The Bible teaches that God holds each human being personally accountable for his or her moral choices. He requires that his image-bearing creatures love, trust, and obey him. When we fail to do these things, we alone are responsible. We are individually guilty for our decisive, willful sinning against God.
The Bible also teaches that when our first father, Adam, failed to obey God, the spiritually debilitating consequences of his sin fell upon us all. When he descended from innocence into spiritual death, we all descended with him. Therefore, we do not come into this world morally neutral—rather, we enter this world wrapped in Adam’s fallen nature. We are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), dominated by sin and utterly unwilling to love, trust, and obey God.
- All of Adam’s children go astray from the womb (Psalm 58:3).
- All of Adam’s children “are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18).
- All of Adam’s children have minds that have been blinded by Satan, “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
- All of Adam’s children are spiritually dead in their sinful state (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13).
So, yes—we are individually responsible for our individual sinning. However, after we were “made sinners by one man’s disobedience” (Romans 5:19), we became incapable of doing anything but sin! We are not merely drowning in the ocean of our sinful depravity; we are dead and rotting at the bottom of that ocean (Ephesians 2:1)! We do not need someone to throw us a life jacket; we need someone to dive into the depths, grab hold of our decaying remains, bring us out of the waters, and supernaturally make us alive again!
This is precisely the kind of salvation God offers to all and accomplishes for many through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. God’s beloved Son is an infinitely better representative than our first father. Adam’s sin was credited to all who are in him, but Christ’s perfect righteousness and substitutionary death are credited to all who are in him! Death reigned through Adam, but righteousness, grace, and eternal life reign through Jesus (Romans 5:17)!
And praise God that he doesn’t leave it up to lifeless corpses to unite themselves to this incredible Savior. If salvation were in any way dependent upon the willingness of the sinful human will, no one would ever be saved. All who are in Christ today are in him because God, in his great love for them, made them alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). He, not they, initiated the conversion process. He granted them the ability to come to Jesus (John 6:65). He drew them to Jesus (John 6:44). He gave them the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8)!
- “Because of God you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- “[God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
And God’s sovereign grace doesn’t end its work at conversion. When the Father draws those whom he foreknew and predestined to the Son, the Holy Spirit gives them a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)—a heart in which he ultimately reigns. Sin is no longer the domineering force in that person’s life; the Spirit leads them (Romans 8:14). For the rest of their earthly lives, he enables them to do God’s will (Philippians 2:13) and keeps them in God’s saving hand (John 10:28-30).
Yes—he enables and he keeps. God is not only sovereign in a person’s conversion; he is also sovereign in their sanctification and preservation. He always finishes the works he begins in his elect children (Philippians 1:6). He ensures that they will not ultimately turn away from him (Jeremiah 32:40). He is faithful to sanctify them completely and keep them blameless for the day of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
The entire scope of God’s salvation of sinners—justification, regeneration, sanctification, preservation, and glorification—is all of sovereign grace (Romans 8:28-30)!
By this point you might be thinking, “enough with the theological mumbo jumbo, Matt!” I understand. These are weighty truths. They require intense thought and consideration, and you may not have the time to do such thinking and considering at this point in your day. But I would encourage you to ponder these tremendous theological realities when you have the time. Why? Well, if you are a Christian, this is your story! You were guilty, dead, and incapable of resuscitating yourself. But God, because of his love for you, took action. He predestined you to be his own. He called you to his Son. He provided atonement for your sins. He gave you the righteousness of Christ. He has produced and continues producing every bit of good fruit in your life. He keeps you clinging to Jesus. He will preserve you to the end and will glorify you. Yes, you are an active participant in many of these things, but God’s sovereign grace makes every sliver of your participation possible. It has invaded, saved, and transformed your life. Think on it! Revel in it! Praise God for it! Nothing is more worthy of your consideration, gratitude, and praise today.