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26 August, 2013

The Soul After Conversion - Part 1

This is an excerpt from the book: Are You Sure You Are Born Again!

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. John 3:6

No truth shines with clearer luster in the Divine word than that salvation, from first to last, is of God. It is convincingly and beautifully shown to be the work of the glorious Trinity in unity: each person of the Godhead occupying a distinct and peculiar office, and yet all engaged upon, and, as it were coalescing in this mighty undertaking. The Father is represented as giving His elect in covenant engagement to His Son, John 17. 2. The Son is represented as assuming in eternity the office of Surety, and in the "fulness of time" appearing in human form, and suffering for their sins upon the cross, Rom. 8. 3. The Holy Spirit is represented as convincing of sin, working faith in the heart, and leading to the atoning blood, John 16. 8. Thus is salvation shown to be the entire work of the Triune God, distinct in office, yet one in purpose. We have now more immediately to do with that department in the stupendous plan which is ascribed especially and peculiarly to God the eternal Spirit. 

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We have already viewed the sinner in the various phases of his unconverted state. How awful did that state appear! The understanding, the will, the affections were all dark, perverted and alienated from God, with enmity and death marking every unconverted man. We have seen this state reversed; the temple restored, and God dwelling again with men; the heart brought back to its lawful Sovereign, and clinging to Him with all the grasp of its renewed affections; darkness succeeded by light, enmity by love, ingratitude by praise- and the whole soul turning with the rapidity and certainty of the magnetic needle to God, the center of its high and holy attraction. To whose power are we to attribute this marvellous change? To the sinner himself? That cannot be; for the very principle that led to the first step in departure from God, and which still urges him on in every successive one, supplies him with no adequate power or motive to return. To the mere exercise of some other human agency? 

That is equally impossible; for in the whole empire of created intelligence God has nowhere delegated such power and authority to a single individual. We must look for the secret of this spiritual change outside of the creature, away from men and angels, and seek it in God the eternal Spirit. God looks within Himself for the power, and He finds it there, even in His own omnipotent Spirit. This is the great and spiritual truth we are now to consider: regeneration, the sole and special work of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine that assigns to human power an efficient part in the new birth is based upon the supposition that there is in man an inherent principle, the natural bias of which is to holiness; and that, because God has created him a rational being, endowed with a will, understanding, conscience, affections and other intellectual and moral properties, therefore the simple, unaided, voluntary exercise of these powers- a simple choosing of that which the conscience and the understanding point out to be good in view of certain motives presented to the mind- is all that is required to bring the soul into the possession of the Divine nature. With all meekness and affection, yet uncompromising regard for the glory of God, would we expose, on scriptural grounds alone, the fallacy and the dangerous tendency of this hypothesis. 

Begging the reader to bear in mind that which in the previous chapter has been advanced touching the actual state of the natural man, we would earnestly call his attention to the following passages. John 3. 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." It is, morally, nothing but flesh. It is carnal, corrupt, depraved, sinful and has no discernment or perception whatever of spiritual things. This is the sense in which the term flesh, as opposed to spirit, is to be interpreted in God's Word. It signifies the corruption of nature. Gal. 5. 17 "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." Again, Rom. 8. 5-8: "For those who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but those who are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God." What further proof do we need of the natural sinfulness and impotence of man? And yet the powerful testimony borne to this by God's Word is by no means exhausted. 

Do we speak of his mind? Eph. 4. 18: "Having the understanding darkened." Of his knowledge? 1 Cor. 2. 14: "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Of his heart? Eccles. 9. 3: "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil." Of his love to God? Rom. 8. 7: "Enmity." Of his ability to believe? John 12. 39: " They could not believe." Of his power to acknowledge Christ? I Cor. 12. 3: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." Thus minute, clear and solemn is the testimony of the Holy Spirit Himself, touching the real amount of human power brought to bear upon the production of spiritual life in the soul of man. 

So far from cooperating with the Spirit in the new creation, the natural man presents every resistance and opposition to it. There is not only a passive aversion but an active resistance to the work. The stream of man's natural inclinations, as we have fully proved from the Scriptures of truth, runs counter to all holiness. A strong and steady current has set in against God, and all that God loves. The pride of reason, the perverseness of the will, the enmity of the mind, the heart's love of sin, all are up in arms against the entrance of the Holy Spirit. Satan, the great enemy of God and man, has been too long in quiet and undisturbed possession of the soul to resign his dominion without a strong and a fearful struggle to maintain it. When the Spirit of God knocks at the door of the heart, every ally is summoned by the "strong man armed" to "resist" the Spirit, and bar and bolt each avenue to His entrance........