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MAN IN THREE STATES:
NATURAL, AWAKENED, AND CONVERTED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 18, 2001

 

"By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11).


The "righteous servant" is clearly Jesus Christ in the verse. This is made crystal clear in verse five:

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

The "righteous servant" in our text refers to Jesus, the Son of Man, the Second Person of the Trinity. He was sent by God the Father to die in your place, to bear your sins and iniquities, to pay the penalty for your transgressions.

But how do you receive the benefits of Christ's death? The text says, "By his knowledge." This means, in modern English, "By the knowledge of him" (Matthew Henry, Comment on Isaiah 53:11). It means, says Matthew Henry, by "faith in him." You must have saving faith in Christ to be converted and forgiven. You must have a personal knowledge of Christ Himself to be justified, to be counted as just and righteous in the sight of God. The person who has put his faith in Jesus is clothed in the righteousness of the Son of God. Christ's righteousness is imputed to the sinner. The sinner escapes from judgment and Hell because the "righteous servant," Jesus Christ, has justified him.

But note that the text says, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many…" He will not justify everyone. He will justify and save "many," but not all. In fact, the great majority of people will never be justified and saved by Christ. Why? Because they will not go through conversion. It takes a real conversion for a person to have a true "knowledge" of Jesus Christ. And it is only "by his knowledge" that salvation comes to a lost person. Jesus said:

"Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

You cannot be saved without being converted. You cannot have a true "knowledge" of Christ without being converted. You cannot be justified without being converted.

Notice the end of our text, "…for he shall bear their iniquities." The Hebrew meaning of "iniquities" is "perversities, mischief, sin" (Strong's Concordance #5771). The wickedness that comes out of your perverted, depraved heart can be forgiven by Jesus. "He shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11). That's why Jesus went to the Cross. He allowed Himself to be nailed to the Cross so He could take the punishment for your sins. He literally bore your iniquities (your sins) on the Cross. The only way to get to Heaven is by having your sins atoned for by Jesus Christ.

But you must be converted for this to take effect. Jesus said:

"Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

You cannot be justified without being converted. You cannot receive the benefit of Christ's death unless you are converted. Your sins cannot be forgiven and you cannot go to Heaven unless you are converted. It is therefore extremely important for you to know about conversion.

A person goes through three stages, or states, in conversion.

1. A natural state

2. An awakened state

3. A converted state

For many, these states (or stages) last a long time. For some, the stages are shorter. For a very few, all the stages occur within a few minutes, or even seconds. Let us examine these states in detail.

I. First, consider man in his natural state.

In I Corinthians 2:14 we read:

"But 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"
       (I Corinthians 2:14).

That is your state this morning, if you have not experienced inward conversion. You are called a "natural man" or woman because that is the natural state of every person. We are born in this state. We are "by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). Everyone who has not experienced inward conversion is in a "natural state."

Now, in the natural state, you despise, reject and hide your face from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Look at Isaiah 53:3,

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

"Every unconverted person is described in Isaiah 53:3. Every unconverted person hides his face from Jesus. Every unconverted person (though he would often not admit it), every one despises and rejects Jesus.

Furthermore, Isaiah 53:6 tells us that, in a natural state, you turn to your own way. Please look at this verse:

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

Notice that "every one" turns to his own way. Notice that the way you turn is wrong. Like a sheep, you wander in your "own way." You have gone "astray" from Christ.

Consider six different ways people "go astray" in a natural state.

1. Those who think like atheists have gone astray. The Bible tells us that "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 53:1). So, the Bible calls atheists "fools." Why are you an atheist fool? The verse continues, "Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 53:1). The atheist does not believe in God because he is sinful, and loves living a sinful life. He loves sinning so much that he rejects the idea of God. Psychiatrists call this emotional response, "denial." If you are an atheist, it is because you are in a state of "denial." You deny the existence of God because you love to sin, you enjoy living a life of sin too much to seriously consider Jesus Christ. You have gone astray in a life of sin and psychological denial.

2. Those who think like Jews and Moslems have gone astray as well. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Although Jews and Moslems have different religions, they both have "gone astray" on exactly the same point: they deny the divinity of Christ. They reject the fact that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they deny the atonement, the Blood sacrifice of Christ as a payment for their sins. Although Christ bore "their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11), lost Jews and Moslems reject the need for the Blood of Christ to wash their sins away (I John 1:7). If you do not think you need to have your sins washed away in the Blood of Christ, you have "gone astray" just like a lost Jew or a Moslem.

