Elder O. B. Mink
Retired Sovereign Grace Baptist
Adam's choice of Eve in preference to God was deliberate (I Timothy 2:14), and destructive to all God likeness in his nature. Post-dating the fall, all of Adam's posterity are born from wombs that cannot do otherwise than produce children who are at enmity with God (Romans 8:7), and who enter this world with a wrathful nature toward God (Ephesians 2:3). Surely, if man had a "best state" it would be while he is as yet in the womb, but while confined to this physically producing enclosure the Scripture says of him; "... He is altogether vanity" (Psalms 39:5). As soon as he is born, he goes astray choosing lies (Psalms 58).
The spiritual impotence of man's will, as he is in nature, is absolute. Love for sin, and hatred of God are so intertwined in fallen man's nature that his thoughts are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Christ brings this truth to the fore, and seeing it is situated at the front, He says: "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other ..." (Matthew 6:24). And again, He that knows the intents and thoughts of every heart says, "He that is not with Me is against Me," and those against Christ are not passive. No, they are with every fiber of their being actively against Him, for He says they "scatter abroad" (Matthew 12:30).
To presuppose a person will choose something which he hates with an insatiable passion and opposes with perfect and unrelenting vehemence is utterly absurd. Man invariably chooses according to his desire, and in his native state he cannot desire that which is holy, but with all strength of being fulfills the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3). To say a man can in truth approve that which runs counter to his desire is irrational. A person's volition is perfectly consistent with his or her nature, and the natural man without deviation chooses darkness rather than light because he loves darkness and hates the light (I John 3:19).
Man by nature is not merely wicked, but desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). He is "dead in trespasses and sins ..." (Ephesians 2:1). The Adamic man is destitute of all good, and every spark of his energy is used in choosing and performing evil. With the natural man it has never been Barabbas or Jesus, but Barabbas or any other barbarian, for Jesus is never favorably in their thoughts. Man as he is in nature assumes without question that his will is absolutely free, that his choices are not generated or determined by anybody or anything outside of himself, and with this presumed sovereignty of his will he needs no arbitrator or mediator and that his eternal destiny is determined by his own freewill or choice.
The natural man's will is free within the bounds of its nature, and his choices are free within these same bounds, but all spiritual matters are utter foolishness unto him and are beyond his intellectual and volitional reach (I Corinthians 2:14). Fallen man's nature cannot be improved upon, it is beyond repair or redemption, and in order for a person to realize a heavenly destiny his old nature must be destroyed or eradicated. This is in great degree what Paul meant when he said, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Corinthians 5: 17). The old condemnation, curse, fleshly bondage of the will, and the impregnable wall of spiritual ignorance have all passed away. The new saint now hears a new voice with a new message. He hears the Lord of glory saying, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you ..." (John 15:16).
Judicially, the natural man began his rebellion against God in Adam, it was corporeally manifested in the womb of his mother, magnified in his earthly life, and apart from the sovereign choice or elective grace of God; he will stand in the everlasting judgment and hear God say, "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. " (Revelations 22:11).
The Number One Heresy
Man in his degenerate state is in the bond of iniquity, not credible with the least good, and is a firm and undeviating ally of the devil (Acts 8:23; Romans 8:8; John 8:44). We do not mean to imply that the old nature cannot change. It certainly can and does, but not so as to please God. Paul warns against the instability and vacillation of the old nature saying, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine ..." (Ephesians 4:14). The Adamic nature can change, but it cannot cease for the least moment from sin (II Peter 2:14).
The Ethiopian may practice ultimate cleanliness, and cover himself with white robes, yet his skin remains the same. Man may exercise moral restraints, and cover his outward life with religious fervor, yet his pent up depravity, and his fallen nature are not in the least diminished. Not one single good can in truth be attributed to the natural man, yet out of his foolish heart comes incessant boastings, but not until the Ethiopian changes his skin, and the leopard his spots, can he in his fallen state make the first choice that is acceptable with God. The Sovereign Elector speaks, saying, “... When I called none did answer, when I spake they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” (Isaiah 66:4).
Nevertheless, proud and stubborn man, with all of his faculties averse to God will not own his innate and utterly depraved nature. As to his eternal destiny, he claims an unalterable option, and is for ever more crying out, it is with man to choose where he will be in eternity. He concedes much was lost in the fall, but not all. He contends there was something of the former relationship preserved: namely, there is enough of the Divine element left in man that he can exercise this inherent strength and come to God anytime he chooses. This kind of reasoning is normal for a mind that is under a total spiritual blackout (Romans 10:4; Ephesians 4:18), and which is directed by the father of lies (John 8:44).
