This question can only be answered if we go to the Bible to find the answer. Psa. 14:2 says, "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God." Romans 3:11 states, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Many people base their answer to the question, "Does a lost person seek God?" on these verses alone. Therefore, they conclude a lost person does not seek God. Paul wrote in II Tim. 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We must rightly divide the Word if we are to get a correct answer to our question; therefore, we must determine the sate or condition of the one being referred to in Psa. 14:2 and Rom. 3:11. To do so we must start in the beginning.
When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord said, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:17) The death the Lord was referring to was not physical death because Adam lived 930 years after he ate of the tree. The death the Lord was referring to was spiritual death. Adam died spiritually the day he ate of the tree just like God said.
Adam had been made in the image of God. (Gen. 2:26) Since God was a trinity so was man. Man has a spirit, soul, and body. When Adam died spiritually he ceased being in the image of God and passed to all of his descendants a fallen nature due to corrupted blood. Thus, all mankind is born with a dead spirit.
Man has world-consciousness through his body by the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Man has a soul through which he has self-consciousness. The spirit of man is what makes man capable of God-consciousness. Since man is born dead spiritually he has no God-consciousness; therefore, he can not and will not seek God in this condition.
This is the condition referred to in Rom. 5:6 as being "without strength." This word is from a root word from which we get our word "anesthesia." "Anesthesia" is defined in the dictionary as a loss of senses by drugs or diseases, so when a man is under "anesthesia" he has no world-consciousness. He cannot hear, see, taste, smell, or feel. He has lost his ability to be conscious of the world around him.
In like manner, a person who is dead spiritually is "without strength", is under the "anesthesia" of sin, and has no consciousness of God. He has no faith God-ward, no real prayer God-ward, no real worship, no reverence of God, and no hope. Therefore, we must conclude that a man in this condition does not seek God.
But Jesus said in Luke 13:24 that, "many will seek to enter the strait gate, and shall not be able." Jesus, Himself said that there are some lost men who seek God. If Jesus said it, I believe it is true. Again we must rightly divide the Word, because there are no contradictions in God's Word. We must find out to whom He was referring.
The word "seek" is used many times in the Bible and is thought by most to be applied to the saints. It is true that saints need to seek Him and His wisdom, and fullness. But it is also true the Bible refers to sinners (lost) seeking God. For instance, Deut. 4:29 says, "But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." A saved man has already "found" the Lord. Isa. 55:6 states, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." Our Lord stated in Mat. 6:33 for man to seek, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." A saved man need not seek the kingdom of God because he already is in the kingdom of God.
From these instances in the Bible we must conclude that before a man will ever be saved he must seek God. I know this goes against tradition because I've had preachers say to me, "God doesn't show a lost man anything." That raises another question. How will a lost man ever be saved unless God reveals to him he is lost and he begins to seek the Lord? Some say man don't seek, the Lord does the seeking. I agree the Lord seeks lost man, in fact that is why He came. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) This makes salvation of the Lord. He initiates it, He produces it, and He consummates it.
Let's reconcile all these scriptures. Man is born in sin, dead spiritually. (Eph. 2:1) He has no consciousness toward God (without strength, Rom. 5:6) therefore, he cannot and will not seek God in this condition. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace gives that individual "light" at some point in his life. (John 1:9) This may be through his conscience or through creation. (Rom. 1:19-20) When that individual recognizes the God of creation or recognizes that "God is" (Heb. 11:6) he begins to seek something (really, someone) to fill the emptiness and void on the inside.
He may turn to drugs, sex, works, or religion to get fulfillment, but when he finds out they won't satisfy and he really gets serious toward God, the Lord will send the seed (Word of God) and a saint across his path. The devil knows the value of that seed; therefore, he tries to steal it to keep it from producing faith that he might be saved. (Luke 8:12)
The Holy Spirit uses the Word as preached by the saint to reprove (convict and convince) of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8-11) The Psalmist said, "Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way." (Psa. 25:8) The Holy Spirit imparts understanding to sinners as they seek the Lord. As they seek they must strive (Luke 13:24) to overcome the obstacles the devil places in their path or else they will turn back to the broad way that leads to destruction.
Salvation is the Lord's work and it is at a point, an instant when man repents and believes. But getting to that point involves a work of the Holy Spirit and man seeking the Lord.
"Does a lost man seek God?" We conclude from the Bible that a man who has been touched by God seeks the Lord. But he does not seek until the Lord touches him. When one is saved, he still gives all glory to the Lord, even for his seeking the Lord!
"Does a lost man seek God?" He must if he is ever to be saved!
THE PERSUADER April-May, 1993