If you hate Christ and reject the gospel, then understand that the other side of that coin is you're saying, I belong to the devil and I like it that way.
Is that where you want to spend your life? Is that why God gave you breath so that you could be a child of the devil and live in rebellion to the gospel? What's wrong with you? Why do people so easily dismiss the gospel?
It's not that historical evidence is lacking. Instead, it's a willful act of disobedience brought on by sin and spiritual darkness. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi there, I'm Bill Wright. As Don continues teaching God's people God's word, we resume a series titled chosen by God. Today, Don presents part two of a message entitled Election and Free Will. Last time, Don showed us from scripture that the natural man is born dead spiritually, unable to discern the things of God at all and unable to choose him. Today, we'll look at sins control over unredeemed humanity. And if that weren't daunting enough, there's Satan to contend with as well. But be encouraged.
We know who wins in the end. And on that note, let's join Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. Scripture says that we're dead. And the teaching that tries to flatter man by saying, you can choose to do this, leaves him in a position of pride that makes him think he's got some reservoir.
I can wait. I'll put this off until my deathbed so I can live a life of sin. And then I'll decide all of that is a product of very corrupt theology. The sinner is dead. Now, that's point number one, the sinner's dead capacity. Secondly, let's consider for a moment sin's dominant control.
Sin's dominant control. And for that, I want you to turn over to the Gospel of John. We'll look at a couple of passages in the Gospel of John at this point. John 3, verse 19.
Sin's dominant control. In John 3, verse 19, this is the judgment that the light has come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. For some of you who are now Christians, you can look back and remember, if you're honest, you can remember that you resisted the gospel because you realized it meant repenting and turning from sin that you loved. That's what's being described here in chapter 3, verse 19. We have to understand that unsaved men are in darkness, but it's not just that they're in darkness.
They like it that way. That's where they want to be because they love their sin. And when the Gospel of Christ comes and says, you are guilty and convicted under the law of God, when the Gospel of Christ comes and says, you are facing judgment and you must repent from that wickedness, the sinner from the depths of his heart, whether he verbalizes it's with his lips or not, says, nuh-uh, I'm not giving this up because I like this sin.
I like this sinful relationship. And so to discredit the gospel, which alone can save them, they in turn mock it, criticize it, refuse it, argue against it instead of submitting themselves to the mind of God as it's expressed in the Gospel of Christ. Now look, when that happens, when sinners do that, that is a morally culpable act. God has brought the message of salvation, which could deliver their soul from sin and secure eternal salvation for them, and they have mocked it, they have rejected it, they have criticized it rather than bringing their mind into submission to it. And whatever else you think about the electing choices of God before eternity began, you must understand that when sinners refuse the gospel quite apart from any choices that God has made, they have brought judgment down on their guilty soul because it is reprehensible for a sinful man to reject the one message of salvation that could deliver him from damnation. What possible excuse is there for that?
There is none. There is nothing in the gospel that a sinner should refuse. It is his message of hope. It is the only means for him to have eternal life.
It comes from a gracious God who is sincerely presenting the opportunity for eternal life, who promises blessing upon repentance and faith, and there is nothing in that to be rejected. Those of you that are here and you continue to be hard-hearted against the gospel, you don't understand the condemnation that you're piling up on your own soul. It is wrong for you. It is wicked for you to reject the gospel again and again and again. That's wrong.
That's wrong. Why would you spurn your Creator? Why would you spurn an offer made in love to you? There's no excuse.
There's no excuse for that. And the fact that you do, the fact that that is your present response to the preaching of the gospel, the word of Christ to you, is simply manifesting the death that reigns in your soul, the fact that sin has control over your heart, and you don't have the capacity to get out of it. There are consequences to what Scripture says.
Look over at Titus chapter 3. How could you be indifferent to your Creator and Savior presenting to you that which would give you life and say, Hey, I don't care. How soon can we eat?
How soon can I get back to what I do during the day? No, you know, I don't know how else to say it. I don't know how else to say it! Accept that your indifference and hostility is a manifestation, that judgment is your rightful lot. It's wrong to respond to the gospel of Christ with that kind of careless, indifferent, wicked attitude. Titus chapter 3.
Titus chapter 3. We're talking about sin's dominant control here. And the Apostle Paul, again looking back pre-conversion for him and his readers, says, For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, here it is, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
Do you see that word in there? Enslaved? Sin? Your wicked desires were your master that owned your obedience.
You were not free to come in and out of it. Sin owned you. If you're not a Christian, sin today owns you, present tense. And I'm beside myself with concern for the future of your soul. I'm concerned as you reject and close your ears once again to the only message that can give you life.
