Recently, in my men’s group, we were reading George Swinnock on the subject of holiness and he writes the following vivid description of the depraved sinner. He writes, “They run as fast as if they feared that hell would be full before they came thither” (The Christian Mans Calling, Vol. 1, Chapter IX, 76). So it seems that unsaved people are so committed to sin that they worry that they might lose a seat in hell.
When it comes to life in general, it doesn’t take a deep dive into theology to see the obvious fact that carnal people are committed to sin. It is the duty and calling of the Christian to pursue God in a lifestyle of consistent holiness, but the unsaved person has a mind and a heart that is fixed in a direction that opposes God.
Consider the passions and pleasures of sin and how the unsaved person has no care for God and no desire to submit to God’s law. He makes it his daily pattern to break God’s law. Why is this the case? Because by nature, he has no ability to see his need for God nor any ability in himself to submit to God. His appetite craves sin and his feet are swift to run away from God.
This is at the heart of the issue of the free-will and sovereignty of God debate. Consider what the Scripture teaches about the issue of man’s depravity.
Man’s Inability to Repent and Believe the Gospel
- John 6:44 and 65– “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
- John 1:12-13– But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Repentance and Faith are Given as Gifts of God
- Ephesians 2:8-9– For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Acts 16:14– One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
- Acts 5:31– “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
- Acts 11:18– When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
- Acts 18:27– When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed
- Philippians 1:29– For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should… believe in him
- 1 Corinthians 3:6– I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
- Romans 12:3– For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
- 2 Timothy 2:24-25– And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, [etc.]… God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth
- 1 Corinthians 12:3– no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
- 2 Peter 1:3– His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
- Romans 11:36– For from him and through him and to him are all things.
- 1 Corinthians 4:7– For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
- John 3:6, 6:63– “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
The Truth About the Seeker
- Psalm 10:4– In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
- John 3:20– “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
- Isaiah 65:1– “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
- Isaiah 64:7– There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
- Romans 3:10-12– “no one seeks for God.”
These are merely summary statements in the vast array of holy Scripture that points us to the reality that God seeks us, saves us, and is presently sanctifying us into the image of his Son. We are called out of the darkness and depravity of sin into the marvelous light of the gospel.
This is why John Newton phrases his wonderful hymn with such careful and precise theological language. He writes:
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
When we consider the reality that we were lost and blind in our sin (2 Cor. 4:4)—the glorious light of God’s amazing grace is such a beautiful reality. When we could not come to God nor could we find our way, God came to us. It is, therefore, our duty to exercise ourselves unto godliness—pursuing holiness as a means of bringing glory to our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let this truth of God’s amazing grace affect your daily life and your weekly worship.