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Reprinted with permission from The Navigators 

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Our Underlying Hostility

Today's Scripture: Romans 3:11

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"No one understands."

It's difficult for decent, upright Americans to accept that they're by nature hostile to God, that we cannot please him. This is because they've confused general American morality, plus a dose of church attendance, with obedience to God's law. Most have never been seriously confronted with the exceedingly high standard of God's eternal law. When they are, they typically reveal their underlying hostility to it.

Paul's writings are filled with dismal descriptions of our spiritual condition before we became believers. he said, for example, "you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked" (Ephesians 2:1-2). He's speaking, of course, about spiritual death. We were totally unresponsive to the God of Scripture. We may have been religious, but we were still dead.

Spiritually dead people cannot receive and embrace the Gospel. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14, "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" (NIV). Does this mean unbelievers cannot understand the facts of the Gospel? No—it means they cannot sense their own need of it and embrace it. As long as we were spiritually dead, we could not just "decide" to believe the Gospel and trust in Jesus Christ.

In our spiritual deadness, we were "following the course of this world" (Ephesians 2:2). World is often used in the Bible for the sum total of human society in opposition to God. The world's attitude toward God varies from indifference to hostility, but the bottom line is, "no one seeks for God" (Romans 3:11). This is the world we followed. We were spiritually dead, enmeshed in a culture totally opposed to God.       

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