Don't flatter yourself thinking, I'm choosing not to do this. No, you're following the dictates of what owns you is what you're doing. Scripture describes the unsaved man as someone who is a slave to sin. Jesus said in John 8 34, everyone who commits sin is the slave to sin. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you're free by rejecting the gospel.
You're simply affirming the fact that I'm a slave to something else. But the gospel begs you now. Be reconciled to God. The sinner's dead capacity sends dominant control.
It's worse. We need to thirdly consider Satan's dark command. Satan's dark command. We're going to circle back around and wrap this up about how this deals with free will. I can't even say it now.
I'm at a point now where I can't say it without laughing. Free will. You kidding me?
There's nothing free about this. Honestly, I laugh at the thought. Free will. Read the Bible and then come back and talk about your free will. Satan's dark command. You see, it's not just sin. It's that Satan himself, that malevolent spirit being, the angel fallen from heaven, the great deceiver in whom the whole world lies in his evil power, that Satan holds the unbeliever captive to do his will. Look at 2 Corinthians.
Actually, you're in Titus. Let's just go back a couple of pages to 2 Timothy 2. 2 Timothy 2. 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 24 says, The Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps, notice the source of repentance and saving faith, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, God from outside the inner man gives something to him that he did not previously possess.
That's what we're talking about. And that he having done that, so to speak, verse 26, they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. There's your free will, subjugated entirely to Satan. Your will is an instrument of the will of Satan. That is Satan's dark command over your soul. Turn to 1 John chapter 3. Again, a passage that we've looked at in the past.
You're not free like you think you are. Verse 8, The one who practices sin is of the devil. That's your source. That's where your life energy emanates from. That's where it comes from, Satan, the devil. For the devil is sin from the beginning. Your sinful disposition, your sinful thoughts, your sinful words, your sinful deeds are all rooted in the fact, when that is your practice of life, when that is what you love, when that is what you engage in and pursue, all your manifesting is is that there's a fountain behind me, further back, named personally Satan, and I do the desires of what he wants me to do. That's what a life of sin is saying. Biblically informed, that's what an unbroken life of sin is witnessing to.
It's giving glory. Look who my Father is. Satan, sin from the beginning. Here's my life of sin.
Guess who I belong to? And all of a sudden, all of a sudden, your stubbornness in sin and the things that you boast in and glory in the deception of, all of a sudden, it's exposed for the utter darkness and wickedness that it is. One who commits sin is of the devil. Look at verse 10. By this, the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. This isn't difficult, in other words. This is plain.
It's out there for everyone to see. Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God. You're either a child of God or you're a child of the devil. And if you hate Christ, and some of you do, if you hate Christ and reject the gospel, then understand that the other side of that coin is you're saying, I belong to the devil, and I like it that way.
Is that where you want to spend your life? Is that why God gave you breath was so that you could be a child of the devil and live in rebellion to the gospel? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?
I'll tell you what's wrong with you. You're dead in sin, and you're dominated by sin, and you're under the command of Satan. That's why you embrace a life like that. That's why you hate Christ. That's why you hate the gospel. Don't tell me about your free will.
Your life says everything that we need to know. That you are under the control of an evil, wicked, spiritual being who introduced sin into the universe. That the principle of sin, the love and lusts and desires for sin control you and you can't break away from them. And as a result of that, you are dead in sin and unable to respond to any positive spiritual influence from the preaching of the gospel or the Spirit of God of your own power. You have no power of your own. You're dead. You're dominated. You belong to Satan. That's your free will. Now it's not funny.
Now it's really serious. And one other thing, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 3, even if our gospel is veiled, even if people don't get it, it's veiled to those who are perishing. What can we say about them? What can we say about you who are rejecting the gospel even if it's being earnestly preached to you? Well, if that's you, put in your name in verse 4. In whose case? In my case.
In my case. In whose case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel or the glory of Christ who is the image of God, held captive by Satan and blinded by him so that you can't see it. Spirit of God, look down on us and help us. All of this shows you how desperately lost you are if you're not a Christian.
I'm not going to flatter you with anything else. You're desperately lost, and the weight of that needs to press upon your conscience until it gets to this point. Think about it as squeezing an orange until juice comes out.
You just squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. What the Scriptures' teaching on these issues is designed to do is to produce in your heart a level of desperation that says, Oh God, save me. No longer, notice the difference in the spirit of what I'm about to describe, no longer saying, Jesus, I accept you. I bestow my crown upon you and receive you into my life.
