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The Lostness of Mankind (Part 2)


The Present State of People without Christ

Jesus likened lost people to a lost sheep for which the shepherd searches in the thorny wilderness. The sheep has severed itself from the one who was its guide; it has removed itself from the fold, gone its own way and become lost. It is devoid of any bearings and without homing instinct (see Luke 15:4–7).

At other times, Jesus pictured lost people as patients on whom the doctor gives up (Luke 5:3 1); worse, like criminals on whom the sentance of death is carried out (Matthew 13:40–42). He compares their lostness to death (Luke 15:24), to destruction (Mark 12:9), to damnation (John 5:28–29). Jesus thus presents lost people as going astray and being condemned, lost in such a way that it requires more than that they simply be found—must be awakened to eternal life and saved.

The whole of Jesus’ mission was to find lost people, to rectify their sinful acts, to place them in the right path. He came for this purpose. Jesus, King of Truth, taught that His mission to earth was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Indeed, His mission cannot be defined without speaking of people as being lost.

Lost people are alienated from God
There can be no doubt that Jesus had the same concept of lost people as that set forth in Genesis 3 where, as one writer termed it, we find in embryo almost all the great doctrines about mankind's plight which appear in the remaining portions of the Bible: the divine explanation of the present ruined condition of our race, the subtle devices of our enemy the devil, our utter powerlessness to be righteous in own strength.

Here we discover the spiritual effects of sin—our seeking to flee from God and our futile effort to cover our moral shame by devices of our own handiwork. Here, too, we discern the attitude of God toward the sinner.

Lost people practice wickedness
By their sin Adam and Eve detached themselves from God. They became sinners. They and their posterity became full of sin—both the principles and acts of sin. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the—thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

Two things are here laid to the charge of these sinful people. First, they practiced wickedness, great wickedness. We understand this to mean outward wickedness, for it is plainly distinguished from the wickedness of their hearts. They had made—and people continue to make—the earth a sink of sin, a stage on which they act out their wickedness in defiance of heaven. Second, “every inclination of the thoughts of [their] heart was only evil all the time.” All their wicked practices are here traced to their fountainhead; corrupt hearts are the source of it all. People who had been created upright in all their faculties are now wholly disordered. Their hearts are the reverse of what they originally were. They are affections, storehouses of all impiety. Whatever the inclination of the thoughts"—whether judgments choices, purposes, devices, desires—they are only evil, and continually so. Evil is ingrained in their hearts, interwoven in their very natures, sunk into the marrow of their souls.3

Lost people are totally depraved
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Bible presents people as totally corrupt—in their faculties, in the principles of their nature, in their understanding, in their will and in all their disposition and affections. Their heads and their hearts are totally depraved. All their senses—seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smellling, are only instruments of sin and channels of corruption. Within them is nothing but sin and no good at all.

Both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul confirm this assessment of mankind’s condition: Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of yourfoot to the top of your head there is no soundness. Isaiah 1:5–6

All of us. have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6a

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18a

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. 1 Corinthians 2:14

Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Romans 8:8

There is no one who does good, not even one. Romans 3:12b These texts are indicative of a whole fine of divine revelations about lost people which may be summed up in the Old Testament phrase: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Jeremiah 17:9 The Bible does not mean to say there is no good in people from the human point of view, but that there is no good in people from God’s point of view. People in their natural state cannot satisfy God, for He can require no less than perfection. As Thomas Chalme once said, "The righteousness of God is that righteousness which His righteousness requires Him to require." It is in this respect that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

People “controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
A comparison of Romans 8:8, just quoted, with Romans 8:9 leads us to the conclusion that being “controlled by the sinful nature” is the opposite of being “controlled . . . by the Spirit.” The first results in sinfulness; the second results in holiness. Sin, then, is a property of the sinful nature—the human nature that was corrupted by the fall of Adam and propagated from him to us, in that corrupt state, by natural generation. Jesus called the corrupt nature flesh because it is received by carnal generation; and He called the new nature spirit because it is received by spiritual generation: "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:6). People unborn of the Spirit are still and only in the flesh. And those who are in the flesh—that is, controlled by the sinful nature—cannot please God.

By nature, lost people are "objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
Those who are lost have not the benefits of forgiveness for their sins or freedom from condemination. In their present state—the natural state-God is against them.

Lost people are “dead in [their] transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). They are not dying or mortal or, yet again, condemned to death. They are dead-now. People in their lost natural state not only lack the potential in themselves to be good, they are in fact dead. They can no more be brought to righteousness by the most vehement endeavors than a carcass can be brought to life by heat and rubbing. In one man, Adam—“sin entered the world . . . and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned“ (Romans 5:12).

Lost people follow “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2).
“The ways of this world” describe the standard to which lost people in their natural state conform. “The ruler of the kingdom of the air” describes the master of all evil, the supreme ruler of the powers of wickedness-Satan himself—who rules those who are lost. The apostle John declares, “The whole world is under the control of the evil ‘one’” (I John 5:19). And that “evil one” makes people disobedient. They are possessed by an obstinate opposition to the divine will. Disobedience is the very nature and essential character of those who are outside of Christ. They wholly belong to it.

People who are lost are “fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Those who “fail the test” are rejected. Those lost outside of Christ —who do not have Christ within them—are rejected from partaking of God’s salvation. The only test that satisfies God is Christ within. Without Him, people are lost, rejected.

People who are lost are “separate from Christ . . . foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
These have no connection with Christ, no relation at all. They are strangers to God and to His covenant promises. They are not at home with God. They do not possess the rights and privileges of citizenship in God’s kingdom and household. They are absolutely, utterly hopeless. Whether ignorant of or rejecting divine salvation as found in Jesus Christ, they have nothing to hope for beyond this world. They are in darkness and misery. Being without God, they are without His help, His mercy, His protection.

The apostle Paul in a summation cites Old Testament Scriptures to prove the present lostness and corruption of all people outside of Christ: What shall we conclude then? . . . Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands no who seeks God All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is none who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” “The poison of vipers is on their lips” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9–18

The lostness that Jesus, the King of Truth, taught and that Paul describes is already the state of those who are outside of Christ. It is so while they yet live. They are lost with reference to God. They have removed themselves far from the Father. They have been condemned by the Judge. Already they are out in the darkness, already hopelessly wandering and weighed down with judgment (John 3:18–20). And to save them, Jesus states, was the reason for His mission to earth (Luke 19: 10).

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