Man is ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ, and the fatal error of human freewill or choice, though underwritten by natural religion and loudly propagated by universal egotism, is yet the top wrung on the ladder of damnable heresies. The Lord said to His followers, “I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19). The salvation of the soul is either by the sovereign, irresistible, irrevocable choice of God, or it is by man's ability to choose. The eternal welfare of the soul is determined by God or man, not by God and man (Romans 11:6). God has never solicited man's approbation upon any of His works, nor has He ever approved of any of the works of fallen man, but He has chosen an infinite number of rebellious men, and redeemed them by the atoning and all sufficient work of Christ.
Suitability Before God
Being shut up to the Bible for the answer in this matter we discover that man will not and cannot choose God that he might have life (John 5:40, 6:44). We also discover from the pages of Holy Writ that there was only ONE man who ever walked this earth with suitability, sufficient to attract God's loving attention and choosing favor. This ONE is Christ of Whom we read, "Behold My servant, Whom I have chosen; My beloved, in Whom My soul is well pleased ..." (Matthew 12:18). All others chosen of God unto salvation were not only lacking in suitability, but were ill deserving of the least favor from God. They were the absolute opposite of holiness, and precisely and fully that which merited God's eternal and just wrath. "... There is none that seeketh after God, ..." the reason being, all men by nature are perfectly content with the pleasure route; not knowing that it leads to everlasting destruction (Romans 3:11; Matthew 7:13).
According to the Word of God there are but two ways for a person to get out of this world. One way is to be chosen out by the unmerited grace of God as plainly stated in John 15:19 and Ephesians 1:4, and the other way out is to be chased out by the merited wrath of God. Speaking of the wicked, Job says, "He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world." (Job 18:18). Of all who are made righteous in Christ, Peter says, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (I Peter 2:9).
Not once in all of Scripture is there the least inference that man in his native state can choose God in preference to anything else. This truth is made graphically clear when we consider that the natural man loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19). It is not that they love darkness a little more than light, but it is they love darkness and hate the light (John 3:20). Seeing then, that man in his native state is spiritually blind, I ask; how can he choose that which he is grossly ignorant of and knows nothing about it (Him) as he ought to know? (l Corinthians 8:2). In view of the foregoing truths we hear the Psalmist say, "Blessed is the man whom Thou (God) choosest ..." (psalms 65:4).
God looks to Christ for the suitability of all those included in the covenant of election, and God has condescended to let His chosen see the report which the Holy Spirit has eternally written, and which the devil can never write off. Hence we read, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (II Thessalonians 2:13). God's elect people love Him in time, because He loved them in eternity, and their suitability in the presence of God is not in any wise merited by them, but by Him Who said, "I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:15).
Chosen to Salvation and Service
"... I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit ..." (John 15:16). "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10). God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5), and the Lord says of Paul, "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9: 15). Paul exhorts Timothy to faithfulness, so as to please God Who had chosen him to be a soldier (II Timothy 2:4). Someone may object, and say, "But all this has to do with vocation and not with salvation." God's choice of a man to be a prophet and or a teacher is co-eternal with God's choice of him unto salvation. None can gainfully argue against the fact that John the Baptist was a preacher sent from God (John 1:6). And, surely, none are so naive as to try and dispute the fact that God chose John prior to his miraculous entrance into this world, to be a preacher (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3: 1; Matthew 3:3). And, would any be so daring as to say, God chooses a man to be a preacher or prophet before He chooses him unto salvation? For the sake of common sense, I would hope not.
I seriously and fearfully urge all who read these lines to bow to the authority of God's infallible word, "Lest haply ye be found to fight against God," and God in His sore displeasure say to you as He said to Israel of old, "Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation" (Judges 10:14). "...The Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelations 17:14).
The natural man's state before God is one of total and irrevocable ruin, and his standing before God is one of merited and hopeless condemnation. Man by nature is an absolute sinner, sin is the condition wherein he is born (Psalm's 51:5), and every part and parcel of his being is spiritually perverse. He loves his sinful condition, and hates everything contrary to it.
The root of all of man's problems is his sinful nature or condition, his every choice and action emanates from and is controlled by his sinful nature, and so much so that his every thought is an abomination to God (Proverbs 15:26). Out of man's utterly depraved heart comes innumerable thoughts, choices, and actions, but not one which is pleasing unto God.
So, it inevitably follows, if the Adamic man is ever to make a choice approved of God, there must be a power exercised on his behalf, a power that is external to himself, a power that effectually intervenes in his life, and a power that changes his state and standing before the sin avenging God. The POWER to forgive sin, and reinstate man to the favor of God, is the exclusive property of the nail scarred and throne sitting Son of God (Mark 2:10).