Devotional Thought for Today – 04/13/2022

Jeremiah 17:9-10, John 16:8-11

Spurgeon’s statement makes 5 unmistakable declarations:

  1. Human will on its own is deprave, evil and set toward mischief
  2. The Holy Spirit is critical to man’s reconciliation with God
  3. The Holy Spirit convicts men of their depravity
  4. No man will ever seek Christ on his own accord
  5. No man will ever accept Christ as Lord on his own accord

We will not argue “Free Will” here I recommend some of the related readings below. For the matter of this devotional, we will accept Spurgeon’s premise and the Word of God (Jer 17:9) that man’s heart and therefore his will, is set on mischief and evil.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines will as:

WILL, n. [See the Verb.]1. That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue. In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred, and we will to take the most valuable. These are but different operations of the mind, soul, or intellectual part of man. Great disputes have existed respecting the freedom of the will. Will is often quite a different thing from desire.

Most simply put it is the ability to make a conscious choice.

Calvin Comments here on Jeremiah 17:9:

9. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

9. Insidiosum cor prae omnibus (super omnia) et perversum (vertunt quidam; alii, durum; alii, eagrotum; possumus vertere, vitiosum, vel, morbidum;) quis cognoscet illud?

10. I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

10. Ego Jehova exquirens (vel, explorans) cor, examinans renes, ad dandum (id est, ut dem, ut reddam) cuique secundum vias ejus, secundum fructum operum ejus.

What is taught here depends on what is gone before; and therefore they ought to be read together. Many lay hold on these words and mutilate them without understanding the design of the Prophet. This is very absurd: for we ought first to see what the prophets had in view, and by what necessity or cause they were led to speak, what was their condition, and then the general doctrine that may be gafilered from their words. If we wist to read the prophets with benefit, we must first consider the reason why a thing is spoken, and then elicit a general doctrine. Thus we shall be able rightly to apply this passage to a common use, if we first understand why the Prophet said, that the heart of man was insidious. He wished, no doubt, to be more earnest with the Jews; for he saw that they had so much wantonness and obstinacy, that a simple and plain doctrine would not have penetrated into their hearts. The declaration, that they are accursed who trust in men, and that no blessedness can be expected except we rely on God, ought to have been sufficient to move them; but when he saw that there was no sufficient power in such a declaration, he added, “I see how it is, the heart is wicked and vicious; so ye think that you have so much craftiness, that ye can with impunity deride God and his ministers: I, says Jehovah, I will inquire and search; for it belongs to me to examine the hearts of men.”

We hence see that there is an implied reproof, when he says, that the heart is insidious and wicked; [175] as though he had said, “Ye think yourselves in this instance wise; is not God also wise?” Isaiah says ironically the same,

“Woe to them who go down to Egypt and make secret covenants, and who trust in horses, as though they could deceive me: ye are wise, I also have a portion of wisdom.” (Isaiah 31:1)

Notice especially the expression, “Ye are wise, etc.;” that is, “Ye are not alone wise; leave to me some portions of wisdom, so that I may be wise like yourselves.” So also in this place, “Ye are deceitful and insidious, and think that I can be deceived:” for astute men are ever pleased with their own counsels, and seek to deceive God with mere trumperies. “Ye are,” he says, “very cunning; but I, Jehovah, will search both your hearts and your reins.” I cannot finish the whole to-day.

Footnotes:

