Previous article in this series: May 1, 2013, p. 348.
A person whose spiritual heart is dead is said to be unregenerate. In this article we consider the fact that an unregenerate person will never call out to God for salvation. The proper order, therefore, is this: First God gives a person a new heart, and only then does he begin to seek God.
Although that is the proper order, many professing Christians teach the opposite. They say that first an unregenerate person must seek God, and only then will God grant unto him a new heart.
An unregenerate person, however, will never do this. A person whose spiritual heart is dead views himself not to have a problem. He will not call out to God to deliver him from his sin. He enjoys walking in sin, and thinks he is just fine as he is.
This is what the sinner thinks, and what he will continue to think, unless God performs a wonder within him, and raises him spiritually from the dead.
No unregenerate seekers
Scripture states emphatically that there is no such thing as an unregenerate person who truly seeks God: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” ().
No one, not one single person, seeks God. That is what this verse states explictly.
That is also what God’s people sang in the days of the Old Testament. This passage in Romans is taken from the Psalms.1 God’s people have been singing this truth in praise to God for several thousand years now. Yet many who profess to believe in Christ deny what these Psalms clearly teach.
Some even quote this passage in Romans without really confessing what these verses say. Some may quote this passage to show that all men are sinners. But this passage says more than this. It says not only that man by nature is a sinner, but also that a dead sinner is unable to seek God.
Haters of God unable to seek Him
God demands that all men everywhere repent and seek Him. But an unregenerate person is unable to do this.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God ().
An unbeliever here is said to be “in the flesh” and to have a “carnal mind.” He is enslaved to his sinful flesh, and in his mind he delights to think only on carnal things. When he hears the law of God, he is unable to subject himself to what it says.
The inability of man is stressed in the passage. The unbeliever cannot please God. His mind is not in subjection to God’s law, neither indeed can be. God commands the unbeliever to repent and seek Him. Yet the unbeliever is unable to do this. He does not want to do this, that is true. Yet it is also correct to say that he is unable to do this.
So why is the unregenerate person unable to seek God? The passage quoted above gives the reason. It is because an unregenerate person hates God. The passage speaks of “enmity” against God, and enmity is hatred. One with a carnal mind hates God and is unable to submit to the God whom he hates.
An unregenerate person loves his sin and hates the God who demands that he repent. He despises the God who punishes those who refuse to turn from their wicked ways. The more he hears what God says, the more he hates Him. He goes deeper and deeper into his sin.
A person can obey God only out of a love for Him. One cannot and will not seek a God whom he hates.
Must love God to seek Him
God calls all human beings to seek Him. Yet a man must love God first, before he will do this. So who, then, will seek God?
The ones who truly seek God are only those whom He has first regenerated, giving them a heart in which they love the God who calls them. First God gives a person a living spiritual heart. Only then does the person love God, and come to Him when He calls.
Therefore, the verses quoted above serve to expose the error of those who say that first man must seek God, and only then will God give him a new heart. If that were the case, then no one would be saved. Outside of Christ there is none that seeketh after God—no not one.
It is in the way of believing what God says about the depravity of the natural man that we come to understand why it is that we seek God when others do not. It is not because of anything we did. It is solely because God has loved us, and has given us a heart in which we love Him. That is how we have come to seek Him, and to long for communion with Him.
With humility and great joy, we confess that our salvation did not depend upon an act of our own will. We were spiritually resurrected because God willed it, not because we willed it. We have nothing of which we can boast. The glory belongs solely to our Father in heaven, who has looked down upon us in mercy, and has given us a heavenly life that we did not even seek.
1 It is a reference either toor to . Both of these passages say virtually the same thing.