“The carnal mind is enmity against God.”—Romans 8:7.
The fall of Adam was our fall; we fell in and with him; we were equal sufferers; it is the ruin of our own house that we lament, it is the destruction of our own city that we bemoan, when we stand and see written in lines too plain for us to mistake their meaning, “The carnal mind”—that very self-same mind which was once holiness, and has now become carnal—“is enmity against God.”
We all know that the word “carnal” here signifies fleshly…that is to say, the natural mind, that soul which we inherit from our fathers, that which was born within us when our bodies were fashioned by God.
[O]bserve how strongly the Apostle expresses it. “The carnal mind,” he says, “is enmity against God.” He uses a noun, and not an adjective. It is not black, but blackness; it is not at enmity, but enmity itself; it is not corrupt, but corruption, it is not rebellious, it is rebellion; it is not wicked, it is wickedness itself.
Nor need we say a word to explain that it is “enmity against God.” It does not charge manhood with an aversion merely to the dominion, laws, or doctrines of Jehovah; but it strikes a deeper and surer blow; it penetrates into his heart.
First, we are called upon to speak of the truthfulness of this great statement “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” It may be I might move your souls to detestation, if I spake of the cruelty of this race to itself…if I should recite the black list of vices in which whole nations have indulged.
And did not that suffice, I would point you to the delusions of the heathen; I would tell you of their priestcraft, by which their souls have been enthralled in superstition; I would drag their gods before you; I would let you witness the horrid obscenities, the diabolical rites which are to these besotted men most sacred things. If this be his ardent love of the Godhead, what must his hatred thereof be?
A further argument I might find in the fact, that the best of men have been always the readiest to confess their depravity. He whose garments are the whitest, will best perceive the spots upon them…one of them exclaimed, “O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
And more, I will summon one other witness to the truthfulness of this fact, who shall decide the question it shall be your conscience. Conscience, truly answer! be not drugged with the laudanum of self-security! speak the truth! didst thou never hear the heart say, “I wish there were no God?” Has not thine heart ever desired, since there is a God, that he were a little less holy, a little less pure, so that those things which are now great crimes might be regarded as venial offences, as peccadillos? Well, that wish to change God, proves that thou art not in love with the God that now is…for thou hast wished to change his nature, and in that hast thou proved that thou art at enmity with him.
Now, secondly, we are called upon to notice the universality of this evil. Every carnal mind in the world is at enmity against God. This does not exclude even infants at the mother’s breast. Some say that children learn sin by imitation. But no: take a child away, place it under the most pious influences, let the very air it breathes be purified by piety; let it constantly drink in draughts of holiness; let it hear nothing but the voice of prayer and praise; let its ear be always kept in tune by notes of sacred song; and that child, notwithstanding, may still become one of the grossest of transgressors; and though placed apparently on the very road to heaven, it shall, if not directed by divine grace, march downwards to the pit. So it is not by imitation, but it is by nature, that the child is evil. And if this applies to children, equally does it include every class of men…if we had not been regenerated and converted, if we have not experienced a change of heart, our carnal mind is still at enmity against God.
Again, notice the universality of this at all times. “Oh,” say some, “It may be true that we are at times opposed to God, but surely we are not always so.” The wolf may sleep, but it is a wolf still. The snake with its azure hues, may slumber amid the flowers, and the child may stroke its slimy back, but it is a serpent still; it does not change its nature, though it is dormant. At all times, at all hours, at every moment, (I speak this as God speaketh it,) if ye are carnal, ye are each one of you enmity against God.
Another thought concerning the universality of this statement. The whole of the mind is enmity against God. [T]hat is, the entire man, every part of him—every power, every passion. Look at our memory; is it not true that the memory is fallen So are the affections. We love everything earthly better than we ought; we soon fix our heart upon a creature, but very seldom upon the Creator. Look at the imagination too. Oh! how can the imagination revel, when the body is in an ill condition? So with the judgment—I might prove how ill it decides. “Traitor against heaven! Traitor against God!” The whole “carnal mind is enmity against God.”