Oh, please. That's not the spirit of saving faith at all. The spirit of saving faith is found in Luke 18 where the tax collector said, Be merciful to me, the sinner. Jesus, forget about me accepting you. Please, you accept me.
I'm lost, help. And you cry out with a level of desperation as the spirit of God has begun to drive a wedge in your understanding and opened it up so a little bit of light can get in and say, I'm dead, sin controls me and Satan commands me. Wow, I need a savior really bad. Let me flee to Christ who is the only one who can save me. Not with the spirit of pride that this is my decision, but in a hope and a trust and an entrusting of yourself to Christ who says, I receive sinful men.
Come to me for eternal life. So what do we say about this free will, this dead capacity, sin's dominant control, Satan's dark command? Well, we're not saying that every man is as bad as he could possibly be. We're not saying that men are not capable of comparative degrees of kindness on a human level. What we're saying is this, is that the unsaved man cannot do anything to please God unredeemed sinners have no spiritual merit before God and they are utterly unable to do any spiritual good to change their condition or earn his favor.
That's what we're saying. And so with the question then, I understand what you're saying about election. What about free will?
Let me, having circled all the way around here, let me answer that question like this. Free will from the beginning is a false premise. Spiritual forces stronger than the man dominate his will. He has a pre-existing settled disposition against the gospel. He cannot come to Christ on his own power. God must help him from outside to do that or he will remain lost in sin.
And so how does election work together with free will? If God had not chosen some, none would have come to Christ. Satan is that strong. Sin is that bad.
Man is that lost. Look over at the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 65. John 6, verse 65. Jesus said, No one can come to me unless it has been granted him from the Father. He said, verse 44, same chapter, No one can come to me.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. It has to be granted from God. God has to do a work or it doesn't happen at all. God must exercise his omnipotence to awaken the sinner and overcome his bondage to sin and Satan. God must exercise his power to overcome that dominating power of sin, to overcome the dominating influence of Satan on a life. God who is stronger than both, God who is the God of life and can overcome death as shown by the resurrection of Christ from the tomb.
God has power over all of this and God is able to do what is impossible with men. That's the point of the Gospel. Apostle Paul said, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1, 16.
Scripture doesn't congratulate you on your free will. It exposes how miserably enchained, if I can make up a verb that way, how miserably enchained your will is to other forces and says, your only hope is to cry out for mercy from the God of salvation who can overcome death, break the chains of sin and throw out the devil. And you go to Christ, not in pride but in desperation.
Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner. John Stott who says this, and I quote, the preaching of the Gospel is the very means that God has appointed by which he delivers from blindness and bondage those whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, sets them free to believe in Jesus and so causes his will to be done. The Gospel is foolishness until you realize that you are lost and unable to save yourself.
Then this piece of good news means everything. Ask Christ for mercy that you don't deserve and life you cannot reach. Christ will receive you.
And if your heart is motioned in that way, if it's in that direction, act upon the assumption that God is awakening you. And even if you don't feel anything in your heart, still go to Christ! Go to Christ. Go to Christ. Go to Christ! Go to Christ, I say. Only he can save you. God had mercy on you by name to save you by name and brought you into his kingdom by name so that you could one day worship him in heaven in the glories of eternity by name.
And he will know you because he chose you for that ultimate saving end. And overcame all of your sin, overcame all of the work of Satan to blind you and said, ah, ah, ah, that one will be mine. That one I will claim. That one I will draw to myself.
That one belongs to me. That is the privileged position that you have if you're a Christian here. And when you understand that, you're not interested in boasting in your self-will.
As Paul said, God forbid that I should boast in anything, Galatians 6.14, except in the cross of Christ. When you consider spiritual deadness, sin's dominant control, and Satan's dark command, it becomes clear that we would be lost without God's gracious intervention. Adam's sin, which we all inherited, could have been the end. But Jesus Christ's perfect life and sacrificial death did indeed overcome all the obstacles between God and his church. Don, that's the gospel, the ultimate good news. So why do you think people still often obsess over free will and us having a role in the act of salvation? Well, you know, my friend, I really think it comes down to this simple point. We want to take some of the credit for our salvation, that we help determine our own destiny, and the Bible doesn't give us that option. We have pride in our heart that makes us want to be like that, yet scripture says that salvation is of the Lord. It's by him, through him, and to him.
Friend, let me encourage you to continue your study of God's word, and you'll find that God gets all of the glory for salvation, and that's why we respond to him with a heart of praise. Thanks, Don. And friend, we invite you to visit TheTruthPulpit.com. There you'll find information about free CDs of any of Don's teaching and also a link to Don's Facebook page. Again, visit TheTruthPulpit.com. And now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don teaches God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit.
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