Our Greatest Disability
As sinners, we are characterized by many disabilities. Today, I draw your attention to four ways in which mankind is spiritually disabled.
We Are All Blinded. Yesterday’s post developed this disability by listing 7 characteristics of spiritual blindness and its relationship to sin. All of us were born into the family of Adam and if we are still connected to him, that is, if we have not yet come to personal, repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior then we are still spiritually blinded by our sin and by the devil.
We Are All Deaf. Another result of total depravity is the inability to hear God’s truth in such a way that it resonates in our hearts. Until the Holy Spirit grants us ears to hear, as a by-product of the new heart we receive in regeneration, we remain spiritually deaf due to the effects of sin, including these three.
- Sin renders us stubbornly resistant to hearing truth. The prophet Zechariah describes God’s people as those who had become hard of hearing. “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts” (Zech 7:11-12).
- Sin deserves the judgment of spiritual deafness. Romans 11:8 cites the Old Testament, as it is written, “GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY.” God’s call to Isaiah included “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed” (Isa 6:9-10).
- Spiritual immaturity results in dullness of hearing. “Concerning [Jesus being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek] we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” (Heb 5:11).
We Are All Mentally Retarded. Though no longer politically correct, and sometimes used very rudely in name-calling, the term mental retardation describes the condition of having below-average mental ability, or subnormal intellectual and social development, leaving the person less capable. In a similar way, sin renders us mentally retarded. We are spiritually ignorant. We do not inherently possess the mental or spiritual faculties necessary to know God or understand His ways. Only the illumination of the Holy Spirit can cause the spiritual mind to comprehend and appreciate truth in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 2)
As sinners we all lack understanding. “THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD” (Rom 3:11). Before our conversion to Christ we lived in ignorance. “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph 4:17-18). As there are degrees of literal mental retardation, so there are in the spiritual realm as well. According to 2 Timothy 3:7 some may be more spiritually retarded than others since they are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
We Are All Helpless. A sinner cannot change his or her ways without intervention from the Lord. The heart of man is incurably sick as far as man’s own ability is concerned. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jer 13:23).
Herein lies the greatest disability of all—spiritual inability. But praise be to God. He has not left us in our sins, but has provided the remedy in Jesus, the Redeemer. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:6-8).
Tomorrow, we will take a brief look at God’s gracious remedy for our spiritual inability.