Advice is useless in bondage”

Excellent insight from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the futility of humanism:”

Here’s my challenge to humanism: What does humanism to give to a man that’s made a wreck of his life?

You see, they say that a man can save himself; all he needs is knowledge and understanding, but I know highly intelligent men who’ve made wrecks of their own lives. I know men who’ve passed through the best universities of this country, [yet] who are slaves to particular sins. And they’d do anything if they could only stop. They can’t stop.

What does all this clever talk and teaching offer to an ordinary man or woman in this world at the present time, who… makes any kind of effort and strives to save himself? What have [the humanists] got to give him? They’ve got nothing to give him nothing whatsoever. They say, Well of course if you don’t accept our teaching, if you don’t pull yourself together and join the ethics of the humanistic society… well then we’ve got nothing to say to you.” And they haven’t anything to say, either.

They can only exhort you to do what they can’t do for themselves. This is the final failure of all humanism: that it leaves us helpless and hopeless in bondage… But advice is useless in bondage and serfdom…

No, no, the trouble is they don’t realize man’s complete helplessness. And he’s completely helpless because his very mind is darkened. His will is in a state of bondage. You see, these people, they don’t seem to have read the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, the profoundest bit of psychology ever written in this respect. There it is for you, set out by the Apostle Paul: The will is present with me, but how to perform it, I know not.” The humanist can tell me what to do, but how am I to do it? [The humanist] tells himself what to do. Can he do it? Of course he can’t. With my mind… I agree that the law of God is good. But I find another law in my members dragging me, tying me down to the law of sin and death. The evil that I would not want, I do. And the good that I want, I do not! Wretched man that I am!”

[The humanists] have never seen that. They’ve never seen that because their thinking is so utterly superficial. They’ve never realized the depth of the problem. They’re always talking outside themselves in some theoretical manner and have never faced the problem of their own lives and their own failure. Man in sin is completely helpless. Can’t do it, try as he will. This is the story of the best men that the world as ever known… This struggle, this endeavor, the futile endeavor to try to understand, to get some magical formula, to get some strength from somewhere, [to get something] that will enable them to rise up out of themselves to something bigger and higher and nobler. But they’ve all failed… Without strength,” that’s the condition of every individual, and of the whole of the human race…

And here, you see, the whole thing changes. Why? Well not because of anything man has thought of or said or done, but because God. This is the message of Christianity: the only hope for an individual or for the world is in the intervention of God… And this is the message. This is Christianity. Not good advice. Not exhortation. But a proclamation and announcement that God has visited and redeemed his people. It is entirely God’s work. It is altogether from His side. It is unexpected. But as Paul puts it, there in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans in the sixth verse, While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” My dear friend, what amazes me is that the whole world doesn’t rise up onto its feet and shout out, Hallelujah! Praise God!”

So much more in full sermon, including humanism’s tendency to solve” all of society’s problems, yet have nothing to offer to the individual in crisis.


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February 3, 2018 · church · culture · humanism · sermon · martyn Lloyd-jones

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