3. Those who think like Buddhists have gone astray also. People who think like Buddhists want to have "good luck" and "blessings" in their lives. They never think in terms of sin and forgiveness. They are interested only in "good luck." They never think about having their sins forgiven. They are like the fool who only thought about good luck and material blessings. God said to this fool, who thought like a Buddhist, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" (Luke 12:20). The person who thinks only about having "good luck" and many physical "blessings" is a fool because his sins are not forgiven, and he will go to Hell when he dies. People who think like Buddhists have gone astray. They have turned "to their own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

4. People who think like Catholics have also gone astray. Catholics and those who think like them feel that they will be saved by confessing their sins, saying their prayers, and trying to be good. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, (they) have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). Those who think like Catholics think they can earn salvation by being as good as possible. They reject "the gift of righteousness" which Christ gives to those who are converted (cf. Romans 5:17). Instead of seeing salvation as a gift, they think they can earn salvation. You may think this way even if you are not a Catholic. One Chinese boy told me that he thinks he is saved because he changed his way of living. This is Catholic confusion. It does not take into account the deep, inner sins of the mind and heart. Thinking like this will not save you from inner sins or past sins. You must have the Blood of Christ wash your sins away (I John 1:7). "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). People who think like Catholics have gone astray. They "have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

5. Charismatics and Pentecostals have gone astray in their own way. "Great signs and wonders" have "deceived" them (Matthew 24:24). They think that the Holy Spirit's work is to give them "good feelings," when the exact opposite is true! "And when he is come, he will reprove (convince) the world of sin" (John 16:8). The true purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make you feel sinful and bad. The charismatics think the Holy Spirit's work is to make them feel good! They stumble and go astray in their "own way" (Isaiah 53:6), because they reject conviction of sin, and cannot, therefore, be converted, unless they stop thinking this way, by God's grace. In their refusal to come under deep conviction, they "have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

6. Many Baptists, evangelicals, and Reformed have gone astray as well. They have forgotten that salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). They think they are saved because they have learned the plan of salvation or because they have said a sinner's prayer. Sadly, their view of salvation is now about the same as that of a Roman Catholic. They will be shocked when Christ sends them to Hell at the Last Judgment (cf. Matthew 7:22-23). Those who think they can be saved by a mere human "decision" have gone astray. They "have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).

"But," someone says, "Dr. Hymers, you have literally said that everyone on earth is wrong!" Yes, that's exactly what I said. Read Isaiah 53:6 again:

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…" (Isaiah 53:6).

That is exactly what the New Testament says as well:

"There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:10-11).

And notice how each one goes astray. Atheists, lost Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Catholics, charismatics, lost Baptists, and evangelicals all do the same thing: every one of them despises and rejects Jesus Christ. Every one of them hides their face from Him!

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

Man in his natural and unconverted state rejects Jesus Christ. You may say that you believe in Jesus, but your inner heart actually rejects Him and does not esteem Him.

II. Secondly, let us examine man in an awakened state.

Look at Isaiah 51:9,

"Awake, awake, put on strength…"

Look at Isaiah 51:17,

"Awake, awake, stand up…"

Notice Isaiah 52:1,

"Awake, awake, put on thy strength…"

These are references to the need of awakening in the old dispensation, in Isaiah's day. But there is a great need for you to awaken as well. The New Testament says:

"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14).

The second stage of conversion is awakening. You wake up from the false ideas you had in a natural state.

You also wake up to the thought of dying without Christ. People who just went about their lives before, will wake up to the fact that they are going to die. They will wake up to the fact that they are not ready to die. How about you? Are you ready to die? Are you ready to face God Almighty? Have you been awakened to the fact that your death is coming very soon? You will also begin to think seriously about Hell when you are awakened.

Then, you will also be awakened to your own sin. You will think of some great sin you once committed. You will be horrified by your own sin. You will think about the fact that God knows all about that sin. God has that sin recorded in His books in Heaven (cf. Revelation 20:12-15). You will be horrified of your own sin when you are awakened.

