2. No spiritual understanding. “There is none that understandeth” (Rom 3:11). “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It was in reference to their lack of spiritual perception and understanding that the Lord said to Isaiah about the Jews, “Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isa 6:9,10).
3. Lack of spiritual desires. “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.” “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” The purity and holiness of God’s will and law are not perceived or understood, and therefore cannot be loved or desired. There is not, and cannot possibly be, a single self-originated desire after God and holiness in the breast of the natural man. As well might the heart beat and the blood circulate in the mouldering and worm-consumed carcase.
4. No spiritual strength. The natural man is, in spiritual exertion, absolutely helpless and powerless. When a dead body can restore itself to life, then a spiritually dead soul will be able to draw near to God or restore itself to spiritual soundness, health and holiness. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer 13:23). “No man can come to Me except the Father . . . draw him.” “The carnal mind . . . is not subject to the law of God.”
5. The dead soul has no capacity for spiritual enjoyment. Dead in trespasses and sins, it can have no true or permanent happiness. It has committed two great evils: it has forsaken God the fountain of living waters and true happiness, and hewn out for itself cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Only a soul spiritually alive unto God can enjoy happiness, as it can come only from God. Apart from God, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Endnotes:
1. An extract from a sermon on Ephesians 2:1, entitled Spiritual Life and Death by the Disruption minister of North Leith. Reprinted from The Free Church Pulpit, vol 1.