Saturday, January 23, 2010

What does our deadness mean?

In Finally Alive (Piper, John. Finally Alive. Minneapolis: Desiring God, 2009), author John Piper offers a list of ten things that our 'deadness' (our unregenerated state) means:

"What does this mean? This deadness? There are at least ten answers in the New Testament. If we consider them honestly and prayerfully, they will humble us very deeply and cause us to be amazed at the gift of the new birth. So what I aim to do is to talk about seven of them in this chapter and three of them in the next chapter along with the larger question: Do we really need to be changed? Can’t we just be forgiven and justified? Wouldn’t that get us to heaven? Here are seven of the biblical explanations of our condition apart from the new birth and why it is so necessary." (48)

1. Apart from the new birth, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1–2).
"We are dead in the sense that we cannot see or savor the glory of Christ. We are spiritually dead. We are unresponsive to God and Christ and this word.” (48-9)

2. Apart from the new birth, we are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).
"Not my deeds, and not my circumstances, and not the people in my life, but my nature is my deepest personal problem." (49)

3. Apart from the new birth, we love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19–20).
"We are not neutral when spiritual light approaches. We resist it. And we are not neutral when spiritual darkness envelops us. We embrace it. Love and hate are active in the unregenerate heart. And they move in exactly the wrong directions—hating what should be loved and loving what should be hated." (50)

4. Apart from the new birth, our hearts are hard like stone (Ezek. 36:26; Eph. 4:18).
"Our ignorance is guilty ignorance, not innocent ignorance. It is rooted in hard and resistant hearts. Paul says in Romans 1:18 that we suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Ignorance is not our biggest problem. Hardness and resistance are. "(50)

5. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to submit to God or please God (Rom. 8:7–8).
"His point is that without the Holy Spirit, our minds are so resistant to God’s authority that we will not, and therefore cannot, submit to him." (51)

6. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel (Eph. 4:18; 1 Cor. 2:14).
"This rebellion is so complete that the heart really cannot receive the things of the Spirit. This is real inability. But it is not a coerced inability. The unregenerate person cannot because he will not. His preferences for sin are so strong that he cannot choose good. It is a real and terrible bondage. But it is not an innocent bondage." (52)

7. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord (John 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 12:3).
"It is morally impossible for the dead, dark, hard, resistant heart to celebrate the Lordship of Jesus over his life without being born again." (52)

8. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17).
"Until God awakens us from spiritual death and gives us the life that finds joy in killing sin and being holy, we are slaves and cannot get free. That’s why the new birth is necessary." (57)

9. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves of Satan (Eph. 2:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:24–26).
"It’s what happens when a person in the dark fondles an ebony brooch hanging around his neck, and then the lights go on and he sees it’s not a brooch but a cockroach, and flings it away. That’s how people are set free from the devil. And until God does that miracle of new birth, we stay in bondage to the father of lies because we love to be able to tell ourselves whatever we please. We keep fondling smooth roaches and warm fuzzy tarantulas in the dark." (58)

10. Apart from the new birth, no good thing dwells in us (Rom. 7:18).
"Now this is a statement that is unintelligible to the unregenerate who know very well that they do many good things and that they could do much more evil than they do. The statement makes no sense—that there is no good in us before new birth—without the conviction that everything good that God has made and that God sustains is ruined when it is not done in reliance on God’s grace and in pursuit of God’s glory." (58)

"The aim in this list is to give us an accurate diagnosis of our disease so that when God applies the remedy at great cost to himself, we will leap for joy and give him some measure of the glory he deserves." (56)

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