You will also begin to think about your inward sin when you are awakened. You will think, "My heart is very sinful and very far from God." You will begin to be horrified by your sinful thoughts, your inward lack of love for God, and the deadness of your prayers. The cold lifelessness of your heart toward God will trouble you deeply as you are awakened. You will realize that a person with a sinful heart like yours has no hope. You will see how wicked and guilty you are in the sight of a holy God. You will see that there is no way for you to escape the judgment and wrath of God. You will see that you deserve to be punished by God - when you begin to be awakened! You will then say with John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace":

O Lord, how vile am I,
       Unholy and unclean!
How can I dare to venture nigh
       With such a load of sin?

Is this polluted heart
       A dwelling place for Thee?
Swarming, alas! in every part,
       What evils do I see!
               ("O Lord, How Vile am I" by John Newton, 1725-1807)

There can be no awakening without a sharp sense of sin and self-condemnation. There can be no real conversion without such a sense of filthiness and hopelessness.

III. Thirdly, think about the final stage, the state of conversion.

When a man or woman is converted, they are in the last of the three states. At first, they were natural men and women. They made excuses for rejecting Christ or they pretended to accept Him while they really did not. They lived their lives in security, never fearing Hell or condemnation for their sin. They were asleep in sin. They comforted themselves. They thought they were no worse than anyone else. They thought they were saved. Actually, however, they were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), but they did not know it. They were happy with themselves. That's the way you are, isn't it? You think you are saved. You deceive yourself. You trick yourself into thinking that you are O.K. You are a natural man.

Then you hopefully become awakened. You are then horror-stricken by how blind you were! You then realize how horrible your sins are. You cannot think of how to get rid of your sins. You despair.

Then, at long last, you will submit to Jesus Christ, and rest in Him. You find that Jesus alone can forgive you. Jesus alone can save you. You are filled with the thought of Jesus dying to pay for your sins on the Cross. You are filled with the thought of Jesus rising from the dead and ascending to Heaven, to the right hand of God. Your thoughts go out to Christ in Heaven. You are washed from your sins by Jesus' Blood. You are converted.

Turn to Isaiah 31:6, which says:

"Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted" (Isaiah 31:6).

Oh, yes, most Jewish people have deeply revolted against Jesus. But so have you!

"We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin" (Romans 3:9).

That is why I call to you this morning:

"Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted" (Isaiah 31:6).

As Philip P. Bliss put it in his famous hymn:

Guilty, vile and helpless we;
       Spotless Lamb of God was He;
"Full atonement" can it be?
       Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
      ("Hallelujah, What a Saviour!" by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

Scripture Read Before Sermon: Isaiah 53:1-6.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "O Lord, How Vile Am I" by John Newton, 1725-1807/ "Hallelujah, What a Savior!" by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876.


You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

 

THE OUTLINE OF

MAN IN THREE STATES:
NATURAL, AWAKENED AND CONVERTED

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11).
doth come" .

(Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 18:3)



I.    Man in his natural state, I Corinthians 2:14. 

            1. Despises, rejects, and hides his face from Christ,
    Ephesians 2:3; Isaiah 53:3,6.

            2. Turns to his own way, Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10-11; Isaiah 53:3.
           (1) Agnostics and atheists, Psalm 51:3.

                       (2) Lost Jews and Moslems as well, Isaiah 53:6;
                       Isaiah 53:11; I John 1:7. 

                       (3) Buddhists also, Luke 12:20; Isaiah 53:6.
           (4) Catholics and people who think like them also,
                         Romans 10:3; Romans 5:17; I John 1:7; 
                         Leviticus 17:11; Isaiah 53:6.

                       (5) Charismatics and Pentecostals, in their own way,
                        Matthew 24:24; John 16:8; Isaiah 53:6. 

                       (6) Many Baptists, evangelicals, and Reformed as well,
                        Ephesians 2:8-9; Matthew 7:22-23; Isaiah 53:6.

II.    Man in an awakened state, Isaiah 51:9,17; Isaiah 52:1; Ephesians 5:14. 
1. He sees first some great sin he has committed.
2. He goes farther, to see that inwardly, his very nature is
           corrupt and ruined, and against Christ. 
3. He then sees that his sins are recorded in Heaven against him,
           Revelation 20:12-15.

III.   Man in a converted state, Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 31:6; Romans 3:9. 
1. He admits to his hopelessness in sin, both inwardly and
           that which is recorded by God.
2. He gives up his rebellion against Christ.
3. He throws himself on Christ for mercy.