[175] The early versions and the Targum are neither consistent nor satisfactory as to the beginning of this verse: “Deep is the heart above all things, and it is man,” Septuagint; “Depraved is the heart of all, and inscrutable,” Vulgate; “Hard in the heart is a man above all things,” Syriac; “The heart, deeper than anything, is human,” Arabic; “Deceitful is the heart above all things, and it is strong.” Targum. Correct, no doubt, is the first clause in the Targum, but not the last. Critics agree as to the first word, “deceitful,” but not as to the word rendered in our version “desperately wicked.” It occurs in all nine times, and four times in other parts of Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 15:18Jeremiah 17:16Jeremiah 30:12, 15) and it is rendered “incurable,” except in Jeremiah 17:16. It means to be so bad as to be past endurance or past remedy. Blayney renders it here, “past all hope;” and Horsely, “incurable,” which is perhaps the best word, — Deceitful the heart above everything, And incurable it is, who can know it? The meaning is, that it is incurably deceitful; hence the question,” Who can know it?” — Ed. PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are wholly nothing and less than nothing, we may know our nothingness, and having cast away all confidence in the world as well as in ourselves, we may learn to flee to thee as suppliants, and so put our trust in thee for our present life and for eternal salvation, that thou alone mayest be glorified: and may we be devoted to thee through the whole course of our life, and so persevere in humility and in calling on thy name, that thou mayest not only for once bring us help but that we may know that thou art always present with those who truly and from the heart call upon thee until we shall at length be filled with the fullness of all those blessings, which are laid up for us in heaven by Christ our Lord — Amen.

It is easy to understand why Spurgeon and most covenant theologians make the assertion, paraphrased, that man on his own accord will never come to Christ. There is an abundance of scripture that supports this; Numbers 16:5, John 6:44, and John 6:65 are a few.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible comments on John 16:8 as follows:

he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: by “the world” is principally meant, the Jews; the world among whom Christ personally was, who knew him not, disbelieved him, rejected him as the Messiah, hated and persecuted him, even unto death; though not to the exclusion of the Gentiles, the whole world that lies in wickedness; since both joined, and were concerned in these things, and reproved of them; which “reproving”, as it may respect different persons, may intend both such reproofs and convictions, as are not attended with conversion, and issue in salvation; and such as are powerful, spiritual, and to saving purposes: the several things the Spirit of God is said to reprove of, being repeated in the following verses, with reasons or specifications annexed to them, will be there considered.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on this verse:

When the Holy Spirit is come in the days of Pentecost, he, by his inward operation in men’s hearts, and by his gifts bestowed upon you that are his apostles,

will reprove the world.

By the world here, maybe meant all men and women, as it is used in some texts; neither is the operation of the Spirit here mentioned to be restrained to carnal and wicked men.

The word translated

reprove:

1. Lets us know, that the Holy Ghost is here mentioned, not in the notion mentioned John 14:16, as a Comforter, but in the larger notion, (there mentioned), as an Advocate; which possibly had been a better translation of it, John 16:7, than Comforter, as we translate it; for it is not the proper work of the Spirit considered as a Comforter to reprove, but it is proper enough to the notion of an Advocate to do it.

2. The word here translated reprove doth often so signify, and is so translated, Luke 3:19 John 3:20 Ephesians 5:11,13. It signifieth real rebukes, Hebrews 12:5 Revelation 3:19. But it also signifieth to convince, John 8:9,46 1 Corinthians 14:24 2 Timothy 4:2 Titus 1:9; and in several other texts. Yet it is one thing to convince the understanding and judgment; another thing to prevail upon the will, by reason of the total corruption of our souls; so that we will not embrace what we confess is truth, nor do what we know is best; but, through the stubbornness of our will, we resist the light and conviction of our understandings.

The Holy Spirit is here promised, not only (as before) to lead men into truth, by a work of illumination, but to bow to the hearts and wills of some in the world, to the embracing of it, and living up to it, while others yet remain without excuse. The things of which the Spirit is promised to convince the world, are sin, righteousness, and judgment, which are further opened in the following verses.

While many downplay this theology of man’s sinful nature or depravity, even a casual reader of the Bible will find ample verses to see a man is a sinful creature. The opposite can be said for the Holy Spirit, some denominations uphold Him above what the Word of God proclaims as His roles or mission, teach, proclaim truth, convict sin, etc.

Should we honor, glorify and praise the Holy Spirit, yes, of course, He is part of the Triune Godhead. As always context is everything and strict adherence to the Word of God is critical to a right understanding.


RELATED:

What is Free Will?

LBCF 1689 Chapter 9 – Free Will

Free Will Miscellanies by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Free Will – Grace Online Library


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