshly mind is at war with God. This is because it is not subject to the law of God, and indeed it cannot be subject to God’s law. This is the doctrine of the total depravity of man. It does not mean that man is utterly depraved—that is, as bad as he possibly can be. Rather, the issue is this: Does man in his fallen nature have the moral ability to obey God? The answer of Paul is a resounding no. Man in his carnality suffers under a moral inability to do the will of God.

It is not just that man is not subject to God’s law, but that man cannot be subject to God’s law. This is because of his flesh, and remember that flesh (sarx) here does not refer to man’s physical nature but to his sinful nature.

The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards once wrote in a sermon that we are by nature enemies of God. That’s why the Bible spends so much time talking about reconciliation.

Paul summarizes his point in verse 8. It is impossible for someone who is pure flesh (sarx) ever to please God. The Arminian holds that it is possible for fallen man, still in the flesh, to choose Christ and be born again. We have to say that this is not so, however. Paul makes it clear that unless God first does a work of grace in our souls and quickens us, we would never choose Christ because we are by nature enemies of God.

No one likes to be told that there are things that are impossible for him to accomplish. For the most part, we have an inflated view of our capabilities. After all, have we not sent men to the moon? The same remarkable accomplishments, however, are impossible for the unregenerate in the moral and spiritual realm. Thank God today for His electing love and the consequent grace of Christ.