Human nature being what it is, in unregenerate man we find the inclination to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the gospel or “good news” that salvation comes to man as a free gift. This gift is made possible by Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. Instead of repenting of their sins and accepting God’s free gift of salvation by grace, unregenerate man attempts to obtain salvation by ways and means of his own choosing.
This tendency towards religiosity, or attempting “to make oneself righteous”, was first exhibited in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. Scripture makes a special point of singling out this sinful inclination of mankind, for it is the first sin mentioned in Scripture that occurs after the Fall. While most people would say that the first sin recorded in Scripture after mankind’s Fall was that of Cain killing Able, the first recorded sin was actually Adam and Eve attempting to make themselves righteous before God through their own efforts, the “sin of religion”, as was exhibited by their covering themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). The 2nd Person of the Trinity, Jehovah or “Yahweh”, who we now know as Jesus Christ, then stepped in and demonstrated to Adam and Eve the principle that “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin”, by providing them with coverings made from an innocent sacrificial lamb (Genesis 3:21, Hebrews 9:22).
God’s Word reveals that any and all attempts made by man to attain his own righteousness are in God’s eyes akin to a person attempting to present Him with “filthy rags” and are in themselves sinful acts (Isaiah 64:6).
The “Good News”, or “Gospel of Jesus Christ”, is that mankind does not have to work to attain his salvation. Rather, salvation is a free gift attained by grace through faith that is offered by God to mankind. Man’s responsibility in the matter, is merely to admit that he is a sinner, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and then to receive Jesus into his heart as his personal Savior by calling upon His name, “For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Once man has done this, he is said to have been “born again” (John 3:3), for he is now a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). As a part of this “Gospel of Jesus Christ”, man is to now learn of all things concerning Jesus and to thereafter follow Him (Matthew 11:29).
The fact that there exists to this very day numerous “non-Gospel of Jesus Christ” belief systems in the world, is a testament to mankind’s stubbornness in wanting to attain salvation from his sinful condition by his or her own efforts. So, we see that with the Fall, mankind not only acquired a “sinful nature”, which gave him a propensity for religiosity or a desire for salvation on his own terms, but he also acquired a proclivity to be pigheaded about doing things his own way, and not God’s.
This propensity for stubbornness against the ways of God in accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ could lead one to say, “Unregenerate man typically lives his life according to the “Gospel of Paul Simon”, for it is Paul Simon who in his hit song, “The Boxer”, wrote of the now famous truism, “Still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”
Unfortunately, this tendency for man to resist the ways of God is not confined to unregenerate man, for all too often we find those who have positively responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who have been “born again”, reverting back to this same “Gospel according to Paul Simon”, and stubbornly disregarding many of the numerous edicts of Scripture that they don’t care to listen to and/or follow, in their walk with the Lord.
May all who are called by the name of Jesus learn to recognize this tendency to live according to their old sinful nature, which is exemplified by the idea that “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”, and start to live according to the new life that has been planted in them by God Himself, by means of the Holy Spirit:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new.”
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ…”
(II Corinthians 5:17)