I have said that I would endeavour, in the third place, to show the great enormity of this guilt. I do fear, my brethren, that very often when we consider our state, we think not so much of the guilt as of the misery. I fear many of us here must acknowledge that we do not charge the sin of it to our own consciences. Yes, say we, we have many corruptions. Oh! yes. But we sit down very contented. My brethren, we ought not to do so. What a sin it is!
What is God to us? He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He stands to us in the relationship of a Maker and Creator; and from that fact he claims to be our King…he is the ruler of providence; for it is he who keeps us from day to day. [I]s it not high treason against the emperor of heaven—is it not an awful sin, the depth of which we cannot fathom with the line of all our judgment—that we, his creatures, dependent upon him, should be at enmity with God?
But the crime may be seen to be worse when we think of what God is. God is the God of love; he is kind to his creatures; he regards you with his love of benevolence; for this very day his sun hath shone upon you, this day you have had food and raiment, and you have come up here in health and strength. Do you hate God because he loves you? He might have sent you to hell; but you are here. Now, do you hate God for sparing you? My fellow creature, dost thou not know that God sent his Son from his bosom, hung him on the tree, and there suffered him to die for sinners, the just for the unjust? and dost thou hate God for that? Art thou so estranged that thou givest enmity for love?
Did an earthly benefactor feed you, would you hate him? Did he clothe you, would you abuse him to his face? Did he give you talents, would you turn those powers against him? Oh, speak! Would you forge the iron and strike the dagger into the heart of your best friend? Do you hate your mother who nursed you on her knee? Do you curse your father who so wisely watched over you?
Where are your hearts, that ye can still despise God, and be at enmity with him? Oh! diabolical crime! Oh! satanic enormity! Oh! iniquity for which words fail in description! to hate the all-lovely—to despise the essentially good—to abhor the constantly merciful—to spurn the ever-beneficent—to scorn the kind, the gracious one; above all, to hate the God who sent his Son to die for man!
But there are one or two doctrines which we will try to deduce from this. Is the carnal mind at “enmity against God?” Then salvation cannot be by merit; it must be by grace. If we are at enmity with God, what merit can we have? How can we deserve anything from the being we hate? Even if we were pure as Adam, we could not have any merit; for I do not think Adam had any desert before his Creator. When he had kept all his Master’s law, he was but an unprofitable servant; he had done no more than he ought to have done; he had no surplus—no balance. But since we have become enemies, how much less can we hope to be saved by works! Salvation for enemies must be by an ambassador—by an atonement—yea, by Christ.
Another doctrine we gather from this is, the necessity of an entire change of our nature. Let me suppose an impossible case for a moment. Let me imagine a man entering heaven without a change of heart. He comes within the gates. He hears a sonnet. He starts! It is to the praise of his enemy. He sees a throne, and on it sits one who is glorious; but it is his enemy. He walks streets of gold, but those streets belong to his enemy. He sees hosts of angels; but those hosts are the servants of his enemy. He is in an enemy’s house; for he is at enmtity with God. He could not join the song, for he would not know the tune. Christ should say, with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, “What dost thou here? Enemies at a marriage banquet? Enemies in the children’s house? Enemies in heaven? Get thee gone! depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell!’ ” Oh! sirs, if the unregenerate man could enter heaven, I mention once more the oft-repeated saying of whitfield, he would tie so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down into hell for shelter.
[T]his change must be worked by a power beyond your own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend; but enmity cannot. I tell you, sirs, if you change yourselves, and make yourselves better, and better, and better, a thousand times, you will never be good enough for heaven, till God’s Spirit has laid his hand upon you; till he has renewed the heart, till he has purified the soul, till he has changed the entire spirit and new-made the man, there can be no entering heaven.
Oh! may God grant that you may turn unto Jesus with full purpose of heart! He is the ambassador; he it is who can make peace through his blood; and though you came in here an enemy, it is possible you may go out through that door a friend yet, if you can but look to Jesus Christ.
O come thou condemned one, self-condemned, and turn thine eye this way, for one look will save!