Previously, we have seen that the Bible declares that man is blind, deaf and dead. All in all, I count seven things that God says a sinner CANNOT do. It is important to see that the Holy Spirit uses the word “cannot” in all seven instances. To say that the sinner really can do these things if he really wants to distorts and contradicts the Bible. In the matters below, the Bible does not say man "will not" but instead says that man universally "can not." It is not a matter of WILL. It is a matter of ABILITY.
- Man is totally blind. John 3:3 tells us “no once can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” We must understand the relationship between “sight” and “seeing.” Do we get sight by seeing or do we see because we have sight? Which is the cause and which is the effect? Would it really help a blind man to shine a 10,000 watt bulb in his eyes as opposed to a 100 watt bulb? Of course not! He needs sight before he can see anything. The sinner’s problem is the same. He is spiritually blind and cannot see “the Light” until he receives sight. How does he do this? He is given sight by God.
- Man is mentally deficient. Fallen man cannot understand a single spiritual thing. Paul tells us that “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor 2:14). Again notice the cause and effect, as indicted by the word “for.” Why can’t he understand the things of God? Because they are spiritually discerned and he does not have the Spirit of God. When you trusted Christ because you found Him desirable, that was not your old nature that gave you that knowledge. That understanding came from your new nature. That new nature was given to you by God - it's called regeneration.
- Man is totally deaf. Jesus asked “Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you are unable to hear what I say. . . . If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:43, 47). Once again, we see the same cause/effect relationship. There was no understanding BECAUSE the ability to hear was not present.
- Man is totally powerless. Jesus tells us in John 14:17 that He “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” Jude 19 says that "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts (KJV=”sensual”) and do not have the Spirit.” The lost man is sensual; meaning all he can comprehend is that which comes through his senses. That is not how the Spirit is understood. “God is Spirit and He must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth.”
- Man is totally mute. Unregenerate man cannot even “call on the Lord” until he is renewed by grace. Paul tells us that “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor 12:3). In Matthew 16, Simon confessed that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus told Peter that only God could have revealed that to him; he could not say those words meaningfully on his own.
- Man is spiritually paralyzed. Man cannot even “come” to Christ until given spiritual life. Two verses we have already examined in John 6 must always be kept together. The first verse shows the total inability of the sinner and the second shows the utter certainty of repentance when the Spirit does call. Jesus taught that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (John 6:44-45). Notice the contrast: no one can – UNTIL - and everyone will - WHEN. Furthermore, consider Jesus’ words about “listening” to the Father and “learning” from Him in relation to our earlier discussion man’s mental and auditory ability.
- Man cannot respond. It should be clear from the above that lost men can no more give a spiritual response to spiritual truth than a physically dead man can respond to a ham sandwich. Jesus says “Without me you can do NOTHING.” In saying that, did Christ mean “nothing except make the first move to Me”?
I don't know how many of you are medically trained, but if you were to see a person who had no ability to perceive visual stimuli, no abililty to receive auditory stimuli, no ability to emit vocal sounds, no brain activity, completely devoid of power, completely devoid of motor skills and possessing no response to external stimuli, what would your diagnosis be? A trained coroner would say, "The man is without a single bit of evidence of life. He is DEAD."
Now, what if you found out that a man, in his spirit, was blind, deaf, mute, brain-dead, powerless, paralyzed and unable to respond to any stimuli, what would be your diagnosis? A theologian would say “The man is without a single evidence of spiritual life. He is SPIRITUALLY DEAD.”
And yet we argue that this man is not dead but merely sick?!?